One thing which I personally found difficult is that people really don’t understand and because sometimes you can come across as just being ‘normal’ (whatever normal is) a lot of the time, that when you do have a panic attack, or feel anxious, you are making it up. Some of my family and boyfriend especially would say ‘how can you be fine one minute and not the next ’, but think about how confusing and frustrating it is for the person experiencing the attack - one minute they do feel fine and the next they are completely terrified of the tiniest little thing.
After suffering on and off for about a year, I started to think it was something I just had to live with and this is how I would feel for the rest of my life. I was taking every method of calming tablet - I had every ‘calming’ essential oil to sprinkle on my pillow at night.
I thought: 'There is no way I can ever stop feeling this bad'
Then I had my worst spell of anxiety in October 2013 when I felt like I was no longer in control of myself, my thoughts were just all over the place, I honestly thought I was actually going insane. After hearing and reading about mental illness being something you have to live with and it being a part of you forever, I just felt hopeless. I thought: 'there is no way I can ever stop feeling this bad'. I went back to the doctors and told him again and he said he thought I would benefit from seeing a therapist. Straight away I was thinking negatively, ‘I am insane, I need therapy, only crazy people have therapy, I don’t want to tell anyone’.
I was cynical about therapy, but I came to believe that it could help me
I felt very cynical about the whole ‘therapy’ thing. I felt that bad that I didn’t see how anyone could possibly fix the problem - it wasn’t anything physical which people could see so how could she get inside my brain and stop me feeling the way I did. Going to the first session I was extremely nervous, I had to tell a stranger things about myself which barely anyone in my family or anyone else knew about. It soon became clear that she knew exactly how I felt and straight away she made me feel very comfortable. I wanted to be reassured more than anything that I wasn’t crazy and kept asking her if I was ‘normal’ and I just remember her saying ‘what even is normal anyway, who decides what the definition of normal actually is’. I immediately felt better than I did two weeks before and I had actually had faith that this lady who I didn’t even know, could help me.
What is so wrong with someone’s brain being a little broken from time to time and it needing fixing?
Apart from all the different techniques the therapist gave me to use to help deal with my anxiety and panic attacks, one thing I have taken away from it was her empathetic attitude to the whole thing. She said that there are a lot more people with mental illnesses than everyone thinks and people you know personally could be suffering every single day. It made me think that if this is the case than why aren’t people aloud to speak about it openly, why people are thought to be strange and weird if they suffer from a mental illness? If someone has a broken leg, everyone can see that it is broken because they have a pot on it to help it get better, and people help the person with the broken leg by offering to do things which they can’t do whilst their leg is broken. So what is so wrong with someone’s brain being a little broken from time to time and it needing fixing?
More needs to be done to raise awareness of mental illness
Why should I and any other person who has experienced, or is experiencing, any sort of mental illness not be able to talk about it openly? I feel more needs to be done to raise the awareness of mental illness and more people should be encouraged to understand about for a time when they or others may need help.
I am by no means completely cured; it is something which I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. Admittedly, the hardest thing to do was to try and explain myself to my family and friends. My auntie was the first person who gave me the encouragement to start telling people and reassured me I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Talking openly about it has now allowed me to get the help I need, and knowing that there will always be someone there is helpful in itself.
It does honestly get better
So, anyone who does suffer, you need to remember you are not alone, 1 in 4 people have from some kind of mental illness each year, it does honestly get better I promise, and if nothing helps but this, there is no such thing as normal.