trapped in an anxious mind

And a chronically ill body

 Art By: Valerie Patterson

Art By: Valerie Patterson

By: Fela M'tima



Mental Illness is real, our brain is an organ, and not all of us have organs that work properly. The first time I felt like my body was failing me was when I had my first panic attack when I was ten. I tripped down the stairs on the way to lunch, I wasn't hurt physically, I got up and shook it off. My brain had a different response. It went into the fight or flight mode and I had one of the worst panic attacks to this day. I've been in and out of therapy since I was 6 years old, for many different reasons. My anxiety started before the panic attacks did. I was an anxious kid, to say the least. I was always convinced something was wrong. (Funny, because I ended up with two chronic illness's) But I was, I was scared constantly. I lived and still live in a constant state of fear. I was a hypochondriac from as early as I can remember. I was queen of irrational fears, yet, they never seem that way when you're in a state of anxiety. There wasn't much that didn't scare me and it was and is an exhausting way to live. My anxiety came in the form of obsessive thoughts, round the clock. I didn't know how to quiet the thoughts or even how to slow them down most days. The thoughts would build and my bodies only response was to completely panic. 

As someone who was chronically terrified of being sick, I was sick, A LOT. Growing up and into my teen years, I was in and out of doctors offices and hospitals. It wasn't all in my head like the anxiety was, though. My immune system really did suck. One year I got strep through every month for a year, which ended up in me getting my tonsils taken out at age 14. (My very first surgery. I had no idea how used to them I'd get.) It made my anxiety worse that my fears were constantly coming true. Even when my anxiety felt controlled, I would still get sick. How could I trust anything?  Even though I do know our mental and physical health are insanely connected, it was really taxing on my well being.

Once I got diagnosed with Endo and Adenomyosis, the surgeries really put a damper on any progress I had made with anxiety. Depression also liked to peek it's head into my life during those bedridden months, which turned to years very quickly. When you're stuck in bed, no matter how stable you think you are, you are bound to go stir crazy. For me, it was my obsessive thoughts that paralyzed me the most. Everything I had put an immense amount of energy trying to control my whole life, was completely out of my hands. My mind would race so fast I couldn't keep up with what was sanity and what was insanity. Irrational thoughts became these evil monsters that would linger in my brain for hours and hours. Before I knew it, I had spent four hours in bed completely trapped in a state I didn't want to be in, with no way out. If I had the answer for how to pull yourself out, I would share it with the world in a second, I would scream it till my throat bled, but I don't. 

When my physical health would see a glimmer of hope, the thoughts would lessen a bit. I don't know if or when my mental health will be better. I do know, it is stronger. It is stronger because I do have days when it isn't as exhausting. It is stronger because I do have nights when I can sleep. It is stronger because when you are at the bottom, there is always a way out. It is stronger because it has to be. I can't stay trapped forever, and neither can you.