Fake it ’til you Make it

There was a month break between my last job and current employment. In theory it sounds great, but in actuality I was going crazy. I am not good at having too much free time. I like to keep busy and with the break being a surprise, I didn’t have time to plan anything. By the time I started my current job, I wasn’t feeling myself.

Sure I had time to pick up the house, but I felt like I was losing myself. I wasn’t allowed to drive until I got clearance from my neurologist, so I spent the days in the house alone until my husband got home. I love my dog, but she was driving me crazy. I was losing patience because my entire day was spent chasing after her, cleaning up her messes, grabbing things from her, letting her inside (and outside and inside and outside…). Let’s just say she is a very high maintenance pooch. I felt horrible for being so frustrated with her, but I was becoming overwhelmed. I don’t know how stay-at-moms do it. They are amazing superheros.

My anxiety was getting worse. The more time I spent in the house, the harder it was for me to get out. I wasn’t a nurse. I wasn’t a hard worker. I wasn’t the things that I pride myself in. So I felt like I was nothing.

I was actually really excited to start working again and not only has it decreased my anxiety, but my self-esteem has gotten so much better. I feel like I am helping people again and my life has meaning. I am working toward appreciating myself more aside from my career, but for now I will take it.

For years my motto has been “Fake it until you make it” and that rings entirely too true for my anxiety. I am a high functioning person with anxiety, but I have learned over the years that when I stop making myself highly function, my anxiety creeps back in. If I don’t keep myself super busy, my mind wanders and it gets the best of me. It’s not the healthiest cycle to live in, but I am in a much better place than I was when first diagnosed with anxiety.

I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder when I was in tenth grade. My anxiety was worst in my history class and I ended up being placed in an emotional support class (independent studies) for the remainder of that class. I’m not proud of it, but at the time I couldn’t handle how my anxiety made me feel. Half way through tenth grade, I changed to a home-bound program where I did my studies at home with a tutor. I would learn independently and take tests with the tutor. At the time, I was going through therapy and trying medication (I’m notorious for being a non-compliant patient, so it wasn’t consistent). I was too afraid to go to the mall, car wash, elevator, and pretty much anything that wasn’t just sitting at home. After about two months of being out of school, I switched to a new district.

This was my chance for a new start and this is when my motto started. Nobody in my new school knew about my mental health (not that anyone in my old school really knew what was going on entirely anyway). I told myself that I had anxiety issues and that was okay, but that I had to pretend that everything was okay when I was in school. Overall this was successful for me. It taught me to acknowledge how I felt, but to not allow my feelings to overwhelm me.

Switching schools and changing my mentality was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. I met so many new people and made a million memories that I will have for a lifetime. One of my best friends is someone I met from the school I graduated from and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to grow our friendship. Not to mention the fact that I graduated from high school instead of getting my G.E.D which was the other option at that point. The day I crossed the stage and received my diploma was one of the proudest days of my life.

If you are someone who is struggling with anxiety (or mental health issues in general), there is hope. It will be hard work, but it will be worth it. It’s okay if you have to “fake it ’til you make it” right now because one day you will make it.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

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