“I am not my anxiety disorder”

Growing up, I never thought my anxiety was actually a problem. I guess I realized I was excessively anxious about some things, but the idea that I could have a disorder didn’t even cross my mind until my freshmen year of college. I have always had trouble acclimating to new situations and dealing with change and transition in general, but college took that to a new level. My depression brought out the worst of my anxiety, and the comorbity of these two disorders was too much to handle. I became unable to distinguish my rational thoughts from my irrational thoughts; I stopped trusting myself to speak and thought everything from my words to my thoughts would have disastrous effects on myself and others.

I remember walking into therapy one day after a weekend of traumatizing thoughts and telling my counselor, “I’m crazy. I can’t believe I just realized this.” As I reflected on my life, I realized what a toll anxiety had taken on me. Suddenly, events of my childhood and adolescence made so much more sense. I began taking medication and modifying my thought processes, but anxiety isn’t something that can be “cured”. I still sometimes have trouble distinguishing my rational thoughts from my irrational thoughts, and I still over-analyze conversations, situations… you name it, I overthink it. But every curse is also a blessing… the struggles I had, and still have with anxiety have shaped me into a stronger person and helped me to better understand humanity in general.

In the fall of 2012, I will be starting my doctorate in clinical psychology at PGSP Stanford, and I attribute much of my success to my anxiety disorder. Had it not been for me realizing I was “crazy”, I would not have pursued the field of abnormal psychology. I discovered more than just a major in psychology, but an honest passion. I love learning about people and why we act the way we do; I understand and empathize with people from all situations and backgrounds, and can honestly say I am a better person because of my disorder.

Some days I hate my anxiety and feel like it’s ruining my life…but everything happens for a reason and I strive to utilize my anxiety as motivation to pursue my passion and help others realize they aren’t alone.