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Ando’s Story

“Don’t feel weird about your new anxious self, you are weird, embrace your weird.”

Share your stigma experience.

When I was in my 2nd year of college my anxiety hit me out of nowhere. It was a full on panic attack and I had never experienced anything like that. I don’t remember many of the panic attacks after that but I can recall the first one like it was yesterday. I was just listening to my headphones walking to class and all of a sudden a million thoughts of dread came over me and I still cannot explain it, it made 0 sense but I immediately walked out of the campus and drove home.. Prior to that, I was always the life of the party and the happiest person in the room. Now my life was completely derailed to the point where I had to move back in with my parents and isolate myself from the world. I eventually failed out of school and left my job due to not being able to attend classes or show up to work. I remember how difficult it was to cope. I thought I was going crazy! Luckily I met with a therapist on campus who was able to diagnose me with generalized anxiety disorder and she made it clear that I was not going crazy because crazy people do not think they are crazy (If that makes sense). I didn’t know what to think of it honestly, I just told all my friends I was sick for months as I was living with my parents and embarrassed to tell the truth. ANYWAYS. I remember I had a trip booked for spring break and my therapist suggest I go. The thoughts of that made me so uncomfortable but I’m glad I went, I knew if I could push myself across the country (ON A PLANE) I could surely move back into my apartment and live my life. It was still hell though, Everyday was a constant nightmare for awhile. Even so, I forced myself into social situations more and more, and as the years went on I realized something. The anxiety was now a part of me, but it did not control me. See, for so long I had looked at how my life was before that panic attack and I just wanted more than anything to feel that way. I changed my approach though, I quit dwelling on how I happy I thought I felt in the past and begin to focus on the now. Once I quit trying to ignore the negative thoughts and triggers that would run through my head and actually pay attention to them and look at how foolish they were I was able to begin managing them.

How did you overcome this experience?

I sought help! I should have been honest with my friends because your true friends will have your back and talking to people ALWAYS helps. Everybody handles things in their own way. P.S. A thought journal really worked well for me when I was at my lowest point!

Time really is the biggest thing here. I look back now and can’t even remember how intense things were. You will get to this point too I promise. Hang in there and reach out!

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

Don’t feel weird about your new anxious self, you are weird, embrace your weird.

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