Izabella s Story
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always known that there was something different about me. When I was growing up, the worries and stress that I would hold onto for days, sometimes weeks, wasn’t stress at all to my classmates. I desperately wanted to be like them. I hated who I was… all I wanted was to be ‘normal’.
My first year of high school was both a blessing and a curse. I remember being nauseous at the thought of going to school. Nobody bullied me or made me feel unwanted, I simply was afraid that they would eventually. I had the same group of friends through middle school and while they were enjoying the new found ‘freedoms’ of high school, I was drowning in my own thoughts.
As time went on, I started noticing that I was feeling this lump in my throat and pit in my stomach when doing everyday tasks. Something as simple my mom being ten minutes late to pick me up from softball practice would have me in tears because I was absolutely petrified that something had happened to her. Eventually, the constant stress, worrying, and fear was affecting me physically.
I was sleeping roughly 12 hours a day, losing a ton of weight, and my grades were the worst they had ever been. Towards the end of that year, I gathered up the courage to tell my mom everything that was going on. After a few doctor visits, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
After being diagnosed, I was both relieved and disappointed. I was relieved because I finally had an answer for why I was feeling the way I did, but I couldn’t help but feel discouraged. For the next several months, I would sit in my room crying and asking God, ‘Why me, why does this have to happen to me?’ I wondered why none of my friends dealt with this. I had never felt so alone and was consistently trying to cover up the void that I felt inside.
I was really good at hiding how I felt from my friends and peers. Almost everyone in my high school ‘knew’ who I was just because I was an athlete. I say ‘knew’ because nobody actually knew anything about me, they just knew the front that I put on every single day.
Growing up in a small town, I never wanted to be on medication and I never wanted to go to therapy because I knew somewhere, somehow, someone would find out and ultimately everyone would know. On top of that, I was convinced that I had found my own way to deal with what was going on in my head and that I didn’t need anyone or anything else to tell me different.
After I went to college, my constant worrying proved to be too much for me and I broke down toward the end of my freshman year. I definitely would say this was the lowest point in my life and I pray to God every single day to keep me far away from that point.
Since then, I’ve learned several different strategies for managing my anxiety and am on my way to being in a much better place. I want anyone who is struggling to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that your illness does not define them. I want you to know that you have a purpose. Most importantly, I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with being who you are.”