My first piece I wrote for this site was about mental illness within minority communities. I spoke a little on my own personal experiences, but since then have decided there is so much more to share. The not so "fun" raw details of what it is like to live with an anxiety disorder and depression.
While social media can get under my skin at times I acknowledge that these platforms can have a positive impact on the world; with the correct dialogue of course. Since my first post I have decided to talk about mental illness as a whole, universal issue this time.
This does not mean I no longer believe the dialogue within minority communities and households need work because it does; but after recent experiences we all need to fight this together. We can fight this together!
Some might be sick of hearing my story, and that's fine, but there are others it may help and that is what I strive to do. My goal is to make others aware that mental illness is no laughing matter, and you can survive it. I also want to enlighten those that do not deal with it personally.
About four weeks ago I had the worst panic attack in my life. Heat sensations in my leg, heart palpitations and the fixation on the two kicked this bad boy off. I will spare all of the details but my anxiety had gotten so bad that day that it landed me right in the ER. I luckily had a very close, friend pick me up and it felt like the hospital was hours away. I was barely able to catch my breath, I had shaky sweaty palms and heart palpations. I'm pretty sure I felt as though I might pass out in the waiting room too. So shaky and disoriented I could barely read or fill out the paperwork to provide my information.
There wasn't a single breathing technique that could help me get through one of the scariest moments.
I had no idea anxiety was the causing factor of the weird feelings I was experiencing until the doctor explained it was a severe episode. It was so bad they had to insert an IV to help calm me down. Through a butterfly needle of all things, thanks to my tiny little kid like veins.
The entire staff was so nice and caring. The bedside manor alone helped make me feel better and slow my breaths down. Positive patient provider communication/interactions are key in treatment.
It was in that moment I knew that mental illness is such a serious issue and we have to talk about it more.
I will admit that having to go to the emergency room for anxiety is kind of embarrassing. Especially when some people don't fully get or understand it, and think you can shake it off. I was internally being so hard on myself laying there with thoughts such as "how could I let things get so bad to end up here, for this, anxiety? Why can't I just be normal and keep it together?"
Even typing this is hard and brings tears to my eyes because there is so much that comes along with having an anxiety disorder. So much that is honestly out of my control at times. I have not felt 100% like myself since that night. The thought of having another moment like that makes me anxious enough. I never want to experience that again.
Simple task such as driving to work or the store, walking around Target, or even sitting still for too long have triggered my anxiety more than ever lately. I haven't been this anxious, this much in years. It may sound extreme, but this is the hand I've been dealt and the reality of my day to day. A constant worry of whether or not I will be able to function "normally" and not have an overly anxious moment. So scared to have an anxiety attack some days that I don't even want to leave my house because I would rather it happen at home if it's going.
Every day since then has been a bit of a struggle which is why I wanted to share this.
Yes, everyone gets anxiety from time to time, but anxiety and panic disorders bring a completely different element to it.
I was told things like "sorry you are having a bad day" or "it's okay you'll be fine" which are both true, but it is so much bigger than having a bad day. Most bad days don't lead to a hospital.
My wish for this post is to open up the eyes of those who do not deal with this personally. There are so many people that look as if they are functioning day to day just fine but secretly battling something; depression, anxiety, body image, etc. Not all disabilities are visible and that is one something I hope more people realize and understand.
After I shared my experience with a few friends, some I have had for years they were shocked to know that it was this bad. I had been able to function and hide it so well that some people very close to me did not know I had anxiety issues at all. I had one friend say something to the effect "you do so much all the time with all your heart, that probably doesn't help. We need to slow your anxious little heart down." It made me laugh and helped me realize I can't do it all by myself all the time.
I also had many people reach out to me to let me know that I am not alone on this journey and they also deal with anxiety and depression.
My personal experiences have shown me that the more we have open honest discussions around this topic, the better we will be able to handle it. We will be able to offer help to those suffering and advocate for change within the mental health community and within media.
Tamron Hall, one of my favorite journalist has been very vocal about her family's history with domestic violence. She uses her platform to bring awareness and recently made a statement that resonated with me. Tamron said, "For a long time I was hesitant about sharing our story. I didn't want to be another well-known person saying, 'look what happened to me and my family.' But then I said, 'screw that. I can save a life."
While I might not be famous, have my own late night show or be on The Today Show cast, I can use this little platform I have to bring awareness to a topic I am very passionate about. I can use my voice and my story to possibly save a life and offer some encouragement.
Know that if you do deal with anxiety or depression or any other illness categorized as a mental one you are not the only one. There is help out there and there is nothing wrong with seeking it. Asking for help is such a strong powerful move and I commend anyone who takes the time better themselves.
Having the courage to admit that there is a problem and deal with it proves you are stronger than you may feel on one of those "bad days."
"Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently." ― Maya Angelou