Discussion of news topics with a point of view, including narratives by individuals regarding their own experiences

Anxiety Chronicles is a series from The Lily that examines the journeys different women have with anxiety.

This week, we hear from Nyrza Castro, a 30-something mother, self-proclaimed bookworm and lover of crime podcasts. She lives in and enjoys the desert.

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My history with anxiety

I remember feeling overwhelmed whenever my parents would leave for a simple night out. If they didn’t return by the time they said they would, I would assume something terrible happened to them. I would exhibit this same behavior whenever they were a few minutes late to pick me up.

I was diagnosed with anxiety in college after my parents noticed I lost a lot of weight — my hair began to fall out in clumps and I wasn’t sleeping. They took me to a family friend who is also a physician. He asked my parents to step outside and then he asked me questions about college and life in general. He later stated I was exhibiting “classic” signs of anxiety. I was prescribed Wellbutrin, which I took at night. The best way I can describe being on Wellbutrin is your body going through different levels of trying to calm itself until you ultimately fall asleep. I was on it for about a year before being taken off of it.

My relationship with anxiety is ever-changing.

I’ve come to realize that perhaps I need more than therapy. I don’t want to pass on my anxiety to my child, so if there’s a need for me to need to be on different medication to help me live my best life, that’s okay. It doesn’t make me less of a person.

How anxiety presents itself physically

My heart races, chest tightens. My shoulders and neck tense up. When it’s very bad, I begin to tremble, and when I can’t stand the physical symptoms, I begin to cry.

How anxiety presents itself mentally

My mind is my biggest naysayer. It tells me the worst is yet to come, that this is only the tip of the iceberg, that it can and will get worse.

What a day when my anxiety is at my worst looks like

Every day, I expect some sort of catastrophe to occur. I think of the millions of horrible things that can happen to my child, my family and myself. It remains on replay for the entire day.

I may look fine on the outside, but inside I’m fighting a battle I feel I can’t win.

By the end of the day, I’m exhausted but afraid to sleep for fear of the thoughts following me.

My go-to coping mechanism

Being alone. Breathing techniques have also worked very well for me recently.

What I wish people knew about anxiety

I wish people knew that there’s isn’t an on/off switch.

People with anxiety live in the limbo of fight or flight; that’s where we are.

Also, if someone just takes the time to listen to our irrational thoughts, it makes all the difference.

‘It feels like my body is literally caving in’: This is how I experience anxiety

‘No one understands the paranoia’

‘I had to control whatever I could’: This is how I experience anxiety

Extending myself grace and compassion has been a huge coping technique for me

‘Swamped by massive feelings of inadequacy’: This is how I experience anxiety

My coping mechanisms include yoga, therapy and meditation