At 18, while the rest of my classmates were learning how to drive, I was learning how to deal with my mental illness. Getting diagnosed with anxiety was just the beginning of a struggle I hadn't signed up for. However, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Five years later, I'm treating it with the help of a doctor, learning how to love myself and look at the future with a smile. I can't change who I am but I can decide where I go from here. I've turned every uncomfortable situation into a learning lesson and here are 10 of the most beautiful things my mental illness has taught me.
The world around me is constantly falling apart and all I can do is stand there, barely holding myself together. But I do, and I do it brilliantly. Every day is a struggle and the fact that I'm here today makes me a winner. I own it.
There are days when I can't get out of bed and just making it to work is a task. Life isn't that easy when your mornings begin with a panic attack and there is no reason behind it. However, that's alright. I've embraced the fact that some days will be difficult and be testing but it is completely okay to not feel okay.
When I first began taking my pills for anxiety, I was told that it was a bad idea because 'I don't need medication'. But isn't that subjective? I'd rather take a pill that calms me down than spend the entire day choking on thin air because of how I feel. Medication helps me restore the chemical imbalance in my brain, and no, it doesn't make me a junkie.
There have always been people who've found my mental illness strange or funny, but those people aren't important. Because the ones that actually matter have offered me support and love through it all.
Every time I've found someone mocking my anxiety, the most effective way to deal with it has been to block them out. I mean, of course, I spoke to them and tried to educate them first, but if they don't understand me then they don't deserve to be a part of my life.
Going to a therapist or a doctor does not mean I'm weak. It took time to understand this but the fact that I function effectively alongside my anxiety actually makes me a stronger person.
After years of blaming myself and apologising for 'overreacting', I realised that I am allowed to feel things. My emotions aren't invalid and irrational, I need to embrace them and work on them patiently instead of holding that against my own progress.
I need my days off and I work towards them on a regular basis. And if I'm having a bad day, I like to go back home, put on my favourite film, a face pack, and order in Chinese food because I deserve to love myself.
I've met people who hate talking about their anxiety and depression, assuming that their mental health is something to be ashamed of. But why? You didn't ask for this and you're trying everything in your power to fight. Soldiers aren't ashamed of their battle scars.
Anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and eating disorders are common, if people ask you about them and about you suffering from them, you owe them no explanation. Yes, it's a nice gesture if I sit them down and elaborate on it for them, but it isn't my job and there is a high possibility that they wouldn't listen. So I've stopped justifying my illness in hopes of acceptance because I love me more than they ever could.
Keep loving, ladies!