Anxiety is Weakness?

All of my closest friends have been hospitalized. The mental and physical wear and tear of life affects us all, no one is exempt from struggle. The only thing that sets us apart is the way in which we struggle.

Truly, the friends I have seen fight their way through depression and anxiety are the strongest people I know. They have gone places mentally that those who haven’t struggled in that way will never know. If you’ve never had severe depression, you don’t know what it’s like wanting to die to end your pain. If you don’t have social anxiety, you don’t know the overwhelming fear involved in attending a simple gathering. If you have never had a panic attack, you don’t know the sheer embarrassment of losing complete and utter control of yourself. You don’t know the hurt, the pain, and the anguish of dealing with any such mental illness. And you don’t know the inner dialogue that takes place when you’re struggling to pull yourself out.

You’ll never know what it’s like.

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It’s not your journey, and our journey is not yours to judge. No we can’t just “snap out of it”. No we won’t just “get over it”. No we didn’t “ask for it”. There are a zillion genetic, environmental, and relational factors at play here. If you know someone struggling with anxiety or depression, save your frustration. What that person needs is your patience, your support, and your unconditional love. Be there for them, even though:

You’ll never know what it’s like.

Anxiety and depression are not weaknesses. Overcoming those obstacles creates a stronger person, tougher than any person who hadn’t experiences these things. Because we’ve fought to be here, every inch, every step, every mile we’ve covered.

I have anxiety. Do you know how many times I thought I was going to die? It’s beyond counting. I used to lay awake in bed at night worrying about what might happen to my family, circling in irrational thoughts about losing them. I’ve had anxiety so bad I became agoraphobic; terrified of leaving my own house. I’ve been through depersonalization and derealization, at the same time, for hours. But I’m still here.

I truly believe I am better for what I’ve been through. It’s ignited a compassion and empathy in me I don’t know if I would have had otherwise. By overcoming by anxiety and not letting it control my life, I’ve proved that I am powerful. I used to be constantly paralyzed by fear; now I am fearless. Now I know that fear is not real. It exists only in my mind, if I allow it. But I don’t.

And you’ll never know what that’s like. That sense of glorious accomplishment; I am still here in one piece despite everything.

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I’m not here to guilt anyone who hasn’t struggled with mental illness. What I want for people to understand is that it’s not okay to scoff, mock, or minimize the experience of those who do. Don’t judge something you simply don’t understand. Don’t say that it’s not real simply because it’s something you haven’t been through first hand. And don’t say anxiety is weakness, it has made me the remarkably strong and resilient woman I am today.

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Hey everyone! Writing to you here from Calgary, Alberta. I love wholesome, healthy food, lifting weights, and all the spiritual and physical challenges of life. I’m wellness obsessed, and that’s what I’m hear to talk about. I’ll be taking a holistic mind-body-soul approach to include all important aspects related to a healthy well being. Let’s go!

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