Time To Change
by Emma Kidman
I remember a time when spontaneity was one of the many things that drew people to me, my boyish, bubbly and loud personality was something I favoured about myself, one of the things that led me to trying new experiences and meeting new people, being the 'life and soul of a party', but it's also one of the characteristics I lost without even noticing, and to my surprise it was gone a lot longer ago than I realised. I now find myself utterly lost, and stuck in a rut, as if I'm desperately trying to get out of this cycle that has no end. I have a severe panic disorder, which has left me more anxious than I knew was possible to feel and more isolated and alone than the last leaf on a tree before winter begins. Many people don't understand mental health disorders, I'm not sure whether this is because you can't see it, or whether people just don't understand how you can possibly feel the way you do when there's a solution available and it's all within your control. We're long past the times when it was not acceptable to talk about things like this, so it's not that it's politically incorrect, it's not embarrassment, and to be honest I couldn't tell you what specifically makes every individual terrified to talk about it, especially with how common it is in this day and age. Although this 'you don't understand' feeling has a huge impact. Countless people have told me to just get over it, and that there is nothing to be anxious about. Well, well done genius, do you not think I know that? I just can't shift this feeling of wanting to be at home. Wherever I am. I can't enjoy myself, I can't enjoy the things that I love doing and heartbreakingly, I can't enjoy life. It's very rare to live, most people just exist, and that defines where I am at this moment in time. Many people are so focused on tomorrow that they are never fully present in the now, they are so consumed with believing that the next moment will be better than this one. So you waste your whole life, which is never not now. And I don't want to do that. And it gets worse, because I know that I've got this problem, I've accepted it and am trying my hardest to change my thoughts and habits to discontinue this cycle, but it's impossible. And I can feel myself losing grip and everything that I care about slipping away. Uni or a hope of a career, because how is that possible if I constantly want to run home and I'm focused on how I feel rather than what I'm supposed to be doing? My friends, because I've got impeccably good at avoiding scenarios that involve being in company and doing this thing when I say no to going out or seeing them because I'd rather lock myself away, then I realise that I keep letting them down so I arrange a plan to not look so flaky, which then inevitably falls through because I lie again and come up with another excuse to not do anything. Since when did it become acceptable to lie over and over to your friends? I'm becoming someone I hate. My family are going to give up and my boyfriend is going to leave because I don't want to go out when he offers a nice gesture of taking me to dinner or actually doing anything other than sitting in my comfort zone. And I know that they all care enough about me and that they'd be there, try to understand and help me conquer this. But how do I explain something that I don't understand myself. I've tried CBT, self help books, many kinds of medication, talking to people, but it's no good because it just makes me more aware of how not normal I feel and almost guilty for how in letting it take over. Countless times people try to find the trigger of what made me this way, whether it's a significant event or the easiest blame that is my parents divorce. But it's all not true, I don't come from a broken home, I see my father regularly and I'm an incredibly strong person because I've watched my mum become incredibly successful on her own. So this makes me feel again that no one understands, even if they are trying to help. If I'm honest I can't remember a time that I actually felt well, because the constant worry and panic makes me unwell, and I know that. But it proves that this has been brewing for a long time, and my breaking point is now because I can see more than ever that I am letting it ruin my life and engulf me. This needs to change, everybody's opinions of mental health disorders and the lifestyle I am living (or not) at the moment. I don't want sympathy and a 'woe for me' attitude. But writing it down is helping me, and putting it out there makes me feel like I'm less alone and that other people are going through the same thing. I need to change, and I need to actually start living my life. I'm an 18 year old girl and I should be going out and having fun like normal people my age rather than crying and causing myself more upset and confusion. I have to stop saying why me, and instead say try me.