I struggled with worried feelings as a kid and never knew what it was. I spent childhood/teenage years with “funny feelings” and stomach aches, leaving sleepovers and sick all the time. I was still doing sports and trying to live a normal life since my parents didn’t know about mental health.
Once in college I started figuring it out and realized these feelings had a name; anxiety and panic attacks. Then, in my mid 20’s I had a breakdown spiraling into continuous panic attacks, not eating or sleeping. I tried to run away from everything I “thought”was scaring me; my 7 yr relationship, friends, work, all thinking that would help my anxiety. Well it didn’t and made it 10 times worse (avoiding is bad); landing me in the hospital for a week due to wishing my life would be over cause I couldn’t live my life in constant panic attacks. I had never been taught how to manage my mental health and had no coping skills, or even knew what it was. I had occasional therapy, but never clicked. This terrible mess was the greatest thing to happen in my life and most monumental. I went to a partial day program at the hospital for 2 weeks, meeting some of the greatest people and connecting with them on a deeper level than I’ve ever had with strangers before. I learned I wasn’t alone. I went in desperate with an open mind and it ended up literally changing my life and way of thinking.
They helped change the way my brain works and processes life and anxiety; like telling me to ride out my scary feelings and not fight them. I learned the power of positive experiences to build up my confidence to allow me to start doing the little things again. Whether I feel like I’m going to die or feel a 10/10, but I’m reality it’s not as bad as I make it feel.
I’ve since gotten back my relationship (10 yrs now), got closer to my true best friends, gone skydiving, traveled (which used to terrify me), changed my job I’ve always wanted, gotten a puppy, moved and we recently just bought some land. I’ve re-found exercising and the power of endorphins and made physical health just as important. I know I will have ups and downs with my anxiety and panic attacks, but feel confident to handle them as they hit me now. I’ve had exacerbation periods of panic and anxiety since the program, however, I’ve managed it better with therapy, exercise and with thought of “I know it’ll end “and” it’s okay to not feel okay.”
I love talking about mental health and helping people around me that come and ask for help. I use it everyday and feel much more confident than ever. I’ve restarted my life and am a completely different version of myself since pre-program and have a great support system now. My priorities and focus for my life have changed immensely. I wouldn’t trade the challenges I’ve had in life for the world.