Adriana s Story
Morgantown, WV USA
"For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with anxiety and depression. I remember feeling ashamed of my illnesses because I thought I was damaged and broken—that I just needed to suck it up and 'be normal.'
None of my friends knew what was truly going on inside my head because I was the 'smart friend' with a 4.0 GPA. The 'athletic friend' who excelled at every sport she played. To everyone around me, I was the one person with her life 'put together' and was going to go places. Little did they know simple inconveniences would launch me into a panic attack without warning, and most nights I cried myself to sleep.
The longer I tried to hide my illnesses, the worse they became until I no longer knew how to cope with them on my own. Seeking treatment has changed my life for the better. In addition to my anxiety and depression, I had no idea I was suffering from another illness—Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
I originally thought that there had been a mistake, a misdiagnosis. There was no way I could have OCD. I wasn’t afraid of germs and constantly washing my hands, or repeatedly checking to see if my door was locked in the middle of the night. I let the media representation and stigma of OCD get in the way of accepting my illness.
Looking back on my behaviors, I realized that many of my actions were both obsessive and compulsive. What many people, myself included, saw as my organization and motivation for success quickly became unhealthy behaviors that fueled my undiagnosed illness.
I am no longer ashamed of my illnesses, but I now accept them as part of who I am. I've learned to cope with my illnesses in my day to day life, and I have never been happier. I joined The Invisible Illnesses' team as a campus representative to speak out about the struggles I had dealing with my illnesses and the shame I felt trying to hide them.
I want my story to reach others going through the same struggles I once faced. I hope my story reaches someone also dealing with an undiagnosed illness and someone too afraid to reach out for help. I want them to realize they are not alone. They are not damaged and broken. They do matter and their illnesses do not define them."