Breaking The Stigma
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Health and Wellness

Breaking The Stigma

How opening up brought me closer to myself and my peers.

Breaking The Stigma

There is no shame in having and coping with any mental health issue. I had let it take control of my mind and body for years until I harnessed it and channeled the anxiety to bolster my self esteem, confidence and sense of self. I would be a lesser person today if I had not been at war with my anxiety—a war I would go on to win. Everyone is capable of living the life they need to, in order to fulfill their souls and mind. Once we break the stigma of anxiety within ourselves, we can break the stigma in society and all better because of it.

I arrived at college last fall full of excitement and mild trepidation. I was venturing out of my perfectly comfortable home life and catapulting into the unknown, all by myself. This leap is challenging for all. However, after struggling with severe anxiety for five years, I found it absolutely daunting and (at times) just out of my reach. Leading up to my arrival, I grappled with the need to expand my world, rid myself of all worries while desperately trying to suppress my natural instincts to succumb to the fear. Bypassing all of one’s initial thoughts and feelings is grueling—forcefully pushing through who you are in order to become who you aspire to be. My biggest enemy was my own mind, and once I accepted that I was able to begin the fight.

I did it, though, because I realized that I just had to exist here instead of at home. I worked closely with the disability center over the summer in order to be given a single room to help the transition. However, a single room as a freshman is virtually unheard of and the questions accompanied it. “How did you manage to pull that off?” “What did you do to get this nice room?” “Do you know how lucky you are?”

I would take a breath and respond, “Oh, well I struggled with anxiety for a lot of years so I just talked to the disability center about living alone to help manage it.”

The response I received truly shocked me. It began a dialogue between us, one full of openness and comfortable sharing. I learned, rather quickly, how many other people are living with the same ongoing challenge as I am. By simply acknowledging this commonality, I began to feel more content with my life and the new experiences I was able to tackle.

It all started with this crazy, unheard of thing called the truth.

No matter how much joy this brought me to hear, I could not help but feel saddened that it took me this long to simply tell the truth. I spent years disguising my anxiety to everyone and this had lead me to disguise my honest self in the process. I became unrecognizable to the people around me, including myself, all because I could not rid my mind of the horrible stigma that accompanies a mental hardship. The moment I embraced it, I found myself again and began the journey to live the adventurous and exciting life that I always wanted to. We all need to stop hiding behind society's shame—because once we do we can all grow.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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