By Alexia Del Priore
Sometimes it’s hard to wake up listening to the maddening sound of your alarm clock and tell yourself that you need to get up and out of the warm, comfy sheets you are wrapped in.
But sometimes it’s really hard for me to get out of bed because my own mind is telling me that I can’t. There is a fear of the day ahead. Even though getting up is a small task, it has become too much for me to handle and it feels like the only choice I have is to remain under the covers.
It’s not the regular battle with the alarm clock or leaving the warmth of my sheets. It’s the battle that I am forced to fight within myself, and perhaps my hardest battle of all.
I have been struggling with anxiety since I was a little kid. For as long as I can remember my mind has always been in a million different places. I would worry about things that a kid should not be preoccupying themselves with. I would be in bed at night wondering if all the doors were locked, what would happen if our house caught on fire, or what I would do if my mother or father fell ill.
My anxiety only continued to escalate once I got into my teenage years. I constantly overthink every unnecessary little thing and stress myself out over what’s going to come in the next month or year. I often find myself unable to live in the present moment. When my mind is racing with all of these thoughts, it feels as though I have lost control of myself, both mentally and physically. I go into a panic attack; my heart starts to race, I can’t catch my breath and a dizziness sweeps over me.
Mental health has touched many people in my family, in particular my grandmother. She has suffered from schizophrenia since her early thirties and felt unable to talk about it without feeling shameful. Thirty years ago there was a lack of knowledge and many misconceptions about mental health and so my grandmother was unable to have proper treatment in order to live a more stable life.
I’ve done research and have found many articles on mental health so I can broaden my knowledge and gain a deeper understanding. I was also able to relate to other people’s experiences.
Technology is a major source of my anxiety. I admit that it is difficult to turn away from my tiny screen, which feels like it is glued to my hand. I struggle to go more than 10 minutes without checking my phone, which is something I’m quite embarrassed about. Social media has engulfed me, and I have a burning desire to check up on everyone’s life. I feel this overwhelming pressure to be a part of the social world, which constantly allows me to compare every aspect of my life to other people. It’s hard to remember that people only post their best moments on social media. I’m always questioning myself and thinking about what I’m doing wrong and what I’m missing out on.
Even though mental health is becoming less stigmatized, we still need initiatives to openly discuss mental health as an illness. People usually don’t hesitate to talk about their physical injury, but people are still very reluctant to talk openly about their mental illness. There seems to be a fear of showing weakness and being misunderstood.
I can personally say that I have felt this way before when I was with a group of people or even my friends. I’m feeling anxious while everyone else seems to be so calm. I can’t help but feel ashamed and powerless. I prefer to not talk about my anxiety, but I know that needs to change.
One initiative to encourage people to talk openly about their struggle with mental health is Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan. 27. My grandmother never got the chance to talk about her struggle, so I am so fortunate to be able to talk about mine.