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Mental Health

My Mental Illnesses Don’t Define Me, & Neither Do Yours

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Have you ever found yourself biting your nails or tapping your foot when you’re nervous, only to have someone say, “Ew, that’s gross!” or “Stop, that’s annoying!”? It’s easy to shut down after commentary like that, but you shouldn’t feel embarrassed by what you do when you’re dealing with an anxious atmosphere. 

When I’m nervous, I bounce my leg. If it’s really bad, I can even get physically ill. Sometimes I shiver or tremble, and sometimes I cry because I’m so anxious or nervous, or the butterflies in my stomach are becoming too much. 

But I’m not embarrassed by it.

In fact, I embrace that it’s a part of me. Anxiety has become popularized, but for those who have clinically diagnosed anxiety, it’s not the same as having the jitters before a big event. Before I was diagnosed, I remember getting dressed for school and then standing in the driveway on my way to my car and saying, “I can’t do this and I don’t know why.” Anxiety is extremely personal to each and every person who experiences it, but there are some ways to remember that mental illnesses don’t make you weak – even when you can’t do the things you wish you could. 

Having anxiety means you need to clean your room, because what if something happens where you don’t want to be caught with it messy? Having depression means you want to clean your room, but you physically cannot find the motivation or the strength to do so. Depression is – I believe – the opposite of anxiety, but the thing is, you can still have both. Depression can mean that all you want to do is lay down, or it can mean that you’re having negative intrusive thoughts. Whatever the case is, it doesn’t mean that one type of depression is more or less powerful than the other. However, it’s not a defining factor of your personality. I want to be described as a woman with depression and anxiety – not a depressed and anxious woman. 

Before I was diagnosed with mental illnesses, I remember not being able to eat more than tiny bites of bread at a time, and losing 12lbs in a week. I remember not being able to drive because I had a panic attack so severe I lost my vision. I remember being so depressed and high strung that my body was an afterthought to me. 

But I’m not embarrassed by these events, because they’re not weaknesses. They’re reminders that my body is powerful and strong. It’s kept going in spite of my moments of illness. 

Your body is stronger than you know. It has carried you so far, and it’s prepared to carry you more. Trust in your body, because it will forever be with you.

I wear my experiences proudly because they mean that it only gets better. I’ve built myself up from rock bottom and I will never be embarrassed by that. I look in the mirror and I see a powerful woman who has overcome so much that there’s no way she’s weak willed or weak minded or however you want to say it. I’m proud to be who I am. I’m thankful to have experienced the things I have, because they’ve only made me stronger.

My name is Bridget, and I am a South Carolinian living in Texas. I am a Baylor girl with 2 dogs I talk way too much about. 
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