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Hayley M. on Overcoming Anxiety, Fear and Panic , Age: 24

What have you struggled with? When did it become too much?

Anxiety (Panic Attacks)

Throughout my entire life, I have always been associated with being an extremely outgoing, fun-loving, sarcastic, and energetic person. As a 4-year division 1 varsity athlete, captain, and scholar, I was fearless. In 2014, I developed and battled a severe anxiety disorder that disabled me from experiencing and enjoying many wonderful things that life has to offer, and being who I have always been. The girl who constantly enjoyed making people laugh; the energetic, fun-loving, carefree girl that everyone loved was gone. Going to parties, concerts, shopping, and even sitting outside with friends was an unbelievable struggle. All of the things I used to love doing became something that made me feel so fearful and afraid. I was essentially afraid to live.

What kind of support did you get at first? Did it work?

Psychologist, friends, doctors, and family. Yes, it did work.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Now, about 2 years later, I am completely 100% anxiety free and back to living a fearless and meaningful life. Without the use of any medication, I
pulled myself through one of the deepest and darkest times of my life because I believed in myself and believed that better days lied ahead. The strong,
confident, and smart girl that everyone knows and loves is back, and she’s better than ever.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier

You can either let what’s happened to you in the past make you bitter or better. I chose to become better.

This reflection is small but so, so powerful. You can either choose to feel ashamed, scared, hurt, upset,
confused, and worthless…OR you can become empowered, motivated, secure, and more confident in yourself. You have to have the strength to believe in and fight for yourself because if you don’t, no one will. YOU have to perceive
yourself as something better, something bigger, and something great, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says.

Eventually there is going to be a tomorrow that is better than today. It won’t happen in a day, a month, or even a year. But just know that one day it WILL happen. Don’t give up. You WILL wake up and be proud of you who are. Anxiety and mental health in general has a huge stigma associated with it, which causes people who are unfamiliar with it to be fearful, judgmental, and essentially closed off. Sometimes its apart of who you are and you have to accept that; but don’t be discouraged from pushing through the hard times and eliminating the anxiety from your life. Anxiety for me has never been apart of who I am, up until 2 years ago. Certain circumstances in my life led me to developing it; but that doesn’t mean it had to stay with me. And it sure didn’t. I have accepted that part in my life, and am only using it as motivation to becoming a better “me.” Don’t let these negative experiences and feelings haunt you forever. Take it for what it is, learn from it, and grow into a stronger, and better person. You will thank yourself one day.

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Although I got myself out ofthis deep hole, there is no way I would be where I am today had it not been
for my friends, family, doctors, and other people who have impacted my life in such a tremendous way. Don’t feel ashamed about reaching out and sharing your story; you never know how much good can come out of it. Had I not opened up with my family, friends, and even myself, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.

I guess what I’m getting at is you WILL overcome the battles you once thought were impossible, and you will do it with dignity, pride, and confidence. You WILL learn to love yourself, despite the opinions and influences of others. You WILL learn to accept yourself; the good, the bad, and the ugly. You will realize that not a single person on this earth is perfect; that’s what makes us all unique and beautiful. And with that, you will learn to accept your flaws, and understand that they are apart of who you are. BUT you will strive to improve yourself, your flaws, and your
mindset, every day. And most importantly, you WILL become a better you. You just have to believe in yourself, know your worth, and truly understand what your role is on this earth. You were put here for a reason; you were born to DO something great, otherwise you would not be here. Have faith, courage, and confidence in yourself that you will achieve ANYTHING you want to; you just have to believe.

Wishing a lifetime of peace, happiness, and blessings to you all. You will get through this.


2 "...years later, I am 100% anxiety free and back to living a fearless and meaningful life.

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