I never thought that anxiety would be doing me any favors.

After all, I’ve never had a moment where I wished I was more anxious than I really was — but I do believe that I am a better person having experienced anxiety and anxiety disorder.

Anxiety was sort of a mentor in my life. Not the kind of mentor who is nice to you, coaches you, and guides you, but instead the kind who teaches through harsh lessons.

Anxiety struck me somewhere around the age of 17. I distinctly remember sitting in my high school English class, fourth row back, the second row from the right side, wondering what the hell was going on with my body.

Why the hell did I suddenly feel so bad that day?

That was just the beginning…

Constantly sporting headaches.

Tension in my neck and shoulders.

Throat feeling like a giant lump had pitched a tent forever.

Plus a consistent nervous, on-edge feeling.

Before this, I lived a pretty easy and care-free life. I was young and had my parents to take care of me. Plus, it was my mission to make it through school and nothing more. I didn’t have time to take care of myself. Oh to be young and naive…

It took about 6 or 7 years of fumbling through misery, aches, pains, disease, and doctor’s offices, but eventually I learned that what I had gone through was anxiety, and the way I had been living my life was a major contributor to it.

How did anxiety work in my favor?

Before Anxiety…

I thought the way life worked was if you got sick, you went to the doctor who gave you a pill and made everything better. After anxiety, I learned that I could drastically reduce the number of times I got sick or felt like shit by exercising, eating healthier, reducing stress, and sleeping as a normal human should.

Before Anxiety…

I didn’t know how to care for myself. After anxiety, I always put myself #1, because I can’t take care of anyone else if I’m not my best self.

Before Anxiety…

I bitched and moaned a lot. I thought I was the only person suffering while still making it through the day. After anxiety, I gained a whole new perspective. EVERYONE has issues they’re dealing with on a daily basis — most way worse than mine ever were — but they make it through without a complaint. I try to live my life like this now.

Before Anxiety (and During)…

I felt lost. I didn’t know what was going on in my life and I was scared. After anxiety, it helped me to grow up, and it’s (funny enough) given me yet another purpose to wake up each morning: to let others know that anxiety is manageable and there’s always hope.

I truly believe that struggle is the key to growing as a person. Without the struggle of anxiety, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and who I continue to evolve into as I get older.

While I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy, I can’t say it was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me without also saying it might have been the best.