I’m Coming Out…With My Anxiety Disorder(s)

We are all broken…that’s how the light gets in.

On Sunday, I will be participating in a 2.5 mile walk called “Out of the Darkness.” This walk is specifically meant for suicide-prevention and awareness. One of my coworkers lost her 13 year old son to depression and subsequently suicide. But beyond that, it is to help bring attention to the important conversation of mental health in all its forms. This blogpost, is my way of adding to the conversation.

When I started this blog, it was never meant to be an airing of my grievances (nor will it ever be) but, I’ve had some pretty traumatic experiences in my life. Perhaps no more than the average human being, after all, many of our stories remain untold. Traumas and tragedies of love lost, broken families, physical and mental transformations. And, it is through the sum total of all those traumatic experiences and walking the path of healing that I began to know myself.

And I know this: I suffer from anxiety.

The conversation around mental health, though improving by the day, is still one that is highly stigmatized and not one that is readily accepted. It is deeply engrained in us to bow to societal pressures and social mores set upon us by our forefathers (and mothers). Let’s not forget that women were diagnosed as “hysterical,” and the cause was believed to be a wandering uterus. Now, I may have an anxiety disorder and I may be a woman, but I assure you, my uterus is fully planted in its place.

That being said, I still keep most of the challenges that arise because of my anxiety to myself. Even as I am writing this, I think about the reactions of the people who will read this, whether or not it’ll “come out” at work, whether or not I should be really revealing my personal challenges to the world wide web. Remember everyone, I just told you I have anxiety–this post wouldn’t be authentic if it wasn’t riddled with it!

My anxiety disorders have been debilitating in a variety of ways. To scratch the surface: I’ve felt like not wanting to go to work, I’ve had an inability to rationalize thought, I’ve felt like I couldn’t get off an emotional rollercoaster, I’ve experienced painful and uncomfortable physical symptoms for long periods of time, suffered from panic attacks, participated in incessant and obsessive thought processes, catastrophized situations–you name it, I’m living it and I’ve thought it.

I started therapy over a year ago and have been mud-crawling the emotional trenches for much longer than that. I will be the first to tell you that therapy changed my life. I believe it is one of the most valuable experiences I’ve ever participated in and I am finally on the path to healing. But, here’s the thing: I will always have an anxiety disorder. It is a lifelong burden that I must learn to manage, to navigate, and to accept as part of who I am.

My friends and fiancé have been crucial as my support system. Through my work to understand my self and how I am a product of my experiences and my anxiety disorder, I have slowly but surely started to learn how to talk about this piece of me.

The next time you people watch, the next time you meet that extroverted person who seems like she’s got it all together, the next time you see or think someone might be struggling, the next time you are annoyed by that person who seems endlessly perky, remember that they too might suffer with their mental health–more than you could possibly imagine.

So, participate in the conversation, own your imperfections and struggles, and always always remember to breathe.

The light in me acknowledges the light in all of you.

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