If you’re a teenager or have the pleasure of raising teens, you are probably well acquainted with the author John Green. I think my kids have read all of his books and I thoroughly enjoyed “Paper Towns” and “The Fault in our Stars“. His latest story is called “Turtles All the Way Down” and stars a character named Aza who suffers from OCD. It turns out that John was able to write this character so authentically because he has struggled with OCD for some time.
When I was looking for information about “Turtles”, I stumbled across this podcast called “The Hilarious World of Depression” and an episode featuring John Green. I love that he not only shared his story with adults on the podcast, but also put it out there in this vlogbrothers video below and on his Crash Course site for teens. For a teen or adult struggling outwardly or in silence, it can be incredibly powerful to know someone else understands and gets the crazy making that is anxiety. He also shares some resource links with ways to get help.
If you’re a fan of John or simply like stories about people figuring out how to live, survive and thrive with anxiety, check out the links and videos below!
Let me introduce you. Erin is a mother, friend, wife, sister, professional, expert crafter, champion of animals, professional, adventurer and all around cool lady. She also has had anxiety and panic for most of her life.
So, here’s the story. After enjoying a mostly panic free life for many years, Erin experienced debilitating panic attacks on a drive to Bethany Beach, Delaware last summer. She knew the drive would be a challenge, but the resurgence of panic left her reeling. It took the course of the following year from which to recover. Sure, she went to work, managed her family and kept up a normal life (because she’s strong like that), but inside she struggled with daily symptoms. After some counseling and a lot of work, a year later she made that same drive again. This time was filled with dread and panic, which showed up as expected, but she did not let scary symptoms get in her way. She made it all the way to the beach, got to enjoy vacation with her family and felt triumphant. If you have experience with panic, you know that this accomplishment was like completing an Ironman!
After the trip, she was posting beautiful pictures on Instagram and, as people were viewing and adding hearts, she realized she was just portraying one side of the story.
With a huge amount of courage, she wrote the following post and shared her story in hopes it would help someone else. Maybe that person is you! Here it is – posted with permission.
“Few people know this about me, but I have panic disorder. I was always a worried child, but when I turned 20 I started to have panic attacks. I had to leave college at that time to get back on my feet and ever since then I have struggled on and off with my anxiety. After I moved, I started avoiding going places because of fear of panic attacks. And my world got smaller and smaller. I have worked really hard to overcome this and have made huge strides. I was even in almost complete remission for about 4-5 years but then I had a big set back this past summer. So I am kind of starting over. It is a huge accomplishment that I made it here to this beach. I am immensely ashamed of my battle with this, but part of what holds the anxiety to me so intensely is this shame. So I am sharing now and may share more as I keep challenging myself. I hope it is in some way helpful to someone if I share my story. I made it to Bethany Beach, Delaware and didn’t think I could. I am overjoyed that I got to make some more sweet memories with my boys. Thanks for reading.”
Most of the time we don’t think of anxious people being big adventurers. Media images tell us that agoraphobics stay close to home. People with panic disorder tend to have day jobs with a high degree of control and predictability, right?
Well, these three anxiety superheroes shake up stereotypes and have found a way to be both anxious and adventurous in the world.
*Tim Cahill – founding editor of “Outside Magazine” – has traveled all around the world, set a world record for driving from Southern Argentina to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in just 23 days, has climbed up El Cap on a single rope, almost died while white water rafting through the Grand Canyon and has also dealt with panic disorder. Check out his story here or in his book, “Hold the Enlightenment“.
*Lauren Juliff – author of the travel blog, “Never Ending Footsteps” bought a one way ticket to Croatia in spite of an anxiety disorder so debilitating that at times she didn’t leave the house for months. Lauren has continued to travel all around the world, journaling her missteps and crazy adventures, while also dealing with panic and anxiety that pop up from time to time. You can read more about her travel and anxiety here.
*Tara Lepore – paleontologist, writer, world traveler, self proclaimed geek and anxiety superhero. Check out her anxiety story and how she faced her fears by climbing to the tippy top of St. Peter’s Basilica!
Are you an anxiety superhero that packs anxiety along for the ride instead of staying home? I’d love to hear about your adventures! And here’s a trio of posts I did a few years back about my travels to St. John – part one,two and three.
Today I’d like to highlight Anxiety Superhero Erin Craig. Check out this BBC video of Erin taking on Scuba Diving certification! I love how she talks about not letting her panic disorder get in the way of trying something challenging and way out of her comfort zone. But also be sure to read the post which describes her experiences with travel and anxiety and how she found herself in Thailand in a scuba suit in the first place. Go Erin!
I went driving over the bridge this morning and further down the highway than I’ve been in over a year. I did a test drive with a fellow superhero last night and felt crazy nervous. This morning, though, I think that attitude of willing to feel anxious helped a great deal. I was also really inspired by my friend who got on the highway last night after not doing so for 10 years. If you were on the road you might have seen our superhero capes flying!
Tonight, I had been invited to attend a financial book group and I only knew one of the women. Standing at the sink washing dishes, I thought about not going because I was tired, it was late and, really, hadn’t I already done my anxiety work today? That’s the thing about putting your goals out in the open, I felt like if I was going to do this challenge, I really had to go for it. So, off into the cold night I went and had a really nice time.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but I’m starting to feel a little more like myself and the din of anxiety radio is beginning to weaken.