Julien Shares Her Story Being Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Julien Shares Her Story Being Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Julien Shares Her Story Being Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Every year before the first day of school I would find myself feeling anxious, but this time, things were different. I had never in my life felt this sort of debilitating fear/dread/confusion, and it ended up being the beginning of a very difficult yet eye-opening journey.

I’ve learned that mental illness is a faceless, sometimes silent villain. There are countless ways mental health and illness can affect someone, and it does not discriminate.

I suppose my own story begins in childhood. I grew up in a very normal and especially loving household. Both of my parents struggle(d) with anxiety, so growing up I was aware of the term, even though I never really knew what it meant. My youth wasn’t comprised of particularly challenging experiences, yet I can recall many moments in my childhood where anxiety began to creep its ugly face. As I got older, I often found myself having guilt over the way I’d be feeling. “Why should I feel the way I do when there are so many people who have gone through so much more than I have?” It took me a long time to realize that mental illness doesn’t necessarily work that way.

My experiences with mental illness took a major turn just before eighth grade. Every year before the first day of school I would find myself feeling anxious, but this time, things were different. I had never in my life felt this sort of debilitating fear/dread/confusion, and it ended up being the beginning of a very difficult yet eye-opening journey. I spent the first half of my school year consumed in this feeling, to the point where I wasn’t able to sleep without being in the same room as my parents. I missed out on sleepovers with my friends, making excuses that I felt too sick to stay over because I was embarrassed. As a 13-year-old, I found myself feeling so ashamed of who I was.

That January, I went to a psychologist for the first time, and was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There was a sense of relief in knowing that there really was a reason I was feeling the way that I was, and that I wasn’t alone. I spent the next 4 months going to weekly sessions, and eventually was able to find a state that was easier to live with. My anxiety wasn’t gone, but it became manageable.

But, with the end of that school year came the beginning of high school. Becoming a high school student brought back so many of the same feelings. Change triggers a lot of anxiety in me, and knowing these triggers makes a huge difference in handling episodes of anxiety attacks and periods of darkness. High school was a rollercoaster for my mental health, (as it is for so many students). Grade 9 began, and with it, came more anxiety. As I got used to the transition over that year, things got better. Grade 10 was a year in which I hardly had any episodes of anxiety, and a part of me thought that maybe anxiety was just going to be a thing of the past. But, in grade 11, my anxiety crept its way back in, and with it came so much more. I tried dealing with what I was going through on my own for about 6 months, but as time went on, it only got worse. I hit rock bottom in the middle of February of that year. A lot of things went through my mind at that time, but I ultimately decided, with the help and support of my family and friends, to return to therapy. This time, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. My psychologist and I took the route of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and through months of sessions, there was light at the end of the tunnel again.

I live with Generalized Anxiety Disorder every day of my life. Some days are better than others, and there are days where things are great. I am thankful to know that I have options when dealing with anxiety and depression. Having a support system like my family and close friends has made all of the difference in my life. 

My advice to anyone struggling:

  • Do not struggle in silence. Reach out to your friends, family, a teacher; anyone you trust. There are so many people who love you and will be more than willing to support you.
  • Seek help from a professional. Therapy changed my life. The things I learned in my therapy sessions have become essential tools, not only for when I find myself struggling, but also in my everyday life. Sometimes you simply can’t deal with things on your own, and that’s perfectly okay.
  • Meditate! In recent months, I have incorporated meditation into my daily routine, and I have found so much value in taking just a few moments to find clarity during my day. Guided meditation is especially helpful if you feel lost, unfocused, or unsure.
  • I use writing as an emotional outlet; whether it be journaling, songwriting, or poetry. I am so thankful for it.

So in your darkest moments, remember this- "you may be confused with the world, but it has a plan for you greater than the way you feel right now."

-Julien

Powered by Innovasium