An unpleasant bout of anxiety has resurfaced recently. It feels like a tiny aftershock after an earthquake–scary, but tiny compared with how it used to be. I feel lucky; I am able to forget on a daily basis how horrendously out of control anxiety can make me feel, otherwise I am sure I’d have much more fear of it coming back for good. It’s unnerving, though, to feel the symptoms of panic and anxiety again. I’ve been waking up with an anxious nausea that intensifies when I can feel my thoughts start to bounce off each other randomly, never connecting. The world seems much harsher—objects feel rougher, and I am constantly on edge. I am readying myself to fight a lurking danger that may never come to the surface.

Now that school and exams are over, I have nothing to help burn away my nervousness—school at least gave me something to channel my energy into. The anxiety just sits there, congealing into a sick feeling that hides in my throat. It’s frustrating—I am probably the happiest I’ve been in a long time, I have everything I could need or want. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get anxious, and being “happy” comes with its own set of obligations and concerns: the pressure to leave the house every day, the pressure to be productive, to put my newfound freedom to good use. Sometimes I just want to stay in bed all day—and I know that’s all right to do occasionally, but a new thing that happens is that when I try to, I get restless. I have friends and a boyfriend I want to see, and I worry about when and how I am going to see them. Making plans gives me a certain amount of stress that I can’t really explain.

I want to be less selfish; I want to look after my friends. The more I get to know them, the more I see how much unhappiness there is spread among us. Everyone has their own shit they have to deal with. In some ways, it was easier to manage when my sadness was isolated and could imagine that everyone else was happy, at least. I am not sure whether it makes me feel better or worse to know that others feel this sadness, too. It seems unfair when people I care about feel depressed. But it’s comforting to know that after everything I’ve been through, I am uniquely qualified to help them navigate through it. I can point out symptoms and effects, I can listen and offer sympathy, but I don’t know how to make it better for them. ♦