Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. This sentence echoes through my soul ever since i’ve learn about it when i was in class. It has a different meaning for me. For a long time, i was truly convinced that something was wrong with me. I never thought of myself like being « normal » because i couldn’t do certain things like others could. Make the first move and strike a conversation with someone ? Asking for help to a stranger in a store ? It seemed like an huge obstacle standing in my way. The way i used to deal with things was chaotic. For me, at least. School, exams, relationships or even random acts of my everyday life were the hardest things to do. There’s actually is a long list of things i can’t deal with properly.
Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum. I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am. This is the way i see life. Doubting everything before it even happens. Overthinking every moment i live, or moment i have lived, even though i know i shouldn’t. I can’t help myself. My brain is overflowing with thoughts and drafted ideas of what could happen. The worst cases scenarios always playing in the back of my mind. I doubt, and doubt, again and again. Until i’m feeling overwhelmed. Most of the time, it aches. My head hurts, my heart beats way too fast in my chest and i find myself on the verge of another anxiety attack who cannot be stopped. Those are always silent. Nobody knows what i’m feeling inside because i can’t speak. I can’t explain why i’m suddenly closed off or displaying my « bitch resting face », like someone said one day.
Anxiety looks different on everyone. It might be invisible. It might be labelled as « not sick enough » to be taken seriously. It might make you weak or vulnerable. It might looks like everyone else has it together when you don’t. For me, it looks like this tiny buddy following me everywhere i go or floating over my head. It never occured to me before that i might have an anxiety disorder. I never really knew how to dissociate stress from anxiety until i really learned about it.
That was until i found myself in front of my father’s appartment, struggling to lock the door up and go to my 10 a.m class on a particular cold day. It happened 3 years ago but i remember it like it was yesterday. The winter cold was hitting my reddened cheeks. I was stressed about the upcoming oral presentation i was supposed to do this morning, wondering if i was ready, if i had done a good job, if i would get a good grade for this class. I knew i was ready but my mind tricked me into thinking i was going to fail. Sweating hands. Shaking steps. Shallow breaths. I started to doubt everything until i was completely panicked. So, i did what i do best. I did the exact opposite of what i was supposed to do. I didn’t leave the appartment. I didn’t go to class. I didn’t do my presentation. Eventually, i dropped out of college. I failed. That was the day that changed the way i see things. I never said anything to anyone but my doctor who tried to help me. Finally, coming to terms with having an anxiety disorder wasn’t easy but it made sense. I understood myself better. I was able to put words on what i was feeling all that time. I was less harsh with myself and started to look for ways to make my everyday life easier to deal with.
It took a while for me to get use to it. But eventually, i did. I found ways to cope with it. I read stories about people with anxiety disorder, how it changed their lives and how they dealt with it. And it helped me a lot and answered a lot of questions i had about myself. Finally, I felt like i was able relate to them in so many ways, knowing that i wasn’t alone, that feeling this way wasn’t « not normal ». It was conforting. Freeing, somehow. To this day, i still have a hard time trying to build a life for myself when i’m doubting every move i make, It’s not the easiest thing to do. But it’s okay. It’s okay because i know i’ll get through it. I’ll get better at dealing with it and life will seem easier.
So, here i am, sharing a part of me. I hope you know that we don’t choose to feel this way. It happens whether we want it or not. We don’t have a real control over it. Words are so important during though times. That’s why i love to write. I can only hope my words can help others in the same situation. Maybe it will help some of you, readers, to feel less alone. Maybe others will understand what it is to have a mental illness.
In any case, i hope you’ll remember this : You have a mental illness. You are NOT your mental illness. Even though it’s a part of you, it’s not all that you are. In a world where there’s a lot of differences, allow yourself to see the raw beauty of your flaws and embrace them. Your worth doesn’t increase or decrease because of them. You are unique. You are beautiful. Mental illness or not. You are worth it. You are a warrior. If no one already told you that, i wish you know that you can be proud of yourself. Because i am. I am proud of all the people out there fighting stigmas, spreading awerness and helping each other.
There’s one last thing. In my darkest moments, words helps me more than anything. Winston Chruchill said : « If you’re going through hell, keep going. ». No matter how dark it is, there’s always some light waiting to be seen. Keep fighting. You’ll get through it. I know you will.