Will I ever be okay?: Everything is... - Anxiety Support

Anxiety Support
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Will I ever be okay?

Everything is unraveling.

I am a 17 year-old transgender male, and I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. In my childhood, the seeds of this vicious psychological anamoly were planted, and their thorny stems have followed me into adulthood.

My health has always been my worst trigger. I grew up with asthma and allergies, and I would end up in the hospital often because of it. Ravaged attacks in the nurse’s office, I cried for a solution to a persistent pain that no child could ever understand in their inexperience and mental maturity. When I look back now, I feel unsure of my “asthma attacks” as even being such.

My mother was afraid, and her fear often induced my own during these times. I remember one night going to the hospital because my heart was beating a marathon a minute while I was trying to sleep at night. How could I not be petrified?

Now, I am tormented once again by the snake of uncertainty. It wraps itself around my throat ensuring that I writhe, because if I do not; it is not fulfilling its purpose. I feel like I am no longer living. I have awoken everyday with the same symptoms of numbness in my face, weakness in arms and hands, I constantly feel like I am suffocating—as if instead of breathing I am holding my breath, I spend at least three nights a week worrying that I have some type of cancer, a throat infection, that my lungs are somehow dying, that I am all in all just dying.

At night, laying in bed, I am desperately trying to fall asleep with the sound of my haunting heartbeat filling my ears and deafening me to rationality. I am a vulnerable mess, and all I feel each day is an overwhelming feeling of dread, despite not thinking of much at all. There is always that tightness in my chest, that feeling as if I personally am no longer breathing, as I leave my body, and I watch the physical me’s chest heave in and out.

I want it to end.

All I could ever ask for right now is the peace of mind I honestly was rarely able to grasp at any point in my life.

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Seventeen, what I wouldn't give to be seventeen again. I mean it sucked in some ways, but it would allow me a do-over on my twenties so that my thirties would suck less. Anyway, enough about me.

I have good news. The physical symptoms resolve themselves quite quickly once you manage to get your anxiety to simmer down. I had all the same physical manifestations you're currently enjoying.

Two key things. First, being in that state makes you hypersensitive and runs your nerves ragged. Having ragged nerves means you're getting signals from all over the place - the wiring is frayed and it's overheating. Time off from that state will let your nerves return to normal.

Second, learn to stop giving a shit. Just stop. Don't be suicidal, that's not what I mean. Just teach yourself to give so little of a shit about dying that it ceases to be a source of panic. After all, that's the worst that can happen, right? How often do you hear on the news "seventeen year old mysteriously dies instantly due to weird lung...thing"? Not often. Maybe once a year? Out of 7 billion people? Are you really that fucking special that you'll be the poster child for a weird instant death syndrome? No. I'm not special, you're not special... We're just going to get fucking old and boring like we swear we won't and one day be hoping someone pulls the plug on our life support. I'm 42 so I'm halfway there.

Now is the time to give no fucks. There's plenty of time to worry about dying later. Go do shit you'll be too scared, too busy or too boring to do later.

You clearly enjoy writing. May I suggest that you use this horrible state of mind for good instead of self-torture? Take lots of notes. You may be able to draw upon them later when you can no longer remember what it's like to feel like the reaper is tapping on your shoulder every minute of every day.

This will pass. Go get your medical tests done so that you have that touchstone for moments of weakness. You'll be able to tell yourself that your lungs are at 97% capacity, that your white blood cell count does not indicate any form of cancer or infection, etc.

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I appreciate this comment for its genuineness. No worries though, despite constantly joking about the “release of death,” I have no true rational goal of expiring anytime soon. I do feel very trapped in monotony though. Hopefully when I see the doc soon these symptoms will become like old friends who I am no longer acquainted with.

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I'm sorry you feel like this. Anxiety can get better when you learn to cope with it and how to alleviate the symptoms. Look at nutrition and lifestyle too. Are you eating healthy? Staying away from caffeine and sugar? Get blood tests done too. Make sure you have enough B12 and vitamin D. Books about anxiety that help a lot are by Claire Weekes. With anxiety, we have good days and bad. With practice, we can make the good days more than the bad. During my bad days I l like to think of a quote by Winston Churchill: "Never never never never give up."

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I would like to say that I eat a pretty nutritious diet, get plenty of exercise, but yet still feel so on-edge. Thank you though. I have no desire to give up, but all I know is that I do not want to continue feeling this way.

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Things are likely to improve. You're only 17. I was also very depressed as a teenager. It amazes me how easy it is for depressed and anxious teenagers can be overlooked so easily. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Seek out a safe space that provides counseling services for teenagers in your area.

2. You mentioned that you're transgender so I suggest that you check out the Trevor Project. thetrevorproject.org/

I believe most trans teenagers find themselves alone in their gender identity experiences, so reaching out to people that understand your experience should be helpful.

3. Are you planning on graduating high school and going to college? If so, keep in mind that many colleges provide counseling services for students. I believe this sort of stuff is kept confidential from your parents. If you're concerned about that, you can talk to the counselors to make sure.

4. I can see from your post that you're a talented writer. Express yourself through writing. Journaling is so helpful when you feel overwhelmed by life. It can help you understand what is bothering you instead of letting it build up in your head. Journal throughout the day if it helps.

5. Hang in there. You're so young and you haven't experienced the freedom of being an adult yet. Your options for mental health treatment become more accessible and less scary once you're an adult. Personally, I would never want to be seventeen again, haha.

You will be okay. Don't give up on life just yet.

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Thank you for the tips. I do remember one of my therapists mentioning the Trevor Project to me, and I completely forgot to look into it, so thank you for reminding me of that as well. I do feel relatively alone, since there exists maybe only one (?) other trans individual in my school that anyone is aware of. Maybe one day I can touch base with someone face to face, and we can both exchange salty tears and nervous laughter.

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At your age I suffered and worried about a lot of the same things. I have to say, with age, at least for me, things have gotten better. I'm definitely not anxiety free but things have improved. When I think about what's helped, it's several things, being busy at work EVERY day and just busier in life in general, having gone through health issues (and still dealing with them), having a supportive husband who is very rational and having more of a stable routine. What also helped was learning that having all these scary thoughts actually just help distract us from REAL problems in life that we don't want to deal with. That was like a life bulb going on, now I know if I'm having scary irrational thoughts, I think "what's really going on here". Our minds are very clever, they know how to distract us. Sometimes it can be very hard to pinpoint and even if you can't, that's ok. A lot of symptoms you have to learn to "float with", let it be. Say I'm feeling pretty funky right now, but it's ok, I'm going to just allow myself to feel dizzy right now, or for my arm to feel weird and I'm going to float with it. I'm going to accept that this sensation is there, it's not going to hurt me, it's just anxiety and it will go away. Acceptance is probably the most difficult but the most important part of diminishing anxiety.

The older you get, the better life gets, trust me on this one!

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Sorry to hear of the anxiety that you are feeling. Have you asked your parents about talking to a therapist or a physician about the way that you are feeling? Perhaps, a talk with the guidance counselor at school would be helpful? Or visiting a church?

Have you ever seen this video? It might speak to the idea of self worth.

I would be glad to share some additional resources that you may find helpful. Let me know.

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