My name is Shannon, and I have anxiety. I live day to day with it but I have stopped letting it get the best of me, unless of course – my boyfriend doesn’t text me back, then we have a serious problem ;) I did not realize I had anxiety until I was formally diagnosed about a year ago by my family doctor. This is not usually something you would be proud of. It is not something you even want to talk about let alone come to terms with, but reality is – we all suffer from some form of it at some point in our lives.
Not only was I diagnosed with anxiety, but I also discovered I was suffering from depression. My anxiety seemed to stretch over different areas of my life, effortlessly and without my consent. I spent many of my teenage years wondering what exactly it was that I was feeling. I questioned it. I waited for it to pass. I slept on it. But it never seemed to leave. I wondered if something was wrong with me, but I never pursued it – not even once. I think at the time I was afraid of confronting what I would find. I was not in the business of self-help, nor did I wish to confront my problems. I decided that whatever this feeling was inside of me, it was just going to have to stay.
However, what I quickly learned through all of this is that I cannot escape my anxieties. But rather, I MUST learn to accept them. I have spent many, many days unable to get out of bed. Being able to sleep 16 hours a day was a norm for me. Listening to sad music and pitying myself was pathetic but I did it. Blaming your alcoholic father and less than perfect childhood only goes so far. But I liked being sad. That my friend, is not a life worth living.
When I started waking up crying every morning I realized I needed help. I did not want to be that someone who needed help, but at this point it was what I had to do. So, I reached out. I reached out as far as my arm could extend and in return I found the love I was looking for.
One of the people to help was my doctor. A seemingly old but educated man helped me learn to cope with my anxiety and depression in ways that I did not understand before. With the strenghth of my own will and help from antidepressants, I finally found peace.
With that being said - I am not suggesting that antidepressants is the answer to everyone’s problems, the key to happiness or even suited for everyone with mental illness. In my particular case though it helped tremendously. It was the boost I needed to get myself in gear.
I also found importance with having a support group. I have a few good girlfriends and amazing family members that are behind me. It is because of their understanding and support that I now know I can handle life's challenges.
I also began treating my soul as if it were my friend- because it totally is. If I am feeling sad, or upset or I need advice, I ask myself “if I had a friend going through exactly what I am experiencing in this moment – what would I tell them?” Learning to reframe my situation and seeing it from a different perspective has saved me many times from the trap of negative thinking.
The biggest lesson for me through all of this is learning to love myself and honour who I am before anything else. My hope for those reading this is that you learn to find strength in who you are. It might not always be easy, but you will get through it. You are the most important person in your life and you need to know that at the end of the day, you are enough. You are beautiful and you are loved.
Go into this world and be the very best person you can be, always. Love with your whole heart. You only have one life, so strive for happiness and nothing else. Whatever your happiness is, find it, embrace it. You are capable of anything and everything – do not let anxieties or fears of failing stop you.
With Love xo
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