I am more than my anxiety

Photo courtesy of stepbystep.com

As a young girl, I grew up with the stigma that a lot of girls experience: Pressure to be better or be the best. It is not the fault of one person or a single group of people. It is the result of a society built to tell people that they are not enough.

I quickly developed what I have learned is anxiety. Everything I do must be done perfectly until the subject can be put to rest in my mind. The problem with that is (other than the obvious obsessiveness of it) there are more thoughts in my head than I can deal with at once, and the more that I add to it, the less likely I am to put any of them to rest. I have experienced panic and anxiety attacks since my sophomore year of high school. When the plethora of thoughts becomes too much, my breathing gets short, my eyes fill with tears and my legs give out. It is debilitating, to say the least.

When these attacks started happening, I thought that I was simply being dramatic. Dramatic is a word my “friends” used to call me when I would worry over all the small things that they dealt with so well. I felt utterly alone. Anxiety wasn’t something that I knew about; it wasn’t something that I thought of myself or the people around me having.

At first, I kept it to myself. I didn’t tell my parents the problems that I was dealing with, and I underestimated anxiety’s power to even my best friends. That proved to be more difficult than I thought. I started to have attacks in public places, like in class or at marching band rehearsal. People started to notice that I wasn’t OK. They asked me questions and gave me hugs. I slowly realized as there were so many loving people around me that I wasn’t alone. I had support from my friends and family. I started finding other people who suffered from this mental illness as well.

The lessons that I have learned from my anxiety are immeasurable. One of the most important one is that it happens to everyone. People from all walks of life I encounter on a day-to-day basis deal with this terrible problem. They don’t deal with it in the form of stressing over a night of homework, they deal with it in the form of a constant monster on their back.

Although everyone who has anxiety processes it in different ways, I find one thing we all have in common. We all need to know that we are not our anxiety. This does not apply to just anxiety disorders, it applies to all mental illnesses. When you are diagnosed with a mental illness, you do not become it. You are still everything that makes you who you are. This lesson is most important when it comes to healing and dealing with the everyday burden of your illness.

Another lesson, I will reiterate and everyone needs to absorb (those with and without a mental disorder), is that it happens. That is it. It can happen to all people, despite age, gender or race. It happens to the strong and to the weak, to the small and to the big. It happens to those of all religious and cultural backgrounds. It happens, and can happen, to anyone.

By: Emily Price ~Guest Writer~