It’s taken me a very long to come to terms with all the parts that I’m made up of. It sounds so silly, as if I am a jigsaw puzzle – but I reject that notion and instead say Rubik’s cube. Why? Because there isn’t one way to solve a Rubik’s cube, there are many; and it’s the same for anyone who suffers with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or any other kind of mental illness. You can’t fix it the same way every single time – it doesn’t work like that.
As a young person on “the cusp of life” as my grandfather would say, I am pretty blessed. I am at university, I live in a nice flat with nice people, I eat well, I watch a lot of Netflix, I have friends that I enjoy speaking to… to the average person my life sounds ideal, what on earth could I possibly have to worry about? Apparently, a lot! I’m not going to lie and say that I make it easier for myself, because I really don’t, in fact, to be very honest I can’t actually remember the last time I helped myself avoid a panic attack. I think it’s the consuming fear and absolute inability to breathe properly that probably chokes me up… no, but jokes aside – it is really difficult, but that is okay!
Without routine, your brain is free to wander wherever and wonder whatever it pleases. It is very difficult to try and relay a message to someone who doesn’t think anyone else understands; I get that. It’s also really difficult to try and help someone out when you can’t relate to their situation (I am sure my mum would give me a knowing look right about now) and that is okay! It is completely okay to not be okay and not know what to do and not know where to start – that’s human, in fact, I think it’s probably more common that a lot of people let on.
So, as someone who suffers from not only frequent but quite bad (I’m lying, I often describe them as fatal which is slightly melodramatic but still very fitting at the time) panic attacks/anxiety/general stress, I tend to live by three golden rules:
I FEEL SO MUCH STIGMA TOWARDS MYSELF AND MY OWN MENTAL ILLNESS.
1. Even though I think it’s going to kill me, it probably isn’t
The truth is that panic attacks are self-inflicted, they only happen because we imagine scenarios up in our heads that probably will never ever happen, and then we start to feel sick and dizzy and we stop breathing and it sucks – but it won’t kill us. It is all temporary.
2. I am not my illness
And it doesn’t define me. It is a massive part of who I am and the choices that I make, and it probably does ultimately affect the kind of person I choose to be every day, but it’s not the whole of me.
3. Tomorrow will be better
And if for some reason it isn’t better, because tomorrow can’t always be better (it has stuff going on too), then you can always have a nap. In fact, you should always have a nap. Naps are food for the soul.
I have never actually managed to solve a Rubik’s cube so I know the struggle, but when things are bad and you think they can’t get much worse just think, you could be a jigsaw. But you’re not. You are a Rubik’s cube, you have a lot of different ways that work in your favour to solve you, but you will also probably make a lot of wrong decisions and very wrong turns – that’s called being a human. I am now starting to sound like a sweet old lady when I am barely 20, so I will stop. Just remember, like May always says, It’s ok.
If you are feeling at risk of harming yourself or need someone to talk to please contact the Samaritans for confidential support in the UK. In the US please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline on 1-800-273-8255.
If you would like to guest blog please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a piece no longer than 600 words on a topic that surrounds mental health. In order to stick to safe mental health reporting, please see the Time to Change media guidelines and the Beat guidelines if reporting on eating disorders.
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