I Grew Up Struggling With Anxiety But I Wouldn't Change A Thing

I Grew Up Struggling With Anxiety But I Wouldn't Change A Thing

Learning how to overcome your struggles is the greatest lesson in life.
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A few nights ago, I was laying in bed on FaceTime with my long distance boyfriend.

"If you could go back to a certain point in your life knowing what you know now, when would it be and would you change anything?" he asked.

I thought for a moment about the mistakes I had made and the hard times I had gone through.

"4th grade," I answered.

He asked why and I tried to gather my thoughts to explain.

4th grade was when I started exhibiting signs of anxiety but had no idea what it was. I was in the nurse's office almost every day with a stomachache or would have to leave class because I was having a panic attack and couldn't breathe.

Back then, I couldn't understand what was wrong and neither could anyone else. I remember having tests done on my heart, scans taken of my stomach and bloodwork done to try and figure out what was wrong with me. Being only 9 years old, it made me feel like a freak. None of my friends had these issues and though they tried to understand, I don't think they really did.

I remember my 4th grade teacher calling me out and making fun of me in front of the entire class, not hiding the fact that there was something wrong with me.

"Can you breathe alright over there, Megan?" she'd ask, a smirk on her face.

Everyone in the class would look at me and I couldn't help but know that they were judging me. I was accused of being a lazy, attention-seeking student even though I was in an advanced reading program, did well in school and was generally a shy, nervous person in front of others.

As the years went on, I got better at controlling my anxiety, but I still had breakthroughs where I couldn't. In 5th grade, my best friend and I went to see Ratatouille and we had to leave because something triggered me into a panic attack.

"At least I wasn't afraid of a movie about a stupid rat," she later threw in my face during a fight.

I couldn't explain to her that the movie probably wasn't the problem.

All through middle school, I did my best to control the feelings I had, and it worked. I found a group of friends and felt normal. When I hit high school, I finally felt under control. My anxiety wasn't a visible thing anymore; I could hide it well enough for people to think I was normal.

Going into my junior year, I had a panic attack the weekend before school and had crippling anxiety the first few weeks for reasons I still don't understand. At the beginning of August my senior year, I had something similar happen. I dropped out of my last class of the day and took an off-block because I literally couldn't handle being at school. I would go to my mom's office at her job and sit there to watch her work, blankly staring at the wall and wondering what was wrong with me.

It wasn't until my sophomore year of college that I finally forced myself to fix it. I had taken enough psychology classes (it's my minor) by then to have an idea that I probably had an anxiety disorder. I saw a psychiatrist at the student health center who later diagnosed me with a smattering of things, one of which happened to be anxiety.

"Did you experience stomachaches a lot as a kid?" she asked during my first appointment.

I stared at her. How on earth did she know?

"Did you ever have to leave class because you couldn't handle being there?"

As she went through the list of questions, I realized that everything that I had gone through was because of my anxiety.

Looking back, I realize how much easier it would've been for me if someone would've known that what I was dealing with was actually a problem, not something I was making up to get out of schoolwork or to get attention.

Growing up having to deal with something that you don't understand is one of the most difficult things out there. When my boyfriend asked me what I would go back and change, I said something that even surprised me.

I would go back to 4th grade but I wouldn't take my anxiety away. I would simply give myself the ability to understand what it was and how to cope with it. I would stand up to the people who made fun of me and made me feel like a pariah. I would explain to them what it actually was. Despite having anxiety, it's a part of who I am and who I have become.

If someone would've told 4th grade me that I would have moved 6 hours away and pursued a degree where I have to conduct interviews almost every day, get up and share pitches in front of newsrooms and have my writing published for many people to critique, that alone probably would've given me a panic attack.

Changing something about yourself might make your life easier, but it also erases everything you struggled through to get to where you are. Because of what I went through, I can now help other people cope with the same difficulties. On top of that, it gave me an unwavering strength to get through anything I set my mind to.

