My Anxiety, Part I: The Origin Story

Jen Sullivan
9 min readSep 12, 2023
A peaceful sunset in the place that was once my second home | photo by Jen Sullivan

In an attempt to explain my anxiety to my husband, I searched the internet for effective ways to do this and found a lot of useless information that was more often about positive thinking than actually living with anxiety. However, I did come across a few articles written by people who suffer from anxiety on the level I do — real people with real anxiety trying to explain what it’s like to live with this type of mental illness. Yes, I say “mental illness” because anxiety is a problem in the brain, not a way of thinking. It cannot be just ignored or cured through positive thoughts, meditation, or my doctor’s favorite prescription of “diet and exercise.”

The one thing these articles and many other websites that try to explain anxiety have in common is simply expressing the feelings and emotions that anxiety sufferers go through. It isn’t just stress and worry; it can be so much more than that. I have learned that experiences and techniques to overcome an anxiety attack vary from person to person, and I am realizing that is why nothing has ever helped me to cope: no one in the world is like me.

For me, anxiety comes in waves, sometimes stronger than others. It often helps when I write, whether that is a blog post, a researched article, or a fictional story. After reading a few articles about explaining one’s anxiety to others, I sat down to write, and that is just what I did: I wrote.

Let us start at the beginning.

The Origin Story

My panic attacks only started in 2016 and my anxiety has been increasing since then. I still remember my first panic attack: it was February 29, 2016 — Leap Day — and my mom was just about to drop me off at work. I had been sick, leaving me feeling extremely fatigued, and my job was high in stress from the beginning. I was the manager of the wine/gift shop at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire at the time. I loved that place and it felt like a second home, but upper management often treated me like a child, questioning my management style and leaving me out of important information.

On Sunday, February 28, 2016, there was a late-day show in the mansion and the wine shop had to stay open until after that show. No one had told me this until I was getting ready to close the store, eager to get home and…

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Jen Sullivan

I am a gamer, a geek, and a gardener, among many things. I enjoy writing as a way to share with others. You'll find no AI content here--I am a real writer.