More mental health awareness is urgently needed. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering.
I use a wheelchair which visually signals my disability. Before my accident I had to deal with the frustration, misunderstandings and false perceptions arising from the unseen nature of my not so obvious but very much real condition. Gut wrenching doubts and reservations about everything and nothing all at once ALL the time were so poignant they had turned the world around me in to a white noise and a blur. Anxiety, the product of our overactive imaginary evils creates an inability to love our minds doubting oneself in to weakness. It was a bittersweet sentiment knowing my flaws were beautifully misunderstood in a way that allowed me to pretend they didn’t exist while someone was watching (Ironically, that is no longer the case). Visibly I was not hindered but the remnants of the darkest corner of my mind held me prisoner. Days where my lungs felt as if they were collapsing and my body was shaking so badly, my vision became disjointed to the point of forcing my knees to buckle. Despite having a great family, friends, no loans, an education and being healthy, I spent my entire time worrying about the future. I could never live in the now and just be happy. With no real life problems out of the ordinary, what were the imaginary evils that I feared?
There were days I couldn’t physically get out of bed and I’d stay in my room, unable to move or think;almost forgetting how to exist. I used to make excuses all the time not to go out, to avoid friends and social gatherings due to some unwelcomed existential dread about everything and nothing in particular. “You never go out with us anymore”, became my most hated statement from my friends, probably because they were highlighting my weakness as a fragile individual too weak to face life like a normal person. So in an attempt to address these statements, I would spend days psyching myself up for a fun encounter with friends only to cancel moments before due to absolute fear and panic. It made me sad and cowardly feeling incapable of performing day-to-day life without artificial help; an unstable girl completely incompetent and incapable of any mundane task or enjoying the college social scene like all her peers. Because my vices could not be seen from the surface they were perceived as fake to a point I began to question them myself. Every time I became disoriented to the point of defeat, I would wonder did they even exist or was they all in my head? But how was I supposed to believe them when I couldn’t convince myself they were real and not self-induced? I’m coming from, the place no one will ever truly understand until they feel their heart stop beating in their chest only to accelerate far past a normal rhythm, blood rushing to their head until the whole world fades away to a crystallized screen of silent white. Now imagine this on a daily basis for a long extended time.
And then it’s like all at once all my nightmares occurred, the imaginary evils I had once feared had come to life and I had no choice but to cope, to deal as best I could, what else could I do. Surrounded with more anxieties I ever thought humanly possible I would lie awake staring at the hospital ceiling wondering was it all a bad dream and wondering when I would wake up. Leaving the hospital was surrounded with more anxieties as due to poor facilities in the west of Ireland, my new home was a room in a congregated setting in a city I knew no one or any services. I felt isolated, vulnerable, withdrawn, no longer feeling completely anonymous within a group of people and constantly self-conscious every time I went out in public.
Until somewhere along the way, I stopped noticing the stares and the nagging little voice from deep within filling my mind full of self-doubt and fears. Nowadays, I just try to manage as best I can, to keep going and keep doing what I can do -to still find heart and drive to overcome my own problems and find it in myself to try to help others. That’s why now I don’t worry, I just take each day as it comes, I don’t fear the imaginary, you will cope with things as they present themselves.