Anxiety is like the giant elephant in the room. Something you always feel, always see, but no one else notices it… or wants to talk about it. It’s something that I’ve kept out of my writing, and after having a rather difficult past few weeks I felt it was time to address it. (In some ways, all my life I’ve made certain steps to try and *hide* this anxiety, but the older that I’m getting the more I am feeling open to sharing it) There’s almost a negative stigma associated with anxiety, but the more time that goes on, the more and more I feel that I am able to be open about it. Everyone has some level of anxiety…. admitting your problems, (however big or small) does not make you weak, it does not make you any less of a person, it’s normal. Besides if someone is going to judge you for being who you are, I am learning, that is not the type of person who deserves to be in your life.
Anyway, I just wanted to write about my anxiety since it has been weighing on my mind lately. But not only that I have also been reflecting a lot about this decision to move abroad and what it has done for my anxiety (both good and bad… however I will say definitely it is waaayyyy more good than bad). While I’m not saying that this is a “magical” cure… I just wanted to share my own experience… the good the bad and just talk openly and honestly about it.
Honestly, moving abroad was one of the best things I could’ve ever done to aid in my anxiety. While it was not some magical cure to this awful anxiety, it helped. More than I could ever imagine. Living abroad has helped put everything in my life into perspective and therefore it has made my anxiety more manageable. Living a “normal” life just felt suffocating for me. I needed to do something, I needed a change. I just felt so trapped with no escape, there was no way out. And then I bought a one way ticket, and the anxiety seemingly started to melt away.
All my life I’ve always been an anxious person. I was always the cautious kid, overly sensitive, always feeling a lot: insomnia, worrying all the time, severe stomach problems. But the older I got, the more intense it got. It started to get in the way of my life and it was then that I realized I had a problem that needed to be fixed, I could not continue to live my life like this. I’ve always felt this need to hide my anxiety, keep it safely tucked away where no one can see it. And that actually made the anxiety worse, I was having anxiety about someone discovering my anxiety … kept asking myself questions like: what if i have an anxiety attack in front of people? what will they think of me? It was a dangerous path that I was headed down.
For a big part of my life, I was in denial that this was actually a problem that I had. I tried to write it off as other things. Tell myself that it was normal, or it was just a phase. I was in denial that I was suffering through this disease. But then when I was in the end of high school and the start of college it got so bad that there was no denying it and no hiding it. I had to face it head on, and find a solution…. a way to manage this. I was able to get it somewhat under control, but by that I mean… not having constant anxiety attacks, I was able to keep my anxiety on the down low. But then as college went on, and I realized that (well of course) I was still suffering anxiety, but also it was still consuming me I knew that I had to do something drastic to change it. I had to go chase my own happiness, make a life change… just do something. Because the way I was living my life, the way my anxiety was, in fact it was no way to be living. I wanted to push myself.
I did love Spain very much when I first came here, but mainly I wanted this move to prove to myself that I can do this. I am capable of doing more than I think. I wanted to prove to myself that I control my anxiety, my life, and my happiness. And with this move to Spain in less than a month, no even a week I knew that this was the right choice, even if I will face many moments where I will be anxious, confused, and scared.
There’s nothing wrong or weird about being anxious, confused, or scared. We are young and allowed to make big changes and also to be unsure of ourselves (it’s really almost expected of us at this point in our lives). It’s okay to take a step out into the world and not be sure if it’s the right choice. This is the time of your life to make big changes and question who you are and what you’re doing. But most importantly of all it’s okay to be different. I used to be ashamed of being different, embarrassed of how people would look at me, worried of how people would judge me, and apologetic when they witnessed me in moments of panic I struggled to control or was unable to hide. Now I realize that anxiety is just part of my life and that by making this move abroad, I can show others also suffering through similar anxiety that you can push yourself and succeed. Your anxiety in no means defines who you are. In fact you can take a giant leap into the unknown and feel scared, and things will turn out just fine. Don’t let your fears, or anxiety, keep you from facing your living your life.
Moving here to Spain, between the life style as well as just living abroad has made me so much more relaxed as a person. The life-style of “no pasa nada” “tranquila”, have really helped me to just disfrutar la vida. Compared to the lifestyle in America the lifestyle here in Spain is 100x more chill and laid back, and right now this is exactly what I need. Also living abroad helped me put things into perspective, there are such bigger things to do, to worry about. And there is so much life to live. Living here has really taught me so much about the world and about life …. everything feels almost as if I am wearing glasses for the first time, there’s an overwhelming amount of clarity coming into my life after doing this job. My anxiety no longer controls me, I’ve taken control of it. It can not beat me.
I’ve thought long and hard about what I want the message of this post to be. Mental health issues, such as anxiety, are rarely spoken about publicly and I’m pretty sure that most people who have read my blog have had very little idea of the battles I’ve faced. I’ve always given the impression that I decided to travel, bought a one-way ticket and happily hopped on a plane to start my new life. (which is true, but it’s more than that… it was a great decision, but also a hard and scary one… I had know clue what was to happen with my anxiety. This was either gonna help it or make it worse, but I had to try something…)
To those of you who suffer from anxiety, I want to say that life can get better. That it’s possible to turn your life around and not always have this constant feeling of anxiety and panic. You can live your life, and be the person you feel you are.
To those of you who struggle with anxiety and are thinking about traveling, I want to say that you should go for it. I can’t tell you the amount of times I nearly cancelled my trip because I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it —but I have handled it, in fact better than I could imagine. Travel has healed and helped me in so many ways, so don’t let your fear of the unknown prevent you from trying it, too. Go out, explore, and live your life.