The first time I personally got confronted with mental illness was when a very close family member of mine started showing signs of an advanced eating disorder and depression that we hadn't been aware of. Maybe as humans we don't want to admit that someone close to us is suffering so much and therefore we ignore these signs in order to protect and distance ourselves from too much pain. One day, I still remember as though it was yesterday, this person reached out to me telling me she wasn’t sure about wanting to live anymore.
In that moment my emotional life changed completely and the following months were an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. A battle I fought with myself and the feelings of panic and anxiety that arose with not being able to control other people. Those attacks would come when I least expected them, trying to convince me of the worst things possible. My thoughts suddenly circled and wouldn't stop and I wasn’t able to control them anymore. I wasn’t able to control anything anymore. That’s what my fear made me believe. But there wasn’t only this other person’s pain that I somehow had to carry but as the panic and craziness wouldn’t stop over several months I began to realize that this person had hit a wound in my own emotional life that was now manifesting in me as an anxiety disorder which eventually came along with many other physical symptoms that only drove me crazier. These so called psychosomatic problems often arise alongside other mental disorders and show up as body symptoms. I had to deal with tinnitus. The ringing sound in my ear drove me crazy and sent me straight into spirals of anxiety and panic. What if this would never stop? What if I had to live with it for the rest of my life? Sometime later I realized that my mind was playing me, it was searching constantly for things to be anxious about but even after realizing this I continued feeling helpless and desperate for a very long time. I wasn’t able to sleep. I wasn’t able to live everyday life as I did before. I was completely confused and lost. I was living in fear all the time. I was in a battle that one couldn’t see from just looking at me. It was all taking place in my head and I felt ashamed. Ashamed of not being able to control myself, my reactions, my feelings. The few times I talked about it, friends and family often couldn’t imagine or relate to what I was experiencing. It made me feel even more disconnected and made me withdraw from conversations and social life. The downward spiral continued as I often got angry at myself for not knowing what was happening to me and not being able to control it. Only slowly I began to realize that I was the one and only person that would be able to help me.
That’s when my journey of recovery and self-love started. I decided that I would rise from these darkest of hours and come home to my heart. I still have a long way to go but I am beyond proud of the progress I have made so far. I have found wonderful people along the way who support me, I (re)discovered many activities that I love and integrate into my weekly routine, I started to change my eating habits into healthier ones, and I fell in love with the topic of self-development. I am feeling closer to myself more than ever and I am happy to say that in the end even the toughest situations somehow fell into place. It certainly is not an easy journey but it’s worth the work and dedication. After all, I am the most important person in my life. If there’s one thing I am learning from all of this then it’s to never be ashamed of my own story.
I am Laura, I love and accept myself.