Exams hit me like a whirlwind last week, and as a postgraduate student, I felt the pressure tremendously. I buckled down this semester and prepped in advance so I had nothing to worry about, or so I thought.
My Mom calls me a worrier. And, that I am. I worry about everything. My family , my friends, and even the little things; my first day in a new job, my fears for the future, and my exams. Naturally. But when fear creeps in, anxiety wriggles through not long after, causing heinous apprehension.
When I was 10 years old, I had my first panic attack. Truth be told, I had my panic attack over my dreaded fear “Emetophobia“, which for those who don’t know, is the fear of vomiting. When I tell people this, I am usually received with “No one likes to get sick,” but no one truly comprehends how troubled I feel when Emetophobia unravels. For so long, people used to think my fear was silly or ‘make believe’, but it’s a real thing, and it has majorly impacted my daily life.
At ten years of age, I refused to consume soft foods such as potato mash and carrots, because I feared being ill. Mind you, I’ve only had the stomach bug once, but every inch of that moment has been implanted into my memory. I remember everything from that night; what pajamas I was wearing (Mulan- I was 5), and what film was on the television. At any moment I feel unwell, my head starts to spin, my chest clenches, my heart pounds uncontrollably, and the palms of my hands moisten. The fear of being ill has corrupted my entire life. My initial plan when I was younger was to become a primary school teacher, which was disturbed by my worry of picking up bacterial infections in the classroom. I detest Winter, as Winter is the season of Cold’s, Flu’s, and in my case, Stomach bugs. Anxiety can derive from environmental factors, personal issues, dangerous relationships, and in my case, a traumatic experience.
The worst thing about having anxiety is trying to explain to people what the leading differences are between worrying and suffering from anxiety. I’ll put it this way. EVERYONE worries. It’s human nature. But what some people have not experienced (and if you haven’t, you’re in luck), is those alarming moments where your chest clenches and you forget how to control your breathing. I described that feeling of panic as a ‘mock heart attack’ to my local GP, who agreed whole-heartedly. Some people experience panic attacks differently. Some people suffer from uncontrollable breathing difficulties, nausea or vomiting from worry, suffering chest pains, or in some severe cases, a sense of impeding doom or the urge to faint. From personal experience, I can describe it as a wave of nausea, a dire headache that doesn’t go away, and in some bad cases, I get sharp pains in my chest, which replicate cardiac arrest. Anyways, I’m not here to educate you on what a panic attack is, but I am here to tell you that those who relate to this post are not alone.
Similarly to those who suffer from depression, isolation, or an eating disorder, anxiety can corrupt your mental health and deteriorate your well being. I am at luck, as I have never suffered dangerously from anxiety, I call my case mild. My bad panic attacks don’t come frequently, but when they do, everything around me goes blurry, and all my focus turns to my breathing. I was sitting watching First Dates Ireland last week, and I wasn’t feeling 100%. As the show progressed, my chest began to tighten and I had a panic attack. No word of a lie. I couldn’t understand why. And I still don’t. Exams were nearing and the fear was lingering in the back of my mind. So my body reacted. I don’t know why I let the little things like exams get the better of me, because at the end of the day, we’re human. We’re built to try our best, but more importantly, we’re built to mind ourselves and cherish our health.
This message is to those who are having an off day, or who may feel like doomsday is nearing. I’d like to point out that mental health issues can come in any shape or form. Someone who’s having a bad day at work may feel like the world is against them. They may not suffer clinically from depression, but in that given moment, their mental health is at risk. NO ONE should feel this way. If you’re having a bad day, I urge to you tell someone, even if you’re confident that tomorrow will be a better day. Vent it out. Have a rant. Don’t tie up your emotions in fear of judgement.
To those who are having a bad day and have tried to tell a friend, a family member, or a co-worker, and have been dismissed, remember that it does not mean you shouldn’t be heard. Someone wants to listen to you. Someone cares about how your day was. Someone wants to hear about your day in hope that they can help you have an even better day. Never underestimate how you are feeling. Always address your emotions. Speak up. I know from personal experience, that it is easier said than done. It took me years to find the willpower to finally acknowledge how I am feeling. I was lucky to find the most beautiful characters who will chat to me when I’m feeling anxious, or even when I’m having a bad day. NEVER give up hope.
On Saturday the 12th of May, the people of Ireland are walking from Darkness into Light, to show their upmost support for those suffering. I can safely say that Pieta House are an incredible service. Their aim is to protect people of all ages and to encourage suicide prevention. Your mental health IS your wealth. Whether you’re having a bad day, have chronic anxiety or insomnia, or are feeling depressed and low, know you are not alone!
I really wanted to voice my story on having anxiety, to encourage young and old people to voice how they feel. Whether it’s behind a computer screen, or to a counselor, tell someone. Manage your stress. Take care of YOU. For those that are suffering from bullying, be it in school, the workplace, at home.. don’t be afraid to tell someone. You are worthy, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. ❤️
The links for some of the BEST mental health support groups have been linked below: