My Anxiety Story

Everything is spinning. No matter where I look, nothing stays in its place. I inhale, trying to take in oxygen, but my lungs won’t fill up. I exhale and try again. Nothing. Without thinking about it, I breathe faster; it’s got to work if I breathe more, right?

My head feels as if it’s going to explode. Ideas, thoughts, self-criticism, negativity, fear, anger; these emotions are swimming in my consciousness as if they’re large fish stuck in a too-small tank. They just won’t fit. I’m going to burst.

“I can’t fail,” I call out. The room goes silent. Three pairs of eyeballs stare back at me, unaware of what to say next. I don’t blame them. I know they’re just trying to help. I know that in my head, but something’s not connecting that to the rest of me. It’s fine. Everything should be fine.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder — specifically a panic disorder. I hadn’t been feeling so good for some time, but figured it was just a side effect of the “freshman five,” or the food I was eating at the student Union.

One night, however, after I raced to the communal bathroom on my dorm’s fifth floor to vomit blood, I knew something was wrong. The next day, I visited the doctor and it was determined I had a panic disorder.

It started with two types of pills; one I took on a daily basis as a way to build up my tolerance to stress, I supposed. The other was taken whenever I felt the onset of a panic attack.

A few months later, I noticed I was sleeping less. These sleepless nights weren’t just your average college student late-night studying — or partying, for that matter. I just couldn’t sleep. I would lie awake, staring at the ceiling for hours.

So, one more pill was put at my disposal. This one was to help the insomnia — something I later found out was a side effect of one of the other pills, not anxiety itself.

A few weeks later, I lost all motivation. I could barely get myself to class, much less wake up before 11 AM and get my homework done. I wanted to stay in bed. I wanted to get away. I didn’t want to be there anymore.

Yet another pill was added to collection — this time, for depression. What else could go wrong?

I took all four pills for another year. I was numb to life and everything it had to offer. I had so many side effects I didn’t even know what it was like to feel normal anymore. I thought: is this really the best way to deal with this?

After my sophomore year, I decided to transfer to a new school. By then, I lost all motivation in my degree, my education, and what I wanted my future to look like.

Switching schools meant I lost access to my $15/visit therapy and psychiatry sessions. This meant getting access to these pills was going to be a lot more expensive.

So, I stopped. I weened myself off the pills. I couldn’t afford them anymore, and I figured: what’s the worst that could happen?

I couldn’t recognize myself. I started sleeping again. I felt alive. I was excited to go to class. I graduated with a 3.96 GPA. I dealt with some pretty shitty stuff after I moved, but it didn’t break me. I turned into a completely different person.

I learned to self-manage my anxiety as best as I could; practicing breathing exercises, working out regularly, and eating healthy to maintain it as best as I could. It lasted for a few years, with only a couple panic attacks per month. I thought I had it handled. Pshh…who’s anxious? Not me.

In 2017, all my strategies came crashing down. My panic attacks began occurring on a regular basis again. I started feeling sick all the time. I felt nauseous. I couldn’t breathe right. I started to break at the smallest things.

I heard of CBD oil as a way to manage anxiety. I was nervous. Having grown up in a conservative family, I had never tried marijuana (even though it’s legalized in Washington), and haven’t ever wanted to. However, I heard that you can’t get high off CBD oil and thought it was worth giving it a try.

I did my research and found a highly-rated brand I thought I could trust and ordered it. The day it came in the mail, I opened my mailbox and picked up the package. I felt as though I was doing something bad.

Can you believe it? I nearly had a panic attack picking up the very thing that was meant to ease my stress!

I took the bottle out of the package and examined it. There was a dropper. The instructions said to fill it up halfway and drop the oil under my tongue to let it sit for 60–90 seconds before swallowing. I could feel my heart beating through my fingers as I squeezed the liquid into my mouth.

I didn’t know how I expected to feel. High? No, that wasn’t possible. You can’t get high off CBD. Tired? That wasn’t listed as a side effect.

In fact, what I ended up feeling was nothing. Well, not nothing. Just…no stress. The other emotions were still there, but the dark weight I got used to sitting on my chest had been lifted. I could finally breathe again. For the first time in years, I felt normal.

Around the same time as I made this discovery, I wrote a novel set in a Utopian future. In this world, anxiety — my biggest enemy — had been cured.

As I explore the magic of CBD oil, I’m also in the process of editing said novel and hope to have it out in the world by the end of the year.

Who’s This Chick?

I’m a Seattle-based content marketer and writer who loves exploring the topics of storytelling and community building. I help brands tell their stories and write some of my own. Outside of that, I’m an anxious introverted millennial looking to find my place in the world. :)

I was recently interviewed by Getting Work to Work where I discussed all things storytelling, the challenges with content marketing, and how I started a creative community here in Seattle. Check it out!

Learn more about me and see some of my work here:

Find me on Twitter: @ashhmarketing