introduction to my book
(Available on Amazon now!!! "Party Pooper: Growing up with Anxiety" by Grace Kathryn Ehlers, aka me lol)
“I want my mom.” “Stop crying.” “Why are my friends not scared like me?” Those are just a few examples of what ran through my mind on almost a daily basis at the young age of four. I struggled to understand why I seemed so much more terrified of everything than everyone else around me.
Growing up with anxiety has always been my toughest battle. I had to learn to cope with a mental illness without knowing any different and without any understanding that other people suffered, too. I could not even go to school in the mornings without crying beforehand. Most of the time, the teachers or volunteers on car pool duty would have to get in my car and literally pull me out of the vehicle.
I would even make a scene going to my friends’ houses or Sunday school. I would be so scared that I did not care who was watching or what anyone was thinking. All I cared about was just getting out of there. Since I could not constantly hide under a rock, I threw a fit every time I had to do anything. At four years old, I thought I was the only one who experienced such mental pain.
It took growing up, faith, determination, and a whole lot of laughter to get through it all. This is the amazing thing: my story with anxiety is not meant to show you how hard of a life I had, but rather to show how I took something perceived as so negative and made it my favorite story to tell.
Negativity is inevitable but positivity is always possible.
I will be addressing many areas of my life and how it either negatively or positively impacted my anxiety. From drama with friends to how I learned how to navigate through life, this book is my tell-all. I will tell you all about my terrible nightmare that caused almost all the anxiety I developed. I will share the hardships and fun my family faced after adopting four children from Ukraine and how that drastically changed my life in the blink of an eye. I will dive into romantic relationships I had, especially one that started at the young age of fourteen. It was a serious relationship that would last many years and push my boundaries far beyond what I thought I was capable of handling.
My life has been a roller coaster but I hope you are able to enjoy the ride like I did.
If you have struggled mentally, are struggling mentally, or want to learn more about people who struggle mentally, this is the book for you. I keep it as lighthearted as possible. This book is not written to make you cry. It was written for you to learn from and, hopefully, find encouragement along the way. We all have moments in life that aren’t the greatest and I hope reading this book changes your perspective on things. I break down the hardest moments in my life to show you that challenges really do make a person stronger.
Anxiety is more common than you may think, even in young people. “Approximately 8% of children and teenagers experience an anxiety disorder, with many symptoms developing before age 21. An estimated 284 million people worldwide experienced an anxiety disorder in 2017, making it the most prevalent mental health disorder around the globe.” 1 As a child, I had no idea other people were facing problems similar to mine. How surprised I would have been as a little girl had I known that millions of people suffered with various forms of the same problem.
What shocked me most once I grew up was not that others suffered but the way they looked at their suffering. Friends who were anxious talked about anxiety like this wretched curse that rips the life out of everything. I was dumbfounded. If I considered anxiety a wretched curse like others, what would I really be saying about my life? Was my life just one prolonged series of terribleness, because I was “cursed”?
The answer to that question is absolutely NOT. Seeing anxiety as some kind of incurable mental disease or lifelong curse is 100 percent negative and 100 percent not true. Anxiety is a way of thinking, much like positivity is a way of thinking. You can get scientific and technical and talk about the chemical imbalance going on in your head. You may be 100 percent accurate, but that does NOT mean you don’t have the power to switch your mindset around a bit.
Anxiety is something that CAN be harnessed and turned into good things. Anxiety makes you think. Most of the time, it is the most negative scenario possible, but if your mind is so easily trained to go to the negative, it can be trained to think positively too. Your struggles could be someone else’s go-to inspirational story.
What I am really trying to say is that anyone can thrive with anxiety. Anyone can live their best life, even when they have a mind that tells them everything but that. Trust me, if I could learn how to do it, you absolutely can. The secret is easy and can also be applied to any other hard battle you may be facing. The recipe for such a life is only three ingredients: faith, determination, and laughter.
When I grew up, I realized I was not alone, that other people feel similar pain to mine. I knew I had many more years of experience than most — experience with anxiety but also experience learning how to manage anxiety. I remembered how isolating it was to be young and think I was fighting a battle no one understood. I knew that if I was able to grow and learn that I can live my best life despite anxiety, then I could teach others. I have always felt called to speak out and help wherever I can and it is no different with anxiety. By helping others and sharing my own struggles, I realized my struggles were more of a blessing than anything else. The pain I went through could not top the joy given to me from helping like-minded people.
So, to whoever you are and to whatever you’re struggling with, I am here to tell you my story and show you how I learned to apply the three ingredients to living with a blessing in disguise.
1 “11 Facts About Anxiety,” DoSomething.org, accessed on April 23, 2020.