I was born anxious. No, really. I can't remember the person I was before my anxiety disorder, because that person never existed.
One of my first memories is me at age four, spread out like a starfish on the kitchen floor, crying and screaming because I had a UTI. The cold tile floor momentarily alleviated my pain. After that UTI, I worried when I'd get another one. I would say to my parents, "Pray that my privates won't hurt." This became my mantra.
In elementary school, while most kids love field trips, I was terrified by them. Field trips meant my routine would be disrupted. They meant I would be in environments that I didn't know or feel safe in. At the age of seven, I would worry about getting sick on a field trip; worried I wouldn't be taken care of, because I didn't trust anyone except my parents to take care of me. I'm fortunate I was able to trust them so deeply.
I was the kid in middle school who would obsessively check if her homework was in her backpack--ready to turn in the following day. I was the kid who gave enormous importance to school, teachers, etc.
That all changed in high school.
When I was 17, my three best friends (my three only friends) all were at a party that I couldn't attend. Since I wasn't there, they gossiped about me hardcore. They bonded over sending me 4 hate emails. I still remember how the first one began: "Well hello Mary Sunshine--How has the Queen of the Bitches been?" After that email, they each sent a personal one, letting me know what a terrible person I was, what a bad friend I was, etc, etc. They told me not to sit with them at lunch anymore. So... I ate lunch in the girls' gym locker room. The smell of B.O. and menstruation was rampant.
After all this, I got very ill. I couldn't eat. My digestive system was beyond fucked up. Nobody knew what was wrong with me. I finally had an abdominal ultrasound done, and all they found was "a lot of gas." During this time, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, put on Zoloft, and started therapy. I was out of school for four months. The whole experience was traumatizing, but it made me realize how nothing matters if you're unwell (physically and emotionally). I finally got a hold on my anxiety, but it's something I'll always deal with.
My parents used to joke and call me, "Princess and the Pea", because I could feel everything. I still can. And it's worse in a lot of ways. You'd think it'd be easier the longer you live in this world, but it just gets scarier. When you're a kid, sure, there is stuff to be afraid of, but let's be real--you don't know enough about life as a kid to fully be aware of all the potentially terrible things that could happen to you.
I am 29 (30 in December), and I'm still on Zoloft (and Xanax taken as needed). I still see a therapist (as needed), and I still work incredibly fucking hard to manage my anxiety. Is it better? I guess in some ways, yes. But, on those days where my bed feels like the only safe place in this world? Not so much.
I will always have a low buzzing of anxiety running through my blood. This I know for sure. I will always be working twice as hard as those who don't have mental illness just so I can appear normal. It makes me sad, sure, but... I guess I'm lucky: Lachrista Marie Greco never existed without anxiety--so I have no previous self to mourn.
This is all I've ever known. I'm all I've ever known.