Here are some things you should know about me: I am 18 years old. I love to sing, draw, find random quotes, and go on weird adventures with friends. Leslie Knope is my biggest role model. And I will fight you to the death if you say I can’t do something because I’m a girl. These are all important parts of who I am. However, there is more to me than just that. Another significant part of me is that I struggle with anxiety. I have been dealing with it probably since I was born, and it is still a reality I have to deal with today.
Honestly, it’s a reality that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.
Would I Give It Up?
Often, when having a conversation about my anxiety, someone asks if I would give it up if I could. And my answer is (and always has been) that yes, I would. This response is often greeted with shock or surprise. People have certain assumptions. I think they want to hear that it’s made me stronger, or some other cliche answer. I don’t mean to knock those answers, because I definitely believe that dealing with mental health challenges can create strength, and if that is how one finds meaning in the experience, it should be respected. But I also think that anxiety stinks, and that should be an okay answer too.
Social media, like tumblr, is constantly telling us that we are so brave and making it seem like mental illness is a badge of honor. I know people are trying to help, but in my experience, those ideas have been more damaging than helpful.
Sometimes, I want to wake up and not be stressed while everyone else is excited. I want to be able to focus on the task at hand instead of having my mind wander away to my fears and worries, yet again. Thankfully, at this point in my life I am having more and more of those days; going to therapy changed my life.
It’s A Constant Challenge
But going to therapy isn’t like waving a magic wand and having everything be perfect.
It takes time and work, and even then, it can’t fix everything. I will always have to deal with anxiety in some form. And that is okay. As much as I hate it sometimes, it is a challenge in my life that I just have to deal with. But I don’t know that I will ever be grateful for my anxiety as something that makes me a better person or anything like that.
Now I could give you the laundry list of reasons and ways that anxiety has changed my life and given me new perspectives. But that’s not my point.
None of that matters on the days when I wake up feeling horrible.
It’s not all that comforting to think about how you’ve become more sensitive to others (fill in your own life lesson) when you feel paralyzed by worry and stress to the point where you can’t get out of bed.
And I don’t think it needs to be.
I can accept that anxiety is a part of my life, but it doesn’t need to have some deep meaning.
Mental illness is not a happy journey. What comes out of it might be, but that does not take away from all the struggles that it brings.
What do you think? How has your experienced compared to this one? Do you have any advice?