Erika's Story - Speaking Up

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

This is something that I remind myself of every single day. I was the type of person who used to avoid speaking about their issues. I never wanted to speak to a psychiatrist because I didn’t want to be labelled as “mentally ill.” I was afraid that if I were to start taking medication for my anxiety, I would be this person who was weak and abnormal.

It was around this time last year when I realized I had a serious problem. I knew that I had to stop beating myself down from trying to avoid my symptoms. My anxiety got so bad, that last year I had my first anxiety attack. I felt trapped, suffocated and scared. I got to a point where I couldn’t control my own thoughts. I would ruminate every day, all day. I couldn’t sleep. I felt depressed and lonely because I avoided social situations. I would avoid hanging out with my friends at times because I thought something bad would happen if I left my room. I knew my anxiety would keep escalating. I realized I didn’t want to live this way anymore. I didn’t want my anxiety to take over my life, to stop me from seeing my friends, and to prevent me from studying.

In May 2018, I made the conscious decision to see a psychiatrist. She diagnosed me with General Anxiety Disorder and prescribed me with medication. Because I was able to take these first steps, today is a much better day. My medication and therapy have helped tremendously. I am not ashamed or shy to speak about my mental illness. I am proud of the growth that I’ve shown and the obstacles that I’ve overcome. Of course, I still have days where I struggle when my anxiety takes over and days when I don’t want to leave my home. But I’m working on it. Every day is a day to get stronger and grow. My mental illness does not define me. It does not make me weak. It has taught me a lot about myself. It has taught me to surround myself with an amazing group of friends. It has taught me to focus my energy on things that I love. Most importantly, it has taught me to openly speak about my struggles and encourage others to do so as well. There is nothing to be ashamed of. We all go through tough times and I believe it is super important to speak about it with someone, be a psychologist, parent, friend, or sibling.

I am always here for anyone that needs to talk about anything. I am open to listening and helping you in any way that I can.

Everybody deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin. Everybody deserves a peace of mind and happiness.

I am here for you. Keep striving.

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