For most of my life, I have been anxious. I can remember as a child worrying about almost everything, and that continued into my teens and adulthood.
I had what I think was my first panic attack at either 25 or 26 when my mom got sick and I felt as if I couldn’t get to her fast enough because I lived in a different state and I was about an 1 1/2 from her, so the whole ride home I had panic and it was hard to really focus, but thank God I made it. It was a long few days of anxiety and fear not knowing what was wrong with my mom and seeing her in so much pain, broke my heart. When she finally saw the doctors, they said she had high blood pressure and it was easily treated with medication. After that, I had always worried about my families health and I thought I had control over it. I would forecast the worst for my life when it didn’t turn out to be so bad.
I would say that for most of my life, I lived with anxiety and worry. I worried about bad things happening to my loved ones and I felt guilty if I wasn’t able help them heal.
When I was 32, I had a severe panic attack that put me in the hospital for almost two weeks, and I didn’t understand what was happening. My mind was going to the left while was trying to go right. It was the first time in my life that I was in a mental hospital as a patient and it felt so embarrassing, and depressing. I think I cried that whole time I was there. I felt lost for a long time after that. I struggled with my thoughts and the what ifs of life, the shouldn’t I, why me, I’m I crazy, what’s going to happen to me, I struggled with the voices in my head that were condemning, accusing, and negative and for the past 3 years, and I still have some trouble, but life is getting brighter.
It was hard to accept having a mental illness and embrace it, because of the stigma attached to it. Especially being African American, we were taught to be tough like a Ford truck, and that having a mental illness was a result of something that we did, or our relationship with God, or just to snap out of it and deal with it.
Since going through anxiety and depression, I have gained more knowledge about my own judging of others and myself when it came to a mental illness. I have gained a better understanding of myself and others who live with the disease. I have learned that not everyone living with a mental illness is crazy, and can live a life happy, healthy, hopeful, and loving even though they have a disease.
I am blessed and grateful to my family, finance and friends and God who loved me through it, in it, and coming out of it.
Just remember that God loves you, he believes in you, and I believe in you too. God loves you before the storm, in the storm, during the storm, and coming out of the storm.
Try your best to keep it simple, live one moment at a time even if it is a minute, and its ok to smile, God gave you a sense of humor, and he likes to laugh.