Wright Words: Bigfoot, unicorns and anxiety disorders aren't all imaginary

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 24 2013 8:00 a.m. MDT

One young friend of mine preparing to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was diagnosed with a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that has remapped his life in ways he couldn’t have imagined. I'm certain that by leaning on professional and heavenly wisdom, he’ll overcome.

Those aware of our daughter’s struggles often ask how she’s doing. After an anxious summer, Jadi walked into high school with all the other terrified freshmen. With the love of a supportive older sister, as well as good friends who share her values and believe in her, she’s found a place for herself in an institution that has humbled millions.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of her growth and healing is this very column. She is willing to go on record with her challenges with the hope and prayer that someone might benefit from knowing they are not alone.

One year ago, if my daughter told me she would suffer from anxiety so debilitating it would prevent her from working, studying, speaking in public or even being alone, and that she was willing to share her struggles with the world, I might have suggested it was a figment of her imagination.

I’ve learned a lot at the feet of anxiety this year. I’ve learned anxiety and its related illnesses are as real as broken bones and ear infections. I’ve learned that many around me are suffering with things I cannot always see and almost always do not understand. But my failure to understand doesn’t make their suffering any less painful.

Finally, I’ve learned I don’t owe an apology to my hypothetical friend — I owe it to a real one.

Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars," "The Wednesday Letters" and "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at jwright@deseretnews.com or jasonfwright.com.

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