My life was my own until it spiraled out of control.
There seems to be quite a stigma attached to the term “nervous breakdown”. People associate it with an older or middle-aged person – most likely confusing it with a mid-life crisis.
But I was only 27 when I had mine.
It happened gradually, I didn’t just collapse on the floor one day – which is another thing people seem to assume.
I slowly fell deeper into my depression and developed anxiety far worse than I had ever experienced before.
I was a receptionist at the time and I would find myself crying often at my desk, praying that the phone wouldn’t ring and that no one would walk through the front door, because I just couldn’t deal with it.
I couldn’t deal with anyone, not even myself. I couldn’t deal with life.
There was a time I can remember literally rolling around on the floor, just wanting to somehow escape out of my body and mind. I was so uncomfortable and there was just nothing I could do about it at that point. I wanted to die.
From there on – under the “care” of various doctors – I was over-medicated and offered little support. I felt completely let down by the medical system. I was unable to work for a year.
I spent most of my time indoors. I was afraid to leave the house, especially alone. I would sit for hours in front on the TV watching the same shows over and over.
Sometimes I would see something on the screen that would send me into a major panic attack. It would happen again and again. I was completely exhausted by my own anxiety.
I lost a piece of myself that I’ve never been able to get back. But it wasn’t just a part of myself that I lost. I lost friends, people that I cared about and I lost hope. I lost the desire to keep living.
I was told over and over again – sometimes by people who didn’t even know me – that I was “too young” to be debilitated by mental illness, or to be on medication.
That I should “just pull myself together” and “it’ll be alright.” After all, I was 27. What did I have to be depressed about? Even though I had the support of my fiancé and my parents, I felt completely alone.
I felt judged, and I was by many.
Anxiety and depression can affect anyone. Mia Freedman talks about how she copes with her anxiety. Post continues below.
Someone I considered a friend, told me I should stop being lazy. She assumed I just didn’t want to work. Little did she know that going back to work was the one thing I wanted more than anything.
I was so hurt, but I was in such a fragile state of mind that I could never defend myself, no matter what anyone did or said. I felt helpless.
Eventually things started to get better.
I finally started to receive the treatment I needed. I saw the right doctors, my medication was sorted and I attended counselling.
I no longer wanted to crawl out of my own skin all the time. I felt a little bit closer to normal each day, and I got my life back – almost.
I never got back my former self. I never got back the ability to feel at peace. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel afraid and anxious, even paranoid. I still struggle with my mood and I know that may never change.
Every day I still face those demons that reared their ugly heads during the worst part of my life. But it’s okay. I’m stronger for it.
I no longer feel embarrassed because of my mental health issues. I refuse to be embarrassed. If you ask me about it – I will tell you, despite the eye rolls and unwanted opinions that may be given in return.
I am not unusual. I am not crazy. I am young and there are many others like me experiencing the same things.
Each year, approximately one in five people in Australia will experience some form of mental illness, with the highest percentage being in the 18-24 year old age group.
I am stronger for it, and for that reason I am not ashamed.