I have anxiety – there’s not really any other way to put it. I worry about everything, even things I know I don’t need to worry about, even mistakes that happened years and years ago, even social interactions that are over and done whether they were positive or negative. I worry. It’s just a part of me.
I’ve had to do a lot of work on myself to not be in a constant state of stuck-ness and fear. I used to literally make myself sick with the worry about what one would think of as “the silliest things” but really, to me, were huge. If I wasn’t awake staring at my ceiling before bed, trying to get out of the mental loops of replaying conversations, again and again, then I was in the bathroom utterly sick.
I worried so much that I got stuck. The mental loops and sickness and shaking seemed endless, and eventually that all condensed into a cloud of depression that I got lost in. I just wanted it to stop. I didn’t want to worry about “stupid things” anymore, or to constantly feel like crap. I just wanted it to stop.
When I finally looked for help, it took weeks to get anywhere near progress. Sitting down across from a therapist I didn’t know was terrifying, and talking to her was even more so. I didn’t say a word the first week. Not one.
She was very understanding of this and didn’t force me to say anything. We played connect four in (what I perceived as) awkward silence at our first meeting or two, and she asked me simple questions to try to break the ice.
I had a thick wall of ice, but eventually we broke through it.
It became easier and easier to talk to her, and with each story I told, or thought I had, a literal weight lifted off my shoulders. The fog was lifting, and I was able to understand the way I thought about and perceived things better. Really, my therapist was there to help me figure it out myself – not to do it for me. I couldn’t have done it without her, but I know I have myself to thank just as much.
You have to be willing to do the work to make the changes you want. No one else can do it for you.
I think about her a lot when I feel a sudden burst of anxiety again. I stopped going in to see her when I started college. After much thinking, I had decided to try a medication to help me cope with the lingering anxiety that was still hard for me to move on from, and with her help, I made a smooth transition into it. I left for college feeling more prepared to explore and interact with my world than I ever had been.
Granted, nothing makes the anxiety just go away. Like I said, I still worry, and I still have bouts of anxiety from time to time, but the difference between the me of five or six years ago and the me now is that I know how to manage it. The therapy helped the medication work, and the medication works and still works because of what I gained from the many sessions of therapy I went to. They work together to help me manage my anxiety.
It’s scary to seek help for any kind of mental illness, but I cannot stress enough how important it is. I wouldn’t be where I am today without having reached out for help, or having done the work to get better, and I will forever be thankful that I did it. It’s not scary to go to the doctor when you have the flu or a broken arm, so why should it be any different when you feel lost, or stuck, or empty?
So don’t be afraid. You are important. You matter. You deserve to accept help. One day you’ll be grateful that you did.