New York

1/30: Fight Fear

26. Fear: What scares you a little? What do you feel when scared? How do you react?

Credit: https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/

May starts Mental Health Awareness month. Approximately 1 in 5 people in the US suffer from some sort of mental illness. It’s a stigma that needs to be erased by talking about it and fighting out in the open to show those who suffer in silence that they are not alone. I figured I’d kick off this series with a dose of honesty. I deal with my own share of anxiety and fear. Every single day is a new vow for me to fight fear and do my best to not allow my anxiety to get the better of me. Some days I kick fear’s ass, others not so much.

The door opens and I step inside of the well lit tight space, it’s filled with other commuters getting around New York City. Sometimes they’re sleeping and weary from the early morning, others they’re wired with their to-do-lists trying to race home to their home lives with the small amounts of daylight that they have left in their days. I stand with music blaring in my ears and as far away as possible. Truthfully, riding the train back and forth to work scares me more than it should. I take the bus to get to the train and it rarely triggers any kind of anxiety but the train pushes it to happen. The crowds of people squeezing into a tight space just feels suffocating and life in the Big Apple of New York City could present tragedy at a moment’s notice so knowing I would have to combat those crowds who are usually self-serving 9 times out of 10 is unnerving. Add the below the ground factor away from any kind of resources but the scatter of subway rats and garbage and I’m in a tailspin of fear.

My best combatance of this fear is my phone and listening to music. While a lot of people discourage people to be glued to their devices (they’re probably right, but…), I find myself using mine as a life jacket of sorts. The music keeps me tuned into the rhythm and lyrics of the song versus allowing my mind to wander into the land of “what ifs” creating unneeded scenarios that may or may not ever happen. My phone has games or a book I’m reading to further tune out the mind wandering and keep me occupied instead of counting the train stops only.

Despite, my distraction of myself I do my best to stay tuned into my environment just on a less intense scale so that my brain doesn’t freak out my body. The physical symptoms of my anxiety can be very debilitating which feels a lot more dangerous than my multi-tasking with my phone. Extreme anxiety has been known to induce dizzy spells so I’d much rather find a happier, calmer mind set and have a safe commute versus working myself up and risking not getting to my destination in one piece.

What scares you? How does it affect you? Better yet, how do you handle this fear? Let me know!

Nervous Child in the City

I am born and raised in New York, the borough of Queens to be exact. While Queens was not as chaotic as Manhattan, I still consider my upbringing to be Urban. We played Manhunt in the street, we ran through sprinklers on the concrete, and backyards were foreign lands. As kids, we lived off the main avenue so we saw all types of things we probably shouldn’t have. Everything felt normal to me as a child because I was protected. I had an active father and a cousin living with us who would rid us of any bad thing or person if needed. I felt untouchable. However, as I got older things started to happen that made me a lot more self-aware.

The big turning point for me was September 11, 2001. I was in the 7th grade and thankfully home from school that day. I remember sleeping in and being woken by my father to let me know that the world was changed as we knew it. Two planes had driven into the Twin Towers and the entire United States watched as New York City burned. For the first time in my life, I felt fear in my home. Regardless of how big and strong the men in my family were, no one was going to fight this. We were officially overpowered and processing that at 12 years old felt impossible. We all slept in my parents’ bedroom that night, I laid awake staring at the ceiling because there was no distraction available that was going to change that day. Fast forward to present day and I’ve traveled the same path so many did that day for almost ten years now. Each day I’ve worked in Manhattan, I’ve always carried that in the back of my mind.

Living in a big city with popular landmarks, overcrowding, and some of the best tourist cultures will always make you susceptible to danger and it’s a fact that I’ve come to terms with. Traveling in this city can sometimes feel like you’re navigating the most dangerous of places but it can also feel like the biggest playhouse. It’s all about point of view. A lot of times I find myself wrapped up in the negative. It’s easy to feel that with the news and social media on a nonstop loop. It produces a case of the ‘what ifs’ and keeps me trapped in my mind with worry. The solution isn’t consistent enough for me to really produce one for anyone. Some days I’m above the worry and other days, I feel consumed by it making traveling on the trains and busses feel like a weight on me.

Does anyone else feel this in a major city? Or even smaller suburb areas? I hate to downplay New York because it gets a bad rap already but the truth is inevitable. As someone who suffers from anxiety living in a city like mine can be very scary and nerve-wracking. I’d love to hear some feedback on other cities and how people deal with their fears.