What I Learned From Being Diagnosed

Navigating through a new lens of self-reflection

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Jayce Haun

“I know that someday I won’t have to be so focused on getting out of this tunnel. I’ll be okay riding my highs, and when a low does hit, as they do in life, I will be better off from what I’ve learned.”

Elaine Thimyan, Reporter

Alongside other life-altering events that happened in 2020, I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I’ve had low to mild anxiety since I was 12, and slowly but surely it got worse. My hope is that sharing what I have learned from being diagnosed will help others affected by mental illness know they’re not alone and what they’re feeling has been felt by one of their peers and millions around the world.

I was gazing at the painted wall behind my doctor when she told me and my mother that I have high anxiety and mild depression. Through my blank stare and an empty head full of white noise, all I could think was and “I am not crazy.” I was so used to invalidating my feelings that all I would keep saying was “I’m only 11,12,13,14,15 I can’t know what true pain feels like.” Perhaps if I had been given the right support and guidance I could have saved myself a lot of suffering. I felt that because I was a child that I’m incapable of feeling despair. Young teens especially are made to feel like they don’t know what they’re talking about because they haven’t experienced “real problems”. This is not true; mental illness doesn’t turn on like a switch at a certain age, it’s a long intolerable cycle. It was this process that led me to my breaking point. Your diagnosis will be one visit at a doctor’s office, but how you got there was a long time coming. 

I had never thought there would be a day where I would actually be getting meds. I had heard of so many people who became like zombies once they started meds or even getting worse, I was scared on my first night taking them. How was this going to change me? Was I going to get better? The answer was yes and no. Back in October when I started my medication it was working, but toward December I took a turn for the worse. I was probably worse than when I started, but once I talked to my doctors and therapist I was bumped up to a new dosage. I’ve been taking my new dosage since mid-January, and I feel a lot better, but I’m still not quite where I want to be. 

Meds are not going to fix you, they aren’t supposed to. Going into it, I knew that, but I never realized how much effort I have to put in to get better. I’m still struggling, which is something all those cute Instagram posts that say “chin up” tend to forget. You can be struggling while still getting better. I think that’s been the hardest part about wanting to improve, I have to invest in myself which is why I have a therapist. She helps me get better by doing the right coping skills. If you didn’t have a coach telling you the little mistakes you were making and guiding you through them for your sport, you would never reach your full potential. So by recognizing that I have to admit when I’m not feeling right, I’m helping myself by reaching my full potential. 

I had never felt as low as I did back in October-December, and there are times when I literally don’t recognize myself. It’s scary facing the unknown, especially when you’re facing it in the mirror, but I am getting better. I am finding my way.

I know that someday I won’t have to be so focused on getting out of this tunnel. I’ll be okay riding my highs, and when a low does hit, as they do in life, I will be better off from what I’ve learned.