Anxiety, Depression, Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bipolar Disorder, Anorexia, Bulimia, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I’m 18, why are these relevant to me? Well, they are all mental illnesses.
Why are mental illnesses relevant to me you ask?
They are very close to me because I am almost positive that I have an anxiety disorder. I have several friends with various problems and talking about our problems has helped us all connect on this deep level. I want to use one page on this blog to talk about anxiety and other mental illnesses. I would love to form a community of people where we all lift each other up through our struggles. Trust me, I know the struggles of living with this.
It all started when I was 13 or 14.
I don’t remember the exact date. I would get nauseous, I don’t mean ‘Aww, my stomach hurts a little.’ I mean, ‘My throat has this feeling that I’m going to vomit all over and I need to run to the bathroom.’ The feeling is always in my throat. I didn’t know what caused it. I began to connect it to stuff. The first connection I made was when I would watch ‘scary’ movies I would wake up 2 hours after going to sleep and be nauseous. I would sit in the bathroom for hours. I remember watching random YouTube videos to distract myself.
Slowly, it began to take over my life. I remember when I was 14 I went to a friend’s birthday party (it was a sleepover). I woke up in the middle of the night and was extremely nauseous. (We didn’t watch anything scary or do anything anxiety provoking. It was weird.) I remember pacing up and down their hallway for hours. Around 6 in the morning I had some dry heaves. Eventually, everyone woke up and we started doing stuff and I was pretty normal once I got my mind off of it.
I told my family about the nausea but that was it. Eventually, I just stopped saying anything because I didn’t want to be annoying.
Finally, in July or August of 2016, I found a description of GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) on Pinterest and that’s when it clicked. ‘What I have isn’t abnormal, there are thousands of people around the world like this.’ Eventually, I explained it to my parents a couple of months later.
After finding out what was wrong with me I began to make connections and realize just how many panic attacks I had lived through. I can’t count them. I remember some and it’s terrible. I have so many happy memories of doing things with my friends and family, but pretty much every memory is tainted by a panic attack or a less severe anxiety attack.
This was a secret I kept for 4 years. For 4 years I would live through panic attacks all the time and just didn’t tell people. I couldn’t. I didn’t know what they would think of me afterward. Finally, at the beginning of March 2017, I opened up to my 2 closest friends. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As hard as this is. It is a million times easier to live with when there are people you can talk to about it.
In March of 2017, I went through this phase of writing about anxiety. I have only shared this with my closest friends. Bear with me, it was pretty emotional to write these and it’s hard to share them. But I want to share this with the world.
I woke up one morning and was just inspired to write about anxiety, this is what I wrote:
You want to know what hell on earth is? Anxiety. I want to be with people. I want to travel. I want to experience the world. I want to help everyone. I have so many dreams. I want to end world poverty. I want to write a book about anxiety. I want to become an entrepreneur and millionaire. I want to be a philanthropist. I want to finish my novel. But some days I struggle to get out of bed because of anxiety. I have a to-do list a mile long but all I want to do is sleep.
I feel confined to the four walls of my room because when I leave it I’m miserable.
What’s hell is until recently I felt like no one cared. I’m glad people care now. But it’s still hard. I want everyone to know how torturous it is to have anxiety. I want to write it out in a way that they can feel every single physical reaction I have during a panic attack. I can’t change that I have it and I wish more people understood that. Anxiety and mental disorders aren’t something you choose. They choose you. I don’t tell people for attention. I tell them so they know what they’re dealing with when they want to be my friend.
Anxiety means vacation is torture. Parties are torture. Having company is torture. Anxiety has made me asocial and I hate that! I love being with people. I love being with people in general. I love laughing but anxiety depresses me. I want to talk. I need to find my voice. I am not the only silent sufferer. People need to know. Mental illnesses are a daily battle. You have to fight every day of your life. It’s so tiring to go to bed after fighting a war in your head. Only to wake up the next day and have to start all over again.
People have no idea how hard it is for me to leave the house and do anything. Going to something like the grocery store takes so much courage. It’s torture to go out of the house. Going to hang out with friends is so hard. I have the best friends ever but I can’t do anything with them because it’s torture. I’ve become a hermit and I want out. I want to experience the world. I want to live a normal life.
I want everyone to know and accept us: The silent sufferers of mental illness. They need to understand how hard it is to leave the house. I used to be an extroverted social butterfly. Now I hate being around most people. People don’t understand how much I desperately want to be with them and experiencing stuff with them. But every time I try I’m miserable.
People have no idea how hard it is to leave the house when all you want to do is sleep because that’s the only place you have true peace. But your body wakes you up an hour early with uncontrollable shaking or nausea and you can’t go back to sleep.
No one knows how many bad days I have. No one knows how few good days I have.
