I am writing this to say I’ve been there and to highlight the importance of getting the help you both need and deserve.
The thing that is astonishing to me is that there are so many people suffering in silence- whether it’s because they don’t want to feel weird, fear they will be treated differently, or suffer from the many things that come along with admitting your mental health struggles.
Depression and anxiety has plagued my entire life. It stems from a need for school success and makes me feel as if I have to try so much harder than everyone else. This year, it got to the point where, at least once a day, I would have to leave class because I would have a panic attack.
Time progressed and as it did, it became more normal for me to spend my days sitting in the nurse’s or counselor’s office rather than sitting in class. From my perspective, a panic attack is amongst the worst feelings.
It is impossible to adequately describe it. I can only say that it is this weird feeling in my chest and in my head. During a panic attack, I am unable to speak. The only thing I find the strength to do while it is hard to breathe is to curl up and cry.
It doesn’t feel like I am dying but death manifests itself in feelings of my life being pointless, like all my goals and dreams and everything I do is a waste. It just feels like there’s no point in anything.
So on November 9th, 2017, I had one of the worst panic attacks and I thought to myself, “ok I can’t do this anymore. I can’t live like this”. So that day, I went home from school and took 2 handfuls of ibuprofen.
The immediate feeling after consumption? Instant regret.
I was rushed to children’s mercy in an ambulance, where I had to stay for one night and then in a mental health hospital for 3 nights.
Those 4 nights were a living hell in every sense of the phrase, but from that hell I learned so much that could help me and maybe anyone else who needs it.
The thing that stuck out to me the most and that is extremely important is to stop making life harder for yourself. One of the first things doctors said to me right when I got into Children’s Mercy is that, “this is a mental thing, your life is good and your brain is creating all this stress for yourself”.
When they first said this it, my heart sank. All I could think was, “why is my brain so fucked up? Why am I doing this to myself when nothing’s really wrong?” But it made me think. I quickly realized that I need to start doing things and surrounding myself with people that make me genuinely happy, and lift me up rather than putting me down.
I need to start focusing on the positive things rather than pointing out anything bad that happened or even will happen.
I need to set myself up for success so I can reach all my goals, but, above all, I need to enjoy the present and not just rely on the future for happiness.
I need to stand up for myself and be who I really am and just overall not care what anyone thinks.
I never really said anything about what happened to me on that day or about all the therapy and different medicines I have to take. I confided only in my closest friends.
And, even when I talk to them about it, I find an inherent tendency to say it jokingly so as to downplay its existence.
It’s for the fear of what people will think.
I was scared that I would be thought of as a freak or different. But, I've come to realize, in reality, everyone goes through their own personal struggles. If you’re going to judge someone based on what they went through, then that is a problem for you to look into for yourself. You are the problem, not them.
There is nothing I can do about that.
I am not going to lie and say everything is perfect now, because it’s not- but it is so much better as a result of living in the ways I listed above.
So live life to the fullest! Be bold and fierce. Be yourself and do so unapologetically.
About the Author:
Phoebe is a blog writer for Free to Dream Magazine. She is a high school sophomore at an all girls prep school. Her dream is to go to Pepperdine University and some day be a VP of Publicity or a Marketing Director for a fashion company. Outside of Free to Dream, she plays lacrosse and is always online shopping, hanging out with friends, or watching that 70’s show.