My Journey with Anxiety

It was summer 2013.  My middle school graduating class had just graduated. We were all happy, proud and glad to have graduated- it was now time for us to relax, enjoy summer and get ready to start our freshmen year.

I was enjoying summer.

Until one day things started drastically changing…

I used to love to sit in my room with the AC on, my door closed and my music blasting in my headphones. One day while I was in the house, my parents were outside doing yard work, cutting the grass and washing our cars.

I was fine. I felt fine.

But by the end of summer, I had started bringing my laptop out into the living room. I would always freak out, scream and cry when one of my parents would do the smallest chore inside the house such as laundry. I didn’t know why this was happening to me. Everyone thought it was just stress and that it would pass.

I didn’t know it yet, but my demon—my enemy—anxiety was hunting me hard.

It got even worse when I started my freshman year. I was a 13 year old who was shy, reliant on everyone for help and non independent at all.  One day, during my 1st period class I lost my prescription reading glasses- my Para who worked with me helped me look everywhere, but we couldn’t find them. My teacher told me to step out of class for a walk to calm down because I had started having another full blown melt down (I had already had another that morning.)

My Para and I started walking. She stopped and looked at me with a worried expression and said, “Jules, this isn’t like you to have two meltdowns in one day…I think something may be wrong.” I would usually have none to one meltdown a day and if I did have one, I would get over it quick and be fine.

But something felt different.

I got on the bus that day drained and tired from having those two meltdowns. But while on the bus, I had another meltdown. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head…

Something was very wrong.

When I got dropped off in my driveway I was in tears. I quickly drove my wheelchair up the ramp, walked in the house and slammed the door behind me. I looked right at my mom who was sitting at the dining room table.

“MOM, HELP ME.” I screamed in hysterics while hyperventilating. Tears were rolling uncontrollably down my face. “I’M HAVING ANXITEY.”

My mom knew she needed to get me help. She knew I had a problem.

She was on the phone every hour of everyday, calling every therapist she could find online. They would give use every excuse when my mom would explain my problem and say I desperately need help. “We don’t treat adolescents.” Or “we don’t take your daughters insurence.”

One day, I was fed up after what felt like the 300th therapist call. I was giving up hope that I would be able to get help. I was done. I wanted the anxiety to just go away. I wanted my life back. I wanted to be the strong, independent Juliana that everyone knew. I didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling anymore.

But I couldn’t find that Juliana.

I didn’t know who I was.

I looked at my mom, helpless, upset and frustrated.

“I want to rip my chest open and pull the anxitey out, wherever it is. I want to pull it out!.”

My anxiety was making me feel delusional.

For those that are wondering. No, I was not suicidal. I just wanted it to be all over.

I talked to my grandfather and told him what was going on. That we were struggling to find me a good therapist. His VNS nurse was coming that day and my mom was going to go see him and be there to advocate for his needs when the nurse came.

He must have told his nurse what was going on and that we were struggling. The next morning she called my mom up and said, “I found a great therapist for your daughter. She a friend of mine and her and her office is right in North Haven. Call her and make an appointment.”  My mom let out a sigh of relief. When my mom told me what my grandfather had done for me I thought about it as him telling me, “I’m not going to let you harm yourself, I’m going to get you the help you really need.”

We made an appointment with the recommended therapist for that next week.

We went in and explained my problem. She said she would be able to help me get better. But she looked at me firmly and said, “You need to be committed to doing the work. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. If you can’t commit, I can’t work with you.”

I knew this was my last resort. I knew I needed to feel better even though it was going to be hard.

“I looked at her again. “Yes, I said “I’m ready.

I was pretty much going to her every week the first few months I had kept everything bottled up inside of me for so long. I was numb and bitter to the anxiety. Every time we would touch on it—even just a little rub—I would cry.

I had a healthy support system but there’s always that one in the bunch that doesn’t give you support.

That next week, my aunt was off from work. Being the good niece that I was trying to be, I brought her in to meet the therapist thinking she would be on board with it, and support me.

But she was not.

When my therapist talked about getting me evaluated for anxiety meds if it didn’t go down after a certain amount of weeks, my aunt was in the room. When she heard that, she got furious and started yelling at my therapist.

“DON’T YOU DARE GIVE MY NEICE MEDICATION!” She screamed, “SHE DOESN’T NEED IT.”

With that, she grabbed her purse, jumped up and stormed out of the room. The door slammed behind her.

And it hurt me.

It hurt that my own flesh and blood aunt, the one that’s suppose to support and love me no matter what, no matter how good or bad something was- she’s suppose to support and be there for me. I needed her support now more the ever

I had no choice after that but to go on with treatment.

Now, three years later, I’m doing great and feel better than ever. I can now stay home by myself for up to four hours, be in the house while my parents do things without screaming or freaking out or crying hysterically. Those anxiety attacks come on sometimes, but I have learned to cope with them. My anxiety isn’t half as bad as it used to be.

I found who I am again.

I found myself again.

I have my life back.

I feel free.

The anxiety will always be there. But, I will never again let it be the way it got to be three years ago.

I am very proud of what I’ve done in just three short years. I know my thereipist; family and friends that have been there since the beginning of this hard battle to conquer my anxiety are too. And it still hurts to this day my aunt didn’t smarten up and decide to be there for me.

To my anxiety: I just want to tell you, “YOU LOST THIS BATTLE AND I WON!”

I hope you all can walk away after reading this and tell yourself if you’re going through this exact same thing- and you can’t admit that your mentally sick and need help, do it sooner than later, don’t procrastinate, seek help before it’s too late! I promise someone is out there wanting to help you. Do it to help you find better heather you! Do it not just for you-for all the people you love! There’s help out there for anxiety- You just need to reach out. I know you can do it. just believe and trust the process.

-Juliana Ruggiero

 

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Juliana is 18 years old  and started college in September of this year. She enjoys writing, working with friends and family, and running her own blog. She  hopes that her words inspire others. own blog.