So today at work I had an interesting conversation with a coworker about mental health. During this conversation I was informed that mental health problems were all in people’s heads. That the solution was just to relax and be stress free. Now I give this person major props for being “stress free” since he has a baby on the way and a 3 year old at home, but really how do I do that?
I know I have a disorder, and it’s not because someone told me that I did. I went looking for answers because I knew that how I was feeling wasn’t “normal.” I fought for a long time to not be medicated, because I believed that I could just get better if I believed I could. What happened was I got worse. Even during times of medication I still have bad days, weeks, and sometimes months. This to me shows me that it’s not all in my head.
Now I know that medication is not a cure for my condition, it is just a way to help control it. Medication, doesn’t always help, but it’s there, and does make a difference. When I am not on my meds I completely lose control of my world. I can’t function around people and have to be alone, which just increases the problem. Even medicated, I have days where the anxiety is so overwhelming I can’t drive, or leave my house. I have tried calming music, and relaxation exercises, for me they don’t help. The only thing that helps me calm down during an anxiety attack is reading. While this is great at home, it isn’t practical for use while at work or many of the stressful situations which I find myself in.
To “get better” I would have to completely change my diet, no caffeine, and of course no smoking. I would also have to avoid all of my stressors. Well the first part, is doable, difficult, but doable. The second part is impossible.
I have anxiety attacks for no reason all the time. However, I also often manage to stay very calm and collected when in stressful situations. There isn’t one set way which my anxiety presents itself, it likes to surprise me. Because of this disorder, simple tasks can become unbearably difficult. I would like to say that I am able to be a do it yourself kind of girl, I used to be, but now simple things can send me into panic. I couldn’t tell you why hooking up my TV could cause me so much stress, I have done it a hundred times before, but some days it does.
If this were all in my head, then I would expect the task to be a problem and then stress out about it. In my life it’s the opposite. I want to hang a picture, an easy task, but when I can’t find my hammer, suddenly panic, and for no reason. I will stand there knowing that this feeling has no basis, and no reason to be in my life, but it is still there. I try to breathe and figure out the task, but often I have to call a friend for help. It is embarrassing.
There are very few people who would choose to live like this and those people have other mental health disorders. I don’t like that I have to take medication to be around the people I love, but I have accepted it for now. One day, it might change. I know that tomorrow I will again return to a job, which is not meant for someone with my particular problems, and I will do what I have to in order to get through the day. I don’t know if I will have a break down in the next hour, or the next week, but I can guess that it might happen.
I am in a stressful place in my life. I live with a condition, which makes that stress worse, but the point is that I live. I am who I am, and I try to embrace the good, the bad, and the crazy. Sometimes I’m just fine, but that can all change in a moment. I don’t have to like it, but I do have to live with it, so I might as well accept it. This does not mean however, that I drop anchor and live out my days hiding in my apartment. I embrace the crazy, but I embrace my ability to challenge myself and my crazy brains. I will push myself forward. These are the things about me that are all in my head. I think it’s good that in my head I can make the decision to stop moving forward and give up, or keep living.
It’s not always easy, but not one of us was promised at birth that life was easy. We complain that it should be, and often we want it to be. I just want it to be a little easier at times. A little less stress and worry, a day without anxiety, and a night where I can actually sleep. That is what is in my head. The anxiety is in my chemical imbalance, and my heart murmur. If I could put it in my head, then I could chose to forget it. I can’t. It is part of me. Even if it is all in my head, it is part of who I am. As I grow as a person, this will always be an aspect of me, even if I find a cure.