Mental Health Monday – On Panic Attacks and Asking for Help

Welcome to Mental Health Monday! This was born out of Steph and my session on Depression, Anxiety and Healthy Living from Fitbloggin’ 15. Every 1st and 3rd Monday one of us will host a link up for others to share their experiences with Mental illness – either from their own experience or from the experience of helping and walking with others.

Our goal is to reach out to the world and let people know that they are not alone in their struggles. You are never alone. Join us – link up, visit new blogs, support others. Speak out: “I am crazy…CRAZY AWESOME!” (You are welcome to use the badge below!)

crazy awesome mental health

My own contribution for the week:

If you have been here before you know that I have been dealing with a resurgence of depression, anxiety and binge eating. I am knee deep in the hard work of getting help and figuring out what it going on. My pit crew is helping (psych, therapist, dietician) but the reality is that the hard work to get out and past these times often falls on our own shoulders. It is isolating to know that no matter how much people help you ultimately you are in a fight with yourself. We can be given tools but we have to use them.

Things have been improving (slowly) and there has been an increase of light lately. Fitbloggin and seeing my tribe was a huge part of that. They ground me in ways I cannot fully describe. However, there is also the Fitbloggin letdown – when the people are hugged goodbye for another year, when the swag is packed and you fly home. Home is wonderful and an amazing place to be, but is still home to all the stresses and anxieties that eat me, especially when I am in the “danger zone” of my mental health.

Thursday I found myself on the verge of a panic attack the entire day. I was clammy. My pulse raced. My thoughts were fulled by “what ifs” and I couldn’t find a place of calm. Thankfully I don’t often get full-fledged “OMG I’m dying” panic attacks but this was a very lonely, panicky, and worry-filled day.

I realized something on Thursday night as my panic attack slowly receded….though I often know that I am not alone, I am often too embarrassed or scared to tell people that I am struggling. I know I have people to walk with me in these things but the stigma I feel when actually in them is so pervasive that I hesitate to reach out. I did ultimately reach out on Thursday – to my husband and a dear friend who knows what panic attacks are like. They both helped and encouraged me, but I was still embarrassed to have to ask for help.

Since when does asking for help have to be a source of embarrassment? I don’t hesitate to help a child who needs assistance, or a senior citizen who needs a hand. I frequently agree to do things for my friends without batting an eye. I am happy to help, so what is it about asking for help that seems so wrong?

The world reinforces my own warped idea that asking for help means I am weak or helpless. I disagree. Asking for help is a sign of strength. It is a willingness to put aside your own pride and let others in. It is letting others into the mess and being truthful about where we are at the moment.

I am not good at asking for help, but I am going to try to remember that it is a sign of my strength and determination and not my weakness. I think that is why this link up carries so much hope for me. We are getting together in this little corner of the internet and being bold with our truth. We are spreading light and insisting to others and to ourselves that we are NOT alone.

So I am going to ask YOU for your help. Will you link up? Will you spread the word? Will you tell your stories? Will you shine a light for others to see? Will you insist that truth-telling and help-asking are the voice of strong, amazing, awesome people? Will you join the tribe of #crazyawesome? You are not alone. I am not alone. We are in this together.

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