This week’s post explores how a mental health problem can develop and the struggle many people face in trying to work out what is happening to them and get the support they need both from family, friends, and professionals.
My Sudden Experience
Just before I turned 18, I thought my life was really starting to come together. I liked my body, for once. I had friends, after a childhood and teenage phase of moving across the globe and having to meet new people constantly. I was doing very well at school. Most importantly for me at the time, I had finally met the boy whom I would later on share my first important sentimental, emotional and sexual relationship with. So why was I suddenly hit by a wave of nausea, dizziness, panic and profound sadness?
It happened an evening in Germany, where I was spending the summer after winning a very important language scholarship. I had spent what I still regard as the most exciting month of my teens…and yet in that moment I felt more scared and frightened than any other time before. Worst of all? I had no tangible reason to be so scared. None that I could think of.
It took months of medical tests, as I would get so queasy and put off by food that I was suspected to have intolerances or bowel disorders. When all tests came out clear, I was told it was simply “all in my head” and that I had to snap out of it. My doctors, my parents, my close friends and my boyfriend at the time… they couldn’t quite understand how, without a trauma that was tangible, I could possibly want to stay in bed until late, miss out on parties and get togethers that would have left me buzzing just a few months previously, and what it was I was so worried about. Meanwhile, in my head I would grow increasingly terrified of ending up alone, of my grades plummeting, of never coming out of that bottomless black hole.
But I did- gradually and partially
Through accepting I had to speak to a professional, and that although I wasn’t completely alone, I was fragile, and needed to embrace that and look out for that fragility.
I cannot say I’m “cured”- I am better. I’m no longer that scared, I don’t feel alone. I do worry very frequently, and am at times unable to fall asleep without having tossed and turned, overthinking and worrying about myself, non-existent health issues stemming from a very minor ache, or worrying about those dear to me. But I co-exist.
You can, too. You can be louder than the voices in your head.