‘Anxiety. I let it define me… Until the day I began to define myself.’

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“Finding a cure isn’t a thing. In fact, to imagine that some people think that’s a thing blows my mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re struggling today. It doesn’t matter if you’ve struggled in the past. It doesn’t matter if somewhere down the line, you find yourself struggling. I’m going to break the news to you right now… There is not a cure.

Anxiety is something you will live with for the rest of your life. It may not define you. It may not influence you. It may make you stronger. It may make you weaker. But you cannot conquer it.

Life is not at all easy. If it were, we would all be winning. But there are those of us that struggle with the everyday burden of anxiety.

My anxiety hit its peak about two years ago. Life was hard. I’d cry. Every day, I’d cry. And it was over little things. Little things in life that just weren’t okay with me. I couldn’t catch onto my triggers. I couldn’t catch onto any of the reasons why. I’d just started shaking uncontrollably, my chest would tighten, my breaths would shorten, and tears fell from my eyes.

Sometimes they’d flood, if I’m telling the honest truth. My appetite took a complete turn, and it was hard for me to even eat my favorite foods. Instead, I’d look at them and have an anxiety attack. WHY WAS I LIKE THIS?!

I let my anxiety get to me every single day.

I let it define me… Until the day I began to define myself.

It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t wake up ‘cured.’ It took days. It took months. And it sure did take over a year.

A year until I got myself back to the me I was. Fun, outgoing, nice, talkative, and friendly. A year until I gained my appetite back, and I even gained weight while I did it, weight that I am proud of, I must say. A year until I looked back and said ‘screw you’ to my anxiety.

Here’s how I did it: power of prayer, positivity, surrounding myself with those whom I love and I know will support me, and I cut out those who didn’t.

It’s a lot harder than it sounds, and for all of you out there who are still struggling, hear me out. Trust in God. Trust in His plan. Trust that you are struggling now in order to make yourself stronger and to help someone who is struggling down the line. Trust that there will be light at the end of this deep, dark tunnel. Tell yourself this every day. It’s important. I still tell myself this.

Looking back, I get emotional when I think about my worst times with my anxiety. I don’t let it define me anymore. Rather, I use it as a characteristic of mine. I don’t tell many people about it, but when I open up, people can relate. Gaining my strength is a story that I am proud of. Gaining my strength is a story that I enjoy telling people.

Because today, I am not who I was two years ago.

But I still struggle.

‘Wake up with happiness every day.’ It’s an easy concept. ‘See the good in everyday.’ Another easy concept… For those who haven’t experienced anxiety disorder.

What isn’t easy, is the anxiety attacks still occur. And I never know when I’ll have them. I typically refer to them as my ‘funk’ because I don’t feel like explaining my weird mood of preventing an anxiety attack. But at the same time, if I were to say I’m having an anxiety attack, I’d still be letting it define me.

Yes, my chest still closes up. Yes, I still begin to shake. Yes, I still cry. Yes, sometimes it still hurts to breathe. But I sit there, calm myself down, and continue on about my day.

I overcome it every time it gets to me, but I still have the burden of having to experience it.

So for all of you out there who think that mental disorder is just a phase and is curable, it’s not. It is a lifetime struggle.

But we are made stronger for it. And we will forever hold onto our light that is within us, because we have a fire burning inside of us that will not be held back by our stupid illness called anxiety.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Megan Sutton, a content writer for Odyssey, where this article originally appeared.

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