What It Feels Like to Have Separation Anxiety
Having Separation Anxiety (SAD or SepAnx) is no joke. It is like any other types of anxiety, and if you think it's nothing serious, you're wrong.
Have you ever had that feeling of being alone when so many people are around you just because you're not in the presence of someone you are comfortable with? Like a child without her teddy bear, like a newborn baby without her biological mother. You feel cold and helpless. You feel lost.
Even people who are old enough can feel this. It starts when you're young and develops as you grow older. Some get better and some get worse. In my case, I got worse. When I was young, my brother and I were always left in the care of our helpers. When I woke up, my mom would not be there and she comes home whenever I'm already asleep. My separation anxiety has gotten worse every year.
Here are the things people with sepanx, like me, experience:
- You freak out a lot.
When a loved one is holding your hand and they let go of it just for a split second, you would completely lose it. You freak out in large spaces thinking that nobody is there to guide and protect you.
- You feel lonely.
Even in crowded places, you feel lonely just because you are nowhere near the person or the place you are strongly attached with. You feel alone. You feel so cold.
- It's difficult for you to detach yourself.
This is the major problem of those who are experiencing sepanx. This happens when a loved one leaves for good. They find it very difficult to divert attention to different things, especially feelings. You would automatically fall apart and wait for something or someone to come and save you.
- It feels like you have no will to live.
You shut down. You no longer know how to feel or function properly. You cannot leave the boundaries of your home or the arms of your loved ones. Your life is the bicycle and they are the training wheels; you cannot move without them beside you.
- You feel very angry and agitated.
You get angry even when they just went to the store to buy something without saying goodbye. You feel troubled that they won't come back but you wouldn't want to show it on the outside, instead, you'd just get angry.
- You find it hard to sleep alone.
You can no longer sleep alone thinking that a monster would come and take you away from them. You experience having nightmares and waking up in the middle of the night with the feeling of hopelessness, making you crave for the warmth of their body next to you.
- You get so jealous.
When you see them with someone else, and you freak out. You're scared that they'll leave you soon for someone better. You get jealous, like a poison inside you that's trying to get out. You feel insecure,
- You cry uncontrollably.
You become emotional. You cry over the smallest things like when they slightly raise their voice at you or when they look at someone else. You have this burden inside, a heavy feeling as if you are not important anymore.
- You are so clingy.
You cling too much to people. You are too sweet, too near, too close. You get touchy most of the time to the point that they would not be able to get some space to breathe.
- You're always worrying and overthinking.
You overthink. Always. you're always thinking about what you should and shouldn't do. Or if you did something wrong and leave you because of that. You constantly torture your mind of the things you did and the things you didn't do. Everything is a big deal to you because there are things you don't want to lose.
It is always different for everyone but these are things people with sepanx experience mostly every day. If you think that you are going through the same thing, try to do something about it because you can't always depend on someone else. You only have yourself. The world is already scary as it is, and we all know that not everyone stays. People change just like the weather does.
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First. Pixie dust and paper cuts – these are the first things Wendy knew about Peter Pan. Aurora first met Prince Philip when she was sixteen. Learning how to ride a bike was also a first while I was growing up, but you are probably the first of too many. The first collection of dust and stars; maybe Luna will try to ask, who was your first? I might answer and tell her that it was you.
The first of too many stars in the sky. You are the first of too many fallen leaves during fall – and you will be the most anticipated snowflake as winter comes. A dark path that you can’t see without any light, hence, you were once the moon and there are the stars that shine so bright at night. Are we too early? Or we just really want to be ahead of time? Even in a glimpse, I would like to see the two of us connect as if we can reach the sky. There are other parts of the heavens you have never saw and other oceans you haven’t laid your feet onto – but the constellations will always wait for you. Close your eyes, love, close your eyes. Start counting backward: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Count backward until you see the twinkling lights that will guide you to the right path. To the right satellite; to the right person. A first.
There are many firsts – first love, first heartbreak, first sport you played, the first thing you do in the morning, the first thing you remember about the person in front of you. There are a lot. It’s actually up to us how we will consider something as a first. So, Primo, you are already a first of too many.
If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.
And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.
Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.
Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”