I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of change and I don’t think anyone truly is. I had to learn that the hard way this summer.
After spring break, I had secured my summer down to a T. Work hard at my internship, spend lots of time with my friends and prepare for my new role as editor in chief. Life would go on as it had since I was little. Then came the week before finals. What I thought was me catching the tail end of a stomach bug for a few days became a full fledged episode of anxiety.
I’ve always been an anxious person since I was little. My first bad episode was when I was six years old after an earthquake in Haiti. After talking to the pediatrician, I was able to go on with my life like it never happened. Sure, there was some lingering anxiety over tests and other minor life problems here and there, but it was nothing compared to this.
My physical symptoms knocked me to the ground. My head felt like a river constantly. I was extremely nauseous and didn’t feel like eating. I stopped doing things I typically enjoyed. Myriad other symptoms contributed to the demise of my well-being. Two weeks passed and I felt the lowest I’ve felt in my life. When my doctor said I wasn’t dying and all my symptoms were related to mental health, I was relieved yet shocked. There was no way it could cause me that much trauma. She told me to continue to monitor my symptoms and to come back in if they worsened.
Once I started my internship, everything faded away. There was still some small nagging part in the back of my mind, but nothing like how it was. My summer was going (almost) according to plan. However, in mid-July, the symptoms came back with a vengeance. Stronger than they were before and coming on quicker, I felt like I was spiraling downward with no way out. When I went back to my doctor, she suggested I start taking medication to help out with everything on top of the therapist I had just started seeing.
Now, I’ve been on medication for a month and am seeing a therapist on a monthly basis. With all the changes coming into my life and the increase in responsibility in my new job, it is something I’ve had to learn to adjust to. Increasing the positive content on my Instagram, taking time for self-care and talking about my mental health has been a big help for me. Most of all, I have to thank my Mom, my cousin Emily, my friends (specifically Ali, Julia, Jenna and Emily) and my Reporter family for supporting me through it all. I truly cannot thank them enough for the amount of times I’ve cried to them or ranted to them about my fears.
The crazy chaos that is change is something I’m still learning from and trying to heal from by taking it one day at a time. It’s taught me I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was, seeking help for mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and the support of others is what keeps the world spinning. Tough times won’t last forever; tough people do. Growth doesn’t happen until you get out of your comfort zone which is why I’m anxious, but doing it anyways.
Header Photo: While I may have looked fine in this photo, no one could guess I was dealing with anxiety. (Photo courtesy of Emma Johnson)
Write to Emma Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org