Twisted in Knots: A Memoir of Living with Childhood Anxiety

I sat in the unfamiliar building waiting for my name to be called. The waiting room was old and dusty; with green plastic covered chairs and stacks of thick pamphlets. I shuffled through them when we arrived, each one explained a different problem; I couldn't bear to look past the covers. The office seemed so big to nine year old me; with its high ceilings and old fashioned architecture. The book I had brought with me sat unopened in my lap; there was only one thought on my mind. I don't want to be here. My mom sat next to me; shuffling through her magazine. She looked so calm considering the circumstances. It had been a few weeks since I had told her about the extreme stress I had been feeling all the time. She took the executive decision that the stress had gone on long enough and scheduled me a therapy appointment. Hearing the news had filled my stomach with more knots than usual. I had always associated therapy with being sick, and I didn't want to be known as that. My mother looked at me then and gave me a smile filled with pity. She reached over and squeezed my hand which calmed me down a little. I heard a loud click which came from the opening and closing of a door down the long hallway. A middle-aged woman walked into the waiting room and shook my mother's hand. She was very tall and thin; with long brown hair that trailed down her back. She turned to me and gave me a warm smile. “ My name is Theresa, it's very nice to meet you,” Her voice was soft and soothing as she reached out her hand. I took her hand and mumbled my name. Meeting new people always make me feel uncomfortable and awkward. She led us down the hallway of different therapists until we reached the door at the end. Unlike the other bland doors, Theresa's was decorated with drawings that I presume were drawn by other clients; each filled with glitter and the waxy marks made by crayons. She twisted the heavy doorknob and led us into her small room. The room was even more colorful than her door. Floral curtains covered the windows and matched the chair coverers. Even more, drawing littered the walls and the room smelled like a lavender diffuser had just been running. I took a seat in one of the flowery chairs; comparing how much more comfortable they were to the ones in the waiting room. She settled into the chair across from me and smiled. “So Devyn, tell me about yourself.” I continued to explain myself to her; I told her about my interest in science, specifically plants, my growing passion for writing, and my friends at school. I told her about how much school meant to me and how I felt the pressure to always succeed. I watched as she wrote down everything I said; occasionally nodding her head. Then she asked me to explain how I felt when I was stressed. “Well, it feels as if my stomach is twisted in knots all the time. I can't shake the feeling of failure even if it's the smallest mishap,” I muttered the words meekly. Theresa closed the notebook on her desk and offered me a sad smile. She then explained to me that I probably had anxiety. She told me that I was putting too much pressure on myself and that I needed to loosen up a little bit. She also told me that anxiety is very common in many people and as long as I worked on it, I would be ok. It has been five years since that day, and I am lucky to say that I don't suffer the way I use to anymore. I do not see Theresa anymore, but she will always have had an impact on me. She taught me that stress is not an illness and that I will be able to work through the bad times to get to the good.

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