My journey through mental illness

“It feels like I am in my own mental prison, I can’t escape the thoughts inside my head.” That’s what I wrote in my journal from last summer.

I am not the same person from a year ago. Although my anxiety and depression can still feel like a battle, it no longer feels like a prison. But people should know, mental illness is crippling. This leads to further isolation from others, as you never want them to see the “abnormal” side of you. However, seeking help made me return to a life I thought I was never going to get back. And now that I am stronger, I hope sharing my experience can help others.

Freshman year was when my intrusive thoughts and general anxiety started to ruin my life. Every day I woke up with the same cold, empty feeling in my chest, fearful of myself and just wanting to stay in bed. In response, I set out to fill my life with distractions, but it wasn’t enough.

There were three lows that led me to seek out help. That summer, I would not leave my bed—anxiety, intrusive thoughts and my depression chained me to one place. I stopped eating, causing me to faint. Soon after, I had a panic attack, screaming and crying because I couldn’t handle the mental battle anymore. I didn’t mean for my mom to see my pain and I saw how scared she was. It was then that I was able to summon the courage to ask for help, and once I could do that, life started to get better for me.

I began attending therapy to specifically address my depression and anxiety, and I remember how hard it was to break down the barriers I put up for myself to hide my pain from others. But after I took that first step, working with my therapist released all my pain I had been hiding for over a year.

One turning point that made a positive difference in my battle in mental illness was when my doctor decided that I should go on medication. This was a difficult part of my journey because it took months to find the right balance and weeks for the medications to take effect. Fortunately, my family worked hand in hand with a full understanding of my battle ahead of me, and worked to break down all my thoughts that controlled me. I am fortunate to have a strong support system and I want to encourage everyone to find theirs. With my support system, I have learned techniques and coping mechanisms to use while continuing my medications so that I can live my life again.

It is also important to know that anxiety and depression is a constant battle, but it is a battle worth taking on. I look at myself now and can’t believe how much I have improved over the years. I am controlling those irrational voices in my head, and I am enjoying the life that I am living.

If you can relate to my story, or struggle with your own mental illness, just know it does get better. Please do not subscribe to the same mindset as I and many others did, thinking that you can control it on your own. Reach out for help, it really does make you feel better, and you will be surprised how many people can relate to you. Take the first step, and you can breathe for the first time.

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