I asked my sister if she would write a blog post for the website with things to do if you are struggling with mental illness. The following are her words.
If I think about it, I’m pretty sure I began having serious anxiety and panic attacks months before I even realized it. The first panic attack that I actually realized was in the middle of church. I woke up feeling very unsettle and as the day progressed I felt even worse, then in the middle of church a swirl of emotions and worry hit me and suddenly I was in the middle of panic attack trying to hide my sudden flood of emotions and control the seemingly unending flow of tears streaming from my eyes. Thankfully crying at church is a somewhat acceptable experience and I don’t think anyone was the wiser.
That was the beginning of a two year very long process of trying to get my mental health back to normal after suffering from anxiety and depression.
Here is a list of my suggestions that helped me.
Tell your family and friends.
I’m not telling you that you should post all of your struggles on social media, or tell everyone you know, but having a support system of people who know what is really going on is a big help.
If one of your friends came to you and told you they were dealing with some mental heath problem, you would probably do anything you could to help them. They feel the same way about you.
Talk to your doctor.
My anxiety and depression turned out to be a result of a hormonal imbalance caused by hypothyroidism. It took a while for my doctor to diagnose me because all of my initial tests came back normal, but thankfully I had a doctor who took my concerns seriously. If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor, consider finding a new one.
Also, your doctor may have suggestions or information about community support, counselling or additional steps you can take.
Look into counselling.
Counselling really did help me more than I thought it would. It was a chance for me just to focus on me. I felt bad always complaining to my family and friend about my problems. Somehow, it’s a little easier talking to a professional.
I know that counselling can get expensive, but there are lots of options. Ask your doctor about support that may be available in your community. I received counselling through a religious organization, which was a reduced rate. There are tons of resources online.
There’s no shame in antidepressants.
My doctor suggested antidepressants for me long before I was ready to accept that I needed them. Do not feel bad about taking them. Antidepressants are not a sign that you are crazy or that you can’t handle your own life. Their purpose is to make you feel better than you do right now.
It might take a few tries to figure out what antidepressant works for you. It took me two tries to get it right. I also took me about six months of taking an antidepressant before I saw real results and started feeling more like myself.
Things will get better.
At my lowest low, I really thought this was how I was going to be forever. In fact, I felt so bad that I honestly thought I had died, and no one told me. Take advantage of all the helps there are, and in time you will start to feel somewhat like normal again.
It’s probably been about a year ago since I had my last full blown panic attack. I still continue to take an antidepressant daily, and carry around anti-anxiety medication with me, just in case, but I do feel back to my normal self. It was a very hard and long road back, but everyday is better than the last. I know you’ll get here too.
If you have yet to check out episode 2 of The KnowNothing Podcast please do. We discuss daily family vlog channels and mental illness. You can listen to it here.