Anxiety disorder has been something I’ve struggled with for a long time, it’s something that has defined a lot of my life. I often think about whether I’d even be me if I didn’t have any mental illness, or if I’d be a totally different person I wouldn’t even recognize. When I’m in my worst moments and wish I didn’t have anxiety, what do I mean? It’s weird to think about, but when something has been such a major part of one’s life for so many years it’s hard not to be shaped by it somehow, it becomes ingrained into who we are. We are all shaped by our experiences, and our struggles, including mental illnesses, have such a strong influence on those experiences.
The painful reality is we can’t just wish away our struggles, yet in some way that’s a relief. At the core, I’m accepting of who I am, because I’ve survived the struggles and they’ve made me a better person, and they’ve led me to make choices that brought me to where I am in my life. Maybe I’d be better off without anxiety, maybe I’d be worse off, I don’t know. We can’t know who our hypothetical other-selves are, and maybe that’s for the best.
The only thing we can change is what we do, and how we move forward as the people we’ve become. Mental illness may have shaped who we became, and that will always influence the rest of our lives, but we don’t have to let it affect who we will become. Our struggles, no matter what they may be, may shape who we are, but they do not define who we are. They’re challenges to be met, hurdles to be overcome, and our experiences have made us strong enough to fight back!