This blog will discuss a specific young person’s experiences with mental health issues and may include references to diagnosis, treatment, or support. This should not be misinterpreted as specialized or medical advice for a particular situation you may be going through. The topic of experiencing mental health challenges may be difficult for some readers. If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, please seek support by accessing the following resources: Child Helpline International; Open Counseling Suicide Hotline Database; United for Global Mental Health
If your country does not have a national helpline please seek professional and community support from trained and experienced carers, especially before making any decisions on treatment.
Taking stock of just how far I’ve come since I have had anxiety for almost five years, I wanted to note down the biggest things I have experienced and learned from having anxiety.
My first experience of anxiety was when I was 13 – I was bullied by the kids I used to play with. I remember feeling tearful, out of control and overloaded with worries, but I didn't know what I was experiencing was called 'anxiety'. I avoided going out alone, because of the fear that they would tease me again. I had almost given up swimming and playing badminton, which was my only hobby back then.
I used to sit in a corner of my home and used to think of questions like – 'why me?', 'Am I not good enough to have good friends?' and many more. People back then didn't understand that children can be anxious too, which is probably why no one (myself included!) realized that I needed help. I soldiered on with my life, thinking that maybe everyone felt this stressed and that it was normal to feel out of control.
My family and I shifted to a different city after a few months, but then also I felt insecure because of the same old thought that ‘it will happen again.' I will again get bullied in a different city by new people; due to this thought I hesitated to make new friends near my house. I wasn't friends with many people, just a few in school.
It wasn't something serious until 2019, when I started to pull out my hair which is an anxiety disorder named trichotillomania. My parents didn't understand why I had suddenly started to pull out my hair, and each day they would see numerous strands of hair lying on the floor near my study table. I didn't know back then that what I was facing was an anxiety disorder, so I didn't get any help and started to monitor the pulling, which soon faded away.
This year, when the world got back to its pre-pandemic routine, I was at home struggling as a premed student and felt discouraged by my performance and the stressful environment. As a result, my anxiety this time reached its peak, and it was out of control.
But this wasn't alone, worse was yet to come. I started to pull out my hair a little too much. My grades also fell quite drastically this time, as I could not concentrate on my studies, and I avoided talking to anybody. I used to get irritated and angry for no apparent reason. Sleep became my escape. Even if I woke up early, I would push myself back to sleep just so I could dampen my torturous mind. I would cry — for no reason sometimes. I fell into an endless cycle of having vicious thoughts. I’d spend days sitting at my study table and doing nothing. I felt so alone, even after having people around me. Some nights, I would wake up three to four times and experience my mind racing, my heart pounding out of my chest, and my lungs being unable to keep up with the rest of my body as I struggled to breathe. I used to have anxiety and stomach aches, a feeling of butterflies in my stomach but much worse, before I sat for tests and received the results.
At this point in life, jumping off the world's tallest building would have been easier for me than asking someone for help. Nothing could have been worse for me than this. I usually thought of ways to escape from situations I could not handle and created an imaginary world as a substitute for how I wanted reality to be, and lived in it.
Meanwhile, I felt disconnected from all the people I was close to, including my parents as I thought nobody will understand me and I would just bother them and they would get stressed because of me. This was one of my major mistakes. Now I realise it would not have lasted this long if I had talked to them.
But, I had started to believe in the lies that anxiety told me; yes anxiety lied to me quite a lot. Like it kept on reminding me daily about the past, telling me worrying changes things, and that I’m not good enough, that they’re judging me, that I don’t deserve to speak up, that I can’t ask for things or make even simple requests because I’ll bother people and that I'm going crazy. Overcoming these lies became a big task for me.
Realizing that if this continued my dreams would go away and that this wasn't the life that I wanted to live, I decided to see a therapist and I started doing good. There were many days when I felt like I couldn't win over my anxiety and that I would have to live like this for the rest of my life and not become the person I'd always wanted to be. And I did do a pretty good job with it, I finally feel that my life and my mind are in my control.
At last, here I stand. Still anxious, But feeling slightly more hopeful. The journey to reaching this point was arduous, but I’m just glad to be here. Today, I just want to express my deepest gratitude to my parents, friends, and anyone who has been there for me. To my parents: I can’t thank you enough for accepting even the darkest parts of me and loving me so unconditionally.
A short note to all the people with anxiety – “YOU’VE GOT THIS”, and I can’t stress enough that you are truly not alone. You may look around and think that no one else in the world understands what you’re going through, but some people do. Never be scared or feel ashamed of what you are going through.
Anxiety is something that many people around the world experience regularly. As no one talks about it, people are left confused and overwhelmed. Looking back five years from now seems like a war that I fought with my mind I finally won. To the people who are feeling or suffering: it will get better. In the process, you will discover more about yourself than you ever thought you could. Most importantly, you’ll discover that you are a warrior and when you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.