In therapy, I have been taught that anxiety is something that is learned. While my story of living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder is a long and confusing one, I can now look back and figure out exactly when I started to “learn” to be anxious. It was 11 years ago and I was 17 years old. I am not entirely sure if it is necessary to tell you about specific experiences that lead me to learning to be anxious, but I can tell you, for sure, it is important to share with you what else I learned that year and every year afterwards.
I have learned what it is like to be completely out of control. I know all about sleepless nights and what it is like to feel like I am actually dying. I have experienced being completely consumed by my thoughts. I have learned what it is like to feel like a prisoner in my own body. I have experienced terror and fear and I have learned what it means to lose myself.
Through learning to be anxious, I have also learned to self hate. I have learned how to talk down to myself and punish myself even though I know this is something that is inside of me that I can’t always control. I have learned what it feels like to have this horrible, never-ending looming fear that sits in your gut and chest and soul until you are reduced to tears. I have learned what it is like to wish with every fiber of my being that I was someone else. I know what it feels like to feel like you are in a hole so deep you can’t get out. I have learned what it means to be a victim of my circumstance.? ?
Let me tell you some other things I have learned.
I am strong-- stronger than I ever thought I could be. I am smart and tenacious and sometimes I think I am hilarious. My anxiety may be a flaw of mine that ruled my life for a while, but it has also made me successful in so many ways. Laughing at my setbacks sometimes can get me through the day. My hardships have helped to highlight the incredible people that I have been blessed with and that I love deeply. They have showed me we are not suppose to face life alone.
I have learned that I have an obligation to fight for my health and confidence. I deserve to be happy. I also have a responsibility to fight to be healthy for those people in my life that it affects even if they say it doesn’t. I have learned to love and accept myself, flaws and all.
I learned that I need help sometimes and now I know when to ask for it. I have learned that I am no victim. I am a survivor. I know now that the only way I can live my life is honestly. I have developed more empathy and appreciation for others. I have learned the importance of being open minded.
Lastly, I have learned that my struggle has shown me my purpose. I have taken all of the hateful, negative things I have experienced and have decided to use them to create the most positive thing in my life. I have turned my honest message of struggle into a message of acceptance. I am the living and breathing proof that you can experience something crappy and, in return, use it to do something pretty cool.
ListenLucy.org is my passion. It is my dream. It is the beautiful ending to a sometimes really sad story. It has given me courage to help others dealing with issues and looking for an outlet. It is a place where you can write your story anonymously, without fear of judgment, to say everything you wish you could say. It is a place where the world is becoming a kinder place. This website has the most honest and wonderful stories written by the most beautiful people. It is truly incredible. It is something that I needed 11 years ago.
Because I have learned to be anxious, I have learned to fight and love and I have learned what it means to be proud. My honest wish is for anyone who reads this that is learning about a difficult experience right now, that you can see you can take that and learn some amazing things and share them with the world. We the more open and honest we are, the less hurt there will be. Feel free to share what you have learned at ListenLucy.org.