Mental Health Awareness Week

So, I can honestly say I did one of the hardest things in my life. I shared my story of how I’ve been fighting Mental Illness. I felt like it was my time to tell my story, and possibly help other…letting them know that they are not alone.

Tonight at 7pm was a student panel called “Mental Health Among Us”. It was all a part of a friend’s Senior Project to help bring awareness to this very worthy cause. And I’m glad she did choose this because the stigma about Mental Illness needs to be brought to attention.

The panel was very informal. There were several students and four speakers, I was one of the four. There were even hot chocolate and cookies (which definitely helped ease my nerves before sharing my story). Going down the line, each speaker shared their experience with mental Illness, and they all varied, from depression/addiction to what I had…Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Listening to each story was definitely an eye-opening experience. The thing that shocked me the most was that these were people I’ve known my entire college career, and I had no idea that they were going through what I was going through. hearing their stories made me realize that I am not alone in this fight, and that there is a support group out there for me.

Now, when it was time for me to share….I could feel myself having an anxiety attack as I spoke. My throat was tightening to the point where I couldn’t swallow, I was getting knots in my stomach, my hands were shaking and my pulse was increasing every second. I tried not to cry, but my body was telling me otherwise. Having to relive those memories was painful, especially the one where I almost tried to self-harm. I can honestly say I never thought I would go that low. There were even times where I just didn’t want to be here anymore. Some days…I don’t even want to get out of bed. I still have those days where I think “What am I even doing here?”

However, among the loads of negative thoughts I have every now and again, I’ve gotten better over these past couple of days. The thing that has helped me the most is music, especially music by Anna Clendening.  The reason why her music has helped me through my recovery is because she is also going through what I’m going through. Her lyrics have so much emotion and power behind them, I can feel myself getting better with each note that she sings. It’s not just her music that has helped me…Scott Alan’s music has been the soundtrack to my entire life. It was his music that made me see that I do have a place in this world.

Along with music, the creative and performing arts have been a huge part in my recovery. You would NEVER guess I had an anxiety disorder if you saw me in a play or musical. Writing has been very instrumental for me getting better. Any time I feel like I have an attack coming on, I can just escape into my writing. Singing even relieves some of the stress and panic from my anxiety attacks. I guess, art has always been a constant I can count on to be there.

I honestly wouldn’t have been able to share my story without the love of my friends. They are the reason where I am today. My friends are literally my guardian angels. They have helped me become the person I am…I am a better version of myself, thanks to their guidance and support.

The most rewarding part of this whole experience was being able to help inspire others. Knowing I’ve set an example to be brave enough to share something as difficult as my fight with anxiety was a huge learning experience for me. Even having people come up to me afterwords, telling me how much they appreciated me for telling my story, how brave I was for doing something so difficult, and to have the courage to do this…means more to me than any materialistic thing I own.

As Stephen Sondheim wrote in his song No One Is Alone In his hit musical Into The Woods:

Things will come out right now.
We can make it so.
Someone is on your side
No one is alone.

MIAW-poster

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