I have researched mental health. A lot. Anxiety in particular, and I see so much about ‘positive mental attitude’ and how you don’t need medication or therapy, you just need to think positively and the world will magically become rainbows and sunshine.
Who the fuck writes this shit?
I’d like to see them think positively when they feel like they’re suffocating; the entire contents of their stomach is about to project across the room and their heart is racing so hard it feels like its tunneling straight out of their chest. The only positive in that moment is that at least if this killed you, it would stop.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with the effect of positive thinking and its always great to have that mindset, but it isn’t always achievable in the moments where you could do with it the most. And when it comes to medication I will admit this is something I have struggled to accept that I do sometimes need. I don’t like relying on anything to make myself better; I want to do it myself and with my own willpower and strength. However, I know as well as the next person who suffers from anxiety, this shits hard and not even the most mentally strong people can get through the worst times completely medication-free. But those that do without entirely, I take my hat off to you. I can only envy that kind of control and strength.
Mental health is not fun; its not admirable and its not something everyone can comes to terms with. It is scary; debilitating and unbelievably sad.
But when you come through the other side it is a complete mixture of pride, relief and euphoria. Nothing feels better than a good day. And when the good days are few and far between, that shit feels even better.
The Good: Living with an anxiety disorder has taught me who my true friends are and who is there for the long haul, not just the fun and carefree side of my life. It has taught me that I can overcome the darkest of days and become a stronger person because of those experiences. It has taught me that the most important part of life is who is in it; not the shit we buy or the things we do – all of that is meaningless without the people we love. It has also taught me who doesn’t deserve to be a part of this crazy shitstorm that is my life. And man that was the most important lesson of all.
The Bad: This section could be frickin’ endless if I allowed it to be. I’ll try and keep it short and not so sweet. Anxiety affects every aspect of my life. Literally. It is on my mind everyday without fail, even on the good ones. It makes me doubt myself, my ability and the people around me. It makes me paranoid, crazy and unreasonable. Such great qualities, right? I promise I do have good traits too. It creates an issue with ‘normal’ situations, such as going for meals, I can handle this completely fine if I’m with people I consider as my ‘safe’ people – closest friends, family and work colleagues. However, you try and get me to sit down for a meal with someone I ‘like’ or their family and that is a whole other level of stress. Why? I literally have no idea. I have good table manners and enjoy most food, so it is completely irrational and a mystery to me. My brain just decides its going to hate it. This is something I’m really looking to overcome, to sit down and have a proper meal, in a restaurant, surrounded by strangers, with someone I’m with would be such an achievement for me. It really is the little things in life.
The Ugly: This section is the hardest for me to write, I am leaving myself completely open to judgement but that’s how we grow as people, so fuck it. There has been times where my anxiety has meant I’ve not showered for 5 days; I’ve not eaten a proper meal for god knows how long and I’ve been that distressed and panicked that I honestly believe that I’m in hell on earth. I had a particularly difficult week a few months ago that consisted of all these three things and more. It was hands down the hardest week of my life and something I genuinely fear happening again on a regular basis. My words to my mum are always “I don’t want to go back to that place” and it is a real, honest fear. That week I rang 111 three times, visited my GP twice and ended up in A&E once. And all I ever got was “its just your anxiety”, “there’s not much we can do” and “try and calm down”. I know its my anxiety, but where does that leave me? Where is my solution to this awful cycle I had gotten into of no sleep, barely any food and complete panic every day?
I am still working on that.