In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I have been sharing different facts about mental illness through a social media campaign. And I have spoken very briefly about my own mental health issues in Look Through My Lens. But I think the best way to not only understand why I am so passionate about mental health, but also talk about mental illness from an empathetic viewpoint, is for me to share my personal mental health story.
In 2009, I had my first memorable panic attack. I was waiting to do my solo for my dance studio’s rendition of Beauty and the Beast as the Enchantress, so the very opening of the show. I was wearing a big, heavy, velvet cloak and this was in the summer in the Mojave Desert, so I was probably overheating and dehydrating just wearing that thing. I also started the show by walking through the audience, so I was waiting up in the audience for the show to start. This was when I had my first panic attack, hyperventilating, and I didn’t tell anyone.
My second significant panic attack happened my senior year of high school during an in-class essay for my English class. I don’t know what exactly cause it, but I was so panicky and scarred that I barely finished my essay, and after that class I went home and slept the rest of the day because it was the only thing that felt right to do.
Then college, a huge transition with leaving home. I would have night terrors, waking up in a panic. I still didn’t know what exactly was happening, that it was only stress and temporary. Little did I know it wasn’t.
I went into some deep depression during my second and third years of college, which is only about a year ago. Many, many unhappy and terrible things happened to me during that time, and it was centered around being in depression. These situations also heightened my anxiety, and made me realize that is was actually me being mentally ill not just stress.
This all brings me to now, where I am a writer and mental health advocate, and all of that is rooted in my personal struggle and desire to cope, de-stigmatize, and empathize. You can’t take the human out of the issue or the conversation, and if that means sharing my personal plight, than I will.
Not everyone is willing to share their story, and rightfully so because it can be difficult beyond measure to share something so personal to someone. I greatly respect everyone who fights mental illness whether they speak out or not. And to those who don’t want to speak, that is why I speak. Because I don’t want you to feel inclined to share your struggle and story, especially if you really want to recover. And that is the downside of being so outspoken about my personal issues, it can make it harder to recover.
Before I get too deep into ranting and venting, because I don’t believe this is the place nor time for that, thank you for taking the time to read my story and gaining a better understanding of why I care so much about mental health.