Disclaimer: I have chosen to remain anonymous because I believe my identity is not important for you to understand my story. If you know me, it’s likely you’ve already heard parts of it anyway.
I’ve had problems with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It just took me thirteen years of school and two years of medical school to realise. I was a needy child, terrified of being left alone. As a teenager, I never really felt like I belonged and socialising was a source of anxiety.
My experience of medical school is not much different to everyone else. My marks took a sharp dive in the transition from secondary school to university and so did my self-esteem. I was insecure about my friends, my reputation and frequently questioned whether anyone even liked me at all. These thoughts never quite go away and get louder the harder I try to block them out.
I was lucky however, to eventually find the courage to confide in someone. It took time, but I got help. I started seeing a psychologist and began to understand that I am more than just the thoughts my brain decides to throw at me. It was not easy though. I’ve had numerous breakdowns and periods where I wonder if I’ll ever be able to regain control.
As time has passed since the first time I sought help, I have gradually become more open about my mental health. As a result I have more people in my corner than ever before and this time I have been confident enough to commit to creating a Mental Health Plan.
Sure, there are people that question the legitimacy of my problems. They tell me to “stop worrying” and “it’s not that bad”. In some ways they’re right, most of our marks don’t matter and actually, I am lucky enough to have quite a few friends. But they’re also wrong. In a certain state of mind I am incapable of believing myself, let alone them. It’s important to understand that just because someone’s problems may seem trivial to you, doesn’t mean that they’re trivial to them.
Over the last year my life has become about positive coping strategies and rational decision-making. Things that many people take for granted. Things that I really have to work at. I still struggle to admit when I’m not coping but every time it gets easier.
Personally, I see my anxiety as an advantage. When I have things under control, it pushes me to do better in every aspect of my life. When I need a break, I know how to properly look after my mental health.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from my story, is that it’s okay that you’re not okay, and you are allowed to ask for help.