This is something I wrote about the physical side of a panic attack. This is my life. Warning, it’s very descriptive.
Symptoms are scary. I hate them. One minute I’ll be sitting there laughing with friends and the next my body is freaking out over nothing.
It’s a tossup if I’ll feel the elevated heartbeat or nausea first. It’s scary. One minute everything is normal. The next my heart is pounding so loud and hard I feel like it’s trying to escape. It becomes so intense that I can feel it in the rest of my body. It feels like my entire body is pulsating. I’ll get waves of nausea that slowly intensify. It’s terrible because it is so hard to tell if I’m actually going to get sick or if it’s just a symptom. I never know if I should wait it out or run to the bathroom.
My abdomen starts hurting all over. It feels like my organs are tying themselves in knots. I’m not over-exaggerating. That’s literally what it feels like. Some people say they feel like they get butterflies in their stomach. For me, it feels like my organs themselves are twisting themselves around and trying to braid themselves together.
I get a lump in my throat. My mouth goes completely dry and it feels like my throat is begging to close. I can barely swallow even my saliva. My lips instantly dry out even if I’ve had 70 ounces of water. It’s an odd feeling to be sitting there and your throat just starts closing. it feels like my esophagus is squeezing itself shut. Like someone is holding it in their fist and squeezing it tighter and tighter.
I shake. My legs and hands will just start shaking and I have to physically restrain them so people don’t notice. Have you ever exercised really hard and your muscles are so tired they just shake? Well, imagine that happening randomly for absolutely no reason. That’s what it’s like.
My body temperature starts to fluctuate drastically. My fingers and toes will feel so cold I can barely move them. Meanwhile, I’m visibly sweating out of my armpits. My face is so hot it feels like it looks as red as a tomato. I feel like I’m blushing uncontrollably and I can’t do anything. It doesn’t matter what I’m actually doing or thinking. I’m not doing stuff that will make me blush. It’s terrible. I feel as though everyone is looking at me and can see me blushing uncontrollably.
My legs go numb. I feel like they’re not even there. I can’t use them. Have you ever felt like you were glued to a chair and just couldn’t move? That’s kind of what it’s like. They also tingle. It feels like my legs and feet just fell asleep but they didn’t. Sometimes I get Goosebumps all over my arms and legs.
My tongue feels tied to the roof of my mouth and my lips are glued shut. I physically can’t open my mouth and make a sound. I can’t even whisper. That is absolutely terrifying. I clench my teeth so hard that it hurts to eat for a few days afterward.
I get random pangs of pain in my chest. It hurts and is absolutely horrific. The first time it happened I thought I was having a heart attack. I was like fourteen. Do you have any idea what it’s like to be fourteen and very healthy and then suddenly your chest just starts hurting like someone is stabbing it with a knife. I thought I was dying. Now I know that’s a pretty common symptom. I just ignore it but it still happens. I hate it.
I can’t focus on anything. It’s like my brain just shuts off all normal thinking and turns to physical responses. All it’s doing is trying to freak out the rest of my body. I feel like I just ran a marathon when in fact I haven’t left my seat in an hour.
It’s tiring to have your entire body freaking out. Absolutely exhausting. I will randomly get completely fatigued and just want to sleep. Sleep is an escape sometimes. But if something is bothering me I will wake up really early in the morning and feel really nauseous. Or I will wake up with uncontrollable shaking. It’s like I’m shivering drastically but I’m not cold. I can’t control it. I hate it when that happens because I can never go back to sleep. Then because of that small attack first thing in the morning I will ride the anxiety roller coaster all day long. I’m so exhausted when I go to bed. I’m always tired.
I get depressed about it. I don’t like talking about anxiety because that can be a trigger or it just depresses me. I hate that. I’m a very happy, optimistic person most of the time. But deep down I’m scared. I’m scared I’ll throw up. I have a slight phobia of vomiting. I’m scared someone will notice I’m acting weird and ask if I’m doing ok. It is the hardest thing in the world for me to admit to someone that I don’t feel good.
Sometimes I stress myself out so bad I start crying uncontrollably. I cried for four hours straight once. It was terrifying. I had no idea why I was crying. I had no control over my emotions. I hate crying in front of people.
Sometimes I get light-headed and dizzy. I have never fainted. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened some day.
I just want to say that this is probably the hardest post I have ever written. If you have any issues like this feel free to comment below, let’s start a community that lifts each other up through our struggles.
Please share this post with anyone you know who is struggling with an issue like this. I know how lonely you feel. It feels as though no one understands or can relate. But, finding someone to relate to makes it a million times easier to bear.
Question of the day, has a mental illness affected your life? How has it? Comment below, I’d love to know.
Soli Deo Gloria,