May is mental health awareness month, which is a cause near and dear to my advocate heart. As many of you may know, I struggle daily with my mental health, as I was diagnosed in March of 2016 with Generalized Anxiety Disorder with panic attacks. The stigmatization of a mental illness forced me into silence for a while, even before I was diagnosed. Yet, the Dream On Youth community has welcomed me with such open arms that I feel comfortable sharing what it’s like inside my anxious mind.
Ever since 9th grade, I have been an anxious person, but I didn't even realize that what I felt wasn’t normal. I went through years of my mind becoming overwhelmed with worry, causing me to think worst case scenario. My heart would race. My hands would shake. My palms would sweat. My jaw would be sore from clenching my teeth. I simply could not relax, ever.
My mind was a jumbled mess, always. My mind still is a jumbled mess sometimes, even today. Yet, nothing would compare to my first semester of college. My anxiety, which would typically come and go in waves, stayed a constant in my life. Simply put, my mind was a mess and I was just going through the motions. I never realized how bad my anxiety could be, until it was uncontrollable. I had to learn the hard way about how to advocate for myself, mental health and otherwise.
I had to put myself first, which was incredibly difficult, as I typically give and give until I can't give anymore of myself. Putting myself first was the best decision that I could have ever made. I started using the mental health resources on my campus. My counselor made a world of difference, and most importantly, he completely validated my feelings. Soon after our first meeting, I was put on an antianxiety medication. My entire world flipped upside down, and I could hardly contain my excitement for just a bit of relief from my anxiety and panic attacks.
Over a year later, and I have grown so immensely because of the help I received. I’m in no way 'cured’ of my anxiety, but I can now function as a normal human being. Being your own advocate is so so so important. Speak up for yourself and take care of your mind and body. This is the only life you get, so live your best life. Anxiety may seem like it’s controlling you, but it doesn't have to be that way. Reach out, and you'll be rewarded.
I'm a firm believer in finding bliss in the little things: falling leaves, best friend dates, and making the perfect cup of coffee. There's little in this world, I believe, that can't be fixed by a Taylor Swift song. Typically, you can find me with my nose in a good book or in the kitchen, baking some recipe that I found on Pinterest. I'm a textbook case of an INFJ personality, dreaming of professionally helping others find happiness and providing unconditional support.