How Anxiety Has Changed Me

I’ve always been known for having a very strong character. I’m usually not shy when voicing my thoughts, and I’m certainly not afraid of saying them to your face.

I’ve also been known to be very confident. I love challenges and love challenging others; I felt no fear for the future.

I remember feeling annoyed by people who under-performed and/or didn’t seem to have their life in place. I despised to see people not being able to surpass their emotional challenges, and in a way, I felt superior to them because I thought I was stronger than they were.

That was me then.

I’ve been deeply struggling with anxiety for the past few months. See, anxiety starts in the mind with thoughts of failing, with beliefs of not being good enough, and with the fear of not being sufficient.

It reflects in the body. My thoughts cause my heart to race. I lose the rhythm of my breath. It feels as though I’m about to run a marathon or that I just ran one. My heart starts to race even faster, and I feel it all over my chest… it starts hurting. What feels like an eternity has only been a minute. It happens in class, or at church, or even in my sleep… and I can’t control it.

It then translates into your social and personal life. Having constant anxiety attacks can cause your body to feel weak; similar to the way your body feels when you’re sick. You also feel emotionally exhausted and don’t feel motivated to do much other than sit in bed and try not to think but simply relax. This can cause people to not perform to their fullest potential and to lose all desire to be their best.

I used to believe people needed to be strong enough to get past whatever they were going through. “Life is tough. Get over it.” And in a way, that’s true. However, I learned that some things are bigger than us. Sometimes, it will be easy enough to pick ourselves up from the ground, and there will be other instances where we’ll need a hand or two and perhaps a longer period of time.

I’m writing this post because I want to raise awareness on mental illnesses. Yes, anxiety is a mental illness, and it can happen to anyone… even the “toughest” girl who thought she would never EVER experience something like it. Like any other challenge, I know I’ll surpass it. It’s just going to take a bit more time and a whole lot of support.

I’m not here to victimize myself or to try to make this all a pity-party. NO! I’m putting myself in a VERY vulnerable position in order to advocate in favor of a society that will be more sympathetic to people who are struggling with challenges like these.

I’ll go out into the world with a smile on my face not because I’m pretending but because I genuinely like people and love to smile. There are others, nonetheless, that do have to put on a mask and go about their day suppressing every single thought of worthlessness in order to survive.

Please, remember that everyone is fighting a battle; some (like me and maybe you) with themselves. Try to keep this in mind every time you interact with others. It’s the little things that can really make a difference.

Also, be aware of people that might be showing signs of being emotionally distressed. “Let me know if you ever need to talk” is a phrase I’ll hear constantly. But when you’re feeling low, you don’t really feel like going up to someone and spilling all your negative vibes on them. We won’t necessarily reach out. So please, if you find it in you, be the one who reaches out first and constantly remind us that you are here for us. Support is so big, and it can play a huge role in how fast and how successfully we’ll recover.

Moreover, I’m here to tell you that if you are or ever happen to go through anxiety or any other disorder, GO GET HELP! I’m not ashamed anymore to say that I’m getting help and have been doing so for the past year. We’re all humans and at times, we might need to seek aid with someone who does this professionally and is passionate about it. They have the tools to help us combat our troubles. Seriously, go! For my Penn State friends, below is a link to the school’s counseling services in case you or a friend want or need to check it out https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/

Having anxiety has made me a more sympathetic person. It’s insane how rude I was at people I didn’t even know without stopping to think about what they could have been going through. I now try to control what I say and how I act, because I realized how much of an impact I can be on someone going through a hard time.

I’ve also become more aware of mental illnesses and have decided to break away from the taboos that come along with them. Like I said before, we’re humans, and we’re not perfect. Seeking help and/or even receiving medication isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of will-power, determination, and perseverance.

Life can be unfairly tough sometimes. But remember that the best go through the worst. You will get over this coming out greater than ever, because believe it or not, you ARE strong and are destined for marvelous things.

P.S The picture was me dressed up as Ronda Rousey for Halloween yesterday. I actually picked up boxing a month ago as a means of alleviating my emotions. Though I’m not even half as badass as Ronda, I decided to be a fighter to symbolize how I’m battling through these struggles.  Like Ronda, I won’t back down from the fight … without winning.

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