When I last sat down to reflect on my journey with anxiety I was nervous, timid, and YES even a little ANXIOUS. I wanted to share my story with the “right” spin or the “right” perspective. I gave just enough details to get the point across and deflect the focus away from me and my “issues”. This is what came out.
That was 5 or 6 months ago when I put those words down on paper. The mistake I made when first sharing my story was not emphasizing how much I battle to excel everyday. These are called “Stories of Triumph” and I did not express the battle I fight daily to excel in spite of my anxiety.
Over the last five years my anxiety symptoms have become worse than they’ve ever been. Over the last five years I have become the Vice President of a top athletic training company in Southern California earning an elite salary. I have closed escrow on my first home. I have also achieved my proudest accomplishment which was starting my foundation Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression for anyone suffering from a mental health issue.
Anxiety increasing at the same time accomplishments are increasing are not facts we think of as coinciding. Why? Maybe because we often live a reclusive lifestyle while being ashamed of our symptoms and not wanting to share. Maybe because there is a massive societal stigma attached to mental health issues and sharing what we are going through is not always accepted with open arms. Regardless of whatever the “right” answer is, there is no reason that we can’t continue to pursue life while also dealing with a daily mental health battle.
That is what my message would be to anyone out there battling a mental health issue. Give yourself permission to believe in yourself. Give yourself permission to accept help and to seek resources that can help you. That is what I did. That is what I continue to do. That is where the Anxiety and Depression Association of America came into my life.
A very real passion to change the stigma attached to mental health issues started to grow inside of me as I continued my daily battle. My first search led me to ADAA. Their willingness to help, their resources, and their genuine passion to fight the mental health battle turned a small spark into a raging fire. They helped show me that success and mental hardship can co-exist.
I struggle to go to the grocery store. Eating at a restaurant is very difficult. A big day for me is pushing myself to go to a pier in Manhattan Beach, CA as exposure therapy. That is ok. That is just a part of who I am, it is not all of who I am. I am a successful businessman, a homeowner at 30 years old, and more important than all of that, I am committed to helping everyone with my foundation and my story.
I encourage everyone to embrace all of who they are. I encourage everyone to pursue their passions while simultaneously battling whatever their battling. I urge everyone to get involved with Athletes Against Anxiety and Depression and to visit them here.
Believe in yourself and believe in your ability to BE THE CHANGE!
Ryan “China” McCarney