Personal Stories

Anxiety Shapes My Life

It all started in my childhood where I remember staying up all night in fear that I would die in my sleep. I had every disease known to mankind. Thanks to the teachings of my fourth-grade teacher on the black plague, I soon started obsessively washing my hands until they would bleed. I did this because in school you are taught that washing your hands prevents disease! Perhaps, we were told that obsessively washing hands had a negative impact, but I don’t recall that. 

I have probably spent years of my life worrying over things I have no control over. I’ve almost planned my funeral because of diseases I have diagnosed myself with (stay away from Dr. Google!). I have lived in a constant state of fear. Apart from seeing a child psychologist in fifth grade, I have always been able to manage my anxiety. I’ve never spiraled out of control and have been able to live a happy life. I accepted the fact that my normal was being hyper-aware of my body and anything slightly abnormal. I could recognize things that made it spiral—deaths, tragedy, illness of loved ones, stress—and these were times I needed extra self-care. I used humor because—let’s be honest—if I took myself and my anxiety seriously I would be a completely different person today. I’d honestly probably never leave my house and be completely disconnected from everyone in my life if I didn’t have a sense of humor about my struggles.

Living with anxiety is one of the reasons I decided to pursue mental health and substance abuse counseling as my career. I want to help people that struggle with the deep, dark monsters known collectively as mental illness. The downfall of this was that I threw myself completely into my graduate and post-masters training. I exhausted all my energy on starting my career which left no room for self-care. I found myself spiraling in my own anxiety. I would spend Sundays in bed crying because off the suffocating amount of anxiety I was feeling. I gave up on my daily household responsibilities and duties as a wife. Which led my anxiety to now encompass the fear of losing my husband too. I reached a point where I needed to seek counseling myself. Not only for me, but so that I could be 100% present for my own clients. With lots of hesitation I finally decided to try medication because, for the first time in my life, I couldn’t get myself out of the dark hole like I normally could. This was the worst my anxiety had ever been. 

It’s been almost a year since I started medication and my anxiety is finally back under control. I feel like myself again. I can’t remember the last time I stayed in bed crying all day—it’s been that long! I moved to a different state, something that typically would send me on an anxiety ride, but I am managing. Not only am I managing, but I am happy! Now, my anxiety is not gone. I don’t think it will ever be, but the “rides” as I call them are far less than before. When they hit, I can talk myself through it without letting the anxiety take the steering wheel. I need to remind myself every day that I am in control. I’m not going to let anxiety ruin my life. I’m going to let it shape me into a stronger, more understanding and more compassionate human being. You must pull from your strengths and view your mental illness in a positive light or it will defeat you. That is why I am a counselor and that is why I continue to survive and succeed with anxiety. #stopthestigma #noshame


You Are Not Alone graphicShare your story, message, poem, quote, photo or video of hope, struggle or recovery. By sharing your experience, you can let others know that they are not alone.