Mental health has been a taboo concept that isn’t really talked about. In fact, for a lot of time, I thought ‘anxiety’ was just a noun, a synonym for tension or worry. Little did I know that word could answer a lot of my questions about the way I think and the way I see the world. But here’s the thing, mental illnesses or disorders, as they are commonly referred to, are so loosely defined to the extent to which you can’t make out whether you identify with the symptoms or your self diagnosing is just a product of your overthinking, and such has been the conundrum I’ve been undergoing for the past three years.
During the pandemic, mental health was at an all-time low, what with the isolation and the social anxiety so many of us were faced with when we returned to what were previously effortless communal gatherings. I still remember my internal anguish when we went back to offline school for the first time, after months and months of seeing everyone on a screen. I had forgotten how to interact with people who I’d been friends with my entire life, it was almost as if all my ‘social skills’ had deserted me. This was especially alarming after two years of yearning to go back to my life pre-covid and crippling loneliness that came about as a result of having no one to talk to, as now that I was getting everything I had wanted I didn’t want it any more and was back at stage one. I didn’t realise it at the time, but looking back I see this as a major sign of social anxiety. I just couldn’t interact with other humans which were upon my observation one of the most basic human skills and to put it plainly, I felt helpless.
Experiences With Mental Health
Everyone has different sources of anxiety, friends, family, and food, but I’ve come to learn that mine primarily lies within the talk of the future. I remember, around six months ago I had a routine meeting with the school counsellor and my parents (as did everyone else in my class) to talk about what my future entails for me and how I should go about preparing for it. I came home from the meeting, head full of stress and worry and apprehension. I had no clue what I wanted to do in the future and had made that very clear to the adults seated around me and I didn’t want to have a clue either. I got to my room in one piece and decided I needed to make a checklist, something I tend to instinctively do when I begin to feel overwhelmed, but then broke down. I couldn’t breathe, I felt as though my muscles were failing me and I truly thought I was going to die at that very instant. I managed to make my way to my mother and she informed me that what I was going through was a panic attack and that it was completely normal and that I shouldn’t be worried because all I had to focus on was getting through it. The rest of the details are a little fuzzy in my brain but I remember I managed to put myself together with the help of my parents and made my way to my tennis lesson. But to put it plainly it was easily one of the worst moments of my entire life and thankfully I wasn’t faced with it again until sometime a bit more recent. The second time I had a panic attack this academic year I was a lot more aware of what I was going through, yet I seemed to have lost control over myself once again. What had started out as a scolding from my parents about how I spent my time somehow escalated to a worry about my future in my head and there I was again, trembling and crying and afraid I would die.
Upon identifying the root cause of my anxiety I hate to say this but I have done nothing to confront or face it, I still to this day shut down at talk of the future and refuse to open up when a thought stems into my mind. But I’ve found a way to cope with this, making a checklist just as I had automatically done that very first time. I feel as though everyone needs to focus on figuring out where their own problems stem from and find a way to approach this, of course, it’s not easy to address every single issue the same way but this is a method I’ve found that works for me. As a person, I prefer to see everything that I need to undergo right in front of me, and I’ve used that need to my advantage through the form of checklists.
The views expressed are the author’s own.