I hate that I had to go through something on the most difficult path, but let me tell you, it really feels rewarding when you reach the peak of the mountain and get to look back and see everything you overcame to get there.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Crabb

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An Open Letter To The Girl Trying To Get Healthy Again

"I see you eating whatever you want and not exercising" - Pants
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Dear girl trying to get back in shape,

I know it's hard. I know the hardest thing you may do all day is walk into the gym. I know how easy it is to want to give up and go eat Chicken McNuggets, but don't do it. I know it feels like you work so hard and get no where. I know how frustrating it is to see that person across the table from you eat a Big Mac every day while you eat your carrots and still be half of your size. I know that awful feeling where you don't want to go to the gym because you know how out of shape you are. Trust me, I know.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Trying To Lose Weight In College


The important thing is you are doing something about it. I'm sure you get mad at yourself for letting your body get this out of shape, but life happens. You have made a huge accomplishment by not having a soda in over a month, and those small changes are huge. I understand how hard it is, I understand how frustrating it is to not see results and I understand why you want to give up. Being healthy and fit takes so much time. As much as I wish you could wake up the day after a good workout with the 6 pack of your dreams, that just isn't the reality. If being healthy was easy, everyone would do it, and it wouldn't feel so good when you got there.

Remember how last January your resolution was to get back in the gym and get healthy again? Think about how incredible you would look right now if you would have stuck with it. The great thing is that you can start any time, and you can prove yourself wrong.

Tired of starting over? Then don't give up.

You are only as strong as your mind. You will get there one day. Just be patient and keep working.

Nothing worth having comes easy. If you want abs more than anything, and one day you woke up with them, it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as watching your body get stronger.

Mental toughness is half the battle. If you think you are strong, and believe you are strong, you will be strong. Soon, when you look back on the struggle and these hard days, you will be so thankful you didn't give up.

Don't forget that weight is just a number. What is really important is how you feel, and that you like how you look. But girl, shout out to you for working on loving your body, because that shit is hard.

To the girl trying to get healthy again, I am so proud of you. It won't be easy, it will take time. But keep working out, eating right, and just be patient. You will be amazed with what your body is capable of doing.

Cover Image Credit: Stock Snap

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Yes, Sometimes My Anxiety Makes Me Want To Stay In Bed But No, It's Not Because I'm Lazy

Luckily, my anxiety has been something that I haven't been struggling with in a long time, but this semester, things changed.

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Anxiety. Something which is surprisingly still seen as a taboo topic to this day, but also something so many people around the world struggle with. I am one of those thousands of people struggling with it and while it is never easy, mixing it in with a full class load is not the best mix.

Luckily, my anxiety has been something that I haven't been struggling with in a long time, but this semester, things changed. Anxiety isn't something that is always easy to find the root cause of or what triggers that horrible anxiety attack. But I soon realized that maybe school and this semester is where the root cause is.

College is a big change in your life, whether you are a Freshman going into your first semester, or like me, a Junior who has been through a couple of semesters already. And with this comes a lot of emotions, both good and bad. And sometimes, those bad are unbearable.

It is hard to describe what anxiety is to someone that has never experienced it before. It is a feeling that you really don't understand unless you feel it. But the best way I can describe it is if there is something you are stressing out about but it suddenly becomes the only thing that you can think about. Sometimes you can't really tell what it is that you are stressed and anxious about, you just have a knot in your stomach and feel uneasy.

Along with anxiety sometimes comes the anxiety attacks which honestly feel like you are in hell. The hyperventilating, the sweaty hands, the out-of-body feeling. The worst holy trinity known to man. No, we are not faking it or making this up when we say we are having an anxiety attack. The panic is real and sometimes it happens so fast we can't stop it.

Now add in all of this stress and anxiety with a full load of classes, homework, any clubs or activities you are in...college is a busy time and it can be hard to find a few minutes to de-stress and take care of yourself. There are so many other responsibilities in your life now and it's not easy to balance out getting your work done and going to whatever obligations you need to be at while also making sure you are eating and sleeping and relaxed enough.

This really takes a toll on your mental health. I for one can tell you for a fact that it can get so hard to balance your mental health and school work. While it seems like a no-brainer to put mental health over classes and homework, it isn't always that simple. You need to make sure you are going to classes and doing your work on time. Of course, you can talk to your professors but they can only do so much.

With everything being said, I am here to say that yes, you can get through this. Surround yourself with positivity and when you have downtime, make sure you use it to take care of yourself. Take each task one step at a time, and don't stress about the future as much but focus on the here and now. I know, a lot of this is all easier said than done, but I know you can do it.

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