Hey there! My name is Meghan and I am the Research and Development Coordinator for Cam’s Kids.
While there were many reasons to get involved with the foundation, the driving factor for me was my personal connection with anxiety and mental health struggles. I am writing this today to finally tell my story- something I’ve withheld from the world for a long time. I’ve finally convinced myself to no longer be ashamed of my story. Doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying to share it, but it is my hope that in doing so, it resonates or motivates someone else out there who is also struggling.
I will start off with an activity that has been very moving for me in the past. It’s called “If You Knew Me”. In this activity, you begin by providing simple facts about yourself – surface level details. Then as you become more comfortable, you can choose to share deeper and more private details about yourself.
Let’s give it a try.
Okay, that part was easy. Time to get a bit more personal.
Here lies the birth of my anxiety and depression. This is not to say I was aware of this as these events took place. Quite the contrary actually. For far too long, I chose to ignore what was happening, telling myself that everything was fine and that it would all just resolve itself on its own. Avoidance, detachment, ignorance. These were all “skills” I mastered as my “coping” technique.
Spoiler alert – that didn’t work. In fact, the opposite came true. This “tactic” sent me into a deep dark hole I often wondered if I would ever get out of.
Over the last few years I have found my way out of this hole, with many lessons learned. The biggest of them all though was to learn how to listen to my body and learn what it needs at any given time. I call this creating my anxiety plan.
First stage of this plan was to recognize the various ways anxiety can present itself. For so long I thought anxiety manifests solely as excessive worrying. Through research, I realized anxiety can actually manifest in a variety of way. For instance, for me anxiety manifests as:
Once I realized it was in fact anxiety I was struggling with, I took the time to learn what type of anxiety I had. For me, this originally manifested as OCD and panic attacks, but has since become a mix of generalized and social anxiety. Once I could recognize what it was that I was struggling with, I felt better equipped to tackle it.
Next, I took some time to reflect on what my triggers are – things that caused my anxiety to get worse. For me, some of my triggers include:
By understanding what these triggers were, I felt 100% more prepared to take steps to manage my anxiety.
Lastly, I experimented around to find what worked and what didn’t in terms of managing my anxiety. There is no magic pill out there. No one tip or technique that will rid the world of anxiety. We are all different individuals. We all have different struggles and different interests. Luckily though, there are hundreds if not thousands of options out there regarding things you can do to manage your anxiety; you just have to find them. This does not happen overnight though. I had to try many wrong things before I found what was right.
Now this is not to say I haven’t slipped once or twice, because I certainly have. The difference now though is I have found tools to not just cope with my anxiety but manage it successfully.
I know that I still have things to learn and that I likely always will, but I take that as a positive not a negative. It is encouraging to me to know that there will always be other options to try and lessons to be learned.
Mental health is a journey. I have come to understand that there will be peaks and there will be some valleys. I have come to appreciate them both.