It’s May and that means it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. I never used to be someone that had to deal with mental health issues until I was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (also known as GAD) two years ago. I probably had GAD well before then due to the unexpected passing of my mom and then reliving those memories when my dad passed in November.
There is a lot of stigma around mental health illnesses and I know a lot of people tend to think that everyone has anxiety and to just get over things. However, with GAD there’s so much more to it than that. Anything can set it off and it can send you into a panic attack. I’ve hit some pretty low lows in my life over the last few years and have had panic attacks that have started one day and continue into the next. Part of what got me diagnosed with GAD was a work situation I was in. There was so much stress and everyday I went in I felt like I was walking on egg shells. During this time I was helping to not only cover different shifts when needed, but also taking care of my dad who had some life threatening illnesses during that time as well.
I know some people that deal with mental illness like to keep it to themselves, but society has created such a stigma around mental illness and I don’t think it’s right. Just because I have a mental illness like so many other’s doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person or that I’m going to go and do something crazy. I am lucky that I do have access to healthcare, medication, and a doctor who is supportive. I know a lot of people don’t have that and it makes me sad. I’m also not ashamed that I need medication to help my symptoms. I was much worse off before we found medication that worked for me. I’m on one medication daily, and then another as needed, mainly at night to help me sleep when I can’t get my brain to wind down to sleep.
I’m wanting to help end the stigma surround mental illness, so this month I will be sharing more about GAD, my experiences with it, and how I cope. Mental illness shouldn’t be viewed as scary. We have so many medical conditions out there that are a lot scarier than mental illness and there isn’t the stigma around them that there is around mental illness. If you would like to learn more about mental illness in general, you can check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness.