One of my favorite things about my job at Healthline is getting to work on mental health content that (hopefully) helps remove the stigma around mental conditions.
This is especially important to me, as I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and depression when I was 21 years old. I’ve been on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications ever since, but unfortunately, there’s no cure-all to mental health conditions.
I dealt with this realization long before my diagnosis, and in attempting to find solutions that work for me, I’ve found that self-care looks drastically different for everyone.
Through my work at Healthline, I’ve had the privilege to learn so much about different people, mental health conditions, therapy approaches, and more. I’m endlessly thankful for this opportunity.
But having mental health conditions that often impact my day-to-day is never easy — it’s my reality, even when I try not to make it my entire identity.
My anxiety and depression existed long before I received a formal diagnosis from a psychiatrist.
I experienced anxiety from a young age. I remember it inhibiting me from being social with other kids from as early as 4 years old. I initially thought I was just an introvert who was constantly nervous to raise my hand in class or order food for myself.
These behaviors continued into my teenage years and as a young adult. In college, I went through a few traumatic events that I affectionately referred to as “when my brain broke.”
When I didn’t address these traumas, my anxiety and panic began to manifest in a way I had never felt before. Suddenly, I was unable to sit in a restaurant without feeling intensely anxious. The first time it happened, I was out to dinner with friends, celebrating the end of the semester. I kept having to leave the restaurant for air, but my hands wouldn’t stop shaking, and my mind was in complete overdrive.
A few weeks later, when I returned home for the summer, I started having anxiety attacks. I began going to therapy to cope with these very confusing experiences. My therapist told me I had agoraphobia, a type of anxiety disorder that causes people to avoid places and situations that …….