So, as you can see I am a little late to the party, but I still want to add my story and raise awareness.
When I was growing up I had the fear of ‘What if’. It’s a strange one, but very real to me and ruined many possible fun moments. For instance merely asking me if I want to do something I hadn’t done before or that I hadn’t heard about then I wouldn’t go. It boiled down to not knowing what would/could happen and that alone could set off an unstoppable heartbeat that reached my throat and would pump so hard that it was all I could concentrate on.
This is something that has come and gone as I’ve aged, which is very much with me at the moment and so frustrating. My main issue with it is obviously the fact that it hinders me from doing a hell of a lot, but I also hate (yes, that really strong, powerful word) how some people perceive me and my problems. ‘What is wrong with you?’ this one really gets my blood pumping as I will have already explained this countless times to a confused look and unaccepting eyes. Let me just say that there are a lot of people in my life who will listen and understand if I can’t commit to something or if I drop off at the last minute, but there are a lot of people who blame me for my downfall and think that I should be able to just pick myself up and get on with life. I wish it was that easy.
I am currently taking Sertraline after taking Citalopram for almost a year while building the dosage when needed. Unfortunately, the latter stopped working for me as my body had become so used to the pills that they didn’t do what I needed any more. Therefore, in the last few weeks, I have been taking the new ones, but I feel like it’s too early to say whether they are having a great effect as yet. I will say that I have been able to keep my thoughts clear which in turn allows me to have a more organised mind and life.
Prior to taking anything, my life felt like a living nightmare while to everyone around me I looked like an ignorant yet confident person. I would and still do enter a room with a loud squeal and big grin, my outer persona is the kind that would be expected from a person with high confidence and zero anxiety issues. Whereas when I would get home from wherever I had been I would dissect everything that happened and eventually turn it into a hate crowd who will have gone home and discussed how ridiculous I am as a person. I’m sure they didn’t, or at least, some of them didn’t…
Recently someone told me that there was nothing wrong with me and that I was merely a victim. This stung me badly, I swiftly swore at them and proceeded to spend the next two hours crying my eyes out. The following days were filled with worry about whether they were right, I am just a victim? Maybe I am just trying to draw attention to myself and sympathy.
Yet when I sit back and think about it if I was truly hankering for some attention I would have told everyone about my issues earlier and screamed it from the rooftops. I decided to talk to people about my experiences with domestic violence and now anxiety because I want people to know they aren’t abnormal, they aren’t alone and they aren’t broken. It doesn’t matter how many people speak about their experiences with these issues, they are all unique and most importantly helpful to not only the audience but also the person speaking out.
When I wrote about my past relationship it was so therapeutic, I had the biggest cry afterwards and it was a huge relief. I had spoken to a few people about what had happened to me and some were supportive, most asked why I stayed, etc. You always knew people’s stance on the subject by if they asked that question. My anxiety after my confessions would dissipate and I would feel strong and amazing, much like when I left that person who caused me so much pain. Which was so freeing, boosting and astonishing for me considering my mindful life before hand.
Yet it didn’t last forever and I would always end up in my little bubble of fear and constant stomach turning. That’s when I had enough and wanted to do something about it. I was sat in my car waiting to go to college just over a year ago and I organised a doctors appointment for a weeks time. I then spent that week talking myself out of it and then back into it. Thankfully I went.I walked in with a coy smile and knew that I would either have to stare at my feet the entire time or feel comfortable enough to cry in the poor man’s face, I chose the fetching pair of boots I was wearing to focus on. He was the most understanding person I’ve ever met and made me feel at ease and more importantly, he made me feel normal, which I hadn’t for a very long time.
We talked through what was bothering me and why I thought I needed help, then he began discussing my options in detail – pills, counselling, etc. I was honest and explained that if I had to wait a long time for counselling that I wouldn’t trust myself to return off my own back as it had taken my almost five years to attend this appointment. So, we decided to take the route of drugs, the good kind that makes you happy and wants to be alive…and legal. So, I walked away happy and proud of myself. The problem that has been hanging over me for years is going to disappear, well, eventually. As the doctor explained I would have to wait a good long while to get my appointments and it will be very hard work getting through all of my counselling. However, all I want is a relatively normal existence where I try new things, go out with friends and meet new ones too. I really just want what everyone else wants, but I just have to work a little harder for it which I am more than happy to do. So until all of the counselling is done I will continue taking the prescriptions just to keep me on track and then hopefully after I have got to the root of what is really bothering me I can throw my prescription card in the bin and hope for a drug-free life. There is always the possibility that I would need them again and I am more than fine with that.
I was made to feel weak at one point when I told someone that I was on anti-depressants as they announced that they were stronger than that and overcame their problems without pills. I haven’t really spoken to that person since that moment as I realised they didn’t see the bigger picture. That everyone is different, therefore, everyone has to be treated differently. I remember leaving that conversation and feeling inadequate because I couldn’t deal with my problems when in reality I should be damn proud of myself for facing up to my issues and getting help, because let me tell you, that is not an easy path to go down. Whether you’re fighting off negative comments about depression and anxiety or feeling embarrassed because you feel like you should be able to deal with this alone, it is frigging hard to not only admit it to yourself but to talk to another person. There is always the fear that someone is judging you for not being perfect, that’s what we all strive for isn’t it? Whether it’s the way we look, the job we have or the house we own, we want it to be perfect and our mind is just the same.
The one person who has been my mental rock through all of this has been my beautiful Mum. Throughout every emotional breakdown, every bad mood and every time that I thought I wasn’t normal or good enough she sat and listened to everything. Not only does she listen, she gives me helpful advice and never judges or assumes anything. She’s the one person that I know I can call at anytime and she won’t huff at the fact I want to talk about the same thing again, she won’t pretend to listen while staring at her phon. Instead, she looks me in the eyes and hears every part of my pain and sympathises with me.
Without talking I wouldn’t be on a journey to getting better. Yes, you will come across people who don’t understand and that’s ok, you can’t expect everyone to understand. However, you can forget the people that don’t understand and find the people that do and who make your life easier. You won’t be able to find them unless you try and I am here to tell you that it’s worth so much.
So, go for it when you have that moment of confidence and speak out. Even just thowing mental health into a conversation to test the water and see how they react to it, then you can talk about yourself. There are so many ways and if you stay silent you only make things harder on yourself. If you can’t speak today, just try again tomorrow and you’ll get there eventually.
Good luck and I hope we can all start to talk about the untalkable to allow for a new image of mental health illnesses and everything surrounding it. This is not something to be ashamed of, be damn proud of yourself for seeking help, for talking to someone and for accepting that you may need to just talk to someone.