By China McCarney
My name is China McCarney and I have been blessed with an anxiety disorder.
How can you say that? “Blessed” with an anxiety disorder?
Of course I did not always look at my anxiety disorder as a blessing. I had my first panic attack 8 years ago and had no idea what I was experiencing at the time. Was it a heart attack? Was I dying? Anyone that has experienced a panic attack knows that the first one is an experience you will never forget.
After having the first attack it has been an up and down battle. I have gone through stretches where I do not experience anxiety for months at a time. I have gone through periods where I feel like I can not leave my home. That is not an exaggeration. There were times where the thought of going to the grocery store or driving to work left me with crippling anxiety and panic. That is when depression creeps in. You start to judge yourself and create your idea of other’s judgments of you as well.
I could go on for paragraphs about the negative process of living a reclusive lifestyle, coping with anxiety by abusing alcohol, and the other negative attributes of the story but my goal of this is not to bring attention to the details about me and my battle. My goal is to empower others to believe in themselves and to believe that they have a choice to embrace their battles instead of being ashamed by them.
So what changed for me? When did the constant struggle of hiding and battling my anxiety turn to embracing the battle and turning it to a positive? The day I decided to embrace all of who I was, AND get help, is the day things began to change for me.
3 years ago I stopped trying to beat my anxiety alone and decided to see a counselor. It was the greatest decision I have ever made. Not only did the counseling help me directly but the conversations made me realize that this wasn’t an embarrassing thing I needed to run from anymore. It made me realize that millions of people were dealing with anxiety and/or depression like I was and there was help out there.
As I started to feel better about sharing my story about my daily battle with anxiety, I started to realize what a stigma there was attached to mental health issues. I realized there were not a lot of avenues where people could share their stories with anxiety, or talk about battling depression. This was unacceptable to me. If half the battle is embarrassment and shame with mental health issues, we can not continue to live in a society where a stigma is attached to those very issues. We have to BE THE CHANGE and be comfortable talking about about issues that 70% of the population deals with at some point in their life.
That is what prompted me to start the Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression Foundation. I wanted to create a platform and a community where it is a 100% comfort zone to be who you really are. A place where people can share their battles and get support from people who are struggling with their own daily battles. Successful lives and mental health issues co-exist. Life doesn’t have to be put on pause because of a mental health battle. It is just about embracing it and talking about it just like we do with all of our other attributes.
My name is China McCarney and I struggle every single day and I am proud of that. What a blessing to get to fight a battle every day. What a blessing to be able to tell my story and hopefully help people get comfortable sharing their story. I encourage everyone to start embracing 100% of themselves. No more hiding anything because of embarrassment or guilt. Be proud of who you are and let’s all BE THE CHANGE and rid the stigma attached to mental health issues.
Please share your story and spread the word about AAAD!