Community Stories

Erika: Free from General Anxiety Disorder

Erika: Free from General Anxiety Disorder | Libero Magazine
I am no longer ashamed of my anxiety and depression because they do not define me! I am so much more than a disorder, and it is time I start treating myself as such.

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Growing up, I always knew that I was an overly-sensitive person.  I couldn’t handle people being upset with me and the thought of disapointing my parents was too much to bear.  I grew up in a volitile family situation.  My dad was angry and depressed and my mom overcompensated for this by being a pushover.

When Dad was in one of his “moods,” he would curse at my brother and I and tell us how terrible we were.  We never know what or who would set him off.  Often, it was random.  I walked on eggshells and oftentimes, my brother and I would sit upstairs and cry while mom and him fought loudly on the floor beneath us.  Therapy helped me understand how this affected me and shaped me into the person that I am today, but it would take me a long time to discover this.

I remember when I was as young as 10 being concerned with my body and feeling incredibly insecure.

Why wasn’t a pretty enough?  Smart enough?  I was convinced that I was fat and that I was worthless and that I would never be good enough.  High school brought more of the same self-loathing thoughts.  I shamelessly followed whatever the “cool” crowd was doing, even when it meant drinking myself into a stupor, sleeping around, and experimenting with drugs.  All I wanted was acceptance and love, regardless of how I had to get it.  I was mean and aggressive.  I put others down and was angry for (seemingly) no reason.  I was perfect at putting on a charade that showed the outside world how confident and happy I was.  In reality, I was miserable and angry.

Undergrad wasn’t much better.  I dated men that used me for a number of reasons and had next to no respect for me as a person.  I fell into a binge and purge cycle and exercised religiously in attempt to look like the “skinny” girls that I saw on campus.  I skipped class on days that I couldn’t handle getting out of bed.  I was drinking excessively and blacking out.  Many weekends, I woke up with a hangover and the feeling of regret in the pit of my stomach.

My two years of grad school were my low point.  My anxiety had completely taken over my life and I contemplated suicide for the first time in my life.

No matter how many A’s I received, how many internship and job offers I got, or how proud my parents said that they were, I couldn’t escape my self-hatred.  I was dating a guy that treated me poorly and cheated on me.  I never went to any of my school get-togethers or functions, convinced that no one would like me.

I was the master of lying in order to avoid any social interaction.  Instead, my then-boyfriend and I would get drunk and fight every weekend.  I would scream and cry irrationally.

Panic attacks were a regular occurrence in my life.  I specifically recall one night, after a big fight with my boyfriend over him attending a party with a girl that he had cheated on me with, I laid on the floor sobbing uncontrollably and contemplating ending my life.  I had never felt so hopeless and alone.  I remember screaming out to God, “Why me?”  Why couldn’t I just be normal?  It was the worst night of my life.

When I woke up the next morning, I made a decision that I was not going to live like this anymore.  It was time for me to take my life back.

I found a therapist and made an appointment.  I can remember my hands shaking uncontrollably on my drive to her office.  That appointment was arguably the best day of my life.  She diagnosed me with depression and General Anxiety Disorder and helped me understand the emotion behind my anger and anxiety.  Although I knew all along that all of this was true, I felt so ashamed.  I hid my anxiety and depression from everyone that I knew (except for my mom).

Normal people didn’t have these problems, right?  Wrong.  I would later find out that some of the people in my life that I most looked up to were struggling with some of the same issues that I was.

It’s been 2 years since that first appointment and my life has changed in a big way.

Learning to love and accept myself has been one of the biggest challenges of my life, and I’m still struggling with it every day, but I’m making progress.

I graduated with my master’s degree and am working in a field that I love.  I have a loving, caring boyfriend that accepts me for who I am and supports me through my bad days.

Although I still hear the voice in my head sometimes, especially at work, that says “You’re not good enough” or “You’re going to screw this up,” I find the courage to push myself to tackle everything head-on and learn to accept failure.  It is extremely difficult, but I know that I have to keep fighting.

I am no longer ashamed of my anxiety and depression because they do not define me! I am so much more than a disorder, and it is time I start treating myself as such.

Did you know “Libero” means “Free”? Libero started with a story shared by our Founder Lauren Bersaglio back in 2010. We believe when we share our stories we can champion mental health, end stigma, and spread hope. We would love to have you share your story and celebrate freedom with the rest of the Libero community! Click here to learn more!

SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.