BAYLEE Krawczyk's Anxiety Story
Mental illness and silence often go hand in hand. Some people are silent about their struggles because of the stigma that surrounds it. Others are silent because they don't want to appear different. Some are silent because they refuse to accept their diagnosis. Personally, when I was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I was silent for all of the above reasons and then some. I was silent because I didn't know how to put something into words that I didn't understand. I didn't know nor did I want to talk about something that I was so angry at. I was 21 at the time and would have been finishing up my senior of college but instead I was housebound due to crippling panic attacks and depression. Mental illness was new to me, but lying about what I was going through was not. When I wasn't able to return to school that year I lied and told my friends and family that I was sick with mono. I thought acceptance of something physical would be better received than something mental. I didn't know how to explain that all of a sudden I wasn't able to do simple things like walk down the street alone anymore. I didn't know how to talk about something that I couldn't see, or hear, or touch. I didn't know how to voice something I couldn't accept.
Well, I learned quickly that lying was indeed keeping people out but I failed to realize it was also keeping me in. I was so focused on managing a lie that I forgot about the taking care of myself part and the more I pushed my mental illness away the harder it pushed back. It wasn't until a life-changing therapy session where my therapist opened my eyes to a harsh truth. "Baylee, how can you expect to get through this if you won't even accept it?" So I unclenched my fists, waved the white flag and finally accepted what I had been resisting all along- I had a mental illness. I dropped the fake story, stopped going to doctors wishing for a different diagnosis, and I started to openly talk about my struggles. The beauty and freedom I found in acceptance changed my life. I started to progress in therapy. I started to heal. I started an Instagram community called @anxietysupport where I could share my story and give others an opportunity to do the same. I started going to support groups. Instead of shaming my mental illness I began embracing it and talking about it. I started to live an honest and genuine life no matter what it looked like and no mater who did or did not understand it. And to my surprise, the very people I was hiding from were the very same people who showed me the most support and even found comfort in my story. I never imagined I would be an example, I still don't consider myself one, I'm just someone who realized very quickly that silence isn't always golden.