I’d seen some where that it’s Mental Health Awearness week, or month. I’m not sure which one but I’ve seen both. So I thought the best thing to do is share my story I guess. I’ve been dealing with Anxiety my whole life. From the time I was diagnosed I was ashamed of it. I told no one about it, thought of it as a shameful secret. I literally told no one about it. My mom and sisters were the only ones who knew. I still struggle to tell people that I know irl and have to face. I am so afraid of someone feeling sorry for me, and I never want someone to be think “oh we can’t do that, Johnnielynn cant handle it.” But Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of.
From what I’ve been told, I think my anxiety started back when I was still a baby. When I was 3, my parents split, so we had a family counselor coming over and she was concerned about my self esteem. But my earliest memory of it is when I was 7. Which is still very young. I don’t think anyone could understand why a child so young could be so broken. I think that’s why I managed to go so long undiagnosed.
When I was in second grade every day I would complain about being sick. Then on the times that my mom would come home and get me, as soon as I was out the door I was suddenly fine. After a few times it had got to the point to where my teacher would feel my forehead for a fever and then send me back to my seat. I had gone to the doctors to have my stomach checked (it was fine) so I was brushed off as faking. So I just kind of had to deal with it. I didn’t know what it felt like to be nervous, and you cant see nervousness on an x-ray or an Upper GI test.
As I got older I started having panic attacks, I was around 11 or 12. I don’t remember what I had gotten so worked up over but suddenly I couldn’t breath. It hurt, and was scary and I had no idea of what was going on. My mom tried calming me down, by pointing out that if I can talk then I have to be breathing, but we ended up in the ER anyway. My oxygen levels were normal, and I had been sent home. This had happened a few times, so I had another appointment only this time a breathing test. The panic attacks started shortly after my sister developed asthma, so when the breathing tests came back normal, I was again brushed off as faking.
I had just accepted the panic attacks are a part of me throwing fits. Because I did that a lot too, I would get up set over something, and I would have a full on melt down. Everyday, at least once, sometimes more. As I got older they happened less often, but still at least once a week. It took me so long to get a control on my emotions. I now keep them under a very tight control. I do still lose it occasionally almost always over something silly.
When I started Highschool, I started to pull away from my friends. I had spent a lot of time wondering around on my own. About half way through the year I tried convincing my mom to pull me out so I could be homeschooled. I would have settled for transferring, my mom worked in the next town over I could go there and ride with her. All of my attempts to leave my school caused my mom to worry about me being bullied. I wasn’t, I just wanted to leave and start over at a school full of people who didn’t know me, or to just leave the school who did. She talked to my doctor about me to be sure home school would be a safe option for me. My doctor told my mom no, that I have Social Anxiety, gave me a prescription for Paxil, and an appointment with a counselor. Through out high school I had tried a few different medications, and they all had terrible side effects.
I’ve been out of high school for over 10 years now and I still struggle to get a hand on my anxiety. I experience panic attacks everyday, weather I have the constant tightening in my lungs, or end up a can’t breath, can’t function, spacey mess of anxiety. I’ve learnt to breath through the panic attacks. Thanks to the cat I had when I was a younger, who would lay on my chest when I was struggling the most. While she would lay with me I would subconsciously match my breathing with hers which would then help me come out of the panic attack. So it’s not as scary as it was when I was 12, and I know that it will pass, I just have to wait for it to end.
I’ve been seeing that May is Mental Health Awearness Month, or this is just Mental Health Awearness week. I’ve seen both. Which is why I’ve decieded to open up a bit about my experience with Social Anxiety. I basically just wrote this so that way anyone dealing with it won’t feel so alone, like I did. When I was diagnosed mental health was not talked about. I’d never heard of Anxiety (I had always associated feeling anxious with excitement) I didn’t know anyone who had an anxiety disorder. It was just me with trying to deal with something I didn’t understand alone.