Posted in Shattering Stigmas

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay by Carolina Santana

Shattering Stigmas is about being candid and honest about our mental illness to end the stigma that causes so many of us to be silent in the first place. Today, on my first official day of guest posts, I am so thrilled to share Carolina’s beautiful and honest essay about her anxiety. When she’s not writing kickass posts for me for Shattering Stigmas, you can find Carolina on Twitter or on her blog, Santana Reads.

I’ve been putting off writing this for a while, mainly because I wanted to be in the right headspace. But also, because I’m anxious about my problems not being as big enough as other people’s. That I’m making my anxiety up.

Funny, huh? I’m anxious about my own anxiety.

I’m pretty sure I haven’t always been like this. I was a dynamic student in elementary; always wanting to be first-in-line to help. I loved singing in school activities, I loved raising my hand to answer questions in class. Yet, with time, I realized my shyness developed into something bigger.

Whenever there was a new kid, I never went over and said hi, like the rest of my classmates. When teachers sent me to run errands, as much as I enjoyed it, I never knocked on the door, to make it as quick as possible. And if I ever had to give a message to a certain group of people, I always whispered to the teacher, “My teacher told me to tell you to tell them.”

No, the teacher didn’t send me here to tell you that you need to tell your class something. It’s supposed to be my job, I simply just can’t bring myself to do it, for some reason.

Once I graduated from elementary, something changed. I closed myself off from the world. The overachiever in me, the #1 fan of school everyone despised, because who the hell would love school in the first place, disappeared. I lost my love for studying. I stopped caring. Slowly, I started relying on TV shows and books.

To this day, I’m still uncertain as to how and why it happened. Maybe it was my old school’s toxic environment. Maybe, my used-to-be friends’ digs on how every teacher preferred me and put me above everyone else, finally got to me after years. Cause hey, all I was trying to do was be me and do my best.

Maybe, the moment in which I finally realized, “Hey, maybe I like girls” was also a turning point. Or maybe it just happened for no reason at all, because life can be like that sometimes.

To be honest, sometimes I hate talking about my anxiety, because there has been this stigma built by society about mental illnesses that I can do nothing about. Sometimes, I hate making new friends because it means opening up and explaining why am I the way that I am. Why can’t I breathe properly whenever I’m going to give a presentation in front of my class? Why do I constantly avoid my friends and close acquaintances when I care about them so much? Why is it mentally and physically impossible for me to go out if it isn’t with family? And when I do go out, why do I have breakdowns when I’m in the car? Does that make me whiny or spoiled for not wanting to go somewhere? Why do I have panic attacks over my grades when everybody else is perfectly fine with a B or C?

The truth is, I don’t know.

I spiral a lot. About coming out, accidentally outing myself, my friendships, and my future. My brain traps me and sometimes all I wanna do is cry. For no reason. Or somedays there is a reason, like heteronormativity, everyone secretly hating me, and fucking society.

I feel empty and exhausted and stupid and meaningless and really, what’s the point?

What’s the point of all of it? What’s the point of life?

I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself.

Why can’t I just talk to them? Why can’t I just go over and say hi or wave or smile like a normal person? Why can’t I just tell them I like boys and girls and enbies? Do I have to explain what being enby is? And do I have to explain it’s similar to being genderfluid, in a way but not really, which is what I feel I am some days? Am I really gendefluid or am I just stupid? I’m so stupid. This stupid math exercise.

So simple, yet so complicated. Makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry. Because if I can’t do a math problem without sobbing my eyes out, can I really achieve anything in life? I’m doomed.

As dark as some days can be, there’s also good days. There’s always hope. After all, for a tunnel to be a tunnel, there has to be a beginning and an end. And as scary and lonely and obscure the path to the other side, there’s always gonna be a little ray of sunshine. A whole-ass beam, perhaps.

Everyday, I’m grateful for the friends who are there for me. For books, which are my escape. For all the opportunities life has thrown at me. For my mother, who knows me inside out and always tries her best to understand me and get me in every possible way. And I’m grateful to God for giving me the strength to keep me going.

Folks, the ride may be bumpy, but I believe with my entire heart that the destination is worth it. Your voice matters. Your feelings and thoughts and emotions matter. You matter, and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Enter our *international* giveaway for a mental health read of your choice!

Interested in more Shattering Stigmas posts? Check out this post that Ben, another of our amazing co-hosts, put together listing every single Shattering Stigmas guest post and giveaway so you don’t miss a thing!

5 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay by Carolina Santana

  1. Oh, I feel this so hard, Carolina. I have anxiety too, which veers mostly toward social, and it is a damn challenge. I spiral sometimes, and I constantly second-guess myself when it comes to my relationships with other people. I constantly wonder why I can’t just talk to someone without worrying about what I say and how they’ll think of me, and I definitely have to tell myself often that they don’t really feel what I think they do. I’m just projecting. I wish it wasn’t so hard; anxiety is a pressing weight and tiring and I’m sorry you deal with it too. *hugs* Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve really seen myself in what you said. I was just like you raising my hand in class to answer questions, talking all the time, then one day my old-shell was gone. I buried myself in stories. (well, still am! )

    It’s really brave to have shared your story, Carolina. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As someone who also has anxiety, so much of this resonated with me. The “being anxious about your anxiety” thing is SO REAL. and because social anxiety is really fun, I constantly question whether the people around me notice my anxious behaviors and think they’re strange. All of this to say, you’re not alone. But yes, there are definitely good days to savor amongst all the bad ones! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, Carolina!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post is really, really, really…well, it really hit home and I can completely relate to the way you described your anxiety and your feelings about it, too. Thank you so much for sharing, Carolina ❤ ❤


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