My Anxiety Makes me Strong

I have lived with anxiety for almost as long as I can remember. It lurked below the surface until one day; it reared its menacing force, and never left.

 As a child, I didn’t understand.

As a teenager, I was embarrassed.

As a twenty-something, I slowly began to unravel.

For far too long, I struggled alone. I struggled in silence.

Simply put; I struggled.

I reached a breaking point and finally asked for help; and, with time, I started to heal. I began to come to terms with its existence–with its daily and unwelcome intrusions into my body and my mind.

Even after many years together, my anxiety still catches me off guard. It can crawl into my mind when I least expect it, and is nowhere to be found when I am awaiting its arrival.

I often feel as if I am living a double life. Those who don’t know me well are oblivious to the internal battle I fight on a daily basis.

They don’t know the trepidation I feel during preschool drop off.

They don’t see me sitting nervously outside the grocery store before I am brave enough to enter.

They don’t witness me wiping my silent tears in the morning, as I prepare to simply step outside the house.

But, there’s something else people don’t see.

My anxiety is the driving force behind my will to succeed.

My anxiety fuels my desire to overcome obstacles.

My anxiety pushes me to conquer my fears.

It has taken me many years to realize something life changing: something that has freed my soul.

My anxiety makes me strong.

I am constantly pushing myself outside my comfort zone. Anything outside of the familiar makes me anxious. Yet, I continue to put one foot in front of another. I refuse to let my anxiety hold me back from moving ahead.

My anxiety makes me strong.

I have learned that being silent is not only a detriment to my own well-being, but also to those who love me most. Finding my voice and admitting my struggles was exhilarating. I began to accept my anxiety and, in turn, I use it as ammunition.

My anxiety makes me strong.

There are days when my anxiety is exhausting.

It has the ability to swallow my joy whole, and spit it back out: bruised and broken. Some days, I would like to bury my head under a shield of covers and hide from the world.

But, I have responsibilities. I have people who count on me.

I have a daughter who needs me to crawl out from under the blankets, and wrap her in my arms.

I am strong because I allow myself to ask for help.

I am strong because I can admit when I am weak.

I am strong because I don’t live in silence.

We are all flawed.

We are all imperfect.

We are all striving to overcome something.

It is these flaws, imperfections, and obstacles that make us undeniably strong.

You are mighty; even when you feel at your weakest.

For those of you living with anxiety, know you are not alone.

Know you are brave.

Know you are loved.

Know that when you wobble, someone is there, ready and willing to hold you up.

 

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Today is Bell Let’s Talk day. Today is about finding your voice, and knowing you are brave for making it be heard.

Don’t suffer alone; don’t struggle in silence.

It took me far too long to find my own voice. I am still amazed at how liberating it is to write about my life with anxiety. So, in honor of today–but really everyday–I wrote this piece. This is my small contribution to help break down the barriers associated with mental illness, in hopes that someday the stigmas attached to mental health will no longer exist.

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