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.

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

Popular Right Now

22 New Things That I Want To Try Now That I'm 22

A bucket list for my 22nd year.


"I don't know about you but I'm feelin' 22," I have waited 6 long years to sing that and actually be 22! Now 22 doesn't seem like a big deal to people because you can't do anything that you couldn't do before and you're still super young. But I'm determined to make my 22nd year a year filled with new adventures and new experiences. So here's to 22.

1. Go sky diving.

What's crazier than jumping out of a plane? (Although I'll probably try indoor skydiving first.)

2. Go cliff jumping/diving.

I must be the only Rhode Islander who hasn't gone to Jamestown and jumped off a cliff.

3. Ride in a hor air balloon.

Up, up and away.

4. Try out skiing.

Cash me in the next Olympics, how bout dat.

5. Try out snow boarding.

Shawn White, I'm coming for you.

6. Go bungee jumping.

Because at least this time I'll be attached to something.

7. Go to Portugal.

I mean I'm Portuguese so I have to go at some point, right?

8. Go to Cape Verde.

Once again, I'm Cape Verdean so I have to go.

9. Vist one of the seven wonders of the world.

I mean hey, Egypt's on, my bucket list.

10. Try out surfing.

It's only natural that somebody from the Ocean State knows how to surf.

11. Learn a new langauge.

Because my little bit of Portuguese, Spanish and Latin isn't cutting it anymore.

12. Travel to a state that I've never been to before.

Fun fact: I've only been to 17 of the 50 states.

13. Go paddle boarding.

Pretty boring but I've never done it.

14. Go scuba diving.

I'm from the Ocean State so I guess I should see the ocean up close and personal.

15. Learn how to line dance.

There's actually a barn in my state that does line dancing, so this one will definitely get crossed off.

16. Go kayaking.

All this water around me and I haven't done a lot of the water activites.

17. Stay the night in a haunted hotel room.

I bet if I got my friends to come with me, it would be like the Suite Life of Zach and Cody episode, minus the ghost coming out of the wall but you never know.

18. Get my palms read.

Because who doesn't want to know their future.

19. Go to a medium.

Like a medium that can communicate with people that have died.

20. Take a helicopter ride.

Air plane: check Helicopter:....

21. Sleep under the stars.

Because sleeping in a tent is more like glamping than camping

22. Just to try new things in my everyday life.

Whether it's trying a new restaurant, getting something different at my usual restaurants, changing my usual style, going on the scary rides at amusement parks, and bringing things I used to do back into my life now.

Cover Image Credit:

Author's illustration

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

12 Mantras For When Life Decides To Throw Everything At You At Once

Life can be hard especially when everything seems to be all happening at once.


Everyone has those couple of days, weeks, or sometimes even months where life just seems to throw everything your way.

It may feel like everything is downward spiraling exponentially and nothing is ever going to be okay again.

It can feel like you're drowning in your issues and won't ever be able to resurface.

Then, finally you think you got ahead of the game and boom... something else happens that throws another wrench into your life.

This can be detrimental to one's mental health and can ultimately decrease productivity.

It can also lead to outbursts, negativity, mood swings, headaches, unhealthy dieting, lack of sleep, etc.

But, as we all know these times are all just a part of life and everything will turn out to be okay eventually.

Although we know it will be okay eventually, eventually may seem like a lifetime so, here are some mantras that help me get through all of the challenges that life decides to throw at me:

1. Remember your character.

During tough times it can be really easy to lose who you are. It can feel as though you are drowning in your thoughts, your feelings, and life itself and because of that, you may turn into someone you would typically loathe and that no one wants to be around. Take some time to go outside where your space is filled with nothing but the pure sounds of nature and really reflect on who you are and how you want to handle the situations you are in.

2. Everything going on will come to an end.

When one thing after another keeps happening it may seem never ending but I promise you, it will end. Keep this in mind during times like this because it will help you get to the end of it faster. Telling yourself that everything will be okay soon will make your attitude towards the situation more positive which will not only make the situation not seem as bad but it will also help you get to the end quicker.

3. You can't move on to the next chapter if you're stuck on the last one.

Allowing yourself to accept and move on from situations is a big part of helping yourself through life's struggles. If you keep harping on everything that keeps happening to you chances are more things are going to happen because you are perceiving your current state of life as being negative. Start to think positively and you will be able to move on to the next chapter.

4. This is only going to make you stronger.

Taking different angles and approaches to your struggles is key in tough situations. If you fail a test you're going to take a different approach to the next test so, that you can hopefully receive a better grade. Try to think of your struggles in the same aspect and you will undoubtedly become stronger and more prepared for the next time life throws everything at you.

5. I can do this.

Sometimes all you have to do is just tell yourself "I got this." Grab your situations by the horns, conquer them, and move on.

6. Deep breathe in, deep breathe out.

Breathing is the most overlooked solution to problems but often the most helpful when done properly. Taking a few minutes here and there out of your day to simply breathe is something that is easily manageable for anyone and can help ease the mind immensely.

7. Your present situation is not your final destination.

Your present situation is just a small portion of your lifetime. You have so much more to experience, learn, and grow from. Remember that.

8. If you won't remember it when you're 40 it doesn't matter.

Chances are that when you are 40 years old you aren't going to remember that time in college when life threw struggles at you left and right. It may seem like the biggest deal in the world when it is happening but there are so many more important things that are going to happen to you.

9. All I can do for right now is my best.

If you're doing your best and that's all you can manage then that should be good enough for you. Don't stress.

10. I am in control.

You are in control of your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and actions but nothing else. You are not in control of what happens to you but you are in control of how you handle it. Take what happens to you and trust yourself to handle it and handle it well.

11. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their own dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Just because you are going through some hard times doesn't mean you should lose sight of your dreams. Use the beauty of your own dreams to help you get through your struggles.

12. One step at a time.

When life decides to throw everything at you at once taking one step at a time is the most important thing you can do. Even the smallest step towards solving your problems can make a world of a difference during times like these. Don't pressure yourself. Forward is forward.

Cover Image Credit:


Related Content

Facebook Comments