Dear Mental Illnesses,
This one’s for you, all of you. Anxiety, depression, emetophobia, eating disorder, the whole squad.
Four years. Four years since I realised I was not okay. Four years since I realised you were trying to take control of my life. Four years since I realised I needed help. Four years since the diagnosis began. I mean anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but the rest of you, four years. In the grand scheme of things four years isn’t actually that long, but for me these past four years have felt like an eternity.
You struck me when I was vulnerable, grieving the loss of one of the most important people in my life. You saw the chance and you took it. I don’t really remember it happening, but suddenly you were there, in my head. My life consisted of tears and panic attacks and not much else. I was trapped. A victim trapped inside my home, inside my head even. People tried to reach me, to pull me out of the darkness, but they couldn’t reach me because you were all I could hear. You were in control.
You made my life a constant battle. You isolated me from my friends. You took away my hopes and dreams. You made me believe that there were no reasons to ever smile again, that there was no hope in the world. You made me feel as though my life wasn’t worth living, as long as you were a part of it.
All of this, everything you made me believe, couldn’t be further from the truth and I see that now. You see, it’s been tough and one hell of a journey, but I am slowly but surely taking back control. I got help, from both professionals and loved ones. There’s been almost four years’ worth of doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions and pills. Four years of constant love and support and encouragement from people in my life. Eventually, the help paid off and I was pulled from the darkest depths of you.
Every day I wake up and I fight you. I am taking back control of my life. I’m learning to cope, to study, to work, to live. You are still there alongside me, but you are not in ultimate control anymore. And whilst you may try to destroy me, you’ve ultimately helped me grow. You’ve helped me find strength and courage that I never knew I had. You’ve given me the determination to defy expectations and to chase those dreams that I had once given up on.
So, what I want you to know is that these four years are only the beginning. This fight will continue for as long as you decide to stick around, and it’s going to be tough but I’m not giving up. You don’t get the power to decide my life is over, not any of you, I can promise you that!