In the years prior to my knowledge of my anxious affliction (college and before) I had several periods of darkness. If you have never experienced anxiety, there is a point where the anxious feelings have become so consuming that there is literally nothing else you can think about. Your mind is trapped in an endless cycle of fear and panic. Even if you are out with friends, or doing something you love, you are numb to all good feelings. It’s a hard thing to explain, but that’s my best shot.
Now, I have had 2 major episodes with the anxiety darkness. The first incident lasted for almost three consecutive years. I had no idea what was happening to me, I just knew I didn’t feel right. I retreated from my friends and family and packed on the pounds. After I realized the cycle of anxiety was not normal, I briefly took some medication and went to counseling. To this day, I struggle with looking at photographs from my last two years of college without triggering my anxiety. Currently, I am working on facing these emotions head on, but I will get to that in a moment.
The second episode was last year (six years later). My anxiety manifested itself in the form of panic attacks, which were new, and I had no clue what was going on. It was utterly terrifying. This episode only lasted 6 months instead of 3 years. I am now taking medication again and I have been feeling back to myself! Yay!
Now, looking back on these times, especially my college experience, I feel like I wasted a lot of my life. Years actually. I had so many amazing opportunities that I missed out on because I was anxious. It hurts to think about all the things I could have done instead of shutting myself off from everyone, and I feel the physical ache in my stomach.
However, I am learning that NOTHING that you go through in life is a waste! NOTHING! These difficult times that I have experienced in my life has now helped me become an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness. I am able to share my story with my co-workers and students and help them in their own journeys. I am working hard to take these negative feelings about my past and mold them into positive ones!
Remember, there is nothing in your life that is wasted. All the experiences you have been through have made you who you are and God has a plan for you. Don’t give up hope