Life can lead to overwhelming situations that we cannot control. I had my experience with this after consistent chest pains led me to the hospital room at three in the morning. The pain felt like someone was squeezing my lungs in their hands like a stress ball.

To my own disbelief, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and panic attack disorder that night. Out of everything that life had thrown my way, this discovery was the scariest. I could handle an “F” on an assignment or even a family death, but this left me feeling lost.

As tears ran down my face and my life began to fall out of my hands, I couldn’t find a good reason to be happy. It felt like life was piling so many stressful things onto me at once; I was in a hole nearly impossible to pull out of. Forgetting how to be happy was easy in my shower of stressful thoughts. From school work to friends and family, life was pulling at my seams–one more tug and I could fall apart.

Knowing I had anxiety was comforting because I finally knew why I was reacting to situations the way I did. At the same time, knowing was demoralizing. For a moment, the change made me feel isolated, almost non-human since I didn’t know many others dealing with the same issues.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 25.1 percent of American teens suffer from anxiety. This low number makes me feel so alone in this situation. In the past, my feelings of isolation were rooted in comparing myself to others based off of their accomplishments. Fighting inner battles that others did not have made me feel like I was being held back, making my stomach churn. My peers could stay in their happy world as I felt myself crashing and burning out of my own.

Dealing with anxiety is not an easy war but one worth fighting for.

By stopping the comparisons, I came to the realization that anxiety does not define who I am. I am not limited to my anxiety–I can grow, learn and teach all the same as anyone else can. Everyday is a new opportunity to fight harder. Dealing with anxiety is not an easy war but one worth fighting for. People may find themselves feeling left out from life’s opportunities due to a change in thoughts, but this shouldn’t mean the end and we should not let it be.

Not letting anxious thoughts or consistent fears get to me is something I need to continue doing because it is helping me the most. By stepping away and breaking down my thoughts I have made great progress in not letting negative ideas take over my mind.

Anxiety should not limit anyone’s happiness or define who people are. Happiness will show up in the smallest of moments and it’s more important to look for those small moments rather than the bigger ones. The moment may not be how you expect it to be, but it will come. No matter what the case is, limiting ourselves because of anxiety is more harmful than helpful. String yourself together, fight all odds and do your best to heal the emotional bruises.

What are some techniques you use to deal with anxiety?