My Struggle With Anxiety

My Struggle With Anxiety

How my high school experience influenced my mental illness.
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Wake up. Go to school. Do extracurriculars. Walk home. Do homework. Remember to eat. Try to sleep. Repeat.

That was my life for several years. I knew I was... different. I was terrified of people, nervous about anything and everything and had less energy than my friends. Growing up, no one noticed. I was always in honors classes, had the highest grades in school and was the model student.

By sophomore year of high school, I couldn't deny it anymore. I managed to keep my grades up and go to club meetings, but I stopped eating and sleeping. I had a panic attack every week. I bit my nails so badly, my fingers were torn up. I knew I had to do something before I got any worse and listened to the voices in my head. I was–finally– diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and Depression. After two years of taking medication and going to intensive therapy, I learned how to manage my mental illness. I graduated valedictorian with a full-tuition scholarship. I still can't believe that I did it: that I stayed in school... That I survived.

With this amazing transformation from timid girl to confident woman, people often forget why it took me so long to get help. No one noticed my illness because I seemed normal–perfect– and didn't fit into any boxes. It wasn't obvious to people that I was drowning in my thoughts. I had to find the courage within myself to reach out for help; it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

Students, like myself, often slip through the cracks. It took me months to get the help and support I needed because my high school didn't deem me a 'high risk' student; I was at the bottom of the list for services. Students who are the model for others are usually the ones who suffer in silence because they don't show obvious signs of mental illness. I did for practically my whole life and didn't even realize it.

People often ask me why I share my experiences with others; how I can be so candid about my mental illness. The answer is simple: someone will get help after learning about my situation. I knew near nothing about mental illness; it was never taught in my health classes. When I was at my worst, my best friend guided me to the answers to all of my issues because she shared her struggles with me. If I can do the same thing for another student who has a well-hidden mental illness, then I know that the hell I've been through can become something beautiful. I want to encourage hope in those who can’t see the light anymore. I only saw darkness for a long time and I eventually found my light. I hope I can help guide students to their light, too.

Never be afraid to seek out help, no matter what people may think. If you feel like you are struggling and school is becoming hard for you (even if others don't notice) it may be time to take action. It is a long process, but in the end, you become a stronger person.

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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Dear Anxiety, Thank You For Everything You Do And What You Make Me Do

My anxiety definitely isn't an easy thing to handle, but I wouldn't give it up for the world.

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I've always been a worrier. As long as I can remember, I've spent hours upon hours overthinking even the simplest of things, like whether or not something I mentioned in passing twelve years ago could have upset someone. Even ask my mom, she'll tell you all about the times I used to worry about silly little things since I was able to really worry about things at all. Now, worrying about literally everything that crosses my mind may seem like a hassle, and it is, but I truly don't think I would be where I am today without it.

Anxiety is a bitch. There, I said it. Short and sweet. It sucks, in all honesty, and is one of the hardest things to overcome that I have ever experienced in my lifetime (Not that it's been all that long, but you get what I mean here, right?) I spend so much time worrying that I barely take the time to sit back and look at how much I have accomplished rather than how much I have left to do. For example, I have four assignments and exams standing between me and summer but am I focusing on how little that is to do? Nope. I am spending every waking hour panicking about when and how I'm going to finish that work when I know full well that I have more than enough time to do so.

Yes, my anxiety keeps me from seeing the positives sometimes, but it really does motivate me. I mean, why else would I be up at three in the morning writing a paper that's due in a week when I work at 7 a.m. and have more than enough time in the next week to do it? Thanks to anxiety, I'll be exhausted for the next 24 hours, but hey, that work that doesn't need to be done for a long time is done and I can sleep later. Or so I think right now. I'm sure some little assignment or task will pop up that I have to finish by June that I feel the need to cram for right now.

So I guess this is my thank you to my anxiety. Thanks for motivating me by causing daily breakdowns over dropping a bobby pin behind my mini fridge or a page long paper that I have to turn in in two months. Thank you for keeping me on my toes constantly and pushing me so hard that I somehow ended up so far ahead in my classes. Where would I be without you? Probably a lot calmer, but with piles of assignments to finish at an appropriate time.

Thanks for everything you do - and make me do.

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