Sarcasm Central

The Way it Was, Back in the Day

I grew up in a religious family.  I went to church every single Sunday. I was told not to have sex before marriage, not to drink or party and because of this I hid a lot of what was going on with me from my family as a teenager.  They knew about my panic attacks, how could they not?  I had been dealing with it since I was ten years old.  It’s the things they wouldn’t approve of that I kept secret.  They didn’t know about my drinking, they didn’t know I had sex, they didn’t know I stopped using condoms because I hated how they felt or that I was terrified of pregnancy for 2 months, they didn’t know I got Chlamydia and started taking birth control after my first ever gyno appointment, they didn’t know how much I partied and danced during my freshman year.  They knew none of it.  I was very very good at hiding it when I was around them.  I hid how miserable I was.  I hid everything in my scribbled notebooks or  in my tears in my bedroom.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I finally came clean to my mom.  I sat her down and I told her a lot of what happened that year and about how stressed out I was.  She was shocked but she felt for me as well.

My mom is a quiet person.  She suffers from anxiety just like me.  She always thought she was crazy.  She didn’t know what was wrong with us, just that something was off and she had felt this way since she was a child.  It was much much later in life that she learned that her father also suffers from panic attacks.  It’s not her fault, but I think I grew up thinking it was a huge secret because she didn’t talk about it all that much with me.  The reason was because every time she talked about it, it triggered her own anxiety.

So I was in hiding.  Normally I’m not a someone who hides things, I’m a pretty open book, but with this…it was a big secret, it was something I knew people wouldn’t understand.  And even though I lived at home, my parents had no idea what I was going through during my freshman year of college.  They didn’t know where I was late at night, they didn’t know I was spending the night at my boyfriend’s apartment, they didn’t know I got trashed or high just so I could hang out with my friends and because..shit I was having a good time.  I didn’t want it to stop because it made me feel…normal and wild.

So they didn’t know I needed help.  They didn’t know I contemplated suicide.  They didn’t know there was help to be had.  This was year 2000 and into 2001 and I never learned about panic attacks in high school when they taught us about mental health.  Sure, we learned about all the other typical mental health diagnoses, but not that.  Even I didn’t know there was help or that what I was going through was something that others experienced too.

The internet was pretty new back then and that’s how I finally figured out what was wrong with me.  I googled it and I think it was probably on dial up. I read stories online about people like me.  There wasn’t much but it was enough for me to put a name with how I was suffering.  It was enough to feel like I wasn’t completely alone.  But it wasn’t enough to make me want to spread the news to my friends.

Even now I don’t broadcast it.  Hiding it became a way of life.  Keeping it inside or only letting it out to a select few is how I operate.  But I wrote a book about it, one word, one sentence, one anxiety ridden scene at a time.  I opened myself up because I did everything wrong that year.  I placed myself in a life or death situation because of my choices.

If I’m honest, would I change it if I went back in time and lived it again?  Would I have stopped drinking if I knew what I know now?  Would I have decided that rebellion against the religion I was brought up with was setting me on a path for destruction or that partying, sex, and drugs were going to drag me down into thoughts of suicide?  I’m not so sure.  I’m a stubborn person.  I learn from my mistakes…eventually but dammit, I thought I was having a good time…and I was…until reality slapped me in the face.

And now today… life is still a struggle, every day.  Every single day.  I vacillate between happy, depressed, panicked and sometimes the thought that death is my get out of jail free card.  Nothing new under the sun.  And my book, people love it or they hate it.  It’s almost controversial.  Either you get it or you don’t.  Either you’ve experienced something like it or you have the ability to internalize what it feels like or you don’t.  I can’t change that.  But I can say that I was honest.  And that’s all I can be.  Honestly me.

About Victoria Sawyer (283 Articles)
Victoria Sawyer is a blogger, author, graphic designer, social media enthusiast and mental health advocate. Shocking, honest, sarcastic and humorous, Victoria aims to make readers feel tangible emotions and physical sensations through writing that brings you into the mind and body of someone suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and this strange often darkly hilarious thing we call life. She published her novel Angst in 2013, which realistically and often graphically depicts life with mental illness. Along with crazy blogging, Victoria enjoys reading historical novels, playing with her naughty cats, engaging in rants and metaphysical existential meltdowns and using punctuation to excess in everything she writes.

5 Comments on The Way it Was, Back in the Day

  1. Anxiety aside (not glossing over it by any means!) you certainly weren’t the only teenager doing things without your parents’ knowledge. It’s a time of discovering who you are; your anxiety just added an extra (very intense) layer to it. Ha, it’s easy to forget how recent the internet is! Would you say the anxiety is harder to deal with when you try and hide it or don’t acknowledge it? There’s a great campaign here in Oz right now about dealing with anxiety and that you have to know it before you can deal with it and I think that’s very true.


    • Ha…the internet is so young! It’s weird huh?! Cell phones too. I remember at the time a friend of mine had a pager! Hmmm…I guess the anxiety is hard either way, if I acknowledge it or no. And usually I’m extremely in tune with my emotions and anxiety so I know what’s going on. You know what…part of me wants to remove this post. My own honesty kinda makes me anxious now and then. Is that weird?


  2. Your honesty and openness is amazing to me, I’ve got to say.
    And – also having anxiety myself – I’ve got to tell you that you’ve got some MAJOR guts to just throw your life out there for the world.

    As always, you are just super impressive to me.
    I was going to say something about being lucky to have found your blog and privileged to read it, but I figured it would be way too sappy and just . . . yep.
    So, implying it is enough, I think.


2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. When Life Gives You Shit, You Give it Hell | Angst
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