Pushing Past Anxiety: Ellie’s Story

Hi there! My name is Ellie, but some people know me as MopGarden. I am a full-time streamer on a website called Twitch.tv, which means I stream and play video games for a living! I fell into this about 6 years ago when I was going through a breakup. I felt as though I needed a distraction, and while I did get that, I also got an amazing community and many friends who have helped me through so much.

As far as I can remember, I have always dealt with some form of anxiety. I remember getting nervous around things when I was young that I didn’t understand why I was “nervous” about. As people began talking more about mental health over the last 10 or so years, I have finally been able to understand myself and my body more. I never understood why I would feel horrible all of a sudden and have, what I now know are, panic attacks. Growing up without the discussion of mental health was tough because I always thought I was just strange. I thought I was weird because I didn’t like being in the big crowds and noisy places of high school. I was embarrassed when I freaked out on rides at a theme park. When I started crying because I was claustrophobic before getting on a roller coaster. When I almost couldn’t board a plane because I was having a panic attack.

I have grown up with parents who were very accepting and loving, but we never spoke about these things. I don’t think it was usual to do so back then. Since then though, my brother and I have both spoken about it and I am appreciative to have someone to be open with the topic of mental health. About a year ago, my anxiety was getting so bad that it was tough to leave the house. I went through a bad breakup with someone that I thought I was going to marry. I never thought I would be able to function properly ever again. About a month after this breakup, I lost a friend to their own mental illness. I have never felt so much sorrow and grief wrapped up together. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. Simply getting up in the morning was painful and involved me crying and going back to bed.

I never thought that I would be able to work or possibly get over this. I didn’t feel like I could cry another tear – I remember one night literally not having any left.

I decided to speak to a doctor about how I was feeling and we decided on a medication for anxiety. I feel like I knew I had anxiety, but didn’t realize how much it had affected my life prior to this. For a long time, I was embarrassed and didn’t really speak out about the fact that I was on medication. I felt like there was something wrong with me. But since then I have discussed my stories more openly it has been amazing how many people have told me about their own struggles as well. Having a large community on my Twitch channel has been a great support system for me. We are always open to discussions regarding mental health, as it is tough and everybody seems to have varying degrees of struggles. I was in such a dark place at this time and I did not feel like I could possibly ever be happy again. But I am, and I have a fantastic future ahead of me.

Ever since I was young, I have wanted to move to Australia. I had a teacher in Grade 3 who had taught there and told us many stories of her travels and what she saw there. Having never even been there, I was already in love. Through all of my relationships I have always felt unfulfilled. I had this calling always saying, But what about Australia? This breakup that had put me in such a dark place, that filled me with such sorrow and sadness, opened up the door to make this move possible. It gave me the push to finally follow my dreams and to take the journey I needed to take. While my anxiety and nervousness have held me back for so many years – I am finally here. I will be living in Australia for this year and possibly more if it’s everything I hope it to be. After this horrible time in my life from losing a boyfriend and a friend, I have been able to pick myself up, become stronger, and grow from it. While the loss of my friend will be with me every single day, I strive to bring the values and lessons she taught me into my everyday life.

I think my biggest message to anybody that struggles with any varying degree of anxiety is to keep pushing forward and to learn from it.

Everybody makes mistakes, and everyone has bad days. If you are able to listen to yourself and your body, then you can help it. Every struggle has a lesson to be learned from it, and whether it may be tough to see it at that moment, our struggles and our scars make us who we are. I find reflecting on why you are feeling a certain way to be very valuable. Journaling, yoga, and just taking time to wind down with your thoughts can be very helpful. I found my love for volleyball after this breakup so I joined a team and made new awesome friends. I have also found it very important to balance other parts of my life. Being on Twitch makes it hard to get alone time as people are always messaging you on Twitter, Instagram, etc. I think it is important to find that balance in your life and push to achieve it every day.

If you take anything from this story, please know that there is a light always guiding you. While sometimes it may be harder to see, it will always be there waiting for you when you are ready for it. I’ve gotten through a lot of hard points in my life, and I am sure there will be more. That is okay though, because we are all in this together. Knowing that there are amazing people like my friends, family, and Twitch community out there brings me hope. 🙂