My name is Victoria.
I am twenty-one years old.
I have just had a massive panic attack.
My heart has finally stopped racing. My face and hands are still tingling though. I am incredibly upset at the moment.
I live with this every day. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Severe Depression.
These are characterized by the symptoms that manifest. For example:
- Heart Palpitations: rapid increase in heart rate. Sometimes it happens when I’m walking around town. Sometimes it happens when I’m simply lying in bed.
- Racing thoughts that never turn off
- Difficulty breathing/feelings of choking
- Trembling/occasional numbness: usually in my hands and face
- Sleeping issues: when I am going through a high-anxiety time, I often get little to no sleep at night. During a depressive episode, it varies. Sometimes I feel so fatigued I can do nothing but sleep. Sometime sleep simply evades me.
- Depersonalization or sort of “out of body” experiences: it’s as if I’m floating above myself and only able to continue basic bodily functions such as breathing.
- Intense fear in social situations: especially when I’m in a group in which I know very few people. I often become dizzy and am unable to stay standing in such situations.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities I usually take great joy in
- Feeling empty and hollow
- Thoughts of suicide
I have dealt with these things in multiple ways. Psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, mindfulness and meditation practices, pharmacological therapy, and self-harm being the main coping mechanisms/treatment plans.
I first started displaying symptoms when I was 15. Doctors believed that I had asthma. What I was experiencing was anxiety attacks in smaller manifestations. It wasn’t properly diagnosed until I was 18. I didn’t take proper actions until just recently. Due to letting my anxiety run rampant, it has created a slew of other mental health issues. The best part? It never goes away. You simply learn how to cope with the symptoms.
This panic attack was quite overdue. I am now left completely spent. And to think, I have an 11-hour work day tomorrow.
Mental health is in our minds, but it is very, very real.
The stigma I have faced with my friends, peers, colleagues, and family has been another part of the battle. I cannot emphasize enough how far compassion and attempting to understand goes with those struggling with mood and anxiety disorders. I know that I have lost friends due to this illness. I have lost respect for some very important people in my life.
“Those who mind don’t matter and those who don’t mind matter.”
I hate this phrase.
This phrase doesn’t speak of compassion. This phrase says to ignore. That’s what society is best at. Ignoring the problems that make us feel uncomfortable.
I struggle every day. I wake up either feeling so on edge that I can’t hold my toothbrush steady enough to make it to my mouth or so depressed that I can’t muster the energy or will or self-worth to get myself in the shower to practice basic hygiene. Often times, I just want to die and end all this pain. But I also know that I am not alone in this struggle.
The stigma is real. The fight people with mental disorders face every day is real. This is our reality.
Reality gets to be too much for my weak mind to handle sometimes. So much so that I have been hospitalized on more than one occasion for severe depression and anxiety.
I’m tired. I’m more tired of the stigma around mental disorders though.
I care about those who read this and those that will view me differently after reading this. What I ask is for people to read with an open mind and compassion. You don’t have to understand right now. I still don’t feel I fully understand what’s happening to me.
But this is who I am. I am trying to get better. I just had to get this confession out of my brain for it was leaving me completely empty.