The other day was National Mental Health Day, and just like that, so many people were sharing their personal stories about their mental health. I am a strong believer that mental health is an important issue that we need to, as a society, pay more attention to and discuss. I finally decided that it was time for me to share my own mental health issues, especially when it comes to my anxiety.
I never thought I suffered from anxiety as I was growing up. I thought I was just a perfectionist. I liked having everything perfect and hated getting in trouble. Doesn’t every kid want to be alright? I wanted to be the perfect child and not create any issues for my parents. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have fun or get dirty and get put in time-out every once in a while, but as I got older it became clearer that I put a lot of pressure on myself.
It wasn’t until I was in college that my anxiety came to it’s worst point. In the beginning, I was nervous about meeting new people, but I got passed it thanks to the person who is now one of my best and closest friends. I wanted to get good grades, but still have fun, and I thought I found the balance of staying on the Dean’s list every semester, as well as being able to go out on the weekends. That was until my senior year. The department I had spent four grueling years kicking myself every night and day working on was being moved to a new college. The school stopped offering the classes I needed to take in order to graduate. If I couldn’t get the credits, I was going to have to continue my undergrad for another two years. I started to panic so much that I couldn’t sleep. If I did, I would have stress dreams. There were days that I was so afraid of what my actions could cause that I wouldn’t leave my apartment. I was starting to spend every waking hour working on my projects or being in class. Even after I graduated and figured everything out I was still suffering because I didn’t know what was going to happen next.
The fear of the unknown was creating more anxiety in my life. Just getting to the airport to visit my family was difficult. The second I got home I broke down and explained to my family that I felt so overwhelmed every day, even when it came to making simple decisions. I didn’t want to make the wrong one. I felt alone with my thoughts and unable to decide on things for myself. That’s when I started going to therapy, and finding out why my anxiety got to where it was.
It’s been four years since then. I’m happy to say that I’ve gotten better, but I still have moments. Some days are easier than others and they always bring with them a challenge. It can come up at random points too, like having to go ask for help in a store. But I’m fortunate enough to have people in my life who understand my anxiety and try to help me through my moments. Now, I’m able to go out on my own and can do things by myself, which I never thought I would be able to do.
Mental health is something that I believe everyone should feel open to talking about. I’ve never been one to shy away from speaking about my own experiences, but I never thought about writing it all down. That is until now. I hope that my story can help someone who feels how I felt. Speaking about it can be challenging, but I’m so glad I did. Now, I feel like I can be in control of my anxiety, and not feel like it’s controlling me.