(Please note this is a sensitive post and one that was hard for me to share. However, in the interest of healing and helping others, I felt like I was finally okay enough to post.)
This summer has been a somewhat rough one for me. While it was nice to relax and not worry about commuting and classes it also gave me time to think, maybe too much. I’ve mentioned my anxiety before and I’ve always kept it relatively low key and under wraps because I felt I could control it. This summer though, I felt that control slip away from me. I was constantly on edge; my thoughts ran wild and I was always in constant fear of something bad happening or coming for me. I couldn’t sleep or focus and I was always on alert. I wrestled with getting help, maybe going to speak to the therapist I’d seen as a teenager but I didn’t want to see someone who might diagnose the old me. I ignored the clear need for me to get help for weeks, until my family left for vacation and I was left alone with my own mind.
I was driving across the Manhattan bridge one day after being out with friends and rolled slowly along the span as traffic inched along, admiring the view and the city I love so much, but then I had a truly frightening thought that appeared out of nowhere. “What’s stopping me from getting out and climbing over the rail?” It was the scariest moment I’d had in a long while because the thought just popped into my mind unprovoked. I looked at the narrow beam as traffic continued to roll on, and it hit me, this is bigger than me now and I’d need to get help to defeat the demons I’ve let live inside me too long.
I never wanted to wonder ever again if anyone would miss me or feel like my own breaths were suffocating me. A day or so later, I had a panic attack that made me feel like I was being swallowed into a black hole and I got my shoes on that instant and went to my doctor. I couldn’t let my daughter see me this way, I couldn’t meet my goals or even watch TV peacefully until I got my anxiety under control.
With my doctors help I’m doing that, but I had to ask for help and I’m sorry I waited for it to explode into a flood of emotions and fears for me to do it. Nevertheless, I am on the mend, every day that passes I’m a little less anxious and feel just a little more in control of who I am. People seem to forget that their mental health is just as, if not more, important than your psychical health because your mind does matter in every sense.
Asking for help to me was always a sign that I was weak that I was little and I was letting anxiety win, but anxiety (like other mental health issues) can’t be defeated alone, you need a net of support to catch you when you’re weak. Friends, family and your medical professionals are those people, seek them out. Lastly, be kind to those you know aren’t okay, and even ones you don’t, because even though you can’t fathom what’s going on in their head, it’s dictating their whole life, and your words matter to them.
If you, or someone you know is struggling here are some resources that can help. Never ignore the signs.