Since being ready to face my Panic Disorder and take steps to learn, control, and limit it’s impact on my life, I am no longer embarrassed and ready to tell others what I’m facing. Being open about Panic Disorder has removed a burden from my shoulders and I cannot remember ever feeling this great:)
Now that I’m openly sharing, it’s interesting to hear the responses I receive. These reactions are often based on general misconceptions of mental illness.
When first telling people that I have Panic Disorder, they either say one of 2 things:
–“I don’t believe you” Believe it, you can live with anxiety and lead a regular life, often anxiety is situational and you have certain triggers that bring on panic attacks. I assure you, anxiety isn’t something I’ve secretly wanted to have for years:)
–“Really? You act normal though” There is a wide spectrum of anxiety and it ranges from minor to debilitating. Everyone has their own experiences and ways to cope. I was embarrassed of my anxiety and would go to great lengths to hide what was happening.
People living with a mental health challenge can appear “normal” and many people have Panic Disorder. I can assure you that I will not turn violent, dangerous, or hurt you. I am capable of handling my anxiety when it appears and you will likely never know that it’s happening because it’s generally an internal battle. If it does happen, I will probably need some air, a quiet space, and a few minutes alone.
Here is a stat from the National Institute of Mental Health:
Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.
That’s reality and there are many people that suffer in silence because they are embarrassed, not sure what to do, or don’t have a support network. I know that feeling because it was me for many years.
My hope is to raise awareness that Mental Health is important and anyone can face a challenge as we experience different life situations. This is not something to be scared of as there are many treatment options and you are not alone. If you know anyone struggling with Mental Illness, please treat them as you would anyone else and be supportive. Before being able to admit my Panic Disorder, my biggest worry for telling others was what people would think of me, now that I see how common it is, I really don’t care and hope others feel relieved to know this. I’m the same guy people have known for 29 years and today I’m more in control and feeling better than ever, so if people what to judge or avoid me, that’s their decision and I respect that.
Enjoy the day, I know I will:)