Utah seniors share their stories of resilience.
Elayna Smith – Woods Cross High 2019
I have anxiety. This means I experience fear and apprehension at such high levels that it inhibits my ability to do simple tasks like talking to people or doing homework. There have even been times where I am so anxious that I can’t get out of bed. My hopes of living a “normal” life have slipped away as medication and therapy have become my new normal. I felt isolated and lost interest in things that used to excite me. Staying focused in school became impossible. I no longer knew who I was.
At the start of my junior year of high school, I realized something was wrong. People weren’t constantly pounded by fear as I was. I approached my parents and explained to them what I was feeling. They took me to my pediatric doctor who diagnosed me with anxiety and slight depression. I was shocked. I knew in that moment that I wanted to do everything in my power to recover. I was prescribed medication and began therapy which allowed me to cope with the anxiety I was faced with.
Fighting anxiety was harder than I ever imagined. I spent many days fatigued and discouraged due to side effects from medication. But I knew I couldn’t give up. I fought like a lion to overcome my difficulties. I applied the skills I learned in therapy and tried medications until I found one that worked. I reached out to my family and friends for support. At first I was afraid they would reject me because of my condition, but I soon realized it did not matter. They never let my struggles define me. I did, however, experienced hard days. I took an Advanced Placement test and did not pass. This was demoralizing and frustrating, but I had done all I could. Despite this experience, I kept pushing on.
I’m by no means perfect, but I am healthier. I have become more aware of people around me who struggle with mental illness and have even considered becoming a therapist. I feel joy to a greater degree and know that I will be accepted for who I am, despite my imperfections. I’m still trying to navigate my way through this difficulty, but I now know who I am. I know I can triumph over difficult days. I am stronger than I was before. I have never felt more like myself than I do today.
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