Anxiety is a weird thing to talk about for me. If you asked me five years ago what I thought about anxiety, I probably would’ve told you it’s a myth or it’s not really a serious thing. I was in denial when I first realized something wasn’t right with how I was acting. A few years ago I began feeling extremely uncomfortable in social settings. It started off minor; I’d get hot flashes at a party or I’d have to have a pep talk with a friend before stepping into a get together. That was never really my style…KB was always the life of the party. I was always smiling and laughing. I lived to talk to people and get to know as many people as I could. I loved it when people paid attention to me and I loved being the one everyone was excited to see – I know, conceited isn’t it? Maybe that’s why it all took a turn. I was living on a high that was unrealistic and unsustainable. I started going out less, slowly at first. I would say “Oh I can’t come, my parents won’t let me” or “I have an appointment, rain check?” I didn’t really know why I was cancelling all of these plans or trying to steer away from my friends and I really didn’t pay attention to it for a long while…which was a huge mistake. All of this anxiety that I was experiencing started to build up until a certain incident impacted me so much that I completely shut off.
I was bed ridden. I wouldn’t leave my condo. I would lock my door and stay in bed for up to 18 hours a day. I wouldn’t even go out to buy groceries; I had just about every food ordering app available in my town just so that the furthest I would have to go to interact with someone would be my lobby door (morbid, but funny). My friends knew me at the time to not like going out to parties, but at this point my anxiety wasn’t just about not wanting to go to a party. It was much more than that.
Many of my friends didn’t understand what was going on with me. They’d try to say “Just go outside for some fresh air, that’s all you need!!” or “God, you’re so flakey lately”. What they didn’t know is that I was saying the same things to myself in my head, but those things just can’t fix the bigger issue; that I was mentally ill. I can’t speak negatively in regards to the ignorance of my friends because I was just as ignorant until I faced this terrible illness first hand. I genuinely was unable to function as a ‘normal’ human being, I stayed inside for about three months and went outside maybe 15 times max within that time period.
One morning, I looked at myself in the mirror. My skin was grey from the lack of sun exposure, my eye sockets hollow, and my always-there smile was nowhere to be found. This wasn’t the KB I wanted to be. I made a call to my psychiatrist and went in to see her a little under a week later. The first thing I said to her as I sat down in her office was, “Dr. S., I want to smile again.” She put me on a regimen that slowly but surely began to help me get back to where I wanted to be. I suddenly felt like I could breathe again.
I began to feel like myself again. A more refined, less moody version of myself, nevertheless I felt like KB. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days, just like everyone else, but the good usually outweighs the bad these days. I find serenity in blogging and doing my makeup and just talking to the people in my life that I love. I don’t feel the need to lock myself away from the world.
Serious topics like mental illness are really hard to speak about, but I find that writing about it is much easier and helps me to come to terms with what I have and continue to experience. I don’t like speaking about my own mental health issues because I feel like people will pity me for my downfalls. I don’t want anyone’s pity, so my goal while writing this is to educate people on how a small problem can turn into a huge issue and it might help others to recognize how their own or their friend’s behaviour might be an indication to a larger issue. Mental illness is real, and I’m glad to see that people are more willing to recognize that fact. I let myself sink deeper and deeper into a hole that didn’t need to get that deep, because there were people around me who cared about me and wanted to help. I let a piece of me rot in my bedroom for three months, when I could’ve gotten help sooner. Please don’t do what I did. I can say that I am a stronger person from that experience, however I don’t even wish that experience upon my worst enemies. There are so many people silently struggling with inner demons and it hurts me to know that many people have it even worse than I did! It can really happen to anyone; it happened to me. I was a seemingly happy teenager who had a downfall just like so many others. Even if I can help one person by writing about my own experiences, it’s worth it to me to share them.
It takes a certain kind of darkness for the stars to shine. And let me tell you, the stars are shining baby. They really are.