• Angel Lee

Mental Health Matters.

And yet, another blog post about mental health, from yours truly.

This is oddly personal.

TW: Vomit, self-harm, irregular eating habits, panic attacks.

This story is in no way, shape, or form intended to seek sympathy and attention; this is solely for the purpose of using my own experience as a source and proof that mental issues are more severe than the unaffected society believes.

Every day is like a new experiment with anxiety. Most days, the same things happen; I freak myself out, I count the hours to when I could potentially start vomiting from food poisoning, I constantly make myself burp to feel better, I have more than twenty panic attacks, I ask one hundred times if whatever I consume is safe, and last but not least, my mind doesn’t rest.

For starters, this is the food anxiety part. I try using each day to warn and teach myself what to do and what not to do in order to achieve the most stressless, normal day possible under my circumstances. One day, I’ll eat something that caused me to worry for so long until I realize I hadn’t eaten the whole day, and I’m just now feeling the feeling of starvation. I use that day to remind myself not to eat that certain something again to relieve a bit of anxiety, but still, regardless of what I eat, I always find something to overthink.

The other day, I felt a feeling that I didn’t think I’d ever feel again; I missed eating normal meals. Ever since June 2017, I’ve drifted towards eating packaged snacking foods because the amount of preservatives and low risks of food poisoning made me feel some type of comfort. Eventually, I allowed my mom to make me quesadillas, tofu, soup, plain pasta, and rice to eat as an alternative to 3-course meals. I started eating meat a bit more, only to realize that every time I did, I freaked out like never before. Now, I barely eat meat and most definitely do not get the amount of protein that I need, explaining my poor energy. Nevertheless, I’d rather feel safer eating packaged snacks rather than cautionary foods cooked using pots and pans.

The anxiety with food and vomit leads from my mind to my stomach, always making a constant cycle of even more anxiety. It looks a little something like this:

Consume food——> Panic about the food——>Cause uncomfortable feelings of burning in my stomach——>Makes me think that whatever I ate was poisoned——>Makes me worry more——> Makes my stomach burn more——and so on.

Food first gave me the concern of getting food poisoning, but I then realized that the vomiting portion of food poisoning is the equivalent of stomach flu, making me paranoid of just getting sick. The surfaces I touch give me immediate panic, making me sanitize my hands almost thirty times a school day. When I breathe in and remember that some diseases are airborne, I exhale sharply and cough a bit with the thought that that will release any germs I breathed in. In hallways, everything gets worse because there’s less fresh air flowing and more contaminated air being inhaled and exhaled by the hundreds around me. The exaggerations that I put on simply touching a surface or breathing in “bad” air make me think I’m crazy, but then again, I can’t help it.

After food started it all, OCD kicked in, making me think that if I did something out of order, I would start vomiting. I once did my skincare routine out of order and started screaming and crying because I thought the world was about to crash around me and crush me with it. I thought/think that if I water splashed on me in the shower before it warmed it, something bad would happen. I thought/think that if perhaps a spider were to crawl out of my towel, something bad would happen. I thought/think that if I don't fall asleep on the left side of my body, I'll wake up in the middle of the night sprinting to the bathroom to vomit. I thought/think that if I second-guess myself or check myself, something bad will happen. It became all about staying safe and relying on plan or order to ensure that feeling of reassurance.

Food was and is the beginning of my anxiety journey; after the food came depression. I found myself in a constant battle with happiness and sadness, but the sadness always won eventually. There were weeks in which every single day I would cry, whether it be about my day at school, about the stress from food, or about my appearance as a whole. My self esteem before this entire situation wasn’t at a bad spot, but ever since anxiety, it’s gone to a whole other level of nonexistent. In the moments at school, everything seems fine. That is, until I get home after an 8-hour day at school and reflect on every single terrorizing moment my brain and body went through in that time frame. I reflect on the number of times I sat in my seat only hearing my pounding heartbeat for over ten minutes. I reflect on the number of times my mind gathered up every single thought that exceeded my mental capacity, causing my head to hurt and go dizzy for an entire period. I reflect on the number of times I had to unbutton or pull my pants up above cutting off circulation points to relieve the anxiety-caused burning in my stomach. I reflect on the number of times I had to suck everything up, look so calm in the state of complete panic, and talk to people. I reflect on the number of times I felt so wildly insecure that I could barely walk through the halls with hundreds of students without feeling like everyone was staring at how ugly I looked. I reflect on the number of times I had to exhale and cough out air that I thought would infect me. I reflect on the number of times I had to make myself burp so I could try to make my state of panic die down a bit. I reflect on the number of things I had to do in those 8 hours to keep my sanity, when in reality, I’d be crying, cutting, screaming, and pacing like there was no tomorrow.

Adding onto depression and food/illness anxiety, social anxiety came along. I found it almost impossible to introduce myself to a stranger. I, to this day, have panic attacks from sitting in the center of the class because it feels like I’m being surrounded and engulfed by a number of people. It feels like there’s no escape. I can recall the number of times I attempted to talk to people, only to see my social battery drain faster than the speed of light. Every time I talk, self consciousness overtakes me and with people staring at me as I speak, I lose all motivation to talk. Staring makes me feel this feeling of confinement and having no escape. My social anxiety restrains me from hanging out with people, making new friends, going to parties, going to church, going to places with crowds, and going out in public. Just when I thought that my mental issues couldn’t get worse, they did, affecting me more now in physical and social aspects than ever before.

Adding onto all that, traces of bipolar qualities started taking over my life, but I never realized until last week, early April 2018. I felt moments of euphoria and energy sometimes with the full will to socialize and dance around with the self esteem I never have. I felt moments of full defeat and hopelessness as I laid in bed crying for hours over how screwed over my lifestyle is. All these feelings fluctuating within the span of an hour have me wondering what the real me is supposed to be; who the “me” before June 2017 would have grown if it weren’t for all these issues. I’m confused, concerned, and curious of the reason for having bipolar qualities. I hate that I have to approach people differently every time, leaving them confused with what mood I’m in or how they should converse with me. I hate that my mood swings so heavily and that I can never experience one polar end for a majority of my life; that I always have to feel both polar ends in equivalent amounts throughout the day. The constant switching between my moods has me hollering the lyrics to my favorite songs one minute and crying/self-harming the next, and I’m tired of it.

For now, those are all the problems I feel that I have experienced in full swing. I honestly do not know what more could hit me to screw my life over more than it already is, but with the knowledge that there’s others out there struggling with multiple mental issues like I am, mental health deserves attention. Mental health deserves the same attention and awareness that any medical/physical illness gets. Mental health doesn’t deserve to be joked about and used as an advantage; it deserves to be respected and equalized to any other illness.

To everyone with mental issues/problems/disorders:

You are living proof that these problems are more severe than unaffected people may think, in which it deserves more recognition. We quite frankly know that the mind might be the most powerful part of our body, controlling the rest of our body and wreaking havoc on our well-being. I hope we can all stand together to show the victory in our struggles as we grow through what we go through.

#MentalIllness #SelfCare