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Hey there, you have anxiety too? Lets be friends

I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember. When I was in

4th grade the bullying started. I was bullied by the same group of girls pretty much until the end of high school. In 4th grade, I didn't know how to express how I was feeling to my parents. All I knew was my stomach hurt a lot and I was sad. I didn't understand what I had done for someone to be so mean to me. I went in for a lot of tests around that age. They were trying to figure out where the pain was coming from. I had to have an endoscopy done to look at my esophagus and the lining of my stomach. It was all inflamed. I was on the verge of developing ulcers. I was given heartburn medications to help with the pain. But the pain was actually stemming from my anxiety and increased stress. I was in a constant state of sympathetic overload and my poor little system didn't know what to do. Now, as an educated adult, I wonder why one of these professionals wasn't concerned with the WHY. Why was this little girl in so much pain? But that is a discussion for another day.

My mom tried helping once we were able to pinpoint a little more as to what was going on. Once I was more honest about the bullying and what was happening to me. It wasn't until the 7th grade that we were trying anxiety-decreasing supplements, like flower essence. They would help in the short term but nothing lasted through those years of school. I wish we would have known more about anxiety in young women and children then. I am from a small town in Michigan where everyone knew everyone else. Talks of anything "out of the ordinary" for our town would spread like wildfire.

Once I got to college I dealt with the anxiety through drinking and never really eating enough. It was easier that way. I was in control. I was in control of what I put in my body. I was in control of how these things made me feel, so anxiety wasn't. At the time, I felt like I could be more like "myself" even though drinking wasn't that much fun for me. I still did it more than I should have. I think a lot of women who suffer from anxiety as also the ones who are the hardest on themselves. Grades were important, not failing was important, being strong was important, and being skinny was important. This carried through to Chiropractic school where my anxiety was at its highest. I felt like I was running a marathon every day and having to give myself pep talks like "You can do it if all these other people can do it so can you." I was able to earn my Doctorate but not without mental injury.

It wasn't until my late 20s that I knew I needed help. I was new in practice and just opened up my first business. Anxiety and stress were so high, but that is what felt comfortable for me. I found a Therapist and even though my now husband and I didn't have a pot to piss in, we were able to budget for me to get help every week. I have been seeing a Therapist since.

I want the takeaway to be that you can be anything or anyone whether you want to be anxious or not. Breaking the stigma of mental health is so important to me. If I didn't feel like there was such a stigma around mental health, I feel I would have asked for help sooner. You should always feel heard and if you don't, seek help elsewhere. You can be strong, empowered, smart, successful, and have anxiety. What will make you more empowered and strong is finding help when needed.

Anxiety will always be a part of me. I am now a mom and deal with a new strain of anxiety, called mom anxiety. It isn't comfortable but I have more tools and resources in place to help.

Let us continue to break the stigma around mental health


Dr. Ariel Blackburn

Chiropractor, business owner, and momma bear



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