My whole life I have struggled with my mental health. Looking back on my childhood and middle childhood years, I can see signs of experiencing the anxiety and depression which I have only recently been diagnosed. I remember how miserable I felt for lengths of time just thinking that this is how other people felt and since everyone else was able to go through life handling their problems, so could I. I remember having periods of many days around the age of 10 where I would tell my mom I just didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel sad or happy or have any emotion at all. I remember her asking if I just felt “out of sorts” and at that age I thought that seemed like a good description.
In middle school I could not sleep one night because my mind was racing, so I watched the movie Mamma Mia twice and ate two full bags of jelly beans at 3 am. Looking back, I believe this was one of my first experiences with depression. I remember an event in 9th grade when I had a particularly busy day and I planned my day out to the minute to make sure I did everything. I would wait outside a classroom so I wouldn’t be the first person in the room and have to make small talk with the teacher. In fourth grade I missed a whole class because I wasn’t exactly sure I was at the right room so I waited outside the room for a whole hour just in case I was wrong. I knew that I had the right room but I convinced myself that I was wrong. I faked being sick too many times to count because I could not physically or mentally get myself out of bed in the morning. When I couldn’t fall asleep at night I was too afraid to go tell my mom but I would sit in the stairwell just to muster up enough courage to tell my mom I couldn’t fall asleep.
What I never realized until recently was that I was suffering from anxiety and depression. It started from a very young age and I didn’t even know it. What made it even worse was thinking that everyone else in the world was not experiencing what I was and I just stuffed it down because that’s what I thought everyone else was doing. My parents would tell me that I wasn’t the only person who felt the way I did and I never believed them.
As I have gone through the process of learning about my diagnoses of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression, I have encountered a tough question. When I was growing up, how much of myself was my disorder and how much of myself was the real me. I haven’t yet answered that question, and maybe I never will. I think that’s ok with me. I have learned a lot from my past experiences and whether I like it or not they will always be a part of me. I am thankful for the walls that have been put up around me as they have provided me with the opportunity to break through them. I love who I am and I love who I am becoming, anxiety, depression and all.