It can be one of the worst places to be.
With my thoughts. The bad ones. The negative ones. The ones I don’t like. The ones I would never ever say to anyone else. But they run through my head like it’s their day job.
How do you describe an illness that you live with daily, that no one else can see? How do you explain to people that it affects you differently every single day? That something can be a trigger one day and you are completely fine with it a week later. How do you let people in when you are afraid to let them see you breakdown? How do you explain what is going on inside your head? It can feel like I have to convince people that I am sick, because they don’t take it seriously.
I’ve been struggling for months with the feelings of being abandoned, forgotten about and alone. The people who I have opened my heart, soul and shared my struggles with have left. I get it, people outgrow each other, life moves on. But what am I supposed to do when I scroll through my contact list and feel like I can’t reach out to someone? Where do I turn? How do I fix it? You are probably thinking well I’m sure she could text a few friends. Well yes, I do have that option. But being someone who lives with mental illnesses, one of THE biggest things we are afraid of is being a burden. Even just the thought of becoming a burden makes me uncomfortable. We don’t want to put our pain and suffering onto others. That is why so many stay silent about their struggles. It is a constant struggle trying to navigate your illness. And let me tell you it’s not easy showing someone what your lowest of lows looks like. I’ve learned the hard way to be careful where and when I have an anxiety attack, panic attack or a breakdown. Because people simply don’t get it. They can jump to their own conclusions, and this is where stereotypes and stigmas come into play.
It can be extremely tough when you need to pull yourself together long enough to make it to the bathroom, or to your car just to hyperventilate or cry for a quick minute. I’ve had anxiety and panic attacks at concerts, sporting events, family functions, out in public, at school, at home, at my best friend’s house, in the car…the list is endless. Why is the list endless you may wonder? Because I live with depression and anxiety every day.
I will never forget having to leave a concert before the encore started because I couldn’t take the crowd, the loud music and I couldn’t see a way out. I was claustrophobic. My Mom looked at me, grabbed my hand and led me out of the venue, with my dad, my sister, and her boyfriend at the time, following us to the car. With every step I took to get out of there, I had to keep it together. People were too close and bumping into me. But I had to keep it together. I didn’t want to be the girl who lost it in a crowd of people. I didn’t feel like it was safe to do so right then and there. I needed a place to feel safe and secure. The moment my mom sat me down in the passenger seat of our car, I was safe. She literally put me in the seat because I was paralyzed with fear. And then the tears fell, oh did they ever fall. Then I had to find my medication. While crying so hard I couldn’t see what I was doing and hyperventilating to the point where I couldn’t speak. I broke down. It took at least 45 minutes for me to feel some sort of comfort and safety. It is a night I will never forget.
When this type of attack happens, I am at my most vulnerable. The walls I built up, have crumbled down. The more intense pieces of my mental illnesses show. My quirks. The pacing, the shaking, the rocking, the crying, the anger, the sadness, the irrational thoughts, the spiraling, the fear, the anxiety, the depression, and the OCD. I must feel the anxiety, I must deal with it, and I have to let it all pass. And I can’t get stuck there because there are times, I don’t think I’d make it out of that state of mind. That I’d be stuck in this place of total despair and destruction.
It’s hard to watch myself go through it. But I need to let it happen because ignoring it will only make it worse. It’s terrifying to let someone else witness it. Even just the thought of that happening right now, makes me uneasy. I won’t lie, it scares me because what if they think I am crazy? Is that the only way they will think of me now? I also have days when I want to record an anxiety attack so that I CAN show people what it’s really like. What my illness looks like when it is at its worst. Again, this would be me trying to prove that my illness is real.
Over the past 10 months, I have had to learn how to deal with my anxiety on my own. It has sucked. It has been completely exhausting, but I didn’t have any other choice. My mom being diagnosed with breast cancer turned my family’s world upside down. It became clear to me who I could and couldn’t rely on to be in my corner. And that number keeps decreasing. I am learning how to deal with stuff on my own, which has been good at times. But there are some things that people shouldn’t have to face on their own.
I feel like I have grown as a person during the last 10 months. But I have also noticed that the walls I have built up are more secure than they have ever been. I’m afraid to let people in because I know the heartache that comes when they leave. I’m afraid to let them in but I don’t want to be alone. I know that may not make sense. But it’s how I feel. I give and I give but get nothing in return.
I need to work on giving to myself instead of others. Putting me first. Doing things for me. Becoming the best version of myself.