I was born anxious. No, really. I can't remember the person I was before my anxiety disorder, because that person never existed. 

I always hated being hot

I always hated being hot

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. 

Age 7-- leaving ballet class

Age 7-- leaving ballet class

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. 

Teenage Lachrista

Teenage Lachrista

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.

29... going on 30... but feeling 15

29... going on 30... but feeling 15

This is all I've ever known. I'm all I've ever known.

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