I BATTLED ANXIETY FOR MOST OF MY LIFE….. Student Blog: Johnston Ho
I battled anxiety for most of my life, but I’ve gotten much better. I’ve been to the point where I felt like I deserved to feel this way and I should just live with it. I’ve been to the point where I felt motionless, nothing made me happy, and everything made me anxious or depressed. I was turning 16 and at the end of the school year last June it truly got to me. I started becoming super anxious with many things like going online, using instructions, knocking on someone’s door, walking down my school hallway, and even just saying hi to people. Tons of stuff. I wanted to change schools but I was afraid to. During the summer, my anxiety got worse and I started to get depressed. I stayed in my house for most of the summer and was so afraid of doing almost anything. When ever I was out of my house, I would get anxious and would start panicking. I remember not even going on MSN and being afraid to sign up for a Facebook account. It took me days until I got up enough courage to force myself to do so. On my 16th birthday in August, I was alone for the whole day, mostly just watching TV and keeping to myself. I was actually kind of a social person in the past, but during this summer my SA worsened and got to a bad place. I did not realize I had SA until that birthday when I researched a bunch about my particular problems and found out more about my disorder. I went to a youth clinic a week later. I didn’t tell anyone about my trip, I just went, and after going to the clinic I was diagnosed with SA.
After my appointment, I had to get ready for a humanitarian trip that I had previously signed up for with a Canadian charity called LiveDifferent. The trip involved me travelling from Victoria BC to Abbotsford BC by myself, by bus and ferry. I had never travelled alone before and I would also be away from my parents for a full 2 weeks. I knew I had to go because we already paid for the experience, but I was so nervous. I didn’t know anybody that was going and, to be honest, I almost backed out. The day after I got on the bus to go to the ferry, I realized I needed to trust myself and build my self-esteem to be able to survive the trip. I had to do this. I bought a book on anxiety and other mental issues which calmed me down on the way to Abbotsford. When I got to Abbotsford, I met about 15 or so people also going on the trip, none were guys. My anxiety got really bad, so I just went into my room and watched TV. When I went to dinner, I remember not saying one word, not a thing. I finished my dinner and just left rather than having to try and force conversation or get to know these new travel companions. About a day into our bus ride down to Mexico, I was late getting back to the bus after a pit-stop and instead of making light of it or apologizing, I just got on, said nothing, and stared out the window for the next 5 hours. Thankfully, a poker game started around my general area, a game a really enjoy playing. I decided to join in and I actually won. This helped my anxiety a lot. Not just the winning, but having fun doing something WITH others. I started to feel relaxed and my SA was slipping to the background.
During the trip, I started to talk more (maybe TOO much actually) and I was able to be more of “myself”. More than I’d been able to be in a long time. I got to meet a lot of great people on this trip, 35 or so, all together with a common goal in mind; to do what we could to help others. I’m so glad I went. Now, 1 month later, I feel like a totally different person compared to what I was like, what I was dealing with back on my birthday. This trip has changed my life, and probably not even in the way the organization staff thought it would. At least not entirely. I used to keep all my emotions inside and when I felt like crying or doing something that makes me stand out, I’d just kept it in or keep to myself. I feel like my anxiety is not as much of a problem anymore. I even wore a sombrero from Abbotsford to Victoria and on the ferry. I would have never done that before, ever. And I’ve already submitted my application for next year’s humanitarian trip, hopefully to participate as a student leader. I do battle SA every now and then, but it’s not the issue it once was for me and now I’m focused on helping others in schools.
Now that the trip I went on has changed my life, I’m so grateful I was able to participate. I’m better for it and I hope anyone battling with anxiety and SA can break through too. I had never had really told anybody about my anxiety issues, but now I’m comfortable with it. Also to the people on the LiveDifferent trip, I have got to say, it was great meeting you all and getting to know you. You were all amazing.
*Participants are given the opportunity to blog about their experiences, so many views may be communicated. The views above do not necessarily reflect the views of LiveDifferent.