One morning, when I was 11 years old, I woke up with swollen lips. My mom immediately made an appointment with the pediatrician, which catapulted the year long journey that led to a Chron’s diagnosis.
When I had a severe sore throat, runny nose, and cough, I alerted my mom and she made a doctor’s appointment and I got treatment.
When I fell off a horse the first time, I was brought to the emergency room to make sure I didn’t have a concussion.
When I fell off a horse the second time, I went to the hospital again to see why my back hurt so damn much. It was a compression fracture. I have been to three different doctors for it.
When I first started to experience depression at the age of 12, I didn’t tell anyone.
When I started experiencing a ton of anxiety when I was placed in any social situation, I didn’t tell anyone.
When I started to hate myself, I didn’t tell anyone.
When I experienced my first panic attack, I didn’t tell anyone. I thought I was crazy.
Do you see the difference yet?
When it came to my physical health, I was willing to have it treated. I wasn’t afraid to have it treated. I didn’t know that mental health was a thing. I didn’t know that anxiety and depression were real. I thought that was how I was supposed to feel. That that was the way I was.
But, I am not social anxiety. I am not depression. None of that is me. Those are not who I am supposed to be. I’m not Chron’s disease either.
I was 17 when I was first diagnosed with social anxiety. That was not even three years ago. I didn’t think it was a problem until I saw my grades fall and I almost fell victim to my mind and thoughts.
We all prioritize physical health over mental health. It’s easier to notice physical pain than emotional. My Chron’s flaring hurts like hell. So do the negative thoughts that yell at me. However, the latter hurts way more.
It’s easier to tell a doctor about your back pain than the panic attack you just went through. One just hurts, but the other makes you feel like you’re having a heart attack. However, the first is easier to believe.
I wish that I had told my mom about how the depression I had after my Chron’s diagnosis. I wish I had told my gastro doctor about it. I wish I had told someone. Anyone. Instead, I buried my feelings and let it all build up until I thought I didn’t deserve a place in this world. Then, I got help.
I shouldn’t have waited that long. But, I didn’t know what I was going through wasn’t normal. There is a huge issue with that. No one should have to live like I did for so long. Physical, mental, and emotional health are all equally important. They all go hand in hand. I know that now.
I was afraid of the way I felt and that was why I never told anybody. That was why I closed myself off. Not because I didn’t trust anyone in my life. I trust my family and I have people I can talk to. I was just so ashamed, and I didn’t want to be a burden. I know now that’s not true and I wish so desperately I could tell past me that.
I want everyone who reads this to give yourself a big hug. Whether you are going through something or not, do it. You are worth more than you know, and you have everything in you to make it through whatever you are going through. I know you do. Please don’t bottle up everything. There is someone in your life who is willing to listen to you, so reach out to them.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. I’m only 19 years old, but I spent eight years suffering in silence. That’s a lot of time wasted where I could have made friends, done more fun things, expanded relationships I already had. That’s time I will never get back. I know that and that is why I am moving forward. It’s why I am making every effort to combat my social anxiety and depression.
So, if you are struggling, reach out to someone, anyone. There are people willing to listen. You can even contact me if you need to (my Twitter is linked in my profile). No one deserves to deal with mental illnesses alone. You are strong enough to reach out, I promise.