A lot of people have struggles they deal with throughout their lives. Be it financial, physical, emotional, mental, they are struggles nonetheless. Only a few of such people many a time are willing to voice out their struggles and seek help. They say the first step in the solution process is acknowledging you have a problem and then seeking help. Not many people believe in this saying though as day in day out, some of these people give up and succumb to their struggles. A very unfortunate occurrence.
There are many mental health issues out there, anxiety disorder included. Anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to get in between one’s daily endeavors. Occasional anxiety experiences is a pretty normal part of life but what happens when it escalates and becomes severe, an actual mental health struggle? When there are repeated episodes involving sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak in the span of minutes? It maybe that anxiety disorder is not well known by most people in this part of the world because it is not heard or talked about much but it really is a struggle of many on the low.
Destiny is a college freshman and she narrates her struggles with anxiety disorder. “It is not fun at all. Sometimes, you get trapped in your own mind with too many thoughts it will seem your head is on fire. It sets you into panic mode and trust me, it is a really difficult experience. I mean, how do you escape from your own mind?” she says. “I had my first panic attack when I was almost 20 years old. My God, I thought I was dying. My heart felt squeezed and it was like being in a room with no light, you know, absolute darkness with nothing to hold on to. The panic that sets in makes your heart squeeze so tight. Yeah, just like that. I was sweating and crying and felt so alone even in a house with many people. My breathing was laboured and my mind was blank. I really, really, really, thought I was dying. It was no joke.” she narrates.
Jenny, Destiny’s mother, speaks about having a child with anxiety disorder. “It is nothing like having a child with autism or cerebral palsy and I know anxiety disorder cannot be compared to those two but it is still pretty scary for me. It is my child’s mental state and that is no joke. I found her on the day of her panic attack and my heart dropped. She was sweating so much and crying silently. Her eyes were wide and she was gripping the sheets on the bed she was lying on so hard. I was very scared. I had no idea what was going on and she was not talking, just continued crying. Then she told me what happened and I did not understand because I had no idea anxiety disorder existed. I visited a counselor with her for more knowledge and I got books and the Internet to read from. She does get panic attacks occasionally but not as intense as the first.” Jenny says. When asked how she dealt with the first panic attack, Destiny said, “I think the television was on and there was a song playing. I focused so hard on the voice singing. It was kind of like the only light in the darkness I was in. That singing voice literally brought me back to life. It was a guy’s voice. Ever since then, that guy’s songs have been my literal rock. Ironically, he struggles with anxiety too and is on medication but he composed a song that saved me at difficult time and I am forever grateful.” When asked how she copes with friends and how her friends have helped her to adjust with her social phobia, Destiny said, “I do not really think I want to adjust because anxiety disorder makes me feel abnormal and I want to be normal. My friends have no idea about it because I have not told them. It is not something I want to just drop on them suddenly and cause them to feel pity for me. I do not want that and I feel they will not understand anyway. What I know is they feel confused with some of my actions. They probably think I am weird which is not really cool but I will take that over their pity. I dislike taking pictures because of self-conscious issues. I dislike going to the beach because the thought of going close to the sea triggers a panic attack. Its size makes me think it will swallow me. I hate being the centre of attention or topic of interest.”
When asked how the healing process is going, Destiny had this to say. “The thing is, I am not on any medication so I try hard to avoid situations that will affect my mental health. It has not been easy at all and I know it is not a one day thing but the road to healing is not that far. Quoting a character from a movie I watched, I will say, ‘I will get there when I get there’. I listen to a lot of music and I read a lot too. They help me escape from reality sometimes and that is good for me. See, healing is a step by step process. There is no need to rush it at all. I will definitely be fine. Maybe not today, but one day, I will be.”