Saturday, 29 August 2015

Mental Illness Journey

I was inspired by Anna to write about my journey with mental illness, after reading her well written blog post about her depression, and where she is now. You can read her blog post here.

     I had some unfortunate events that happened to me as a child, that still have made an impact on me today. I'd rather not go too deep into them, but after the storm, I thought everything was okay. I didn't think anything would effect me long term.
     When I was 16 years old, I was home alone while my family was out shopping. I remember walking into my room and suddenly my throat closed up. I got very hot, and my mind was cluttered. I was shaking, my hands started getting numb, and I was hyperventilating. I remember being able to feel my fast heartbeat in my head. I look back on it now and think of how stupid it sounds, but I honestly thought I was about to die. I went into my bed, waiting for this feeling to stop. It was exhausting, so I fell asleep after an hour. When I woke up, I had that feeling multiple times that day. I talked to my mom about it, and we did some research. I decided to go to the doctors the following week. The week before I went to the doctors was the longest week of my life. I was nervous, all day, and I couldn't get any thoughts straight. I would get that horrible adrenaline feeling, and I would even experience physical illness. My doctor diagnosed me with general anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. In case you don't know, panic disorder is diagnosed when you have panic attacks coming out of nowhere. You may not have a trigger at all, you could be as calm as you can be, and a panic attack would come along. She prescribed me medication, and said that it was going to make me extremely drowsy. She told me to take a quarter of the medication before bed, because if I took a full one I could sleep through my alarm. That medication actually had no affect on me, I would take a full one during the day. My doctor prescribed me a stronger medication, and this is where things went horrible. This medication had horrible side effects on me. While it might be perfect for someone else, it just didn't mix with me. I started getting horrible urges and feelings. If you have anxiety or depression, you might know that those two things come hand in hand. I got severely depressed. I lost a lot of weight, I skipped so much school, I was too nervous to ever leave my house, I stopped eating, and worst of all, I lost the amazing relationship I had with my family because I hated life, and I took it out on them. I can't thank my dad, mom, and sister enough for putting up with the nightmare I was. I was also applying to be a graphic design student, which required a portfolio. This also was a lot of stress, I found myself crying while painting (sounds hilarious now). I managed to graduate high school with amazing marks, and get into my graphic design program. The summer before college, I met my boyfriend, Karl. I was never going to tell him of my panic, anxiety, and depression because I didn't want to scare him away. But because it's a huge part of my life, I felt I had to. That summer, I was anxiety free. I never felt so happy. Having Karl come into my life was such a positive change, that I was never anxious. I thought I was cured, and I was ecstatic. Karl got together with me not knowing much about anxiety, and he went above and beyond to help me. He researched more about the illness, he was patient with me, and he listened to what I had to say, now he's an expert on what to do when I have a panic attack. Thank you, Karl. You didn't have to do that for me but it means the world that you did.
Actual photo my cousin snapped of Karl hugging me while I was nervous!

    When I started school, things started to go downhill. I used to love art, but doing it for professors, until the deadline, and projects I didn't want to make, made something that was once a hobby, a nightmare. I went back to being anxious 24/7, and would have multiple panic attacks at school. I thought the best thing to do was to leave school. When I left school, I was stuck at a horrible job with a horrible manager, which made leaving my house hell. My very supportive dad said, if she is making your anxiety worst, then quit. So I did. I was also in therapy at the time, which was one of the best things I've done for anxiety. My therapist became a person I loved seeing every week, and she agreed that I had general anxiety disorder, depression, ocd, and panic disorder. The only reason I'm not in it now was because I missed a couple of appointments because of things going on, and I was too scared to call back (ironic, huh?). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was the best decision I have ever made, and I would definitely be going back to it. I learned so much about myself. This part of my life is where my depression was worst. I started abusing the medication I had to make me sleep all of the time, because I didn't want to be awake. I was nervous all the time, having multiple panic attacks. I had a huge hospital scare, and that was a huge wake up call, and I decided I needed to take control of my life. That was about a year and a half ago.
     I still have my ups and downs with anxiety. I might have one really bad week, but I don't dwell on it because I know that week isn't going to last forever. I also have my amazing support systems, my mom, dad, sister, and boyfriend who are so great and have come along way with understanding what I'm going through. 
     Right now, I'm on medication. I have developed my own little tips and tricks that help me when my anxiety is through the roof, and I have also learned from other people suffering. If I can say one thing, its that please don't keep quiet. My whole journey with anxiety, I thought I was meant to be embarrassed of it, and I suffered in silence. Opening up was the best thing I have ever done. It was terrifying, but the amazing feedback I have gotten have overwhelmed me with joy, and inspiration to write more. I was once at rock bottom, but I'm so glad I have never stopped fighting, because my life is amazing right now. I'm starting school again in September, and I'm ready to kick ass at it. I see a bright, successful future ahead of me, despite my anxiety.


  1. Great post Megan, Im happy you shared it.

  2. Well written and very inspirational. 😊

  3. Megan, that must have been very hard to write but I'm so proud of you for doing it and happy that you are in a good place. Love you lots. David