I was always told I was too much of a “worrier.” Always thinking the worst. Panicking if I wasn’t half an hour early for my lectures, 15 minutes early for work, what if someone judges me for having my hair up, why won’t my friend reply to my text. Perfect grades, a face full of makeup and a tan a celebrity would be jealous of every day. These were little things that I masked behind to stop me facing what was really going on inside my head.
Starting college may have been a reason this all happened, I’ll never know what triggered it. That’s the thing about mental health. It doesn’t need a trigger.
It was the panic attacks that made reality kick in. I’d simply been ignoring my anxiety for so long it decided to come out in the form of one big panic attack. Unable to breathe, feeling dizzy, wanting to get sick. Which lead to another… and another… and another.
Things progressively got worse. To the point I got depressed from panicking so much. I started skipping college. Getting out of bed was a chore, eating was a chore, even showering was a chore to my new mindset. Showers were the worst. It was where I could think. I believed if I did anything it would induce a panic attack. It was hard. I pushed everyone away, the people I loved suddenly became people I thought I annoyed, I cancelled plans with my friends, my housemates, I caused arguments between my parents because I could barely focus on what they were saying to me. Going to the shop resulted in me leaving in a teary mess, unable to breathe. Why was this huge shop suddenly closing in on me?
College got worse. My tiny little bedroom on campus got even smaller. Turning on the heat would result in tears because it got so claustrophobic. I shunned everyone. Sitting in a lecture hall became too much. I wonder do those girls sitting behind me realise my hands shake when I’m writing?
After a long road I now realise that by ignoring my simple panic over everything only made me worse. What if they won’t give me a bag in Tesco and I need one but asking is too much? What if I get asked for ID in a shop even though I have a valid age card? The little things people see as ordinary were the things that I let get me to a place I don’t wish on anyone.
Dealing with anxiety has been hard but by accepting the fact that yes I do have an illness has made it a lot easier to live with and work with. Ignoring something does not help. Of course there’s days I still panic over minor things. But counselling and medication has helped me more than I can ever imagine. When I look back on photos of myself I see sadness and a girl who was just so exhausted with life even that picture was an effort. Now I see someone who has her confidence back, yes there are ups and downs but now I know the downs aren’t always going to keep me down. Anxiety isn’t something you can get rid of in its entirety but it’s something you can manage, control and be the boss of. Facing the fact you may have a mental health condition is hard but believe me realising you can help yourself is worth it.