Hiya friends, welcome back. I don’t know if you guys know this, but May is Mental Health Awareness month. So, I’ve made a decision: this whole month, in an attempt to help reduce the stigma and bring awareness, I’m going to be documenting my personal month dealing with mental health.
The interesting thing is, you are probably going to see one extreme to the other, and everything in between. Like most people who live with mental illness, I have good and bad days. I have days where leaving the house and going grocery shopping is just easy peasy, and then I have days where I’m literally forcing my ass to get out of bed. Though the month, in addition to chronicling my life, I’m also going to be talking about all the things that work for me, and all the things that don’t.
Fun fact: I’m both excited about this and fucking petrified. Just being this brutally and unapologetically (which is very hard for me) honest about my day to day when it comes to my mental health is scary. On one level I know it could be helpful to someone who just might want to know they aren’t alone. On another, it’s frightening to put myself out there like this.
I guess, the best way to start this is to give you my rundown. In case you’re new and don’t know, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and a panic disorder. I think the anxiety and panic was always there growing up, but I was probably just too busy to really focus on it. I wasn’t actually diagnosed, by a real doctor, till about 7 years ago. My life has been a rollercoaster ride of trying to find some semblance of normalcy ever since.
To be truthful, the first year after my diagnosis was hard on me. I tried medication after medication, and doctor after doctor. I seriously struggled with finding myself among the anxiety. It was a scary time in my life, and I think that boils down to never knowing anyone who was dealing with anxiety. I mean, we’ve all heard someone talk about something making them anxious, or feeling anxious, but no one ever told me the full effects of anxiety.
My first anxiety/panic attack was horrible, I was certain I was dying. My heart was racing to the point where I was positive others could see it beating out of my chest, then the chest pains started that made me think I was having a heart attack. I was sweaty and cold all at the same time, and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. The nausea and dizziness made me scared to move, which only heightened the panic. Oh man, it was rough, and looking back now, I honestly can’t imagine having to go through that first attack again.
I couldn’t believe people weren’t talking about this, I mean, people had to be dying from it? (Side note: that’s a lovely example of my anxiety right there…my brain takes something completely normal, and not life-threatening and blows it out of proportion.) But then again, in the beginning, I didn’t want to talk about it either. I just had this fear that people (including family and friends) would judge me, or think I was “crazy.” Cut to 7 years later, and now I see how talking about it helps. I mean, it’s really two-fold, I get to get my feelings out, which makes my brain sit down and shut the fuck up, but, by talking about it, I can help someone like me. Someone who may be newly diagnosed and looking for a face in the crowd, looking for anyone who understands just so they know they’re not alone.
I guess, in a roundabout way, what I am trying to say is that I can only hope that by doing this for the entirety of the month of May, that maybe one person will read something that resonates with them. That being said, here is my promise to you: I will be unflinchingly honest about my mental health. Whether it be good or bad, you will read it. Thrown into the daily posts, I’ll try to talk about the how’s and why’s of mine, what works and doesn’t for me, along with all of the ups and downs I’ve lived after anxiety showed up.
You will also notice at the bottom of every post there will be two numbers: the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline, because this is a very real thing. I encourage anyone who is struggling, or feels lost – or knows someone who is – share the numbers, use the numbers. There is no judgment on the other end of those numbers, only help…and hope. Which, to be fair, we could all use a little more of, mentally ill or not.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
SAMHSA: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)