Stories, skills, and positivity- to anxiety sufferers from anxiety sufferers.
jorey's story: Labeled Anxiety
Being anxious, pilled on me after years of being bullied. As a kid, I lived in a small town, 4000 people maybe. I had some friends, my family live in the vicinity, I didn’t really get in to trouble all that often, and I did well in school. It wasn’t until around grade 7 where the bullying began...
From an outsiders perspective it might not seem like that big of a deal, because everyone gets bullied at some point in time. I was made fun of for my height, the clothes I wore, the friends I had, you know, the usual. The thing is, that really didn’t bother me, I was fine with being short, I liked the clothes I wore and I wasn’t going to change the friends I had because they were great people. The one thing that did bother me was when I was labeled as being gay. There is nothing wrong with having that identity, but it wasn't mine.
From then on, I didn’t go out as much and I changed my entire wardrobe because that was the only way I thought I could fix it. The thought of being called something you're not over and over again really made me think “why are they doing this to me?” The “why me?” question had kicked in and I didn’t have an answer.
After elementary school my mom and I moved 7 hours away. I went from living in a town of 4000 people to going to a school of 2000 people. I was extremely scared, but I knew that this was an opportunity to start fresh. Two weeks in to high school everything was going great, I had made new friends and was known as “the new guy”. I thought everything was fine, I had left those old thoughts of me of not being good enough and I no longer felt anxious because I could finally be myself in a place where there were no bullies and no fear of being labeled.
It was about 3 weeks in to grade nine when all hell broke loose, rumours were flying everywhere and the label was attached to me, again. At this point, I knew that I had to deal with it for the next four years of high school. I lived in fear for four years because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. I kept telling myself “you are not who they say you are, you are who you want to become” but that only lasted about a week.
You see, not fitting in caused me to be anxious. What was even worse, is that I thought it was my fault. I would get so anxious that I would then become depressed. To top it all off I knew that anxiety and depression was not something people could physically see, so I convinced myself that I was lying and put it all at the back burner and just started being ok with not being ok. It was my new norm.
It’s kind of crazy that we all have stories like this. We’ve all been bullied, we’ve all been anxious in some way shape or form. It was then I started to change. Throughout the past 10 years I felt extremely alone, but if everyone is dealing with something, wether it be anxiety, depression, addiction … we all have a story, and something to learn from them.
I changed my entire mindset. I thought to myself “what if the people who bullied me, which then caused the ripple effect to be anxious, were also battling their own demons, and to bully was the only way for them to cope?” I may never get the answer to this question, and that’s ok, but I’m finally at a place where it no longer bothers me to be labeled, I know that those people are dealing with something, or even someone else.
I may not have gone into detail of the feelings, and others ways I tried to cope, the reason being is that I’m simply not emotionally attached to that piece of anxiety. I don’t give it energy. I don’t allow it to run my life. Two years ago I changed my thoughts, to change my mindset, which changed my life. I’m a University graduate and have ventured off in writing a series of children’s books. If there is one piece of advice I could give you all is to sit down, alone, with a pen and paper, and write. Write about all the things that make you laugh, and make you happy and joyful, because these are the things and people to be thankful for.
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Katie McLean holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and bases her anxiety aid in personal experience, as well as techniques that have been passed on to her by counsellors, friends, and fellow anxiety sufferers.