My Disorders Don't Define Me, They Made Me

My Disorders Don't Define Me, They Made Me

You are more than a medical diagnosis.
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Since I was little I can remember getting that tightening feeling in my chest and could instantly feel my heart race faster and faster when my parents wouldn't pick up the phone right away or when I couldn't find my mom in the grocery store in less than a minute or if something was out of place in my house I would stare at it and let myself get nauseous until it was fixed. Car rides became excruciating because of all the possibilities for accidents or poor weather conditions and news updates sent horrific images into my mind, family trips in crowded areas were unbearable at the thought of losing my parents and never being able to be reunited, and messes at school made me cringe.

I didn't know what any of this meant or what it could be until I got older. I didn't know as a young girl what anxiety or OCD meant or how they affected me. Why it bothered me so much when my crayons weren't in color order or why I would lose my breath and start to shake and cry when my parents would't be home by the exact time they had told me. The kids in my class would stare at me when I kept messing up my notes so I would have to smash up the paper and re start over and over and over until my handwriting was perfect and every important fact or term was color-coordinated.

My parents would laugh at me when my morning routine would get thrown off and I would break down in hysterics because I am so incredibly regimented. My mind is an itinerary and cannot function out of order, my body will shut down. You don't grow up knowing you have a disorder and you almost don't want to know. There is a hidden stigma associated with each psychological disorder. When most people I've encountered hear "anxiety" or "OCD" they tilt their heads in an odd way and start to analyze me from head to toe. "But you always look so happy and put together?" is a common question my friends would ask. But very few would see me start to tear or hear my heart thud when I would look at my agenda. If I saw more than a few assignments scribbled I would suddenly start to picture the rest of my entire educational career and life. I would start to question every single aspect of my life and worry about events and situations that could never possibly happen or wouldn't be occurring for years. "How many friends will I still have in a few years?" "The world is falling apart how am I going to fix it?" "Who is going to win the election, how will the U.S. change, what if there's another war?" "I'm scared to die. What happens when you die? Will I feel pain?" A simple task at hand could make my brain explode into a journey of unsolved problems and issues that would tear my mind apart and make me drive myself insane. The heart palpitations would kick in and the paralyzing fear of the most absurd unrealistic scenarios could make me ball my eyes out.

I'm thankful to have such supportive family and friends who have helped me learn how to cope with my anxiety and OCD whenever I really start to lose myself. I've learned to take a step back and ask myself if what I am losing my breath over is realistic enough to be so entirely scared of. How to calm my heart palpitations and not cry over having a lot on my plate, but instead making lists and crossing off each task one at time. How not to assume the worst and have a panic attack about dropping out of college and changing my major because I did poorly on one single exam. How to avoid making myself lose sleep over what the world is going to be like in 10 years and how that might affect my decision to get married or have kids. Most importantly, I have learned how to take a step back from life sometimes and focus on little things that make me happy so I can replace the panic and fear and anxiety with a positive activity that I enjoy and can see the good things within. Painting canvases, writing for the Odyssey, working out, going to the beach and just listening to the waves all can take me to an alternate reality where anxiety can't take a hold of me, but I can take a hold of myself. In the grand scheme of life I like to believe that each one of us has a purpose here on Earth and that each battle we face or obstacle placed in our life is a part of that purpose. So I do not let my disorders define me and let them engulf me in their negativity, but I learned how to let them mold me into a better human being who can slowly learn to enjoy life and not worry about the next hour of the next day of the next year of the next lifetime. No, I do not let my disorders define me because there is more to life than days spent panicking or hours of re-organizing and re-writing 3 or 4 times over. There is a life full of opportunities and success for each and every one of us that we cannot let a disorder hold us back from all of the greatness we've yet to experience. So go out there and show the world what a girl with anxiety and slight OCD can do, because she's pretty awesome if you ask me.

A verse that has helped me through it all:

Matthew 6:34

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Cover Image Credit: Katie Crawford Photo Series

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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​The Motivation To Get Back To The Gym Only Comes From Yourself, Not Online Fitness Influencers

After a long winter break, are you ready to get back to grinding?

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My winter break was filled with time spent with friends, family, working, and of course, eating lots of food!

Too much food to be completely honest. My holiday food baby is still kicking with late night cravings, and endless amounts of french fries that I absolutely DO NOT need to keep consuming from different restaurants.

My latest excuse from bringing myself to the gym is from being too tired- although I work incredibly late (till around 2 A.M almost every night) I can't help but feel drained and empty the next morning to get myself up, and run 2 miles on the treadmill. It just doesn't make sense to me why I would do such a thing when my body is clearly over-exhausted from late nights at work.

Getting to the gym is like a mind game- you wanna go and get back into shape, but you feel restricted when you haven't been there in approximately 9 years. You have to get in the car that's freezing, walk into the gym filled with people who are in much better shape than you are, and find some way to get yourself motivated to get back on the grind you used to know and love before the holidays started.

Working out in this society is something many post about on social media, especially influencers. Fitness guru's flood Instagram and YouTube with the latest workout routines, as well as show off their "bikini body" and their body progress. This can easily make women who are not consistently going to the gym or eating health feel bad about themselves because they may not have the same body figure. Although it could be motivating to see others working out online, it could also be damaging to one's mental health when they don't have the same level of motivation or body figure.

It all comes down to your mindset and attitude about working out!

Sitting in bed waiting for yourself to just go back to the gym and pick up from where you left off isn't going to make the process any easier. Relaxation mode is completely different than the grinding mode, people! If you want something to change, whether it is to lose weight or just to tone certain parts of your body, it won't happen unless you put effort to do so. This means your body, but also your mind needs to be ready to make that change. If you are in the mindset that you want to sit back and relax, there is no doubt that you wouldn't have a good work out because the entire time you are tirelessly running or lifting, you would be wishing you were home in bed doing nothing.

Your mind needs to be equally as prepared to set goals for yourself in the weight room.

The best ways to motivate yourself to get back to the gym are pretty simple- changing your diet by including healthier options could help, drinking lots of water, and even putting on a pair of work-out leggings could put you in the mindset to get back to the gym. As long as you are working out to better yourself physically and mentally, and not comparing your body type to others on social media, you will feel more positive and get a better work out in rather than feeling the need to compete with others.

Working out regularly is about self-growth- it's about doing what you can to see the changes you want to make with your life. It won't happen overnight, but it is possible! It is finally 2019; a new year filled with new beginnings. Put yourself out there, get motivated, and do what you can to live a healthier lifestyle.

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