I’m so uncomfortable typing this, but… Oh well. If my post helps or resonates with just one person, the discomfort is absolutely worth it.
I’m an advocate for mental health awareness among my family, friends, and anyone who will listen. For some reason, I felt moved today to briefly share my experience with anxiety for the first time ever. I haven’t shared mainly out of habit, but the stigma and poor responses I received when I’ve attempted to open up in the past have kept me quiet as well.
I’m at a point where I’ve realized my feelings and experiences are my own, as they should be, and only I can decide what to do with them. So, right now, I feel the need to be open, honest, and hopefully helpful. Here goes!
Little did I know, anxiety had been a part of my life for years.
I wasn’t aware of what it was until my twenties, but I remember having the experiences that come along with generalized anxiety disorder since about middle school. I had a great childhood so I never understood why I felt the way I did and anxiety ended up being something I dealt with alone. There was a certain level of growth and self-awareness I had to achieve before realizing when something was typical of human nature and when it was not.
…How do you ask for help you don’t know you need?
At 18, I decided to go away to college. Everything in my life changed at that point and there was no constant beyond my physical being. After my parents dropped me off at my dorm and took that 10 hour drive back to MI, my already unreasonable anxiety levels began to show out.
I missed whole lectures because my mind wandered, I was nervous and overly concerned about everything, exhausted regardless of how much I slept, and I often canceled plans at the last minute or left parties early because I was overwhelmed.
I wish I could’ve told my friends, “I don’t hate you, I’m just anxious.” Maybe they would’ve asked me why and I could’ve sorted this all out sooner? I’ll never know!
Nonetheless, between all of that, I joined clubs, gave perfectly worded class presentations, met great people and got good grades. Somehow, I mastered wearing the, “I’m good,” mask and getting through my days, but it was so stressful.
As much as I loved and wanted to stay at that school, I transferred home after my first year to get myself together. At this point, I still didn’t know why I was feeling this way and I still wasn’t talking to anyone about it, but I knew I needed to figure this out.
So, of course I opened up to Dr. Google. I knew he wouldn’t judge me.
Google Search: “Why do I constantly feel like I have brick-built butterflies in my stomach?”
Google Search: “How do I focus through the day when I’m too busy worrying about random things that’ll probably never happen?”
After reading several articles and a self-help book similar to this one, I actually practiced what I learned and began to feel better. I also finally opened up to my boyfriend, now husband, and simply having one trustworthy person to talk to helped a lot. But considering how anxiety had been managing my life up to this point, I insisted that I needed a professional. My own Iyanla Vanzant, if you will.
So. I decided to seek out a therapist.
The search process was tedious, but it doesn’t have to be if you do the proper prep work to find the right fit. I ended up meeting (and breaking up with) three separate therapists before finding someone I meshed with, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I met with her five times to work through cognitive behavioral therapy and it helped a lot. The hardest part was not feeling comfortable enough to tell anyone about it.
I found what worked for me by combining things that made me feel capable of doing what I wanted and needed to do.
I’d be remiss not to mention the amount of time I spend reading The Bible everyday, while talking and strengthening my relationship with God. Yet, I do believe you can have a strong relationship with God and obtain outside help for your health.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
-Philippians 4:6 KJV
Like I said, talking about this is uncomfortable for me but a decade ago, literally my entire life was uncomfortable. While reflecting on where I was and where I am now, I knew this was something I had to share!
Whether it is anxiety or any other disorder, no parts of them are the same for each person, but they’re all very real. Please take care of your whole self and do what you can to really see and check in with others.
I’m here if you want to talk!
* Disclaimer- I am not a doctor or an expert. My blog was made for reflection and informational purposes only and is not to be perceived as professional advice in regards to health or any other field. These are just my opinions and my ways. Please consult a professional to express any medical concerns you may have. Thank you!*