You Are Resilient
“It’s an outer body experience. It’s consuming. Sometimes the effects would be subtle or very obvious, and sometimes I would get really pale and pass out. You feel like you’re not in control, but all you can do is just try to regain control and calm down,” recalls 18-year-old Megan Gremillion about her experience with panic attacks.
Megan’s anxiety rose to the surface when she transitioned from middle to high school. Although she doesn’t remember the incident, Megan shares that her parents once brought her to the emergency room after watching her pack and unpack a backpack for eight hours. She was then diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)–a severe, ongoing anxiety that often interferes with daily activities.
“You don’t really know what’s going on. I didn’t understand what was happening. I just knew I had all of these feelings. I lost weight during that time because my mind was telling me that I was too busy to eat. It was definitely debilitating,” she shares.
After her diagnosis, coming to terms with her anxiety was difficult because Megan didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. “I didn’t understand why I needed to talk to a therapist when I was nervous about a test,” she explains. However, opening up about her anxiety was hard for her even before her diagnosis, simply because people didn’t always understand. “Many struggle with this in silence because people respond with, ‘Well, I get stressed, too.’ We need to start a dialogue about this. Learning how to cope with this has been such a learning curve for me. My freshman year was a mess.”
With the use of medication, deep breathing, redirecting of her thoughts, and telling herself, “It’s going to be okay,” Megan has learned how to cope with her anxiety. She also joined every club at school she could, focused on homework and studying, and helped others whenever possible. To Megan, being busy helped her to forget what she was struggling with.
Megan is also heavily involved with the Ghana Educational Collaborative. She often organizes fundraisers for the group, and through her service, one of her fundraisers generated enough money to fund the education of four students in Ghana. “Service is a coping mechanism for me because being there for someone in their time of need is important; someone was there for me when I needed them,” she shares.
Megan has a very giving heart, and over time, she has learned how to control her GAD. However, she couldn’t have done it without having confidence in herself to control it as well as utilizing her coping mechanisms. This fall, she will be studying medicine at Louisiana Tech, and she hopes that by sharing her story, she will be able to raise awareness of anxiety disorders and get the conversation going about mental health.
Megan shares, “I want people to know they aren’t alone. Even though no one is saying anything about it, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. People are here to help you. Speak up and don’t be afraid. You can be crushed, but you’re not destroyed. You’re resilient.” ■