May 12-18th saw Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme this year was anxiety. This post I’m currently writing was inspired by something I read by a friend. It made me realise anxiety affects a lot of people and is never spoken about, as much as other mental health illnesses, when in reality anxiety disorders affect roughly one in 20 adults in Britain.
So I thought I’d share my story, in hopes it will inspire others to speak up about mental health.
Anxiety: to many it’s an irrelevant part of life which they only feel when they enter their pin wrong in chip-and-pin machines, or when they accidently press ‘like’ on an ex’s profile picture. However, to some (including me) anxiety is much more than that fleeting feeling of panic. It has fast become something that affects many people’s lives – on a daily basis.
I can’t quite remember a time where I didn’t have that underlying feeling of panic running through my body. All I know is it became more apparent as I reached my 20’s. I can remember stepping out of the house to go grocery shopping – something so mundane but to me it was a battle within itself.
Crowds of unknown people, noise, new surroundings, triggered my anxiety, so as I walked to the shops that day, panic hit me, and I suddenly felt like every person on the street was looking at me, judging me, laughing at me. It was an array of thoughts that were simply overwhelming: OHMYGODIBETTHEYTHINKIMUGLYWHATTHEHELLAMIWEARINGSHITDOIHAVEENOUGHMONEYOHMYGOD?!!!!! This would continuously happen whenever I’d step out the house. It was this incident that made me aware of how anxious I really was, about everyday mundane things.
OMG URSH, YOUR MENTAL?!
I couldn’t tell a soul – in fears I’d sound like a complete nutcase. The stigma of mental health, ironically, is that we’re all crazy and we feel once the world finds out we’ll being judged and our world will crumble.
Honestly, at first I thought so too. I assumed my friends would see me as a basket case, needy, a girl who succumbed to her demons, weak, incurable. So I suffered in silence, resulting in me not being my usual, fun, bubbly, loud self.
HELP ME PLEASE.
The initial step to seeking help was one of the toughest things I have ever done. I didn’t want to be the person who had given into her demons, I didn’t want to be seen as weak, but I was unable to fight the heavy feeling of anxiety – it was honestly consuming my life. I felt hopeless, constantly tired (due to sleepless nights,) I wasn’t seeing or speaking to friends & family, and it made me want to quit university, I felt I didn’t have it in me to beat this. Action had to be taken.
Recently, anxiety has affected me to the point where I am now on SSRI’s (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) no, this doesn’t mean I’m mental or I’ve lost the plot. These are a type of medication which is used to treat those who suffer from depression, anxiety disorders and any other type of mental health illnesses. This is NOT the only form of treatment, however & if you’re thinking of seeking help – I’d research into it.
THE SECRET’S OUT.
A few months have gone by since I’ve told a few friends about my anxiety, and most recently my family. It was the most courageous thing I have ever done, and felt like a weight was lifted from my soul. Of course, there were tears, lots of them. I broke down in front of my Mum and Brother, revealing my demon – that their daughter/sister was suffering from a mental illness.
I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS.
The support I’ve been receiving from my friends has been the drive, which has pulled me through – I never thought in a million years that I could wake up and not feel anxious anymore.
Like everyone, I still have my days, but they are becoming more manageable. I am so thankful to have a support system who love and care for me. Speaking out has been the best step into fighting this battle.
On a lighter note….
Oh look, a cute dog…