By Shanna Brown
Anyone who has met me later in life is used to hearing me talk about my anxiety. When meeting new people and establishing connections, I want to set the tone so the mental health conversation is open. There is nothing to hide and no reason to bury something that has an impact on your daily life. If I can be even a small part of changing that narrative, I consider it a success.
Growing up in the ‘90s, openly showing signs of anxiety was challenging, and being dismissed with a simple “Oh, you’re just nervous!” had a more harmful impact on my mental health than I realized. It wasn’t until adulthood and starting therapy that I truly understood the toll it had taken on my mind and body throughout my life.
I first heard someone openly discuss anxiety in late high school. It simply wasn’t a topic people discussed, if at all. During that time, my anxiety escalated from high-stress situations to a daily struggle. I never knew how to articulate my feelings, which only heightened my anxiety about facing it alone.
Looking back, I remember all the small things I did to ease my anxiety. I always carried a water bottle, never left home without mints or gum, and couldn’t be seen without my emotional support Chapstick. I can’t explain the Chapstick thing—it’s a strange one—but it brought me a sense of calm.
Today, thanks to modern medicine, therapy, my anxiety companion pup Willow and the wonderful people in my support system, I am happier than ever. Of course, I still have low days and moments where I can’t see beyond the present, leading me into a spiral. However, right now is the first time I can recall having more anxiety-free days than not.
If you struggle with your mental health, cliché as it may sound, you’re not alone. There is strength in numbers, so lean on your support system. Therapy has been a lifesaver for me, and I highly recommend it to everyone. You don’t need a specific “reason” to see a therapist. Use the resources available to you—Allisons’ client, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, can be an excellent outlet to explore. The agency’s partnership with the Calm app offers meditations, stories and coping mechanisms to guide you through tough times.
Remember to prioritize yourself and make time for self-care. And when in doubt, rescue a puppy that has worse anxiety than you. Oddly enough, it helps.
Shanna Brown is a Marketing and Communications Director based in North Carolina.