It is described in the Oxford dictionary as a lack of success and yet I would describe it as the end of my world… This is my biggest fear– failure. There was a time when this fear became so crippling I had panic attacks just at the thought of failing. My anxiety grew to a point where I could not even leave my room, I could barely eat without throwing up and to make matters worse I actually started failing. My grades took a huge dive and subsequently so did my health.
Now, I started university a year ago and my first year was successful. It was not without its challenges but these challenges were external which is why I was able to overcome them. I was in control of my reaction to the challenges. But in my second year unfortunately the challenges I faced came from within, it was my inability to remain calm in the face of fear. Instead I lost control of who I was and spiraled into complacency and panic.
It is not hard to imagine a meltdown, we all go though them but I certainly did not expect at the age of nineteen to go through what I went through. My anxiety led to depression and I reached a dark point in my life where everything felt futile and my existence felt more painful than it had ever felt. I pulled away from family and the little friends I had. This is because I was ashamed of what I was going through. Of course at the time when I was going through depression I did not actually know I was depressed I just felt extremely fatigued, lethargic, nauseous and heartbroken.
I only knew I was depressed after a few months when something in me– I’d like to think it was God who was speaking to me– made me shower for the first time in days and go to the doctor. The doctor looked at me and immediately diagnosed me as clinically depressed. I don’t know why but this made me feel even worse. I felt weak, how could I have let myself succumb to being depressed. It made me hate myself even more. She suggested I start seeing a therapist and luckily the university I attend has therapists for students like myself at the health center.
My first day was a bit awkward because I did not feel like it could be helpful. But I have been going to every one of my sessions and to say that my life has taken an about-face would be an understatement. She taught me how to evaluate my feelings and how to counter the negative feelings I had of myself. I use these tools almost daily and sometimes more than once a day. I was even able to identify why failure is such a debilitating fear for me. It is because growing up I lost my identity, I became ‘Sarah the smart girl’ and now because I was not living up to this I felt like a nobody with no identity. I was my academic career and nothing else, getting good grades was how I measured my worth and even when I got those ‘good grades’ I never felt good enough.
Failure — now I refer to it as my life’s biggest miracle because well I failed and my life has not ended so I guess I’m more than just bad/good grades. I am more than my fears. I am a daughter of our Heavenly Father and by virtue of that I am enough.