Emily Oomen

I have been dealing with social anxiety since I was twelve years old. When my anxiety first began to overwhelm me, I was ashamed to seek help and ask my parents to take me to a therapist. I believe this shame stemmed from the stigma tied to mental health in America because in the United States, it is seen as taboo if someone goes to therapy. However, as time passed, after having many panic attacks and struggling to socialize, enough was enough, and I realized that it was more of a battle to try enduring anxiety than to muster up the courage to seek out help. I finally was brave enough to ask my mom for help and tell her about my anxiety, and afterwards, I felt as though a huge, hundred pound weight had been lifted off my chest. Following our discussion of how to move forward with my anxiety, we decided that I should see a therapist.

I remember being very intimidated when going to my first therapy appointment. What should I expect beyond the door of the waiting room? Little did I know at the time that what was behind that door would change my life for the better. My first therapy session consisted of a conversation between a therapist and me in a room with a relaxing atmosphere and comfy furniture. During the appointment we discussed anxiety, and the therapist gave me advice on how to breathe. Hmm breathing… that sounds too simple to combat anxiety I thought. I didn’t really believe, at first, that breathing would help, but I decided to try out the breathing method my therapist recommended anyway. Surprisingly, taking deep breaths when I felt an anxiety attack coming on helped phenomenally well. After seeing the therapist for a little while and working through my anxiety, soon I was cured of panic attacks.

Anxiety is still a familiar friend that flutters with me everywhere I go. Now, with the skills and tools I have learned to combat it, my anxiety has lessened from when I was twelve. I now no longer have panic attacks, and I am confident enough to cope with flutters of anxiety on my own. If anyone is struggling with anxiety or any other mental illness, I strongly encourage them to seek out help. Living in the shadow of a mental illness is no way to live life. You are meant and deserve to live a healthy joyful life.