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How I Discovered the Importance of Taking Action With Anxiety

“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” – Walter Anderson

Talk about something that is easier said than done. Sometimes, it takes years just to take the first step. I’ve struggled with anxiety for the majority of my life. In third grade, I began to develop hives from stress for no apparent reason. The anxiety gradually grew, started inducing panic attacks and brought some depression along for the ride. From third grade through age 21, I didn’t do anything about my anxiety because I was — wait for it — scared. I overanalyzed everything. I thought my family would love me less, and people would generally think less of me for having severe anxiety. I already felt broken, so then others would see it and think the same. Keeping up the act of having it all together is both physically and mentally exhausting. Maybe if I would have reached out for help earlier, my panic attacks never would have come. Or they would have. Who knows?

But I’m overfocusing on the past. In the four years I’ve been getting help for my anxiety, depression and panic disorder, I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought imaginable. I went from being scared of talking on the phone, many aspects of being around people, responsibility, working, expressing my emotions, and so many other crucial aspects of life, to someone who — while still working on herself — embraces (some) new changes. Change is hard, and I’m not perfect … but that’s OK.

I started working the week of my 21st birthday. I never even tried to get a job before then due to my debilitating anxiety, and this was an easy summer job. I had panic attacks the first two days and my boss and my mom thought I’d quit. That summer is when I was officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist. That summer is when my family saw just how bad things had become with my illness. That summer was when they not only accepted my getting help but embraced it and encouraged it in every aspect. I’m grateful for the family I have and remember how blessed I am every day. I know not all in my shoes have the same support. But, because of the support of my family and finally beginning to get the help I needed, my life changed forever that summer.

Fast-forward four years and I’ve worked retail on Black Friday and Saturday, and on Christmas Eve, which was actually far worse than the others. I obtained both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I’ve taught college students as the primary instructor of the class while obtaining my Master’s. I have a full-time job. I’m writing posts about my mental health using my real name and picture, which is probably the biggest feat of them all. While I still have work to do, it’s amazing to see what taking action does for anxiety. If I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I would take action so much sooner. If you’re reading this and debating on getting help for yourself, please know you are not alone. Although it is scary, taking that first step changes everything.

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Unsplash photo via Brian Mann