Generalized anxiety disorder arrived in my life before puberty, so it's safe to say I can't remember what it's like to live without anxiety. I assumed everyone dealt with constant panic and dread, and I didn't realize my emotional state wasn't what everyone else experienced until I was in middle school. I didn't receive a diagnosis until I was 20 years old, but I've lived with an anxiety disorder for most of my life. But living with this disorder for so long has taught me that things you need to know about anxiety that you'll forget, even if you've lived with it for years. I like to think that I'm logical and analytical, but when I feel an anxiety attack coming on, it's hard to make sense of anything.
My anxiety has been devastating at different points in my life. I sometimes struggle with suicidal ideation when things get really bad — I've also been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, which can make things difficult. (According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly half of people who have an anxiety disorder also have depressive symptoms.) But thanks to medication, therapy and a strong support system, my life is fulfilling and exciting even though my brain doesn't always cooperate. These are some of the reminders I give myself on a daily basis.