I’ve had anxiety my whole life, but I didn’t really recognize it until high school. I remember back in elementary school, I was constantly worried about things and overanalyzing everything. One instance was when my mom was running late to pick me up from my after school program. I was thinking the worst, that she may have forgotten about me, and I was crying. This happened on more than one occasion and I was constantly concerned that something happened to my parents. Then when I was in high school, I started sleepwalking, having panic attacks about projects, and just constantly stressed about homework, classes, and applying for college. On top of this, I decided to join a website where you can anonymously send people questions/comments and I thought it would be a great way to boost my mood, that maybe people would say nice things to me. It was probably the worst thing I could’ve done because I had people bullying me–telling me that I was ugly and had bad teeth, I didn’t dress well, that I was annoying, and some even body shamed me. This really didn’t contribute well to my self esteem, but I eventually deleted the site and I tried not to pay attention to those comments because I know I have great teeth, I like the way I dress, and I’m not changing for anyone. I’m glad I was able to overcome this obstacle in my life.

It wasn’t until I started college that my anxiety got progressively worse and I was still trying to understand what I was feeling. I was sad and having panic attacks and I was irritable. I had breakdowns every time a new semester started, every time I had a paper due, or when any conflicts occurred. There was a point where I felt like I was at my lowest. People who I thought were my friends betrayed me and backstabbed me and I was feeling like I was ganged up on. I had to change that scenario and move on, which was difficult. Being in a new environment was terrifying and I felt alone. Luckily, I had and still do have a great support system and I was able to find myself amazing friends who lifted my spirits and I felt whole again. Since then I’ve graduated, but I’m still learning to deal with my anxiety and it’s a continuous battle with my mind. I really want to be positive and happy all the time, but it’s really hard when your mind is constantly telling you that you’re not good enough or that the scenario you keep making up in your head will happen. One of the things I struggle with the most is that I’m always thinking about the worst things that could happen and no matter how hard I try to tell myself that it’s not reality, that thought becomes engraved in my mind. My anxiety has definitely made me hit some roadblocks and it stops me from doing everyday things that people usually do with no problem, like driving. These fears are real no matter what people may think and it’s hard for them to understand why I have these irrational fears. I have to tell myself that it’s ok to be fearful and that what I’m feeling is valid. What other’s opinions on it may be doesn’t matter and shouldn’t matter and it’s not my job to force them to understand and accept it if they don’t want to.

Anxiety is no joke and it’s something I have deal with every day. I don’t want to hide this part of me and I think it’s important to share my story so that others who struggled with it can know that they aren’t alone. I don’t know if I can ever fully free myself from this mental illness, but I know that it’ll get better the more I keep working on it and bettering myself.

It’s okay to NOT be okay. We can’t all be perfect and the struggles we go through aren’t permanent. My mental illness doesn’t make me any less of a person. It makes me stronger and more brave because every day I push through and fight my battles.

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