Living with Anxiety | Mental Health Awareness Month 2018

It’s no secret that with our recent generations that there has been a significant increase in people having anxiety. The constant intake of social media and comparing ourselves to other’s highlight reels on the internet certainly doesn’t help that statistic either. But the fact that we grew up in a time where technology changed and advanced so quickly and so many other factors of modern society, it’s no wonder that so many of us are suffering from anxiety.

The most infuriating thing for anyone struggling with mental health issues is when someone belittles it or says that the overall illness is not real. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the world we’re living in, but it doesn’t always have to be like this; we can be the generation that breaks the stigma of mental health/illness. What I want for my future children and future generations is that they don’t have to feel alone when they feel that something might be wrong with them. I want them to be able to talk about what they’re feeling and going through freely and without judgment. And that starts with us right now.

So, since it is Mental Health Awareness Month I wanted to take a minute to open up about my struggles with anxiety. I don’t have anxiety as bad as some other people have it and some people have less anxiety than I do, but it’s still something that I struggle with every day. And, of course,  there are some days/weeks/months that are better than others.

When I was in elementary school, I had no problem with speaking in front of others. I was always quieter than most kids, but it never bothered me when I had to give a book report in front of the class or read out loud. I started noticing something was “off” in me in middle school, but it wasn’t bad yet. It was nothing that couldn’t be blamed on other things like puberty or the mean girls.

When I was a freshman in high school is when I really knew something wasn’t right anymore. Things felt like they took a downward spiral really fast. This is when I really felt like I was depressed, and nothing was that fun to me anymore. But I still couldn’t explain what I was feeling or why I was feeling it. Sure, there were other factors like family and friend issues and bullying, but that wasn’t quite it either.

I had gotten so desperate to figure out what was wrong with me that I started googling my issues, things like feeling nervous/tense all the time, feeling tired for no reason, increased sweating and heart rate when I had to talk in class. That was just the tip of the iceberg of what I was feeling. Even now, I find it hard to describe what exactly I’m feeling when I’m having an episode and all I can tell my mom or my boyfriend is that I feel anxious and panicked and I don’t know why. So, after I googled my symptoms things like generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety came up and that’s when I started to feel less crazy about how I was feeling because I finally had a word for everything I was constantly feeling.

Last week, for example, I’ve been out of school for the summer for a week and I’ve just been relaxing but as I tried to relax I had an overwhelming rush of anxiety and panic take over my entire body and I couldn’t sit still. I paced around the house and felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus on a single activity to calm myself down. Nothing was working, and I couldn’t pinpoint what was actually wrong either and honestly, I still don’t know what was wrong.

Another example that was by far the scariest moment that I experienced with my anxiety was this past semester, I was at school killing time before work doing homework when all of the sudden I felt like I couldn’t breathe and tears starting to well up and all I knew is that I had to leave where I was immediately. I sat in my car for 20 minutes before work trying to calm down when I wasn’t even sure what I was panicking about. That was the first time an episode was that intense, and thankfully it’s been a few months since that and it hasn’t happened again.

Basically, what I want you to take away from this post is that even if someone’s life looks pretty and perfect on the outside that might not always be the case. You never know what people are struggling with on the inside, so try to be a little kinder, online and offline, to each other. You gain nothing by being mean and you lose nothing by being kind to others.

I’m not defined by my anxiety and if you’re struggling with a mental illness you’re not defined by it either. We are so much more than what we struggle with.

R E S O U R C E S:

The Buddy Project

Mental Health America

Understanding Anxiety

Freedom from Fear

Is there anything any of you struggle with that you’re willing to talk about? Or ways you cope with anxiety or other mental illnesses? I’d love to hear your stories and suggestions!

8 Replies to “Living with Anxiety | Mental Health Awareness Month 2018”

  1. This is a fantastic piece, Kellie. I agree with us being the generation to break down the stigma of mental health issues, and it’s important that we do. I can relate to your story so much, and have experienced anxiety attacks for reasons but also just having it come out of the blue, but a majority of people do experience anxiety in an intense way, so it’s good to let others know that they are not alone, which is what a post like yours will do. ❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Denise!! Your comment means so much to me because I was a bit unsure about sharing this post but my end-goal for this post triumphed my nervousness about it. And I’m glad that you think my post will help others feel less alone because that’s what I really wanted out of writing this. You’re the best!!

  2. Thank you for this piece! It takes a lot of courage to open up about your mental health. I suffer from anxiety as well and a lot of times I take time away from others to find my inner peace. It’s important we teach the youth how to deal with these feelings before they get older and don’t know how to handle/react to it.

    1. Thank you so much, Rachel!! I really appreciate that! I completely agree with you that we need to really emphasize to the youth how to deal with these circumstances so it can be a little less scary for them when/if they experience it. And taking time away is big way that I try to calm down, too!

  3. This is so beautifully written, thank you so much for opening up Kellie, it’s definitely not easy to do (as i know haha). It really helps break down the stigma surrounding mental illnesses! No matter how severe or not your illness is it is still valid and no one has the right to belittle you for it. Also, the list of resources is an awesome idea! I hope you’re doing ok and if you ever need to talk please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message 💕

    1. You’re the sweetest, Amanda, thank you so so much!! I’m doing alright and I will for sure keep that in mind that I can talk to you about it, I really appreciate it! And please don’t hesitate to talk to me too if you ever need it!

  4. I love this! You very accurately described how frustrating anxiety can be… because often times there’s no rhyme or reason to it. It just happens and nothing seems to help. Your panic attacks sound so scary! I’ve had a few of those myself and they’re so difficult to deal with. I’m so glad you brought awareness to this issue and that you have such a desire for future generations to have their feelings more validated about mental health issues. That’s so important! Thanks for writing another super important article!

    1. You’re sweet comments always make me feel so much better when I’m posting something I’m a little nervous about! I just feel like as we find more and more out about things like mental illness why should future generations have to still suffer in silence? Heck, why do most of us still have to suffer in silence about it? It’s just ridiculous. The only way things will get better is if we continue advocating for it and making sure everyone feels valid in their feelings because you can’t really choose how you feel about things. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it so much!!

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