Happy Friday, y’all! Wow has it been a minute since I sat down to write new content. My schedule and personal life have been quite crazy recently, so sometimes the blog simply must take a backseat. With everything going on, I have been dwelling on my anxiety a lot lately. This post is going to be a long one- complete with feelings and no pictures. I have been extremely open with my growth and struggles since the very beginning of my journey with General Anxiety Disorder. The diagnosis was severely difficult for me to face, but I came quite far since taking the reigns on this situation.
“I have anxiety” was 3 of the hardest words for me to say at first. I don’t even believe that it was a personal hurdle to conquer to say it- I knew I had it, and I had been dealing with it internally for quite a while. It was more of a “what if people think I’m crazy” and “people won’t believe me” situation. Originally, I felt like I didn’t need to shout from the rooftops that I struggle daily. Heck, it took me months to even mention it to Jake. Luckily, he has been the sole individual who has helped me through this battle and knew that I would make it through. I can’t thank him enough for helping me survive.
For those who don’t know the difference, situational anxiety and General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are quite different. GAD isn’t “I’m afraid of elevators” or “I’m afraid of the dark”. GAD is everything that you love, hate, see, hear, and feel. Describing this disorder to someone who doesn’t have it almost doesn’t seem sane. This post is to address some of the most common comments that I receive when someone finds out I have anxiety, and to also offer a bit of wisdom on the topic. I have only been on this journey, under the label anyway, for about 9 months now, but I have made great strides in my understanding and coping.
What Are You Afraid Of?
Mallorie isn’t afraid of anything- except frogs and clowns- but anxiety is “afraid” of everything. Anxiety is the dread of getting out of bed, the dread of doing simple daily tasks, and the anxiety of, quite honestly, having a life to go live. It always seems to take me by surprise when people ask this question. It’s almost as if people believe that there is some rational reason as to why I feel the way I do. There must be something that’s bothering you, people say. Though I didn’t seek medical help until the middle of my parent’s divorce, my troubles have long surpassed this issue. Why must our society seek a physical source of all of our problems? Anxiety is not rational.
You Look Fine!
Absolutely correct. I am an incredibly outgoing, extroverted, and driven individual. I don’t allow anything to get in the middle of me and my dreams and aspirations. I love being surrounded by people and always have a smile on my face. But, isn’t it amazing how much can be hidden behind a smile? Those around me don’t feel my heart racing because my anxiety is telling me there’s too many people around or that I cannot accomplish something. You can’t see the “elephant” sitting on my chest, the pounding of my heart, or the full-body aches that is my anxiety. Anxiety has tremendously affected the way that I approach my schooling. It takes me much longer to complete tasks and assignments, I don’t volunteer to be the leader, and I struggle daily with getting out of bed, putting on my face, and making it through a school day. Vacations, school, dates, and dinner with friends sometimes takes everything, and I do mean everything out of me, to put on a smile, fake the laugh, and much less even attend. And no, there is no other rational reason other than my anxiety tries to control my life.
Why Can’t You Just Get Past It?
I am. Every day I attack this disorder head-on. But it is incredibly difficult to “get over” something that is hard to understand and even harder to cope with. But I’m doing it. Some days I drown myself in essential oils, take my medication, and walk out the door feeling okay. Some days, that regimen, plus some, just isn’t enough. It isn’t anyone’s place to assume that just because you can’t see my illness or my struggle, that means that it must not be real or important. The depression, the worry, the emotions, the missed classes and activities, make this disorder very, very real and visible- you just need to open your eyes and see it.
This post is not intended to shame those who are not educated on GAD, or any other form of mental illness. I used to have some of the same questions and just assumed it can’t be that bad. That all changed when that “made up” disorder became my reality. This disorder has forced me to find strength inside myself that I could not previously fathom having. I have renewed my faith in God and lean on Him and The Word to make it through the day. I have re-evaluated my priorities and learned that it is okay to take care of yourself and focus on your own well-being. As hard as this disorder it, I’m grateful for what it has taught me.
Today, I challenge you to educate yourself on mental illness and to help rid the negative stigma that surrounds it. I challenge you to be a shoulder, an ear, a supporter, and a friend to those in your life who you know who might be struggling with GAD or any mental illness publicly or silently. 6.8 million Americans live with GAD, and I would be willing to guarantee most of those individuals are not blessed to have the support system that I do because they are scared to have a voice. Let us be the ones who help change that.
To anyone who reads this who may struggle from mental illness, I’m here for you.
I hope everyone has a great weekend, wherever you are!