I am 15 and staring at the ceiling of my doctor’s exam room after confiding in him about my fears and stress levels.
It was the last day I felt comfortable to talking my inner struggles with anyone.
My doctor rushed in 15 minutes later to say I had chronic anxiety and OCD and I needed to be medicated and sent to a psychologist right away. He was worried I was “on the verge of cracking.”
I walked out of the office with my head lowered and tears streaming down my face. I felt like my diagnosis would be the beginning of people not understanding what was going on inside my head.
It felt like the word “anxious” was branded on my skin.
When I finally returned to school, people looked at me differently. After confronting my friends about my diagnosis, they made mocking remarks like, “Are you sure you want to go to the mall with us? What if you have an anxiety attack?”
None of them knew what anxiety felt like.
They weren’t left physically out of control, crying in a heap, head clouded and about to pass out. They were making hasty generalizations based off what they thought the disorder was.
Fear began to take over even more as I tried to learn to accept my disorder and openly tell people about it. I wanted them to understand where I was coming from when I would have an attack.
But instead, they would say, “Why don’t you just manage your stress?” or “You’re crazy.”
When the time came to go to the psychologist, I never went. I was afraid.
I figured if my friends could say these things to me then what would a stranger say? What would he or she think of me?
The first time I went to a counselor was last semester, four years later. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.
My friends asked me if I was “cured” or “better” now after one session, but that’s the thing that many people without mental illness don’t understand.
Just because I received help doesn’t mean I’m better now. Anxiety and OCD will always be a part of my life, but it does not define me.
No one should ever tell someone they can just “get over it” after an attack, or make a generalization about their disorder.
Do your research. Understand that just because anxiety makes someone afraid of certain things, it doesn’t make them afraid of the world.
I am Megan and I am a human. I deserve to live a life without being told by friends and doctors that I can’t do tasks or have fun because I live with a monster.