It's been 5 years. 5 whole years since the diagnosis of clinical anxiety. And no, I'm not someone who uses the idea of anxiety as something beautiful because the truth is, it's a monster. Anxiety is the monster that rules my life. It makes me question my relationships, my decisions and even myself. And that is something I would never wish upon anyone else.
"I'd never guess you have anxiety! You're so outgoing!"; That's the point. No one wants you to know they're struggling. It's so easy to hide behind a mask of conversations about your classes and favorite music than to tell someone about how you're really feeling. Because let's face it, "How are you?" is just an empty question. We answer it with "I'm good, how are you?" just ot be polite. No one really cares if you're "good" or not.
Anxiety makes it seem like the world thinks I am a burden. If my friends don't text me back within a few minutes, my mind jumps to the conclusion that I'm "annoying" or "unwanted", not to the reality that they're busy maybe in class or out doing something.
Anxiety consumes my thoughts and creates situations that aren't real. In the beginning of my freshman year of college (so this year), everyone on my floor would go out to the frats together. This TERRIFIED me to the point where I had an anxiety attack about the ideas I made up. I didn't end up going out with them just because of the storyline I wrote for myself. It seems ridiculous, but the reality is, it happens all the time. If I misspeak or say something wrong, the moment replays in my head for hours, sometimes days before I can let it go.
Anxiety isn't something to be "romanticized". Staying home because you're too consumed with your own thoughts to go out isn't fun. Being physically sick because of the way your mind works isn't cute and ruining your relationships isn't "aesthetically pleasing".
But, I'm lucky. I have a great support system of psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists as well as an amazing family that has supported me through the journey of dealing and keeping my mental illness under control.
I am not afraid to admit that I needed help, and it's the best thing I could've ever done. I go to therapy. I am not ashamed. I take anxiety medicine to help keep my stomach aches at bay and to help me stay healthy. I am not ashamed of who I am or where I've been, but I am always moving forward.
May is Mental Health Month. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, please check out https://www.nami.org/ for more information on how you can get help or Text NAMI to 741741 if you are in a situation where you need immediate help.
Let's end the stigmas around mental health now.