I feel small, but so are stars from a distance.
I realized in the second grade that I didn’t quite worry about the same things all the other kids at school worried about. At just six-years-old, I was consumed, paralyzed even, in fear. My mind was constantly racing, always preparing itself for the next life-altering, usually over-exaggerated, conclusion that I would inevitably find myself pondering. The playground had become a land mine of injuries we all would eventually have to face. The cafeteria had become a breeding ground for “deadly” viruses that threatened to take my friends away from me. And that awful maze of unfamiliarity my teacher, Mrs. Ferguson, called the gym had become a wicked combination of the two. Everything around me had somehow, without my knowing, become something for me to fear. The older I got, the bigger my problems got, and the more of the world I got to experience, the more of it I had to fear. I turned twenty-one, and nights out with my girls had inherently become a war zone, fighting off men that had gotten a little too comfortable. College campuses and high schools around the country, crawling with on-alert security guards, became more like a prison restricting access to students, parents, visitors, staff, and faculty coming and/or going. Nightly news broadcasts became a horror reel of the worst society had to offer. It was too much to bear.
At twenty-two, one year later, I decided it was time for me to make a life change. I couldn’t continue to live in anticipation of the next shoe dropping. With the encouragement of family and friends, I started seeing a therapist and a psychologist, both of which taught me that my anxiety is due to a lack of serotonin in my brain; I’m not crazy. I learned how to be patient, how to cope, and how to prepare for the daily stresses of life as an adult. I identified all of my triggers and mastered the art of maintaining a healthy distance from them. I found a love for expressing myself through words and music I hadn’t known before. I finally began to feel hopeful about the future instead of skeptical of it. It took me just over sixteen years to ask for help and really mean it, which in my humble opinion is fifteen and a half years too many.
Knowing you have a problem, that you need to make a significant change, or that it’s time to ask for help is easy. Actually fixing that problem, actually making that change, or actually asking for help is the hard part. In order to grow mentally and spiritually, you have to let go of your ego, find the light in your life and watch it brighten, explore the parts of yourself you hide from the rest of the world, and always, always, always be willing. At the very beginning of my first therapy session, my counselor said that things would get worse before they got better. She was right, but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. The highs far outweigh the lows, and the lessons I have learned and continue to learn save my life on a daily basis.
If you’re struggling, speak on it. Seek help, seek love, seek wisdom. Someone, somewhere will have the tools necessary to help you. If I can do it, so can you. Sending all my love, always.