Anxiety and depression are two things I've struggled with all of my life, but they were also two things I could never put a name to. In middle school, I believed my mannerisms were something everyone else around me was going through as well.
High school was okay because I was constantly surrounded by people I loved, but as soon as I got to college, it was as if I transformed into this completely different person. My grades dropped, I was losing weight, I was constantly sick, and it felt as if no one around me knew what I was going through or even really cared.
But I'm here to tell you that that's definitely not the case.
Before I could fix myself, I had to name what I was going through, and I think that was the hardest part. I was ashamed to say I faced anxiety and depression because I didn't want to come off as broken. I'd always been known as that "bright and smart" girl, someone who was always smiling and optimistic about whatever she was facing. Someone who always loved everyone else and had no time to worry about herself because she was constantly putting others first.
I was so afraid to label myself as these negative things because I've always been taught the more you label yourself, the more you're limiting yourself from reaching your full potential. But when I was labeled as optimistic, I felt I had no right to be down about things. When I was labeled as smart, anytime I didn't reach the highest level of success, I felt like a failure. When I was labeled as selfless, I felt as though I had no right to worry about myself or my own wellbeing.
The sooner I accepted the feelings I was facing and that I wasn't the only one facing them, the sooner I was able to heal.
The sooner I realized it was all in my head, the easier it was to get rid of those feelings. I began to learn that the trials I was facing weren't normal like my middle school self had convinced me they were, but after being able to name what I was going through, I was able to accept it as it was and push myself to heal. And by push, I mean literally push. I stopped calling my family during breakdowns and instead listened to music that distracted me. I stopped canceling plans with my friends and forced myself to go out because I knew I would have a good time if I just went. I stopped skipping meals just so I wouldn't have to walk across the quad, and my body is thanking me for it every day.
I realized it was okay to feel sorry for myself, but feeling sorry for myself didn't have to include moping around all day. Instead, I started treating myself to getting my nails done, splurging on those new boots, or small things such as buying ice cream with the spare change in my glove compartment. Feeling sorry for myself meant going above and beyond to make myself smile, worshipping more to heal my heart, and spending more time with the people I love to feel whole again.
Now I'm healing, but it's still something I still struggle with to this day. I still think about skipping meals, my anxiety attempting to convince me not to take the short walk across the quad. I still think about bailing out on hanging out with friends. I still think about skipping class. I still struggle with seeing the positive things about waking up in the mornings, wanting nothing more but to curl into a ball and cry until I fall asleep again.
I still struggle with naming the things that I'm feeling, and where they come from, but I'm also learning.
I'm learning not to be ashamed of who I am. I'm learning to find joy in the little things, such as a warmer day than the one before, or a free coffee from the little breakfast shop. I'm learning that what I'm going through doesn't make me weak. I'm learning that I'm not a burden, and the faster you can accept what you're feeling, the faster you'll be able to heal, too.