I’ve always been a fiercely independent person (read: stubborn). Convinced that I could overcome any obstacle on my own, I took the same approach to the management of my anxiety. I didn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t go to the doctor and I certainly didn’t talk to any family or friends about it. I watched a youtube video and read a self-help book and believed if I did yoga once a week that everything would be peachy. My belief was that this was “working” for many years, and by this, I mean that I was somewhat holding it together enough to not have panic attacks in public. The cumulative effect of anxiety slowly took its toll. I became warn out, got sick all the time, and felt constantly nauseous.
After years of coping on my own, the straw (an issue with my honours project) broke the camel’s back (my mental health). I honestly scared quite a few people on the bus by being hysterical, dropped out of uni and then didn’t leave my bed for a few weeks. At this stage, I begrudgingly admitted that I might need a little help and maybe I wasn’t doing so great on my own. My mother (bless her), came down to Adelaide and took me to see a doctor. Fast forward through some ugly crying, and in the coming weeks I slowly built up an arsenal of support: family, friends, GP, medication, psychologist… and I adopted a cat! The only thing that didn’t change was my weekly yoga ritual. I was back on my feet in no time and was astonished at how much easier life was now I had support. I was also surprised at how refreshing it was to be honest to people about mental health. I previously chose not to be open to others about my anxiety due because I was ashamed and embarrassed but instead I found honest conversations to be empowering and would leave me feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I found that several friends had similar experiences and we were able to share in mutual understanding and support. Overall, having that support and having other people to help in the management of your mental health is pretty darn awesome, no matter how stubborn you are.
Take home messages:
1) You don’t need to cope on your own (no matter how stubborn you are)
2) Don’t leave getting help until breaking point
3) I am an ugly crier
Mikaela Borgas, Flinders Univeristy MD, Year 1 (2017)