It Took Me Being Diagnosed with Anxiety to Truly Understand the Stigma of Mental Health

Growing up, I always knew I had some form of anxiety. I knew the constant worrying and overthinking that consumed my childhood wasn’t normal. However, I had just assumed that everyone becomes stressed and anxious. Maybe not every day like me, but most days or on occasion. 

    But last week when I went to my doctor, she had said my blood pressure and heart rate were equivalent to someone having a panic attack. This came as a shock to me. I always thought panic attacks were really chaotic and noticeable, you know, like the hyperventilating and sweating and jittery movements. I had no idea my anxiety was having this great of an effect on me. 

    Luckily, my doctor was very supportive and helpful in pointing out my options to better my mental health. I have just now started a medication that will finally relieve me of my constant anxious thoughts. Although, I know everyone isn’t as lucky as I am with a strong support system and access to proper treatment. 

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience symptoms of a mental illness. That number doesn’t even take into account the many people who are living with undiagnosed mental illnesses. Out of every person who is currently living with a mental illness, 45% of those people are letting it go untreated. 

    There could be many reasons for that. Like I mentioned above, some people (especially those living in low-income neighborhoods) simply do not have the financial means to cope with their mental illness in a healthy way. Paying for a monthly prescription or weekly therapy visits or a combination of both can become pretty expensive over time. 

    Along with that, there could be other people like me who think they are capable enough to live with a mental illness and not need to receive help. While I did live this way for a very long time, now I realize how important it is to reach out and be honest about your mental health struggles. Nobody should have to suffer from such debilitating illnesses in silence. 

    Even though mental illnesses are so common, there is still so much stigma surrounding them that it is difficult to talk about them in a serious way. I believe that there should be more media representation of mental health, which is a great option for initiating the conversation on mental health. If people see their favorite TV show characters or movie superheroes properly treating their mental illnesses, then it could show them that it’s acceptable to get help when needed.