Most people who know me would never guess that I have General Anxiety Disorder. People see me as someone with a ´go getter’ personality. I am smart, pretty, always on time, maintain an excellent GPA, and I know what I want in life.
All my life, I have been an anxious person. Anxiety runs in my family, and I knew of family members who took medication for anxiety. My dad is a therapist, and I had seen the consequences of people who refused to get help or take medication for their mental illness. I swore to myself that when the time came for me to take medication, I would not fight it.
When I was in eighth grade, my mom and her sisters took all their kids on a trip to Las Vegas. During that trip, the majority of the kids got sick and threw up. On the last day of the trip, I threw up five times. In my mind, there was no sickness worse than throwing up. That experience was the gateway to my first panic attack. During panic attacks, I felt so scared, anxious, and high-strung. I felt like the world was going to end. However, I slowly realized that after my panic attacks the world kept on going. My siblings still went outside to play with their friends, my dog kept running around the house, and the world kept continuing like it always had done. That was when I learned that although there would be times when I would have panic attacks, depressive moments, sleepless nights, and extreme sadness, all of those would pass.
A few years later, I took a test that was well-respected by the medical community and it was determined that I would need to take something for my anxiety and depression. Before I took the test, my parents made sure I realized that I did not do something bad to deserve my anxiety. When we presented the test results to my doctor, he gave me a diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder and wrote a prescription for a small dose of an SSRI medication. My Doctor told me: “Just remember that anxiety is not always a bad thing–it can be beneficial too. Anxiety for some people may be the reason why they are never late to work or why they do well in school.” Anxiety and depression are not entirely negative.
I learned that my anxiety and depression have become a part of my personality. It motivates me to keep my days busy so I won’t feel sad or depressed. It is why I get to school 15 minutes early in the morning. Anxiety and depression is in all of the little things I do. It is part of me, and like all of us, we each have things that we need to work on. Even though there are days that I feel sad no matter how awesome the day has been, I love who my mental illness has helped me become. Sometimes if I have a panic attack because dinner won’t be ready before I leave for work or because my grade wasn’t 100%, I remind myself that having anxiety and depression has made me a hard worker, a good student, a helpful friend, and a driven person. I would not trade that for anything.