Living with Anxiety/OCD by Meg Harrington
Many people associate the word anxiety with general feelings of nervousness or discomfort. Awareness about anxiety along with various anxiety disorders is becoming much more widespread and I feel like it’s time to really talk about the subject. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it’s helped me to better understand myself and those around me. Here is my story and what I’ve learned from my anxiety problem:
What is Anxiety?
You’ll often here someone say they have anxiety before a big test or something really nerve-wracking. Many people have different symptoms and this is only my individual experience, but anxiety to me is much more. I am nervous every minute of every day. I feel like I can’t speak to people because I am trapped in my own body and it can even hurt to speak. I am so paranoid about things you’d never even imagine. I worry about every sort of danger, social interaction, and unrealistic scenario. Maybe the title of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder gave it away, but I also have a lot of compulsions that I feel obligated to fulfill throughout the day. Maybe this sounds awful, but I am okay and if you’re facing this I want to let you know you are not broken and you’re most certainly not alone. Just because something is in your head doesn’t mean it’s not real or valid.
I was young when my issues were brought to light. At ten years old a school counselor suspected I had depression. I was diagnosed with clinical depression in the 5th grade. Even at a young age the diagnosis didn’t seem right. I was only sad because I was anxious all the time. However, because medications for many mental illnesses are similar, it did help me to be on meds even at such a young age. Yet at 13 everything came back. They re-diagnosed me with depression but said I also had anxiety. I didn’t know what anxiety was. I thought it was just some fancy word with very little meaning. Once again I got better but only temporarily. I’m now 17 and finally getting the help I need. I’ve received a correct diagnosis, see a counselor weekly, and take the proper medication. I’m learning to accept myself and understand that my mental state doesn’t define my value but my strength does. The truth is that it’s hard and it’s difficult to talk about due to the fear of judgement. People in my situation often keep things to themselves because we want to appear normal. It’s my turn to break the unbearable silence. My name is Meg, and I struggle with mental illness.
End The Stigma
One of the biggest stigma about mental illness is related to medication. People believe that once they take a pill they’ll lose their creativity and become happy robots. That’s not what happens. For example, the medication I take doesn’t provide me with any fake happiness but instead it helps me to think clearly in order to make rational decisions. It’s your choice if you think medication is helpful for you or not.
And then there’s this general stigma that mental illness somehow isn’t real. Your brain is one of the most valuable organs in your body so it shouldn’t be shocking that mental problems exist since every part of your body can have issues. If you feel that you may suffer from anxiety or anything else the best option is to seek help and see what the issue is. You can’t resolve an issue until you confront it. I promise you that it does get better.
I’m scared of everything you could ever imagine. Yet, I still have to push myself to achieve my goals. Going to college is terrifying for me, but I will be enrolled in school for the fall semester. Mental illness will never be easy but you have to keep pushing yourself to reach your goals. Know your limits and find your own comfort level but don’t allow yourself to miss out on the beautiful moments in life. There are so many things that define me but anxiety does not. I am a writer, a goofball, and an extreme coffee addict. I am Meg, not anxiety, not obsessive compulsive disorder.