Mental Illness is a subject very close to my heart and to help spread awareness for World Mental Heath Day I thought I could share with you my story. To be brutally honest, it’s quite hard for me, I feel, to talk about the subject in an understandable way, but it’s important for me to give it a try anyways…
In my 26 years of life I have been suffering from anxiety disorder for 7-8 of them. All of a sudden I felt there was something different about me but I didn’t know what it was and carried my life as always pretending there was nothing wrong. I started creating patterns and do things in a certain way in order to be able to leave the house and go on with my life. I went to the doctor who advised me to seek help, I didn’t feel it was necessary so I kept avoiding the issue. It worked for a while, I moved to France for one year and everything was fine, but deep down I always felt there was a little cloud inside me I kept avoiding.
After one year though, things got a bit worse. I got to a point where I couldn’t even get out of the house, so I started turn my friends down with the excuse of study as much as I could, and when I was going out I felt like I had to pretend I was ok.
That’s when the panic attacks started getting stronger and that really didn’t help with the social anxiety I was experiencing. So I stopped going out all together, which wasn’t a smart idea cause that just kept the spiral spinning… I felt really ashamed so I tried not to talk about it with others, but then I thought I had to snap out of it, so I shyly started trying talk about it with my friends, and when they were mocking the situation and told me it was ‘not a big deal’ or ‘it was all in my head’, it just made me feel even more different and borderline crazy, so I advise you whatever you do, DO NOT minimise other people’s feelings cause this will not help. I just needed to feel understood, which I wasn’t.
Even my family had a hard time understanding what I was going through, the panic attacks where the hardest to explain. How do you explain to someone that for no apparent reason, the big room you’re in suddenly feels like a shoe box, so much so you can’t breathe? So much so the only thing you want to do is cry and hope all of this would go away? I understood it was difficult for them to understand and help me if I didn’t seek help. And so I did…
I went for counselling and had to take antidepressant and that was the hardest year of my life. In that period felt I was in a parallel world, the only way I am able to describe that year of my life to people is like if I was living in a world full of cotton. I could hear but it was hard for me to listen, I could see but it was hard for me to watch, I could feel but it was hard for me to experience. Some parts of that year I can’t even remember, I have to ask others that were with me what happened at a certain point in time.
However, after one year of counselling I can safely say that was the best decision I ever made. I learnt how to deal with my anxiety. I, like anyone else in the world, have good and bad days, on some days I still feel anxious but that’s ok, I learned how to handle it. I learned not to feel guilty about it and now am quite open to explain what Anxiety Disorder is if anyone asks.
I suffer from Anxiety Disorder BUT:
- I am not crazy nor sick
- I don’t need to be treated any different
- I am not defined by it
- I am not fragile and I don’t need to be protected