I Have a Mental Illness

There, I said it. I am too afraid to tell people in my real life, except for very close friends. However, like I said, we’re friends, so there we go. When I was a sophomore in college, I got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Today, I had a bad anxiety attack that I couldn’t calm down with distraction or guided breathing, my usual techniques. Instead of hiding my struggle, I decided to share it today.

This was after a long battle of chronic stress and anxiety attacks. After I cried for days on end, woke up in the middle of the night not being able to breathe from anxiety attacks, and having this insane weight of sadness and worry that followed me, I mustered the courage to get help. I went to my school’s counseling services and ended up getting diagnosed and put on medication for it too. I went from having no control to feeling like a person again. This mental battle almost made me dropout of college all together. It was all too much, and I couldn’t handle it.

That made graduating, especially at the top percentage of my class, so satisfying. When my brain was fighting me tooth and nail, but I came out as a victor. I was so proud that I even put “WARR;OR” on my cap. That isn’t a typo, the ; is meant to represent that something was meant to be ended, but kept going, such as when a writer uses a semicolon to connect two sentences. During those times, I’ll admit it, before I got help, I wanted my life to end, but I didn’t. I kept going.

My school ended up cancelling the program, so I haven’t had counseling or medication for the past two years. I could have went through my insurance, but talking to my parents, who provide my insurance, about mental health is tough.

Why does mental health have to have such a stigma? I don’t understand why the same brain that makes physical pain, pain comes from nerves in the brain not the flesh, can be understood, but when the same brain has a lower serotonin level or any other chemical imbalance, it’s too taboo to speak about. Even I am too afraid to talk to my parents or friends about it openly. I shouldn’t be though. If we keep making mental health a hush hush secret to be embarrassed of, proper information and resources that people need will kept in the dark too. The more people who open up, like I am here no matter how scared I am, the more people that will get helped. I have to believe that.

If you are ever going through a rough time, don’t be ashamed, just ask for help. As they say in the movie “Life As We Know It,” “Asking for help doesn’t mean you failed, it just means you’re not in it alone.” A first step to get help is to talk to a loved one or friend. If that’s too much, as opening up about mental health is very difficult, try a texting line.

My favorite service is Crisis Textline. I am not sponsored, I just have used it before and it helped me. According to their website, “Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.” For more information, visit¬†http://www.crisistextline.org/ .¬†

Hang in there guys. We can all make it through this crazy ride that is life. I hope you have a reason to smile everyday or you get help to get to a point where you can have more good days than bad. I’ll never have a great day everyday, and I’m learning to be okay with that. Until next time, keep on being you!

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