When people talk about their mental health, I never claim I have anxiety, because I feel like I don’t suffer like some people do. But I do.
I had my first panic attack when I was four years old while trying to sleep; it continued and still happens. Nobody has ever seen me have a panic attack and nobody will because they happen at night when I’m trying to sleep. People may wonder what made a four-year-old have a panic attack because a four-year-old shouldn’t have issues like that. I had a panic attack because I did not want to die. On New Year’s Eve, my parents told me that everyone thought the world would end at the millennium. Every New Year’s Eve, I go to bed and have a panic attack that the world will end. As I got older, I would have a few days when I could not sleep for a few days because I could not calm myself down enough. One memory I have is having a panic attack and my parents asking if it was because we were moving to a new house. I was embarrassed and said yes. I had panic attacks about space and that everything could just, end. I hated that idea, and when someone talks about space, it triggers me.
I haven’t had a lot of experience with death. Both of my grandparents are still alive. I don’t really remember my pet rabbit and for a large part of my childhood I didn’t have any pets. By the time my second rabbit had died, I was 15. When I was nine, my great grandma died but I didn’t have a close relationship with her so it didn’t really affect me. I’ve grown up having this irrational fear of death and struggling to come to terms with it. In the last year, my other great grandma died but I didn’t have a close relationship with her so I didn’t really think anything of it.
It was when I found out that someone I knew who was only one year older than me had died, that I learned how real death is. When I read a fictional book about someone’s life and the hardships of death, I came face to face with my fear. I was scared that this character would be me, and I would end up alone.
Realistically, I more than likely need therapy but I’m not the best at talking about my anxiety. For 19 years I didn’t think I had anxiety. It was only recently that I admitted to myself that having panic attacks every night every few months probably isn’t ‘normal.’ I thought I had good mental health because it was different to everyone else’s, but I needed to know that mental health isn’t the same for everyone. I always hear people talking about their breakdowns, but I have never had one. I’ve seen people have a panic attack in front of me, but no one has seen me have one. People have suicidal thoughts; I have never had a single thought that made me want my life to end. One thing that has made me avoid my own mental health is putting everyone else’s before mine. If my friend has a panic attack, I would help them calm down, but when I had one, I was alone and told no one about it. Throughout my life, I always presented myself as someone with a good mental health, but I’m just better at hiding it.
My mental health during the pandemic has been meh. One thing that makes me happy is being around my friends, but seeing my friends who live together when I’m by myself on a Saturday night, makes me reflect on how lonely I am. When I ask someone if they want to go on a walk and they say they say they want to have a lazy day makes me wonder if I crave socialising because I don’t have the choice to.
The second term of university has really been hit by my mental health. As a self-confessed organised person who manages time well, I am not motivated to do so anymore. Usually, I can finish an essay one week early. This term, I’ve been writing my essays the week they are due, which I have never done.
I am slowly coming to terms with my anxiety. The pandemic has made me reflect on my mental health and has been badly hit by the pandemic. I don’t particularly want to start medication, but I just want to see if therapy will help. Maybe I need to be around people for my medication because I know that my mental health is different from everyone else’s. I am hoping that as everything gets better, I will start to feel better and I can be with my friends again, but this pandemic has definitely taught me a thing or two about myself.
Image from Unsplash.
Grace Robinson is a first-year English Student. She is passionate about Feminism, Politics and Society. You can find her on instagram: @grace.lizz12