How I Conquered Anxiety
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Positivity Week is among us and the school is raising awareness for mental illnesses. Those who know me will tell you that I make people laugh a lot, I’m always having a good time and that it seems like I have it all together. What they’ll also tell you is that they know nothing about my personal life. That’s because my head is in a constant battle with unwanted thoughts and fears. I always have a feeling that something bad is going to happen even when it’s all okay. The truth is I have severe anxiety.
I’m taking this week as an opportunity to write about my personal struggle with anxiety and to let anyone who has it know that it can get better. I know that the words “calm down” mean absolutely nothing. When someone tells you “it’ll be okay” it just angers you even more because this isn’t something words can fix. I can’t count the amount of times I had to leave class to go to the bathroom to have a panic attack which often resulted in me throwing up. I’ve also missed school because I was scared of unresolved issues turning worse. It’s hard for someone who doesn’t have anxiety to understand it. Giving us advice on how to feel better when you don’t know what it feels like is useless. But if you know exactly what I’m talking about, there IS a way out. I wish someone had told me that two years ago when this all started. For the longest time I thought it was something I had to learn to live with. But it definitely wasn’t.
It was a step-by-step process with results that felt beyond great. I first set a goal to get better no matter what. I know it sounds cheesy, but when I set my mind to fight it, no matter how painful it was, I was able to begin to conquer it. The only way to get through it was to get through it. Second, I found someone I trusted and talked to them, whether it was a therapist or a friend. Keeping it in would have driven me insane. I used to think that I could get through life alone. The truth is that you do need people sometimes and that’s okay. It doesn’t make you weak or needy, it just makes you human. My best friend taught me that (without him even realizing it), and I couldn’t be more grateful. Third, I took all the time that I needed and did not try to rush it. I realized that I wouldn’t get better overnight and that’s okay. And lastly, I came to terms with the fact that my irrational fears and thoughts were not real. It was all in my head, so I shouldn’t overthink it. I learned to not be afraid of anything without proof. If there’s no proof, it means my fear is nothing more than just a thought.
What people won’t tell you and what I’m about to is, is that it’s okay not to be okay. You don’t always have to be happy, you don’t always have to smile, and it’s okay to cry or just feel down. But it’s not okay to let that steer your life into the wrong direction. You are in charge of your own mind and don’t let fear win. If I can do it, I’m more than certain that you can too.
To anyone who is struggling with anxiety I stand with you, I believe you and I understand what you are going through.
**Note: The author recognizes that what helped her will not necessarily work for everyone struggling with anxiety.**