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I have written about mental health in the past before. I have focused on how to deal with a panic attack, how to take a step back, about gratitude and mindfulness. There is a reason why I like writing about these topics and that’s because mental health used to be a very big deal for me. I guess I could say I’m almost an expert at dealing with anxiety attacks and other mental health issues. I have decided to enlighten you about my past with anxiety and a bit about how I (mostly) got it all under control.
Let’s go back a couple of years. My childhood and early teens were rough and a huge part of my life involved around my social anxiety. To be fair, I didn’t realise I had social anxiety until I needed to fix my own things. Suddenly, everything was scary and it all got too much sometimes. I was sixteen years old when I got diagnosed with social anxiety and that’s the moment when I suddenly became very aware of all the things that completely frightened me. In addition, after I found out what it was: I needed to work on it and that has probably been the most difficult thing in my life.
I feel like anxiety is an ongoing process where you always have to work on. It’s not an one time thing to fix. I wish it was though, because it would make life so much easier! As with many things in life, you have to keep pushing through your fears and get out of your comfort zone to improve.
My social anxiety was pretty bad, it almost got to the point where I got scared of going outside. It was a real struggle to make eye contact, to pay in the stores, to talk with people, to travel with public transportation and to just be social in general. I can’t count the many panic attacks I had during this time. One of the most difficult things in life is admitting that you need help. However, after you have gotten that diagnosis: the most difficult part just begins. You need to work on it and that means facing your fears. Now, this is where it gets real hard. One thing that might ease your mind is that it does get easier. I had panic attacks when I had to pay at the stores, but it got a little bit better day by day. It’s always two steps ahead and one step back and sometimes it’s two steps back and one step ahead. Like I said, it’s a work in progress.
You’re not alone in facing your fears. Find someone to talk to: a professional, your parents or a sibling or that one good friend. If you feel like you don’t have anyone around to talk about it, try and go online to find some soulmates who go through the same thing. I’ve found the loveliest people. And if that’s really hard, you can always message or e-mail me and I’d be happy to listen to you and help you out a little bit. We’re all in this together.
“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point when it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear.”
Don’t ever give up on improving yourself even if it gets really, really scary. It’s so easy to walk away from that situation, and believe me when I say I have done that dozens of times, but it always comes back. There is always that one situation that completely frightens you and it won’t just magically disappear. It’s totally okay to work on other things that are a bit easier for you and work onto that big scary thing.
I still have panic attacks sometimes. I have days when I feel really good and think that I can concur everything in life and I have bad and dark days where things just get really hard. It’s so important to push through these dark days because these are the days that will determine your improvement. It’s not a failure when you try that scary thing and you end up with a panic attack. You tried and every time you do these things: you’ll improve. For me, it’s so easy to stay inside and not face anyone when I have these dark days. And trust me, I really want to stay inside because the anxiety just gets too much during these days. However, it’s not helping me to improve. Just keep pushing but know when to take that step back. I love to go on a run during these days or just do anything else that will ease my mind. Something else that works for me is to talk about it with someone. Don’t get inside that little bubble you’ve created.
When your days gets really hard and just too much: it’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay. Just simple live the day, feed yourself, get into comfy clothes and stay close to yourself. It’s totally okay to have a day like this when it really, really gets too hard and too much. It’s hard to find a balance between pushing yourself and knowing when to take that step back. I can’t tell you what that balance is for you. You’ll learn your balance over the weeks, the months or even years. It took me years to find that balance.
I will write a blog post 2.0 about this topic, and give you more insight on my road to recovery and what has helped me during that time. To end this blog post, I’d love to share a positive quote with you.
“Don’t you see how far you’ve come already? You have a lot to be proud of, and every reason to keep moving forward. You can do this.”