Brought to you by Trent Active Minds
I am miserable all the time, perpetually on the brink of tears. I will never accomplish my dreams. School seems pointless since I don’t think I’ll be alive much longer.
I feel like I’m the only person who worries this much. Simple routines and social environments have become some of my greatest fears. Even going to a restaurant seems daunting. What if I have another panic attack? What if my friends notice I am different from them?
I feel worthless, like I’ll never amount to anything. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but it’s hard not to. I would give anything to be like my friends, from great families, with parents who don’t fight. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors, and just how much abuse I endure every day.
I feel trapped at home but only enjoy going out if I’m drunk. Getting drunk enables me to be myself and forget about my pain. The next day however, I always feel worse. I can’t speak to anyone. I can’t stop trembling.
I’ve waited and waited but nothing ever gets better. My home life continues to wear me down. There is no hope, no extended family who will intervene. I am alone.
These kinds of thoughts consumed every minute of my day until I turned 16, when I reached the end of my rope. I was unable to keep my emotions to myself any longer and decided I had a choice: either I would kill myself, or tell someone how I felt. Desperate for change, I confessed my feelings to my dad. Though it was a terrifying decision, it was the best I’ve made. That day, we opened the phonebook and contacted the first psychologist we came across.
When I started therapy I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and depression. According to the National institute for mental health, about 50 percent of people with panic disorder ultimately experience an episode of major depression. So it seemed likely that I developed depression because panic and anxiety had taken over my life.
Panic disorder is often accompanied by other disorders like drug abuse and alcoholism in an attempt to self medicate. When I began seeking help I decided to swap my bad habits and coping mechanisms – smoking and drinking – for exercise. Though I had a few relapses during troubled times, I realized how regressive quick fixes are, and decided to quit for good and rarely crave either anymore.
I began taking antidepressants, which was initially a game of trial and error. Some of the medication made my symptoms worse. I remember reading a black box warning on one of the antidepressants listing there is an increased risk of suicidal symptoms in 18 to 24-year-olds. It is important to recognize that not all medications are suited for you.
Once I found the meds that worked well for me, my life began to change. While medication is not the answer for everyone, for me, it was a catalyst for change, lending me the inspiration to improve things for myself. I began to feel like me again. I was accepted into college and for the first time ever and felt hopeful for my future.
However, it wasn’t until I was in university that accumulated stress snuck up on me once again. Being a student can be taxing, and for me, has often meant forgoing regular exercise and sleep. It is important to recognize accumulated stress and manage it. Although it is difficult with a full schedule, I try to at least eat right and avoid drinking alcohol, which has been beneficial in controlling my symptoms. The best thing I learned through therapy was the importance of taking preventative measures. Therapy isn’t just something you do in a crisis.
Some therapy methods that have helped me include:
– Understanding the triggers of fear and how to overcome them
– Building confidence by facing fear.
– Whenever I get scared, I make myself challenge my fear
– Meditation and affirmations; challenge negative beliefs
– Exercise and medication
Though I may never be anxiety free, I now know how to manage it better. My life has purpose and meaning. I’ve realized that I am responsible for who I become, not where I come from. Determined to help others who struggle with mental illnesses recognize that they are not alone, I am devoting my life to prevention work and am currently studying psychology.
Six years ago I wouldn’t have believed all of the incredible things I’ve done since making the decision to tell someone how I felt.
Six years ago I would have never believed that things really can get better. They can, and they do.