Sunday, June 14, 2015

May was Mental Health Awareness Month: Living with Panic and Anxiety

Hi everyone, in case you didn't know, May was Mental Health Awareness Month. Of course, I only found out about it at the end of the month, when people "came out" as having a mental illness. Today, I want to come out to you. I suffer from a panic and anxiety disorder that I was only diagnosed with recently. How do you know you suffer from either of these? Well let's see, I'll start with something simple. You over think and over analyze any criticism. You may worry about what people may think  of you, so maybe you don't leave the house except for work and comfortable activities. Big, loud places make you extremely anxious. You get unexplained chest pain and feel totally overwhelmed by life. You suffered a traumatic loss or event, and your grieving process is complicated.

In my case, I lost two family members within the course of a year. My grandfather passed away after suffering for three years. My father and I were his primary caregivers, even though he was in a nursing home, and we spent hours a day with him making sure he was well cared for and received attention. His loss left me sad and empty, but I began feeling better about six months after he died. In June of 2014, my mother died suddenly from sepsis and a massive stroke. To say our relationship was rocky was an understatement. After she died, I began having night terrors and panic attacks. I barely left the house because I couldn't deal with all of the input around me. I was empty and angry, and therapy only took some of the edge off. After months of suffering, I finally spoke to my doctor, who had a similar experience. She recommended cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. I now had someone who listened and gave me a way to refocus my energy and thoughts. It was okay to be anxious, it just couldn't control me. The medication slowly stopped the panic attacks. Two months later, I feel like a new person.

I decided to write this personal story because I wanted you to know that you're not alone. There are many avenues for help, and you can get free or very low cost assistance. Many people I know go to therapy and/or take medication. There is no stigma attached to taking care of yourself. Love yourself and get help if you need it. If you need to talk, feel free to message me.

Hugs,

Miss Shelly