What does mental health mean to you?
To me, mental health is just as important if not more important than physical health. If my mental health isn’t in a good place, the rest of my health and life truly isn’t either. If I am struggling mentally then it means I’m not working out, I’m not eating well, and I most definitely am not taking the time to do any part of my self-care routine. It will show in all aspects of my life.
What are your Mental Health Conditions?
Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, PTSD
When were you diagnosed:
6 Years ago
Did anything/event precede your diagnosis:
MYSELF! I refused to believe everything that was happening to me was mental. I thought I was “fine.” I spent thousands on various doctors looking for an answer in my physical health. At the time, I would have rather been told I was dying of a physical condition rather than being told I needed to see a therapist. I absolutely refused to believe it until the beginning of year five. That’s when I finally decided to make a change and put all of my time and energy into getting better.
What were the reaction/support from family/friends:
“Supportive” but no one really truly understood what I was going through unless they witnessed me having a panic attack that turned into a pseudoseizure. I tried to make sure no one saw them by either drowning my anxiety with alcohol or by not showing up to social situations at all.
What would you consider to be an everyday challenge for you?
Leaving the house (but I am getting much better at this).
Driving (I no longer drive).
Going to social functions.
Constantly thinking “I’m overdue for a panic attack, it’s going to happen today.”
Being around loud music or a lot of people.
Being in cars with people I don’t know (lyft or uber).
What treatments have you used to help overcome your condition?
I wrote an awesome blog post on how I overcame anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, head over and check it out. In that post, I detail step by step the treatments I tried and actions I took to get to where I am today. I am now able to leave the house, go to social functions, and accomplish so much more in my day than I could one year ago.
Do you feel the treatments were positive interventions?
Some did, some didn’t. Example: Hypnotherapy gave me a panic attack, and I ran out of the office in the middle of it, but CBT or Exposure Therapy is something I use every single day and it works wonderfully. Scary as hell at first, but worth every moment.
How do you avoid relapse?
I have accepted that this is a journey, not a race. There is no finish line, I can only get better at living my best life. That some days I may struggle, but those struggles don’t define who I am.
One thing you would like to inform others who are struggling with a condition or anything you would like to provide education on:
It’s 2018, I’m only 30, and I’ve been to too many funerals from people in my life who didn’t think they had anyone to turn to, to talk to, or who felt they were not loved. If you are struggling, feeling unworthy, feeling anxious and like no one understands you. Please believe me when I say, you are not alone and you are worthy. You don’t know me, but I promise you there is a common ground we can connect on. It could be passion we both share or a struggle we are both familiar with. There is always common ground to cultivate a connection on. There is always someone out there who will listen, who will care for you, and who will make you laugh until you cry. I know it’s so easy to close the door and shut the world out, curl up alone and cry it out and yes, sometimes we need to do that, sometimes we HAVE TO do that. But when you’re done, text someone and go to lunch, or a movie, or the park. Do something. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and you are loved so much. I can’t begin to say this enough, but even if I’ve never talked to you in my life and you reach out to me, I will talk to you, I will compliment you, I will walk you through that struggle. That is a promise.
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Whitney pens the blog “Whitney In Wonderland.” She is a Traveling Lifestyle Blogger with Panic Disorder and Celiac Disease. She creates delicious recipes, travels as often as possible and talks about “taboo” topics. She explains her “safe place” as the little corner of the internet, and I hope you will consider it yours too. Cheers!