It’s the hardest thing for me to speak up about my anxiety.
Most of the time I’m walking around pretending like everything’s fine because if I don’t; I’m weak and pathetic. The only person who truly sees me get anxious about things is my boyfriend, and the only reason he knows this is because I’ve finally started to trust him enough to let him in. He knows the very second something happens whether it will trigger my anxiety, and he looks at my face every 15 seconds thereafter to make sure I’m alright. Then comes the onset of another group of worries “everyone has to be careful about what they say around me, it’s not fair for me to put them through that”. Then comes “I’m sure everyone’s laughing at the fact that I’m sick”, or “he’s only here because he feels bad to leave”. It’s exhausting and when my therapist asks me to get on meds to help ease the anxiety, I give him the same answer every time. “Can I just try to get better first, without meds? I want to try everything else before I start taking medicine so I know I tried my best; my best wasn’t good enough and this is the last option.”
My therapist thinks I’m too hard on myself. He asks me how long I’m going to attempt to ‘try’ for before I decide it’s not exactly working out, and if my best friend had a lung infection, whether I would ask her to get better without medicine first? Whether I would think she is any less than the best version of herself because she got help.
Despite how hard it is, I’m speaking up about my anxiety because there’s so much stigma attached to mental illness. The stigma that is drilled into my brain to make me believe that I’m weak for getting help. One in five Australians experience a mental illness in any year (anxiety being the most common), and the proportion of people with a mental illness accessing treatment is half of those with a physical disorder.
Being a Sri Lankan, I see how much more open-minded Australians are towards mental illnesses as opposed to Sri Lankans. I don’t have the statistics to compare the two, but I can only imagine how many Sri Lankans avoid speaking up about their mental illness for fear of being judged or being called crazy. Sri Lanka has the 4th highest suicide rate in the world, and maybe just maybe it has something to do with how ignorant Sri Lankans are about mental health.
So, before you start sharing statuses about how ‘you’re always available to talk’ be mindful of those around you. Watch carefully, to see if the ones you love aren’t being themselves. If someone who’s struggling opens up to you, urge them to get the help they need before it’s too late. Remember to be kind to everyone, because you never know what anyone’s going through and you never know when something’s going to push them over the edge.