Sean, May 2, 2018

a picture of the author, Sean

The thing about mental health issues is this: you and others can't see them.

I remember when I was at my lowest point with anxiety. I remember thinking: “If I break my leg I can go to the doctor and he'll fix it. If I go to the doctor and tell him how I feel, they might never understand what the real problem is.”

This type of thinking is what many people suffer with. When an anxiety disorder comes on, we get so scared that people won't understand, and we feel like we are the only ones who are going through it. It's this that makes having an anxiety disorder (or any mental health disorder) a lonely experience. 

My anxiety disorder started when I was very young. I was around the age of 7 when I first started feeling overly worried in all situations. At first, I thought I was just shy. It took years for me to realise what the real issue was. By that time, I was 17 years old.

Living most of my life anxious, I'd built up the idea that I was just different in some way. Little did I know there were other people who felt the same way as me. The truth is, I was scared to say how I felt to anyone, even my parents. 

How could I explain that I felt like there was a grey mist that covered my eyes every second of the day? I could barely find the words to describe it myself.

Things only started to get better once I reached out one day and decided to tell my mum how I'd really been feeling. She understood, and that instantly gave me comfort and made me feel more at ease.

When I finally reached out, my mum took me to the doctors to start treatment. Although nervous about admitting to myself, my family and everyone else that I was going through this, it was like a huge weight had been taken off my back. I wasn't alone in this any longer. 

The point is, being able to feel like you can reach out is the first step to feeling better about yourself and how you've been feeling. People who do not suffer with an anxiety disorder don't need to know exactly how it feels, but they do need to know that it can be challenging to reach out that first time.

I'd encourage everyone to ask their loved ones how they are feeling from time to time because anxiety disorders can come on at any point in our lives.

I used to feel guilty about my anxiety disorder. I had a pretty good childhood, I didn't have anything that I should really be worried about, so why was I always so worried? I found it exhausting and I knew that I had it pretty good in life but just couldn't seem to stop.

I would say to anyone that they shouldn't be afraid to reach out. You might be surprised how understanding people are these days. I realised that anxiety wasn't a battle I could fight on my own, and having the love and support from my friends and family helped me in ways I never realised they could. 

Facing my anxiety lead me on to do more and more self-exploration, and started a journey to discover more about myself.

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