The Power of Self-Advocacy

July 9, 2024
Chloe Beal

Rye Brook, New York, United States

Class of 2025

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder is categorized by excessive, ongoing worry that interferes with daily life and activities. It accompanies chronic overthinking and feelings of debilitating helplessness that make life difficult. When I was in 6th grade, the diagnosis was placed upon me like a bag of bricks. From a very early age, alongside the childlike jubilation that paints early memories, I always had a feeling of nervousness that weighed over me. At first, the nerves did nothing to prevent me from unleashing my full potential, as I was still a very outgoing child, yet as I got older life simply got harder. I found myself interested in new things, such as theater and debate, which would require me to put myself out there. For so many years, I had let my anxiety prevent me from doing things out of fear of failure or embarrassment. It was time for a massive change. 

That is why I was almost relieved to hear that I had G.A.D. It was so validating to understand that all my symptoms were normal, and shared by people across the world. Through therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists, it became clear that I knew myself best, and if I wanted to combat my anxiety, then I had to take action.  

Verbatim to what my therapist suggested, I joined clubs at school that challenged my nerves. Things that I had always wanted to try, but had been prevented from doing so because of my anxiety. These clubs were Model UN, debate, and theater, all of which required me to put myself on a “stage”, and present ideas in front of a crowd. At first, these activities seemed immensely horrifying to me, which was simply the anxiety attempting to take control in my head. However, as time went on, I understood that I could not live my life dictated by the fear of failure. 

Additionally, I began to take medicine to combat the worry. The medicine falls under the SSRI category, which increases the amount of serotonin released in the brain. In other words, the medicine makes you happier, which in turn lessens your anxiety levels. At first, I was nervous about taking the medication because of what others would think of me. I didn’t want to be viewed as a weak girl who was defined by her anxiety, but as time went on, I didn’t really care. The medicine had truly changed my life for the better, and no longer was I the girl who became physically ill before presenting a project to her class. I wasn’t the person who missed out on things because I was too afraid. Now, I was the girl who could be her true self, with less anxiety, and do the things that made me who I was. 

If I could provide any advice to those struggling, I would say the following: 

  1. Do not be ashamed of your anxiety, as it will never define you. 
  2. Feel proud of how far you have come - life is not always an upward slope. 
  3. Surround yourself with people who support your journey, and understand your struggles. 
  4. Allow yourself to be helped — open your mind to therapy, and potentially medication (if need be).  

Remember, you are so much more than your anxiety. You have full control over your actions, so don’t let fear hold you back from doing what you love!

Chloe Beal is a BBG living in Rye Brook, New York. In her free time, she enjoys doing Model UN with her school.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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