My Anxiety Disorder

My anxiety really started to show up as I entered the eighth grade. It had always been there, but it started to control my everyday life more and more. I should also mention that at the time my parents were going through a divorce but that wasn’t what was causing me such anxiety. Growing up I had a sweet little sister who sometimes got on my nerves, an angelic mother who is the definition of a saint, and a narcissistic, alcoholic father. My dad was in the military so everything was his way. There was no way to please him, therefore you were considered a disappointment. The constant pressure of having to do everything perfectly finally started to get to me and I cracked. 

I got these horrible headaches that brought me to tears because they were so painful and after going to a doctor I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). At first, I was VERY in denial. At the time, anxiety and depression and any mental health issues were not talked about. I didn’t even tell my best friend until months later when I had a panic attack before going to sleepover her house. School way where I experienced the most stress. Similar to how I felt the pressure from my dad, I felt so much pressure from my school. I went there in the morning and immediately had a panic attack. I didn’t want to walk into the classrooms because I knew everyone would stare at me and wonder why I was crying. Any of you who have had a panic attack knows that it is so incredibly draining so getting through the rest of the day was so difficult. I was also put on medication to help me with my anxiety. I went through a very low period through all of eighth grade and the only thing that was getting me through was the possibility of doing homeschool for high school. 

I missed 30 days in eighth grade so I barely made it to the ninth grade. I had begged my mother to let me finish high school online and she said she would genuinely consider it. Over the summer she told me she wanted me to try high school and I was so upset with her. I just wanted to hibernate into my own space where I felt like I had complete control. The first few months of high school were a complete disaster. I was still having panic attacks often and struggled to focus in class. I was still taking my anxiety medicine daily and I was wondering why it wasn’t working. My parents became officially divorced and my dad moved to Ohio to be closer to his parents. Over the next few months, my anxiety started to get better and I was talking to my dad less and less. 

By the time sophomore year rolled around, I was starting to enjoy school. I had expanded my friend group and I even joined the school’s cheerleading team. I had very little communication with my dad, and I was still angry with him about how much pain he had caused me. As I entered into junior year, I continued to make more friends and I had a new confidence about myself. I no longer felt this desperate need to please people. With this new boost of self-esteem, I started to join clubs. By the time I entered my senior year of high school, I felt like I was on top of the world. My anxiety was still around but I no longer let it consume my thoughts. It was then that I decided to start talking to my dad again. I realized I no longer needed his approval and It really didn’t take anything from me to just say hi from time to time. In a way I forgave him for all the pain he caused me. I was so happy with my life that even just casually talking to him wasn’t going to bring me down. 

Now as a sophomore in college I am so incredibly happy and I’m at a good place with my anxiety. I acknowledge that it exists but I don’t let it consume me. I still take medicine to help manage my anxiety but I’m taking half of what I used to. My dad has stopped drinking and sought out counseling and I talk to him regularly now. I even took a trip to see him over the summer. During those really low periods it feels like life is always going to suck, but looking back I’m grateful for all the experiences I had because of my anxiety. It helped me to get to this great place today.