I am only three or four years old in my first memories of anxiety. I am also these ages when I start learning from my parents that this is not an acceptable way to act or to think. And so began my lifelong struggle with anxiety, hypochondria, OCD, social anxiety, eating disorders and general confusion about why I am the way I am.
Anxiety and depression are not strangers to my family, but from the beginning it was shameful to talk about. I suffered in relative silence for 18 years, only reaching out for help when things got so bad that I couldn’t keep them inside.
In college, I made the choice to see a therapist and have never looked back. In the intervening six years, a lot has changed. I have not been able to completely overcome my daily struggles, but things are getting better and I know they will continue to do so. I do not hide the fact that I am in counseling. I talk openly about my story and I encourage others to seek out the help they need.
It is not our fault that we deal with these mental struggles. We are simply a product of our circumstances. But, we hold the power to change our own lives and the lives of others by getting the help we need and working to change the image around mental health. We don’t have to be victims of our circumstances. We are stronger than that.