How managing my anxiety is going to be a lifelong process
By getting through an anxiety attack, Leah now feels more capable of managing her recovery journey.
Written by Leah Walker
Voices - Experiences
Young people share their personal experiences.
Growing up my family always described me as a worrier. I always overthought everything and the smallest little thing would make me feel intense anxiety. I went through a phase of going home from school every day early complaining of a sick stomach. A teacher caught on that the sick stomach I was feeling every day was the feeling of anxiety.
As I moved from primary school to secondary school my anxiety grew bigger, and I began to experience anxiety attacks and panic attacks occasionally. I would go through periods of intense anxiety followed by periods of what felt like exhaustion and numbness.
I always managed to hide this from my family, my friends would comfort me and help me through the bad days. I never let my family in, I didn’t want them to worry, and I honestly didn’t know how to tell them.
Getting help for my anxiety symptoms
When I graduated from secondary school we were at the very beginning of the pandemic and the isolation only let the anxiety grow bigger. Throughout that year I experienced my first real loss of a family member, followed by a second within nine months of each other.
By now my anxiety had grown so big that there was no possible way for me to hide it. I was paralysed by it. I couldn’t get off the couch for days, my mother had to wash my hair for me because I couldn’t physically do it. The thoughts that were running wild in my head made me want to disappear and sink into the ground. I had no idea how to fix it.
Eventually, I reached out to my GP who prescribed me some anti-depressants. At the time I was terrified of what they would do to me, I thought antidepressants were strictly to treat depression and that they wouldn’t help with the anxiety.
How anti-anxiety medication helped me
I had done so much research on antidepressants and I was so afraid that they would make me feel nothing or that they would make me feel even worse if that was even possible.
The first two weeks were hard, I wanted them to cure me immediately, but that’s not how this works. I was also referred for therapy in affordable services. Over time the big ball of anxiety faded. I was able to use logic again.
All the antidepressants did was turn the noise down so I could work on coping mechanisms and fight my intrusive and scary thoughts that were never real. By seeking help I was able to put a name to what I was struggling with.
Signs of anxiety
I could definitively say I was struggling with anxiety and depression. I took antidepressants for a year and a half and went to therapy for a year. I decided to come off of the medication and stop going to therapy because I was finding that I didn’t have much to talk about anymore and I was genuinely happy. I was off of medication for 7 months when I began to have panic attacks and depressive episodes again.
I’m currently being treated by my doctor with antidepressants and thinking about starting to go to therapy again. The journey of recovery is not always straightforward for some people. When they finish their medication they may never need it again, but others might.
Knowing that I got through the rough patch once, I know in my heart that I can do it again. This is going to be a lifelong process for me, but I am okay with it. Within the last two years, I went from not wanting to exist anymore to moving away from home for university and thriving there. I’m not necessarily cured, but I will get better.
I am doing what I need to do to heal while building a life for myself that I will be happy in. It is sometimes difficult to get my day-to-day tasks done, but it is important to remember for anyone in this position that you are strong and powerful. You are still here living despite how hard life is, so do not be too hard on yourself for the things you don’t have the energy for because just by living and trying to heal you are doing enough!
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