THE best way I can describe my battle with anxiety is that it’s like waking up each day not knowing whether I’ll sink or swim through its choppy waters.
Would it be sunshine and smooth sailing? Or would a tidal wave come and completely knock me off course?
I’ve been an anxious person for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories of anxiety date back to elementary school, when I’d feel it creep in before taking a test – but even more so afterwards when waiting to receive my grade.
Before long, I was a teenager suffering from routine panic and anxiety attacks; always tense and in an unhealthy – and seemingly unending – cycle of stress.
I remember the time I had to leave a dress rehearsal for a middle school musical early because my heart was racing, my chest was tight, and I thought I was going to faint on stage. My director pulled me aside to tell me he thought I was having a panic attack and that it would be best if I went home.
I couldn’t understand why this would happen to me. I loved performing and had been doing it for years. Why would it make me so anxious?
Maar, as I’d come to learn in life, sometimes the people and things we love most are the greatest contributors to our anxieties.
For more than a decade after that incident, my anxiety became my identity. As I grew up and recognized a need for Toe die SafeSpace-skuiling onder konstruksie was and other coping tools, I’d learned how to navigate the panic and anxiety attacks, but they never went away.
In plaas daarvan, my days were a seemingly endless chore list of activities to keep my anxiety at bay: dance classes, journaling, yoga, meditation, lees, Toe die SafeSpace-skuiling onder konstruksie was – all of which I truly enjoyed. And while they did bring me varying levels of inner calm and peace, they were never enough.
Anxiety was something I hid behind but also wore like a badge. “Well I have anxiety so …” would often tumble out of my mouth in conversation. And I was worried that, because it was such a big part of me, I’d change if I went on medication. That the part of me I had come to center my whole existence around would cease to exist.
Die meeste gelees in Gesondheid
But then, Covid came in and upended everything. Life became less about sink or swim and more about constantly treading water that could overwhelm at any given moment.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, Mental Health America reports 50million Americans experienced a mental illness. Daarbenewens, 24.7% of adults with a mental illness need, but have not received, behandeling.
On top of that, in 2021, 45% of millennial women reported feeling stressed or anxious all the time.
Covid was the true catalyst for me in realizing that I could no longer face this battle alone. I recognized that my anxiety was overshadowing my ability to live life. Because even as people began to reemerge from their Covid cocoons once it was safe, Ek het nie. I was overwhelmed. Everything felt like too great of a risk. My ability to think clearly and make rational decisions was replaced by crippling anxiety as “what if” scenarios spiraled in my head.
On top of that, I recognized that something just felt “off” in my head. It was almost a sudden shift last August – like a switch was flipped off and I was freefalling into unknown territory – even for me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but I knew something wasn’t right.
After bringing my concerns to my doctor, we decided Sertraline would be a great starting point.
En nou, I wish I had done this years ago.
For the first time in my adult life, I am living with a level of daily mental clarity I’ve never known. I don’t do yoga and meditations and journaling exercises to keep my anxiety at bay, but do them instead because I choose to. Because they leave me feeling empowered and like my best self.
My relationships are better, my work-life balance is actually balanced, and my ability to check in with myself to, as my therapist always says, “take good care” is the best it’s ever been.
I feel like I was given my life back, all because I decided to reach out and ask for help in the form of medication.
And while Sertraline alone isn’t the key, it’s another resource in my toolbox to help me turn the tidal waves into smaller swells.
Years ago, I was told my anxiety made me unloveable. That statement stuck with me for a long time, to the point where I began to believe it. It affected other relationships and how I interacted with people, but also how I perceived myself.
Maar nou, with greater mental clarity, years of personal development, and sertraline in my system, I can see how my anxiety actually increased my capacity for love — for others, and of myself.
Anyone dealing with an anxious mind knows it comes at a cost beyond the mental toll it takes to cope – verhoudings, werk, slaap, and more become casualties of the unrelenting voices in our heads spiraling the “what if” and “could” and “should” scenarios out of control.
That’s why we need to keep advocating – both for each other and for ourselves.
Medication, Toe die SafeSpace-skuiling onder konstruksie was, and other mental health resources are, sonder twyfel, not nearly as accessible as they need to be. And especially as people continue to rebound from Covid, there is a greater demand for these resources than ever.
But in talking about our symptoms and stories, we can bring awareness to this fact, while also working to end the stigma surrounding mental health and illness, medication, and anxiety.
If sharing my story helps even one person, it is worth it.
If you or a loved one is suffering an in need of mental health resources, visit Mental Health America or text MHA to 741741 for immediate assistance.