‘I hid it so well from my parents and best friends. ‘How does everybody else do this?’ I lived in total denial.’: Woman with anxiety disorder says ‘owning your struggle makes you beautiful’

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“I lived for a long time pretending a shiny golden halo was directly above my head.

There it sat, glistening in all of its fake glory.

I pretended I was near perfect. No issues. No baggage. Nothing to be ashamed of. No dirty skeletons in my closet. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a normal girl who ‘has it together.’

‘I’m good!’

‘I’m fine.’

‘Everything is perfect!’

Default phrases I programmed into my perfect robotic response anytime the tiniest flicker of real began to show through my counterfeit smile.

The act, the cover-up, even the denial was exhausting to the point of meltdown.

‘How does everybody else hold it together?’ I would wonder. Why couldn’t I?

It was like I had beaten this concept of ‘perfection’ into my head. This notion that nobody really wants to know all the good, bad, and ugly about us. People just want to see this protected surface and ‘idea’ of us.

The idea of actually showing realness, being human, feeling things, failing, or screwing up just wasn’t an option.

I felt that if I showed that side of myself I would all of a sudden be less than.

Less than what? What was I trying so hard for?

The idea toyed with me.

I had issues, that’s for sure. I was dealing with, and still deal with, anxiety, extreme anxiety, served with a hefty side dose of OCD.

I would do things like tap the cold water spicket ten times before stepping into the shower, obsessively wash my hands, comb my hair behind my ear three times before talking to someone. Yeah, I was struggling.

In addition to my weird little ticks and tots, I worried endlessly as a young child and then as a teenager.

Hiding it ever so perfectly from my parents, teammates, and best friends.

From the outside, they all saw me as the ‘fun’ one! Loud, confident, silly, even carefree.

I lived in total denial that I had an anxiety disorder for over ten years, and I was working double-time to cover that up.

My anxiety presented itself differently as I aged.

It turned into physical illnesses that I could no longer ignore.

Others around me began to catch on.

Vomiting constantly. Unable to sleep. Weight loss. Over drinking to ease my fears.

I didn’t have a bad life. I had great parents, supportive friends, the whole shebang.

But that didn’t change I had an issue.

And it does not make me any less of a person, it actually is helping me to develop into the best version of me.

I finally got the help I needed. Medicine, support system, discussion, books, etc.

And no all you medication haters—it doesn’t make me a numb, high, zombie shuffling around not feeling a thing.

My medicine helps me stay balanced. It’s not a cure. It’s a side agent that helps my serotonin (the happy hormone) stay in my brain so I can use it instead of it going into the cell so I can’t access it.

It’s not a quick fix. It’s not a one-size-fits-all.

It took, and still takes, me being aware and constantly working against my body’s innate response to anything.

I wrote all this to say, I’ve got problems and you do too.

Sister, quit acting like you don’t have issues!

Owning your struggles is what makes you beautiful, courageous, and strong.

Our struggles are what truly connects us to one another, not our achievements.

Where your weakness lies is where God uses his plan most vividly.

Our weaknesses are made perfect in his strength.

Rip off the mask, peel it back, and expose your true self! You are truly amazing.”

Courtesy of Kacie Duncan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kacie Duncan. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Kacie:

‘I don’t buy organic anything. My kid rolls up to day care in hand-me-downs. Mommy and Daddy LIKE screen time.’: Woman accepts she will never be in the ‘perfect mom club’

‘I’m a sucky wife some days. He gets the leftovers, life gets the main dish. Most nights, I’m asleep before he even graces the bedroom.’: Woman ‘thankful’ for husband who ‘doesn’t ask more of me than he knows I can give this season’

‘I get told I’m ‘too much.’ I can’t whisper. I laugh at my own jokes. I suck at keeping plans, and I spend more money than I save. But all of these things make me, ME.’: Woman urges ‘stop letting people extinguish what sets your soul on fire’

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