Anxiety: one teenager’s realty with a misunderstood disorder

All my life, I have had a hard time with anxiety. Anxiety is a word that is often underrated and overlooked. When most people hear the word, they usually think about something small, like worrying about a test, or being nervous about a job interview. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that anxiety, as a disorder, is just as bad as depression or any other mental illness that is debilitating.

The term ‘anxiety’ is trite and tired. I know. But I am not writing this to further emphasize the overuse of a word; I am here to try and help people who may need it. It has taken a lot of courage to be able to write this with all honesty, but I want people to know that they are not alone or “crazy.” That it’s not just ‘all in their head.’ So, I am going to tell my story. This won’t be a rather happy one, and I want you to know that I am not doing this for attention. I am not writing a sob story. This is the raw truth.

It all started my freshman year of high school. From what I remember, this one particular book started it all. I’m not sure whether it was a combination of the plot of the book and high stress in my life, or just brain chemistry beginning to get out of whack right as I started reading it, but whatever it was, it happened all at once. And it hit me like a freight train. I can’t quite find the correct words to use to describe what it felt like, but I can tell you this; I have never felt anything like it before, and I don’t ever want to feel it again. I can still remember exactly what it was like when I was in a state of panic or numbness or whatever it was. With every thought that entered my mind, every pillow I buried my head under, every false smile, I cracked a little bit more. For almost five months, I was in a constant state of fight or flight. It was hard enough being like that 24/7, but when you add on the fact that I had to act like nothing was wrong at all in front of anyone and everyone, I was dangerously close to breaking. When I couldn’t handle it any longer, I finally told my mom, and she took me to a doctor. I was diagnosed with severe anxiety, depression and OCD. I was given medication. I got better.

Then, sophomore year rolled around. By that time, I was beginning to get bad again. But this time it wasn’t the venomous, in-your-face snake of anxiety; But rather,  the slow, quiet great white shark of depression. By the month of September, I did something that is extremely difficult to bring myself to even think about. I cut myself.

Now, I would like to say that I do not condone self harm. Self harm is never, never the answer. It’s a touchy subject, and I feel very ashamed and embarrassed about it. But I have to talk about it. It was a last resort for me. I should have talked to someone, should have tried to get help. But I didn’t, and that is a mistake I will never forget.

I told my mom immediately, and I was put on even more medication and started therapy. With effort and time, I slowly got better, relapsed with self harm, and got better again. That was the roughest year of my life so far. There were a few things that happened during that time that was terribly difficult to deal with, but I got through it. I fought through it because I wanted to. I wanted to reclaim my life.

My therapist thinks that I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, for reasons that are not relevant, and I am starting a new therapy called EMDR. I got my life back on track. I’m not saying that I am completely fine and healed already, but I found my strength to keep moving. I guess it makes sense that my middle name is Hope. I hope this reaches a person who needs it, and I hope it reaches them in time. I wish you the best in life.