This story was originally published on The Mighty.

“Huh. Must be a women thing” was said with a dismissive shrug and a grin.  This was my supervisor’s response when I tried to explain how my brain works differently with its multiple anxiety disorders.

The problem was apparently not with my brain chemistry, but with my ovaries. Give me a fainting couch and some smelling salts because here comes the female hysteria.


It wasn’t the first or last time someone dismissed my disorders, though it was the first time someone attributed it to a gender problem.

I’ve been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and panic disorder. They first appeared in my life around the age of 4, and they have been my constant companions ever since.

Unfortunately, because my illnesses are mental, I’ve had to deal with people who think they aren’t real.

I’ve had more conversations than I want to defending the fact that disordered anxiety exists.

“But everybody gets anxious” is the most common refrain. It’s like telling someone with depression that you’ve “been sad, too.” Cell growth happens, and when cell growth becomes disordered, it’s cancer. Nobody argues against that because you can show it on an X-ray or MRI or point to a visible tumor. But there is a certain group of people who believe because they’ve never experienced mental illness and there are no medical tests for it that it couldn’t possibly be real. It’s made­-up, a cry for attention, or just plain weakness.

Image via iStock.

I used to get into long discussions with these people, trying to put them in my shoes and make them see how my brain works. I’ve described vividly the sensations of a panic attack or the deep need to unplug all of my appliances before going to bed because if I don’t an electrical fire will start in the walls and my house will collapse around me while I sleep (obviously). I would endure a painful back-and-forth that invariably ended with them refusing to accept anything other than what they had experienced themselves.

What makes me respond so fiercely to these people is the fact that I used to question the validity of my own experiences — not so much whether I had anxiety, but whether it “counted.”

Because my illness was not physical, I felt as if I didn’t have a right to claim illness or seek treatment or take care of myself. After all, I managed. I survived. I eked out successes in school and life.

But I fought tooth and nail to do so. I fought the obsessions that made me afraid to do anything and the anxiety that left me deeply depressed on more than one occasion. Everything was a struggle in ways it wasn’t for other people.

Eventually, I reached a point where I realized these illnesses were “real enough” for treatment. Their effects were intense and overwhelming, and I deserved to be taken care of. I deserved to name what wracked my mind with fear and even migrated to my body in the way anxiety can.

I can’t see my illness on an X-ray, but it is real and powerful.

After one particularly frustrating conversation about the validity of my illness, I asked myself why I bothered — why I spent so much time and energy to get these people to admit I have these disorders. I realized I was sick of convincing people and sick of their questions making me question myself (yes, I even get anxiety about my anxiety). I don’t owe anybody an explanation.

It was then that I decided my experience is enough; my diagnoses from professionals in the psychiatric field are enough. I won’t lower myself to try to convince strangers, or even friends, that what’s going on in my brain isn’t just a character failing on my part. I’m done debating whether I get to call myself ill and whether I need to be treated.

If someone comes at me with honest curiosity and a desire to learn, I’m open to talking. I’m not ashamed of my disorders, and I think being open about my struggles will help with the stigma of mental illness. But usually if someone questions my disorders, it’s an accusation. Prove it, they’re saying.

I won’t do that again. My word should be proof enough. Among the many things I’m doing to take care of myself, I refuse to argu​e about my disorders anymore. I have no doubt taking those arguments off the table will make me healthier. I finally learned not to question myself. I will no longer allow others to question me either.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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