Words like “panic,” “anxiety” and “mental health” have always seemed to have a stigma associated with them, and talking about them in public was never really encouraged.
Growing up in the agriculture industry, I quickly learned that the topic of mental health and anxiety issues were taboo. If someone was dealing with mental health issues, or an incident related to anxiety occurred, it was usually talked about in hushed voices and swept under the rug, so to speak.
As years passed, several organizations have stepped up and started to dedicate time and resources to speak about the real-life implications that mental health can have not only on an individual, but their families and even community.
Nowadays, it is more common to hear the phrase “mental health” or “anxiety,” although I believe there is still a stigma associated with the topic just because people are embarrassed to admit their issues.
I believe that while issues related to mental health are talked about more in today’s society, because individuals hear stories from organizations promoting the importance of mental health, there is still a big disconnect between individuals understanding it.
I think that is because they have never had to personally deal with mental health issues, or they do not know how to open up and tell others about their personal battles with mental health.
Well, that changes today — I am no longer going to hide behind my anxiety and panic attacks and be embarrassed to admit that I do struggle with severe panic attacks.
Although I have had general anxiety and moderate obsessive-compulsive disorder since I was in high school, and although over the years I have had some bouts with anxiety and a few panic attacks, the medicine I was given helped me control my issues.
Even though I didn’t talk about it openly, if I was asked or approached about it, I never hid it and I would talk about it and answer any questions that I was asked.
However, due to a lasting brain issue I had from a car accident last November, I was put on a medication that was supposed to be taken in build-up dosages and to not skip a time taking it.
After several days of taking the medicine, when I got up to a higher dosage, I started to break out in hives all over. I called the doctor’s office and was told to stop taking it immediately — and that is when everything went downhill.
I ended up having several of the severe side effects from going off the medicine cold turkey, as my doctor had instructed. Possible serious side effects of the medicine are anxiousness or restlessness, anxiety that is new or worse, irritability that is new or worse, panic attacks, or depression that is new or worse.
There are other symptoms, as well, but I experienced severe anxiety, daily panic attacks and issues even being able to function.
Luckily, though, I had a great support system in my family, my boyfriend and close friends. I learned that what I was going through was like some anxiety one of my good friends had been dealing with.
I have seen my doctor, who said it was one of the severest reactions he had seen to the medicine, but he also gave me some medicine to help with my constant panic and encouraged me to see a therapist, as well.
I am still dealing with some issues, and the news of the death of Rob Hays, who was the executive director of the Indiana FFA and someone I had known personally since high school, hit me hard.
However, I have picked up a new hobby that has helped keep my anxiety at bay: adult coloring pages. I have actually turned my pages into letters and cards and sent them to close friends, and after getting positive and thankful feedback, I decided to keep doing it and I am now starting to send the letters to soldiers overseas.
I know it is not much, but coloring the pages and writing inspirational notes on the back has seemed to help me. I am going to continue writing the letters even after my anxiety calms down because to me it feels like I’m making an impression on others’ lives.