Annoying. Too optimistic. "Wait until you hit the real world- life won't be too happy then".
I have heard these phrases throughout my entire life. Starting in childhood, all the way up until a few hours ago, these phrases and others alike have been an attempt to label me. My younger self always took these slanders to heart, and I really never understood why. I desperately wanted to be normal, to not live in a state of extreme happiness and extreme worry.
Young individuals everywhere around us live with this same state of mind, yet don't receive the help that they need at an early enough age. When I was 21, I was diagnosed officially for the first time with an anxiety disorder. I felt that I had closure, and that I wasn't just immature- I was struggling with something out of my control. However, I couldn't help to think about what my younger years would have consisted of if I had received help earlier. Trust me, no one is to blame here. It is normal for younger children to "act out", or be perceived as just being immature. Deep down, most teenagers who have an anxiety disorder really don't want to act the way that they do- it is just their natural reaction to things that normally don't provoke anxious reactions. From elementary school onward to September of 2019, one of my biggest problems was walking into a room. Whether it was a classroom, getting up to use the bathroom, or walking into the household goods office, I would stand outside the door and think of every possible reaction of whoever was inside that room. "Would they watch me leave? Are they going to judge how I look? Is my outfit going to shift the wrong way and end up making a fool out of me?" These were all thoughts that normally would leave me breathless either entering or leaving a room, or that would even make me stop and give up completely. I wanted so badly to just get up and go to the bathroom without worrying- but nothing I told myself ever worked. My anxiety had me shaking during my end of tour award, to the point where things became blurry because all I could think about was the fact that I was standing in front of 100 people- when I should have been happy to finally be at the end of my military contract. I had a similar situation two years prior when I was recognized by my chain of command for my performance at my first command- this time it was in front of over 700 people. My Commanding Officer called me on stage and recognized my work ethic- something I wish I could have heard. However, my mind was focused on one thing, which was the fact that I was now being judged, being looked at, and what people were thinking. My anxiety had led me to a point where I couldn't even take a shower home alone, due to the fear of someone breaking in and the water causing me to not be prepared. I could no longer live comfortably, and enjoy life.
Added on, I had struggled with traumatic events during my naval service- those I will not go into detail about. Over the years, I developed severe insomnia, constant nightmares, and a constant questioning of why those things had happened to me. With the weight and unneeded guilt from the previous anxiety diagnosis, I now was diagnosed with PTSD on top of that. I still have yet to fully accept that diagnosis, however I am mindful of the fact that I knew something was wrong and I needed help- ASAP.
Many people question those that open their deep selves up to others with the information of their diagnosis. It is an extremely brave thing to do- however many are shut down as a result. "How can you have anxiety when you're such a happy-go-lucky girl? Why can't you just control your mind? You need to learn to grow up.". Let me tell you, from someone who has dealt with this personally: Everyone who is dealing with a mental health issue, has tried their hardest. It probably is one of the hardest things that they have dealt with their entire life. Those with anxiety have tried to talk themselves down, just to face their fears and lose all control they had. They try to act "normal", but normal to them is too depressing to endure forever. It's like somebody is on your shoulder and begging you to just do whatever it is, just for your mind to remind you of every horrible situation that could occur if you proceed. Many of us who deal with this daily end up missing out on some beautiful moments, and friendships, due to this underlying fear of "what-ifs", that we have absolutely no control over. We beg God to just let us "grow out of it", and without help, there is nothing that can be done.
My anxiety has succumbed because of medication. It is still there, however my physical body and the mind that I do have control over now rules my life, instead of the what ifs. Countless people have disagreed with my route, but that is just that: my route. That goes for everyone who is on medication and those who are berated because of their decision- your life is yours, and if it helps you, who are they to judge? Who are they to tell you how to live your life? Without the medication, I live life between two emotions: extreme sadness, and extreme worrying. But now I feel like I'm finally in control of myself. I have no fears of walking into a room, I have no fears of public speaking, and I take control during a group project. Fears of taking a class in college no longer exist, and my sleep is slowly returning back to normal.
If you suffer from anxiety, the best thing you can do for yourself is to open your heart to someone that will listen. That can be your primary care doctor, a family member, or the mental health crisis number. Living life should be something you can control, and one day your anxiety will be something that no longer controls it.