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"My introduction to college was defined by a series of irrational questions."

Two years ago I wondered if the horrible feeling, the gnawing in my stomach would ever leave. Inside my freshman dorm room, I lived in my own mind, fixated on my thoughts and tormented by irrational messages and faulty fears.

It wasn’t until the summer after that year that I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Although I’ve experienced some OCD symptoms…

""My life began to change when I started to embrace my anxiety instead of being embarrassed by it.""

ChinaMcCarney.jpgI have lived with anxiety since 2009. I was 22 years old. My first panic attack occurred that year. About 45 minutes into a car drive I felt as if I was going to die. I could not breathe and had to pull the car off the road and walk for hours to try and catch my breath. That…

"We are more powerful than PTSD"

JenniSchaeferPTSD is an invisible monster. It disguises reality. When I was sucked into what I learned to call the trauma vortex, I often couldn’t distinguish between what was real and what wasn’t.…

"The church is not the only judgmental group out there when it comes to understanding mental illness. There are other religions and cultures that look on mental illness as something you should be able to overcome by shear will."

Chonda Pierce, comedianEver wonder what depression feels like? Here’s a hint: Take a pillowcase full of rocks and strap it to the top of your head. Now put on a dark pair of sunglasses — indoors. Leave those things on for about a week. Until…

"Somehow I summon up the courage to compete in front of thousands of people even though I suffer from panic attacks."

I amKristle Lowell a world champion of trampoline gymnastics, and I have suffered from anxiety for many years. Having anxiety is like having diabetes or asthma: They are all illnesses. But in 20 years as a trampolinist, I have yet to see someone…

"I never considered that an underlying condition was hampering my ability to handle the stress. I thought, this is just how life is. "

Marc Kohn“I’m back!” That was the phrase I’d said to myself starting in middle school when my malaise lifted and a cycle of joy came around. I seemed to live in a world moving in slow motion. It was only when “I was back” that I returned to normal life speed. This slow-to-…

"People need help. And asking for it isn?t a weakness. Admitting you need help and asking for it? That is acknowledging fear and gaining strength from it. "

Ashley Ericksen

A lot of things scare me. Right now, those things include my first 20-mile run of marathon training that I have this weekend and sharing this post. That’s the thing with fears, though. Embracing them usually makes you stronger.

"Dude, what?s your problem?"

Josh LewinI have learned that anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand, and there is no shame in having either — although it’s tough for many people to get their arms around that concept. When I struggled with both in my last couple years as the Texas Rangers’ baseball…

"The world was once my oyster; now, it was my prison."

Kara Baskin familyBack in 2006, I had it all: A loving fiancé, a coveted publishing job, a supportive network of friends and family. I was living in Washington, D.C., where I went out almost every night to press parties and trendy restaurants. In my spare time, I…

"It was a long process with many setbacks. But as I worked with a counselor and psychiatrist and slowly began to recoup my strength, I became very determined to get my life back."

L.A. Nicholson GAD Story of HopeMy descent into GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) began the morning I received the call bringing the news of my mother's accidental death. It was the same week that my husband was laid off. We had moved across the…

"Eventually, I began a tailspin that I am convinced led directly to losing my job, further intensifying these unidentified, uncontrollable, and fearful feelings."

I had my first experience with severe long-term depression at age 23 when a series of events converged simultaneously. I couldn't sleep, and my lack of appetite had me losing such a significant amount of weight that I feared I would end up in the hospital. I forced myself to eat and eventually gained back the weight, and later an appetite. Being on my own at this age in the late 1980s with…

" I was astounded to find no place with others who were going through the same thing, no tidbits on what I could do right now when I needed it most. That?s when I took out a notebook and decided it was time to create AnxietyInTeens.com. "

Solome Tibebu, personal storyI’m 21 years old, and besides my busy schedule as a full-time student the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, keeping a regular running and yoga schedule, work, and trying to balance a social life, I am…

"Feeling intense shame and a nagging fear that people would think my attacks were all in my head, I decided to hide my symptoms from even my closest friends and family. "

Holly Youmans Kammier GAD Personal StoryI've suffered from generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, coupled with panic attacks for more than two decades.

My first major attack struck during a bathroom break in the…

"The tyrant in your head will second-guess you no matter what you do. That voice of dread is terrified, terrifying, loud, and repetitively destructive. Demote it by making it your pesky backseat driver. You can steer without it."

Becky Wolsk Personal Story OCDEpisodic OCD burdened me for over a decade, from my college years until 2006. Self-punishment made matters worse, as it does for everyone. I compulsively checked the coffee maker to see if it was off…

"I advise anyone dealing with OCD to find a competent therapist who specializes in this illness."

Janet Singer-OCD-personal-storyMy son Dan was in college, and by the time I arrived at his dorm, he had not eaten in more than a week. He was spending hours at a time sitting in one particular chair, hunched over with his head in his hands, doing absolutely…

"Anxiety and shame seemed to come out of nowhere. She felt as if she were going to jump out of her skin. "

The anxiety and shame started when Diance was 25. She was sitting in a pew at her church, where she is active in the ministry. It seemed to come out of nowhere. She felt as if she were going to jump out of her skin.

Diance doesn’t know why she felt so anxious. But she knows what she saw when the feeling overwhelmed her: a nearby woman wearing a v-neck sweater.

For…

"I had a great aha moment: If I could change my thoughts, I could also change my feelings."

Melissa Binstock-websize"…

"A friend asked me to explain what things I couldn't do. I answered that it would take much less time if I simply listed those things I could do."

I have chosen to focus on my healing, and to say only a few words about my long period of suffering. Chances are, you already know – firsthand or secondhand – more than you'd care  to know about the suffering! My own suffering had its unique form, but essentially, it was no…

"I remember getting so nervous that I would have to leave class and go to the counselor?s office. "

Looking back, I recall first experiencing a panic attack in the sixth grade. I remember getting so nervous that I would have to leave class and go to the counselor’s office. Until I was 16, I was in and out of psychiatrists’ offices. It was a challenge to find a psychiatrist that I could connect with. Throughout junior high and high school, I still experienced anxiety and panic attacks. And …

"The only difference between Brian and most other children is that while he is at school, he is mute. "

My 5-year old boy has a cherub's face with a hint of mischief in his beautiful green eyes. Brian dances to silly music and entertains us with his antics. He tells his brother to leave him alone and he teases his sister while she does her homework. The only difference between Brian and most other children is that while he is at school, he is mute.

He will not raise his hand to…