I don’t remember the first time that I became aware of my anxiety, but I do remember the last. I was standing in the middle of a courtroom on a Wednesday night three months ago, presenting a closing argument to a teen jury. I felt good. I felt solid in my argument. I had been an attorney at my local teen court since December, and I had gotten to be good at it. I felt like I was in my element.
I still don’t know exactly why it happened, but I stumbled over a sentence and suddenly became aware of all the eyes on me. They were all judging me and I had just made a mistake. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry or throw up.I managed to hold it together until I had left the courtroom. As soon as I was out, I started to hyperventilate. I was having a panic attack. They had been a regular occurance for me since I was thirteen, and they got worse when I began my sophomore year.
Photo: Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Despite the fact that I had been having panic attacks regularly for two years, I had never had one in front of anyone until that night, and I had never told my parents that I was struggling. That night, I realized that my anxiety had spiralled out of my control. I needed help.
People sometimes characterize mental illness as a battle. I’d say that for me, it’s more like a war. Some battles I win; some I don’t. Despite the fact that it can be really hard, I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned. Anxiety has given me a unique perspective on relationships, life, and my goals.
My anxiety means I have a tendency to be nervous in front of large groups of people, a perfectionist, and overly sensitive. However, that’s only one side of the coin. My perfectionism has pushed me towards my goals and given me opportunities I never would have considered. I spent hours stressing over my midterms because I was convinced I would fail; however, the work I put in led to perfect scores on two tests. I’m overly sensitive. However, it’s given me the ability to be more perceptive, empathetic, and kind, because I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I do. I had severe anxiety talking in front of people that I had to work really hard to overcome-not only did I overcome it, but I learned to love it, so much that I coached middle school debate and decided to pursue a career as an attorney.
I’m not saying that dealing with a mental illness is easy. It’s not, but it is worth it. I have learned so much about myself that I never would have if not for my anxiety. It has taught me to be sympathetic to others. It has helped me to excel academically. In my attempt to control it, I discovered a talent I didn’t know I had. I’m not ashamed of my struggle. I’m proud of all it has helped me learn.
Eve is an avid writer based in the Sunshine State. She enjoys reading, writing, playing with her cats, and participating in Mock Trial. In the future, she plans to go to law school to pursue a career as a district attorney.