**DISCLAIMER** These are my own personal experiences with anxiety and depression. I am not a professional and if you are struggling with mental health PLEASE seek any kind of help for it. Tell someone. ANYONE. Your mother, father, aunt, uncle, close friend, teacher, guidance counsellor, call a hotline. Please don’t suffer on your own.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. — Siddharta Guatama
I have absolutely no idea how to start this blog post. No idea whatsoever.
So fuck it, I’m here now, let’s address the elephant in the room. Anxiety. We all feel it at some point in our lives – it’s a perfectly natural part of the human experience. It’s perfectly okay, and to be expected, that you experience anxiety around exams, the dentist, flights, a job interview, anything that scares you. You may even experience the odd panic attack or two.
But that’s not the same as having an anxiety disorder, or suffering from chronic anxiety. One of the major differences is that once you’re out of the anxious situation — the exam is done, you got the job, your doctor has given you a full bill of health — the anxiety goes away. Vanishes. You can go about your daily life.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember a point in my life when I didn’t experience anxiety. I just wasn’t always aware of it. I didn’t know it was unnatural to feel like you were going to be sick before going out at night, to feel like you were going to pass out in public places, to feel like the whole world was watching everything you do. Let’s not forget the additional stress of being a natural introvert in Irish culture, where you are considered “rude” or “full of yourself” because you don’t particularly like big group gatherings. Add this on top of my already anxious disposition and you have no idea how much I thought my 15-year-old world was ending.
I finally saw a therapist for my anxiety when I was 17, and started Cognitive Analytical Therapy. To be perfectly honest, I would recommend PsychoDynamic PsychoTherapy or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as an alternative, now that I know more about it, but at the time I had no idea where to start. It helped, a little bit. But nothing really that substantial. The thing about getting help is that you can’t just sit back, talk about yourself, and hope that the therapy sessions work magically. They don’t. It took me a long time to figure out that it takes so much work to get your anxiety back in check. You have to be willing to put in a lot of work and you have to be willing to fight against your anxiety every single day. I’m not going to lie, for me, it was really, really fucking hard.
Since then I’ve been further diagnosed with depression and severe anxiety and panic disorder. It’s the weirdest thing, because my life has been going uphill so quickly lately, and everything I’ve been working for is materialising, and yet I’m still crying in a corner at the prospect of walking out the front door some days. Success in your career/family/social-life/school does not equal all of your problems magically disappearing. So many people in my life have been amazing about it, but there are some people who like to write you off as “weak”. And to them I’d like to say that I hope you never have to go through the struggle of having your own mind working against you every day.
For me, it is an every day thing. Every day is a struggle. Every day is an effort. Every day is exhausting. But I’m trying. Without sounding cliche, I am a completely different person than I was a year ago, because I’ve stopped trying to be something I’m not. I’ve stopped trying to fit in. I’ve stopped trying to push my anxieties, my quirks, and everything that makes me under the surface hoping it won’t overflow. There is no shame taking time out for you, and working on yourself. All of your opportunities will still be waiting for you when you have gotten to grips with your health. You have to take care of your mind and body, for it is the only place you have to live. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Peace and positivity is an attitude.
To be honest I’m not even completely sure this post made sense. But to anyone suffering with mental health, know that it gets better. I wouldn’t be the person I am if I didn’t go through what I have, and I certainly wouldn’t be have as compassionate without going through it. You are not broken. You are not defected. You are probably stronger than most of the people around you. Peace comes from within, do not seek it without.
There is no rational conclusion to this post just as there was no beginning. Poetically, quite like anxiety. So instead, I’ll leave you with some of my quotes that help me through the attacks. Stay strong and from my heart to yours, namaste.