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Learning to Live Again: Being Brave
Posted on April 06 2017
As a child, my parents were convinced that I wasn't quite like children should be. Even at a young age, I showed signs of anxiety but everyone from doctors to teachers brushed it off with, "oh, she's just shy. She'll grow out of it." Fast forward to when I'm 21, and I'm diagnosed with severe GAD. Which, essentially covers all the bases of anxiety disorders. I have anxiety. Anxiety over having anxiety. I have performance anxiety. I have social anxiety. I have test anxiety. I was always scared. I never knew what my triggers were. To add on to that diagnosis, I was also diagnosed with Chronic Migraines, which was bad enough. Having the both of them? It was like I was living in my own personal hell.
"Was." I should say is. Every day it's one or the other. Even if I'm having a good day, my anxiety is always there. As a college student, this just a blow. Having two disorders makes life very hard. I've had semesters where I've missed half the classes because of either a migraine or an attack.
At 24 years old, I have a better sense of what triggers my migraines. The anxiety is still a toss up. And lately, my anxiety triggers have been all over the place. Primarily family. Over the last few weeks, I've been suffering from depression. I haven't been diagnosed with it, but I know this doesn't feel right. I've lost enjoyment in a lot of things. I've lost my will to keep powering through this semester.
Depression and anxiety have a tendency to go hand in hand, and I've had one other depressive episode. So, I'm weirdly susceptible - or something. The point is, is that my mental health has taken a huge blow and I'm struggling to tread water. I'm either anxious and scared of everything or sadder than sad, struggling to concentrate or crying excessively. Or both.
However, there's been a small ray of hope. My mom and I are moving to Florida so I can finish my studies and get better. Because of that hope, I'm starting to be myself. Slowly; step by step. Moment by moment. Whether it's speaking up in class, going to lunch or to the gym with my mom, or hanging out with friends. This ray has kept me going no matter how bad it gets and reminds me that I have come so far since being hit with these invisible disabilities.
Even before all of this family drama, I was slowly coming out of my cocoon. Because I work with the disability resource center at my university, I always have to have an open line of communication with my teachers. It's not always easy but it's a lifeline. It lets me do as well as I can in school and that has helped me be a little braver in the real world.
The disabilities I have are very isolating. There are many people who don't know how debilitating anxiety is, nor do they know how painful it is to have a migraine that renders you unable to function. However, because of them, I'm learning to be brave. I'm learning to be assertive in what I need to succeed in life.
I'm a senior in college. I'm a triple major - something that is rarely heard of. I've traveled to Spain with my university's women's choir. I've traveled to Memphis, Tennessee and next week, we're going to Michigan. I have a small group of close friends, and every day, they help me to live my best life and to be my best self. They are non-judgemental. They are great to have adventures with. They remind me to keep fighting.
I have two bracelets and they remind to be brave - to be myself. They remind me to live.