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    Posted May 3, 2014 by
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Going public with mental illness

    A Journey Worth Continuing

    Growing up with social anxiety, depression, and OCD can be a challenge all on its own, mix that with the pressures of fitting in and making friends as a teenager, then things can get tricky.

    My social anxiety first appeared when I was in elementary school. A couple of years later, my OCD began to interfere with my academic work in middle school, and towards the beginning of my junior year in high school, my depression made its first appearance. At the time, I didn't fully understand the implications of having these mental disorders, I didn't even become fully aware something was wrong until my senior year in high school. By then, my grades had slipped and I had given up on school.

    It was difficult for me to make friends in high school because the anxiety of going out in public was too great that I couldn't enjoy socializing with my class mates. The racing heart, the clammy hands, the awkward way I would stiffly walk; they were all diverging my attention in forming complete sentences and interacting with others. People would point out how "quiet" I was or how I appeared "scared". They would call me "weird" and "boring". I began to notice these were not normal reactions to socializing and realized I had all the symptoms of social anxiety.

    The OCD and depression were the two culprits that ultimately caused my ambitions in high school to dissipate. By the end of my senior year, I went from earning A's and B's to C's D's and failing one class. I managed to graduate high school and continued on to college where I graduated with a BS in molecular biology within 4 years.

    Now I work in a research laboratory and realize much of my anxiety got me to where I am now. It’s difficult to explain but I know I would not have accomplished all that I did in college if it was not for my anxiety and yes college was not a walk in the park. The depression and anxiety were full blown and my social life was taking a toll. None the less I pushed myself to complete my degree and vowed I would not let these disorders define who I was. Through help, I have been able to manage all three and continue to make improvements. There are difficult days but I learn how to cope with them.

    For anyone, especially young adults and teens who may suffer from mental illness, do not feel ashamed and know you are not alone in this. There are many adults who have experienced similar situations as you and are now living happy lives. Yes, for many mental illness is a life long journey but it's a journey worth continuing. Seek help from trusted individuals and professionals. Do not let anyone make you feel ashamed because most likely these individuals do not fully comprehend or have never experienced a mental disorder. I know it's a cliche but it's true, you are not alone.
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