Life is full of blissful moments that renew our spirit and riddled with ones that break us to our core. But these moments work off our emotions and our emotions are controlled basically by chemical reactions in our brain. What do you think happens when those chemicals are not totally balanced? Sure thing, disorders or diseases develop as a direct result of the imbalance.
Anxiety is something that 40 million of my closest friends and I battle daily, according to the ADAA. Now this can range to mild manageable forms of Anxiety to extreme cases where it inhibits your ability to lead a normal life. Now you may be wondering where I fall along this scale. When I was younger I would say that I was on the end of the spectrum of where it inhibited my ability to lead a normal life. I use to be scared to leave my home in the dark and I couldn’t even fathom sleeping with my windows open on the second floor. My anxiety peaked I think in elementary school when I downright refused to go to school in like 4th grade. That was the year I didn’t get the teacher that I had from the previous year and clearly didn’t know how to handle the change. I remember distinctly having to go see the school’s social worker a handful of times. I also remember her asking me over and over “how does that make you feel?”.
Though soon after I began seeing a mental health professional, Dr. Martin. She helped me navigate the confusing and often intertwining streets of Anxiety. They weren’t easy to understand but she armed me with tools that I needed to help overcome these obstacles. Yes, for a short time I was on medication to help get my Anxiety under control. It was in fact just a tool used to help me push past the hurdles and learn the ways to manage it myself. I began learning my triggers and understanding the signs of an anxiety attack approaching the station.
It was somewhere between I would say high school and sophomore year in college that I truly understood what it meant to be able to manage my anxiety. It was the time that I was learning the most about myself and starting friendships that would last a lifetime. I went from the kid who locked my bedroom windows to moving 1,000 miles away to Orlando.
Though I may have been free of the shackles of the crippling anxiety it truly is never gone. Every day that I wake up I encounter a moment, experience or person that causes my anxiety to fluctuate. But I am armed with the tools I need to manage it and put out those fires immediately.
Now, I don’t think that anyone should be ashamed to speak of their bouts of mental illness just as I wouldn’t mind telling you I just got over the flu. The society that we have morphed into today has created such a social stigma on mental illness. We need to change our mindset when it comes to this and make mental health a priority. When I made it one in my life my entire world changed. So next time someone in your life mentions they have anxiety, depression, an eating disorder or any other mental illness realize how important it is. Don’t laugh it off or joke about it. It’s their life and their journey. They need your support to make it through.
Go out there and change the world as we all have the power to!