Anxiety - a black mark I wish I never received

It’s been over a week now, going on two, since I’ve been fully conscious.

It started Saturday, May 1, 2021. I’d ordered Chinese and went on my usual walk. It had been getting progressively more difficult due to my body rejecting exercise. I’d be in pain the next day, sometimes severely. But any time I’d voice this to anyone, the solution given was to ‘keep moving.’ ‘It’ll pass.’ ‘It’s nothing/your anxiety.’

So I kept moving.

And the more I fought the malaise and signs that my body was begging me to stop, the worse my symptoms became. In just a day, I was having symptoms of my hands feeling fuzzy/buzzing along with the rest of my body, including my face and feet. I kept forgetting things — worse than usual. I threw away an unfinished soda while a friend was visiting, and had no recollection and searched everywhere for it only to find it in the trash.

The entire visit with my friend was in a daze. Hazy. Like a dream. I can’t tell you some of what we spoke about. I know we shared YouTube videos and laughed, and we ordered food. But it all feels like a dream because I was so damn tired. I had tunnel vision from the fatigue.

The day before that, I soldiered through to get a haircut. That day also feels like a haze. And the days following, I barely remember my visit with another friend I hadn’t seen, also, in a year due to the pandemic.

I worried more and more that something was wrong. Especially after a week into this mysterious weakness and fatigue. I ate more and more as my body craved energy it couldn’t get. No amount of caffeine did anything. I’d voiced my concerns to my doctor when it began, but I thought it might just be fibromyalgia. My teeth badly need a dentist, so I did worry it could be an infection spreading, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m not in pain nor do I have a fever.

I’d been through a ridiculous amount of intense stress from PTSD symptoms and anxiety from 2020-2021. I also had severe anxiety that went into shock due to my fear of the vaccine, even though I got both. I passed out due to fear after the first one. The second one I had to get lying in a bed due to the powerful anxiety attack I had. But I got them and I was proud of myself, and I prepared to start living life again.

Then the crash hit. The debilitating fatigue and malaise that refused to even let me check the mail without running out of breath. I started to worry again. I’d had some pretty bad side effects from the second shot; a fever, extremely cold body temperature and then hot, a severe sinus headache, malaise, and body aches. This was all considered normal of course, but once they passed three days later, I felt more like myself. I started going on walks. I felt alright. And then, after my two weeks, the weakness settled in. And it left me wondering if the side effects from the vaccine, that resulted in me getting a fever blister, somehow brought on the chronic fatigue.

I did some research but found nothing linked. In fact, I found articles claiming the vaccine actually helped sufferers of long COVID. That didn’t really apply to me since I’d never contracted COVID, however, so that couldn’t be it. No one else reported this. So it wasn’t the vaccine as far as I know. (Disclaimer; I’m pro-vaccination. Get your damn vaccine. You’ll be fine.)

After exhausting most things, I started to mention my concerns to family and friends. Their response was exactly as I thought it would be.

“It’s probably your anxiety.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing.”

“You just have to keep moving and it will get better.”

“You’ll be fine.”

“You’re overthinking.”

The anger that built within me was much more powerful than I could express. This is the way it always went, after all. Any time I had a health concern, many defaulted to my anxiety being the cause. Even doctors in my past ignored symptoms due to my anxiety diagnosis, which has resulted in me having very real health problems. My GERD was ignored for a few years until I changed doctors and am now on stomach medication for the rest of my life because it was ‘just anxiety.’

I stopped myself as I tried to justify my concerns. The fact that I even have to justify how I feel, let alone write an essay for people to believe me, regardless of my past, is horrible. I’d sent a measurement of my pulse rate to a friend to prove I wasn’t anxious and I realized that was ridiculous too.

The symptoms of this chronic fatigue haven’t improved. It’s been about two weeks now, and I am still struggling to be taken seriously. I’ve spent nights and afternoons crying at random. My body has been through so much just within a year, let alone my entire life. PTSD, trauma, anxiety, bullying, abuse, gaslighting. My body is tired. And after being gaslit and retraumatized in December of 2020, and then going through another few months of trying to overcome relapses with self-harm and a resurgence of new and very vivid and severe PTSD symptoms and dreams, I am starting to come to a conclusion.

My body has been through so many years of bullshit. Even now, as I’ve gained a few more chronic illnesses like GERD and spinal stenosis, I struggle to be taken seriously. And it’s all because of the black mark on my record: Anxiety.

Anxiety has become a stain on my reputation. This anxiety I didn’t want. Didn’t ask for. This panic disorder I fight every day against is the one thing that has led to my physical health worsening and people not believing me until it’s too late. And I am at a loss. I don’t know what to do about it.

I am not suicidal right now, but I am no stranger to suicidal thoughts. Most often, they are from utter exhaustion. Trying so hard to just chase a semblance of good or happy. They often surface because people refuse to take me seriously or believe me when I am truly, honestly, crashing from something no one wants to find answers to. Because ‘anxiety’ is so easy to blurt out to dismiss me like I’m still that scared little child.

I want more than anything for my friends and family to just listen to me. Take me seriously. Comfort me when I am scared. I wish doctors wouldn’t joke when I have an intolerance to medication due to a hyper-sensitivity disorder that is most likely from being autistic. “You handled that prescription well?” Laugh. “That’s something coming from you.”

Somewhere along the line, when I was given this black mark, I had thought it answered my questions. I began to learn to cope and be thankful for answers because answers are what we all strive for. It means healing. It means learning to find a way to finally get closer to happiness.

Little did I know, Anxiety was a stain that would prevent all of these things.

©2021 Shane Blackheart

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