Everything in life takes work. Degrees, relationships, careers etc. I look at mental health in the same manner. For some people it takes work to feel happy, content. There are good professionals out there. They can help. And for anyone who is feeling alone- You Are Not. To all of those who struggle, I have faith in you. Keep going.
It sickens me to know that, to this day, mental illness has yet to be given the same level of awareness and understanding as that of physical. On the other hand, however, I fear the repercussions of my illnesses being disclosed due to present stigma. I worry that people will perceive me to be weak which could not be further from the truth. I fear that people will slate me behind my back, label me as ‘the crazy one’.
In my five years with Bring Change 2 Mind (BC2M), it has become clearer by the day that the more we speak openly about mental illness, the more empowered we become. Without BC2M, I don’t know if I would have the courage to tell my story to a room of strangers without worrying how I’d be perceived and judged.
Depression used to keep me down and I hated myself for being a quitter. I believed I was incapable of seeing things through. My MO was to give up on everything I tried to accomplish. Now’s there’s a new opportunity for me to push through another blockade of fear, defy the wicked lies of depression, stand up to the immobilizing impact of anxiety and, at the same time, tell you all about it.
With regards to living with anxiety (agoraphobia) and depersonalization/de-realization, every day is an often silent battle, as is the case with the majority of us. I realize that, logically, a five minute walk to the corner shop may not seem as challenging as getting on a bus and travelling into my local village, but please know that, in my eyes, I have just conquered Everest.
I do believe that non – sufferers will never fully understand the level of strength and courage it takes for a person to live with an anxiety disorder. Since experiencing those first few panic attacks I have become scared of, well, everything. I was always a strong person with a stiff upper lip.
We all know the drill when it comes to anxiety. Our body will shake uncontrollably, our heart will race, our vision will become blurry, and it is all down to that little gem known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.
When you educate yourself about your diagnosis, physical and psychological, you become empowered by knowledge. You can see through the snide remarks from the no-offense-but-people. When you react from strength, not trepidation, you’re helping to erode the fear, misconceptions and stigma that are rampant in our local and global communities.