My mental health has always been something I was aware of. You could say I 'won' the mental health lottery. Both women who raised me, my mother and grandmother, have anxiety and depression that is almost debilitating at times. So, it was no surprise when my sister and I started showing the same symptoms.
I remember being an anxious person as early as elementary school. Most of my anxiety showed itself in social situations. Most teachers would probably just have classified me as shy, and not thought much of it. I could never work up the courage to raise my hand in class, and if I had to do a class presentation I would do anything to miss school that day. I would also irrationally worry about germs and getting sick, to the point where I worried about it all day if I were at school. Even outside of school, I would have the same anxiety in most public situations, for example, not being able to order food at restaurants or avoiding friend's birthday parties. Up through high school, these same issues persisted, getting better at times, and worse at times. It affected my grades, my hobbies, and my relationships with friends and family.
Though I always knew I struggled with anxiety and anxiety-induced depression, I remember being very opposed to using medicine to try and help with it. I remember feeling like it would make me so much stronger and admirable if I could tough through it without any reliance on medicine. I assumed it would get better once I was out of the weird hormonal stages of high school. But years and years went on, and my symptoms never showed improvement. Once I started college, I even felt as though my symptoms were getting worse. It began affecting my ability to make and keep college friends, as well as maintain healthy relationships with partners.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a change of heart. I was talking and crying to my mom about how my struggles with anxiety starting to frustrate me and those around me almost daily. She mentioned medication, and how I should look into it if I've been struggling with this for so long. My mom has never been very fond of the idea of medicating for depression and anxiety because she had bad experiences while taking them. So the fact that she would tell me to look into it made me realize she thought it was getting pretty serious, and that scared me.
While it scared me, I realized thinking about looking into medicating was exciting. I had been almost hopeless for a few years at that point, but it felt like maybe I had another option to try. Thanks to my school's amazing psychiatric care, I was able to find a medication that can best help all of my symptoms of anxiety and depression.
I had always assumed that taking anti-anxiety medicine would feel like I had lost my fight. But now that I've been taking my medicine for a few weeks, I feel like it has given my fight back to me. I have hope again. Even if it takes a few more weeks to start kicking in and helping my symptoms, I finally feel like I am able to do something for myself.