I had my first period of excessive anxiety when I was 15, and am now recovering after having a second experience from 2010, when I was 18. Throughout this time I have felt like I was in a bottomless pit, always scared of losing my mind or my loved ones.
In 2010 I was making the transition from school to university. Like many others my age, I moved from rural areas to start a new chapter of my life in the city. I have always been a nervous kind of guy, but my large group of friends at home and loving family allowed me to feel accepted and loved.
However, when I moved to college I could never seem to get rid of this pit in my stomach. Was I going to make friends? Did any girls like me? Self-confidence and I have never really got along. Sport was always a huge part of my life throughout my childhood, but it seemed that at uni I just lost interest. I became sick of the monotonous college lifestyle and having very little money and a non-challenging uni degree, made me feel very mentally underwhelmed.
Once the anxiety took over and I lost control of my thoughts, my mind moved to a very dark place. I was driving myself crazy by living in my head 24/7, unable to switch off. I consulted the university counsellor on a number of occasions. He was quite helpful, sympathising with me, as well as offering numerous exercises to reduce stress and anxiety. But nothing could seem to work for me. I must have cost my mum and dad a fortune in phone bills, calling me and worrying themselves sick. I'm lucky they are so understanding.
Anxiety brought on depression. I was beginning to really worry about myself. It was only the end of the university year and a return to my hometown that change started to come. I was back to playing sports, and socialising with the people I love. I was trying different meditation techniques to relax. I had also been described by my GP a mild antidepressant, which I have been taking daily. I began to grow more self confident. Once you are recovering from a bout of anxiety or depression, every good day makes you feel one million times better about yourself. I am still not where I would like to be. Though I know that with time I will learn to live my anxiety and accept that it is not a reflection of my character or personality.
I say this to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation. You are not alone. No matter how dark it seems, the sun will always find a way of coming out. Best of luck.