On Mental Health, Anxiety and Vulnerability, by JAACHI EDWIN
I’ve been trying to shirk from talking about mental health especially on social media, for fear of simply putting my story out there. However, I got to thinking—what would it hurt to share? To help someone going through same or who is searching for answers?
Late last year, I went through what I call the darkest and most terrifying three months of my life. From feeling generally weird to being weary of food, stressed out, having anxiety, weak, getting sad for no reason, insomnia and fear for the things that had never scared me before. It led to having multiple blood tests, being rushed to the hospital severally, taking an EEG test, an MRI brain scan, misdiagnosed with a seizure disorder, and finally getting to see a neurologist who finally gave the right diagnosis— I had anxiety neurosis, a mental illness disorder.
I know in this part of the country, or maybe Africa as a whole, we treat this topic with levity. But truth is; people actually go through this stuff and they live among us. This firsthand experience made me understand that mental illness is actually a real thing just like headaches and malaria. And truth be told, I’d have never taken this topic seriously myself.
A few things helped me cope….. Remember things come and they go: As is evident with seasons. The rainy season isn’t yearlong; it comes, and then gives way to the sun, so no situation will stay permanent. I never in my wildest imagination thought I could ever come out of that darkness. I felt like those negative thoughts would haunt me forever and it was exhausting. I nursed hope no doubt but it felt hard to actually believe that all the anxiety was just going to end.
Be vulnerable:“You’re the only one going through this, and nobody would ever understand”. I wrestled with a lot of those lies. But don’t believe the lies: Open up, talk to people you can trust. Honestly, it’s good therapy. There’s something that vulnerability does. It reduces the weight on your chest. Also, it helps you know you’re not alone.
Be conscious about what goes into your mind. It is quite hard to take control of the negative thoughts that run through one’s mind—at least in my case it was. I felt overwhelmed to the point of crying a lot of times, because I couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on. But I kept moving inchmeal, trying to get help, staying on the path of positivity. Now, I’m grateful because this taught me that the mind is the core of my being, and I have to protect it or lose myself.
How is your eating and sleeping life? I would never have known that lack of proper physical health care could greatly affect our mental health. During my first meet with the clinical psychologist, one of the things he said was that ‘accumulated stress on my body’ could be a contributing factor. He explained how not eating and sleeping well for long periods of time can affect a person’s physical health and subsequently their mental health. While in therapy I began to feel a tad better just by sticking to his advice.
Have you seen a doctor or received counseling? My parents took me first to see a doctor, a psychiatrist, and then a neurologist, who finally made the diagnosis, and advised I go see a clinical psychologist for counseling. So there’s no harm in getting medical help at any cost. Remember you are loved and always will be. You are loved by God, your family and friends. Actually, It’s the knowledge of God’s perfect love for us that can drive out whatever fear there is in us.
Mental illness is real. I’ve walked that road and still on my healing journey…but the good news is; the human body/mind is so powerful and there’s nothing we can’t heal from. Nothing has the power to hold us bound if we fight and believe. You can learn through the anxiety, fear, darkness and come out a stronger version of yourself. Oh yes!
Don’t forget to keep that smile on, and always try to live your best life.
Post written by JAACHI EDWIN — Singer, Songwriter, Writer and a lover of art. Connect with her on instagram:@jaachiedwin