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22 Things People With Anxiety Wish They Could Tell Their Younger Selves

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Growing up, many of us learned close to nothing about mental health. This means too many people end up struggling silently in their youth, afraid their sadness makes them worthless, or their fears make them weird.

For kids with anxiety, lack of knowledge might delay them from seeking help, and shame can push them into isolation. If only they knew how far they could come, how help was out there — and how strong they really were for living with anxiety.

Considering how much kids with anxiety can grow, we wanted to find out what adults with anxiety wish they could tell their younger selves. If you have a kid in your life who’s struggling — or if you’re a young person who still hasn’t reached out for help — we hope their words give you hope. You are not alone in your struggles. There are words to explain your experiences, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Here’s what they shared with us:

  1. “Start trusting a little bit in yourself. You are important. You are worth so much. Don’t let anyone else’s comments affect you and start to believe in you. You are so strong you don’t have idea… Speak up before it’s too late and don’t be ashamed, someone out there will listen to you and will help you. You need to learn to love and to take care of yourself.” — Cel C.
  2. “You, my dear, are stronger than you think you are. You are trying to fight this fight alone, but there are other people who struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. Reach out. You are so strong. You can get in that car, do not let fear be bigger than freedom. Keep fighting, keep loving others, but most of all, love yourself big through this.” — Stephanie C.
  3. “To believe in myself. I’ve suffered all my life from anxiety. Thinking about my school days brings me out in a sweat! I’ve found out that I am much tougher than I thought I was. In fact, I am the strongest person I know!” — Anne M.
  4. “It’s OK to admit you are not coping — it is not a sign of weakness. It’s OK to cry, it’s OK to ask for help, it’s OK to admit you are not coping, it’s OK to have bad days — you are only human.” — Jo M.
  5. “I would tell her to learn to love herself and find what make you happy, not what makes other happy. Stop being a people pleaser, they will love you for who you are. And for heaven’s sake, stop being a perfectionist.” — Melissa W.
  6. “‘It isn’t your fault that this is happening to you.’ As a kid, I thought every bad thing that happened was my fault and didn’t realize it was mental illness talking until years later. I think that this simple comment might have made a difference in how I coped with my anxiety.” — Shannan R.
  7. “I wish I knew earlier that I was suffering from anxiety and depression. My doctor said, nobody died from having panic attacks. This little information helped me a lot when I feel there’s a panic attack brewing.” — Melinda A. 
  8. “It’s OK to ask for help. I’ve had anxiety for a long time, maybe if I knew the previous it wouldn’t have taken me until I was 25 to get an OCD diagnosis.” — Bethany L. 
  9. “You’re going to survive this! Also socks not matching isn’t as big of a deal as you may think also no matter how bad your day is going smile at least once.” — Alex C.
  10. “Go get help. Don’t listen to people who are telling you you’re weird and a loner. You’re not lazy, all those ‘unusual’ things you do are coping mechanisms and yes, you feel like you don’t belong anywhere and that’s OK, one day you’ll find a place where you’ll belong. But first and foremost, ask someone for help.” — Anja R.
  11. “It’s OK to feel the way you do. Don’t listen to the people telling you you’re too young to be feeling the way you are. Your emotions are valid because they’re yours. Also, there’s no shame in seeking out help, it shows strength and people won’t be upset with you for admitting you need help (contrary to what your automatic thoughts are telling you).” — Jess S. 
  12. “Stop focusing on what everyone else might think or might say because it is out of your control. Take care of yourself, and the people that legitimately care will still be there.” — Patrick S.
  13. “I just wish that I could apologize for all of the confusion, pain, and panic that she’s going to feel once she gets older, but also let her know that she will always have people to turn to that love her.” — Caelynn C.
  14. “Allow yourself time to heal. No matter if that time is spent sleeping for hours in the middle of the day, or staying up all hours of the night pouring into a good book, allow it. Self-care is the most important.” — Natasha M.
  15. “Don’t feel bad about getting angry over small things — especially with your parents. This is how your anxiety manifested during this time unknowingly. They love you unconditionally and understand even when you didn’t. Breathe and just make sure to give them hugs and say I love you.” — Gwendolyn R.
  16. “Things will get better. That doesn’t mean things will be unicorns and rainbows, it means it gets slightly easier to deal with after you graduate. Other than that… good luck because you’ll need it.”  — Alycia M. 
  17. “I would tell her to not stay in that relationship. To trust her gut and not her heart. To not let people take advantage of her. That she is strong enough and this too will pass.” — Lauren A.
  18. Do not let the actions of your father define how you feel about yourself. You are beautiful, strong, independent, compassionate and extremely intelligent. Be yourself no matter what.” — Kayla B.
  19. “You are going to come across people who are ignorant and uneducated who’ve never experienced anxiety. These people will downplay how you feel and make you feel like their is so much wrong with you. These are the toxic people who’ll make your anxiety even worse. Cut them out of your life as soon as you can.” — Sneha V. 
  20. “Whatever happens, know that you are strong enough to get through it. Trust your instincts and follow your gut feeling. Know that everything will eventually pass and you’ll come out stronger than before.” — Yoni C. 
  21. “‘You are not a broken child/teen.’ I always thought I wasn’t being a kid the right way. I was always told I was too shy and emotional.” — Apryl T.
  22. “Everyone doesn’t hate you. It may seem like they do or like you’re the butt of everyone’s joke, but that’s not all true. You’ll find friends who are worthwhile and amazing. Be patient. Ask for help!” — Kaitlyn C.

What would you add? Join the conversation here.

Originally published: August 3, 2018
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