Call me crazy
When you know it's time to ask for help
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For as long as I can remember I have suffered from anxiety, I had anxiety before I even knew what anxiety was. I remember being eight years old and having my first panic attack (that I can remember) while watching the goonies with my mother. My heart started pounding, my vision started blurring, I convinced myself I was having a heart attack and I even made my poor mother call her nurse friend at work so she could listen to my heart through the phone and tell me I was in fact, not dying.
Although anxiety always had some part to play in my life, it wasn’t until the Leaving Cert when I really started to notice it. I suppose looking back I hadn’t been happy for a long time before that, my undiagnosed depression had definitely played a hand in my skipping school in fifth year and my never leaving my house too. But the Leaving Cert kicked my anxiety into full gear, and I began to realize maybe I may not be completely okay. The stress placed on students during the leaving cert is extreme, and for someone with undiagnosed mental health issues, it was too much for me.
I had friends who suffered from mental health issues and unfortunately had heard many people automatically brand them as ‘crazy’. Seeing this type of behavior, I can admit, made me very fearful to speak out about how I was feeling. During the Leaving Cert, I began passing out, getting constant panic attacks, waking up spinning in the middle of the night, I couldn’t eat, sleep or breathe. It sounds cliche but I began to feel like my lungs were constantly filled with water.
Eventually, my mental health got so bad that I struggled to leave my bed, I missed an entire two months of college and couldn’t remember a time when I wasn’t completely miserable. I remember the turning point too, my mother came to my room and I just began sobbing uncontrollably, I shared every single dark thought, and then slowly things began to get better. Asking for help meant my family and friends were able to help me, to try to understand my behavior and help me to help myself.
My family was incredibly supportive, I got the help I badly needed for so long. And although I will always suffer from anxiety, since asking for help , I better know how to cope with it and I no longer let it control me.
These negative attitudes towards mental health are even worse towards men suffering from mental health issues. Of the 486 confirmed deaths in Ireland by suicide in 2014, 399 of them were male. In Irish society we still have the harmful ‘be a man’ culture, that leads to men keeping things inside and such a high male suicide rate.
Unfortunately, Mental health in Ireland is still incredibly stigmatized, it is one of those things people don’t speak about. Saying my depression is acting up today is for some reason not only something we apparently shouldn’t say, but also not a valid excuse for not being able to do certain things. The outdated keep it to yourself, “get on with” attitude needs to go.
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