I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in my early 20s, but looking back, anxiety had been with me for a long, long time. But because of when I grew up, neither I nor my parents really understood what I was going through.
When I had my first panic attacks in the summer between sixth and seventh grade, mental health awareness was almost nonexistent. I didn't have any idea what the heck was going on. So I didn't say anything about it to anyone; I just didn't have the words.
Luckily for me, that same summer I read Frank Herbert's Dune, which in a weird way became my first self-help book.
Early on in the novel, Dune gave me the gift of the Bene Gesserit litany against fear, which I grabbed onto immediately.
The movies really emphasize the whole "must not fear" and "mind killer" thing (I get it — it's catchy), but this line means the most to me: "I will permit it to pass over me and through me."
I remember being in junior high and chanting this litany in my head as I looked for a seat on the bus, while changing for gym class (ugh, the worst), and before standing up to give a class presentation.
Having the Bene Gesserit litany in my head gave me a safe way to feel big feelings. It gave me courage to face anxiety-provoking situations. And it gave me something to think about besides how hot and sweaty I felt all of a sudden.