By Maddie Gee | Reporter
My first anxiety attack happened when I was 13 years old. I was walking into school completely fine, and then the world stopped. My breaths came in spurts. Tears flooded my eyes. My hands began to shake and then my whole body did, too. I was in the middle of the hallway, so people probably thought that I was just “spazzing over a quiz” or something of the sort. Eventually, the world started to move again, and I blamed the attack on my lack of sleep or nerves about finals coming up. Anxiety was not even a consideration. I became an expert at pretending that everything was OK.
My anxiety transformed from something that would appear every blue moon into being chains pulling me down to the worst version of myself. I could not go anywhere without my friends next to me because I was afraid of others judging me. I could not tell my parents because I did not want them to think I was crazy. I suffered in silence while my anxiety and eventually depression as well swallowed me whole.
I did not ask for help because I felt like that would be admitting defeat. I was supposed to be “strong Maddie” – the Maddie that could handle everything, had the perfect grades, perfect relationships and perfect life. Who had time to be sad? I was happy and smiley all the time! But I was not her. I never was.
I tried to keep this image of myself up until it all came crashing down my freshman year of college. I was so tired of everything. Everything built up to become this torrential storm that I knew I could not survive alone. I had to get help.
There are people all over the world that are suffering in silence that do not have to. Some of these people are on this campus. I was one of them. Smiling on the outside, but screaming on the inside. In the middle of my freshman year, I was slowly starting to realize that my demons were going to be the death of me. Luckily, I finally opened up to those closest to me and found help here while at school.
I know that there are people who have not done the same. There are some people that ultimately never did. Opening up and admitting to myself that I was not OK saved my life. I was able to get the help I needed, and I finally started living my life to the fullest. To say that I do not have hard days would be a bold-faced lie. To me, living with a mental illness is like being on a roller coaster – constant twists and turns, ups and downs. However, I definitely feel like my seat belt is more secure than before.
You do not have to be afraid to ask for help. If you are, then I will always be someone to talk to for everyone (my twitter is @maddiethebeast7 if you want to talk). The Baylor Counseling Center is a fantastic resource for me, I highly recommend going to them for help as well. Every person — no matter who they are — deserves to live a happy and authentic life. It is OK to not be OK.