“I need help.”
Seems like a very easy thing to say, doesn’t it? We’ve all asked for help at times – help with everyday tasks or how to do something new. It’s simple. We know we don’t know everything. We’re human.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States for adults. Even more than that, over 60% of those that have the illness never receive treatment. Why is that? Why are so many suffering with a condition that is fully manageable, but never get treatment?
It’s normal to be nervous sometimes. We all do. But how do we know when our nervous actions and thoughts go from normal to an unhealthy level? In articles, an anxiety disorder is described as anxiety and worrying that affects your daily life in a negative way.
My realization that I had anxiety was gradual, but difficult for me. I’m a Type-A personality that feels like they have to be perfect 100% of the time. The realization that I shouldn’t believe every thought I had was stunning and scary. But the fact was: I couldn’t believe them. My mind would go to a dark place where worst-case scenarios were the norm and every person would turn on me or leave me behind. It wasn’t true or reasonable. Finding that balance between my mind’s anxious paranoia and reality was painful. How do you tell yourself that your own thoughts are the problem?
The other difficult part for me was that, at first, I couldn’t even see it. My family saw it. To me, I was simply reacting. I’d be told I was over-reacting or irrational and I honestly didn’t understand. To my family, I wasn’t myself anymore. My perfectionism and worrying had turned me in someone they didn’t know – and didn’t know how to help.
I’m honestly not sure what flipped the trigger for me. The 50th time my family said I needed to talk to someone about how I was feeling and reacting? The doctor’s kind eyes and sympathy when I finally took my dad’s advice and scheduled an appointment? It could have been the medicine I started, or the therapist I talked to… It could have been simply the relief that I wasn’t ruining my life. Whatever it was, it worked. And continues to work. It’s not an overnight fix. It’s not something just a drug or just a therapist can fix for you. It’s work – hard work.
I’m curious about what has worked for others. How did you realize that your thoughts were anxiety? How do you work to overcome it? How do you come to grips with the fact that you have a mental illness? Any advice or thoughts are welcome! I’d love to hear about your journey – the good pieces, or the bad. It’s all part of it. Let me know how you cope 🙂