One of the most important things that I have done to help myself with conquering my anxiety is to find an outlet. For me that has become theatre. I have loved performing my whole life and so when my anxiety started getting in the way of enjoying it, I knew that I had to do something. The thing that I have to remind myself is that being nervous about acting in front of a large crowd is normal and so I have to distinguish between my anxiety and everyday worries. Whenever I get anxious about performing I remember that 1) it is my favorite thing in the whole world; 2) nothing terrible has ever happened on stage; and 3) that when I step on that stage I am not Liza, I am a character. I think that is something that really helped me to push through; to remember that when I am acting I can be whoever I want my character to be. When I become a character, Liza’s anxieties go away. Whatever your favorite thing is I encourage you to go put your heart and soul into it because it can really get you through some tough times with your anxiety. Don’t let your anxiety stop you from doing your favorite thing. When you step onto your “stage”, whatever that may be (soccer field, dance floor, etc.), remember that you can be anyone you want to be there and you can leave your anxiety at the door. Then you can transfer that same confidence in your day to day life, thinking, “today I’m going to be a confident me, not an anxious me”.
As I have gotten older and become more open about my anxiety, I have had the privilege of meeting so many people who also struggle with anxiety or depression. I think one of my greatest hopes in life is to be able to make someone else’s struggle even slightly easier. I want to be the confidant that I wished I had. I always had great friends who listened, but sometimes I felt like they didn’t understand. Now, I am very blessed to be surrounded by others who understand my struggles and give me advice, but there are so many who still don’t have that. I think it is incredibly hard to find people willing to talk about their struggles at a young age, at a time in which anxiety can make an already very emotionally vulnerable time even more difficult. The greatest thing that I have learned from talking to others is that there is no way that you can “fix” it. You have to let that go, and just be there to listen and to comfort. Personally, I know that there is nothing that anyone can do for me because I have to fight my battle myself. But, when someone gave me a hug on a hard day or just sat quietly and listened to my problems, I always felt a whole lot better. Recently, I have seen one of my good friends really struggling and the hardest realization for me was that I had no control over it. What I said wasn’t going to make their struggle go away but, maybe I could give them some helpful advice. So just listen, remind them that they are not alone, and most importantly remind that getting help does not make them weak because asking for help is half the battle.
Here is the link to some really informative information debunking common misconceptions about anxiety
Here are some very insightful facts about anxiety and depression from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults (3.1 % of the U.S. population)
- Risk of GAD is highest between childhood and middle age
- Around 15 million American Adults have a social anxiety disorder
- The typical age of onset for social anxiety disorder is 13 years old
- 36% of those with social anxiety disorder report to have struggled with it for 10 years or more before seeking help
- In 2014, 15.7 million adults in the U.S. reported at least one major depressive episode within that year
- The lifetime risk of depression is around 17%
- Around 2 out of 100 children and 8 out of 100 teens suffer from serious depression
- Most people who develop depression have a history of an anxiety disorder earlier in their life
- 80% of kids with anxiety disorders and 60% of kids with depression are not getting treatment