In my long-delayed return to blogging I have decided to fulfill my resolution by writing more. I’d like to start off this year by making a public confession: I have anxiety.
It’s not something I previously felt comfortable with sharing with everyone, but it’s not something I want to hide anymore. I want to do my part to end the stigma by sharing my story. So buckle up, because you’re about to take a ride down memory lane.
To those that are close to me (by close I mean we practically have a blood pact going on), you’ll already know that I’ve dealt with anxiety for a long time.
I was formally diagnosed in my second year of undergrad. While I was formally diagnosed when I was 19, I had always known since I was 16 that something was off.
Of course, when you’re 16 any mood changes can easily be attributed to teenage rebellion. For me, my mood changes weren’t necessarily rebellious. I was dangerously shy and terrified of everything. I was never the type of teenager who socialized a lot outside of my small friend group. Even with close friends, I didn’t feel comfortable with sharing a lot. I was unnecessarily awkward. I struggled a lot with public speaking and presentations. The worst was making phone calls, asking questions in class and even ordering food at restaurants, because they seemed like the most trivial things to have anxiety over.
So you’re probably wondering how this terribly anxiety-ridden 16-year-old became a chatty, communications professional…
I fought hard really hard that’s how. After the death of a classmate, I realized how much I wanted to live a fearless life. It really put the brevity of life in perspective for me. It also made me want to be the best version of myself in whatever time I have. I wanted to be better at communication.
So, I pushed myself to conquer my fears and made a practice of public speaking. I ended up making a habit of speaking at my spiritual organization, which was 1) great practice 2) helped boost my confidence.
As I prepared to go to university, I knew that I wanted to pursue something creative. I knew that I had a knack for writing, presenting and designing, so I decided to consider Communication Studies.
I thought of university as a fresh start where I could reinvent myself, which it was until a new wave of pressures arose. My anxiety caught up with me as my fears overwhelmed me in this new environment. By my second year of university I started noticing my mood spiralling downwards once again. I was aggravated, I had a lack of motivation, and I began avoiding my friends.
Eventually, I went to a doctor because I thought I put so much pressure on myself to do better that I started exhibiting physical symptoms (such as nausea and weight loss). I simply thought I had stress sickness, but then I was officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Generalized Depression. By the end of that year, I knew I needed to get myself in gear because taking medication was (and pardon my French), a bitch. I could write a whole essay on this dark part of my life, but I’d like to skip to the montage where I triumph over evil.
I wanted to be happy, so I needed to make changes. While depression is the anchor weighing me down, anxiety is my adrenaline. My anxiety primarily manifests itself as a fear of failure. This fear creates the drive and ambition which pushes me to fight for a better life. So, I started making small adjustments in my life which included opening up to my friends, becoming a welcome week representative and making a habit of trying new things to get out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t easy, but I pushed through.
I wish I could tell you what my formula was, but I don’t think I had one. I was, and still am so lucky to have such a great support system. Most importantly, I was my strongest support system. While I can call myself confident now, I still have doubts. I’m still insecure about certain things, but I always say that I’m a work in progress. Anxiety sucks, but it’s made me the woman I am today.
Now I’m 22, and I can truly say that I’m happy. Not perfect, but happy. I feel comfortable communicating and making new friends. I use every failure as a learning opportunity, and I’ve taught myself not to beat myself up over the little things. Of course I still have anxiety and depression, but I’m constantly taking care of myself and seeking help from my loved ones when things bother me.
Currently, I’m completing my post graduate studies in Public Relations. While I feel the pressure to level with my peers who are older or have more experience than me, I can certainly say that I am where I’m supposed to be. I’m glad that I overcame my social anxiety because I thoroughly enjoy PR and communications. As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve found my calling. According to my mom, now I’m supposed to find a husband.
I’m sorry this was so long. It was something I wanted to get off my chest for a long time. There’s still so much unwritten, but I’m hoping that writing again will be a helpful stress relief. Expect more from me this year even if it’s in little tidbits.
Also, if you’re in the same shoes as me I hope you know that you’re not alone and I want to encourage you to keep fighting. I’m always here if anyone wants to talk.
Until my next caffeine induced blurb,