by A. Student from AIT

Anxiety is a very misunderstood illness, some people assume that you just worry too much and have little sympathy for the people going through it but I can assure you it’s very frightening.

At the height of my anxiety, age 19, I felt my identity was stripped from me, I was no longer the bubbly Aíne everyone knew but the person trapped in my apartment, too fearful to go into the outside world, alone with the thoughts of leaving the panic attacks presented themselves up to nine times a day, even though they were a common recurrence the fear of dying never left my mind as I used to run to the hallway hoping someone would find me if I died. Sounds stupid to some but to me seemed rational.

Anxiety effects your everyday life and hiding away feeding into the illness I wasn’t living my life. I knew action was needed as I couldn’t live with this fear anymore so I sought help. I went for counselling which I can’t thank enough for helping me to become who I am today. Talking to someone who understands what’s going on your head helped give me the courage that anxiety should not control my life anymore.

I am Aíne, yes I may have generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia but that is only one part of me not all of me anymore I have learned to challenge the thoughts telling me I can’t do that or I’m not good enough because I am.

I’m currently going into my second year in social care practice loving that I took this fearful step as I couldn’t imagine what my life would be if I let my anxiety dictate my life. For anyone going through the struggle seek help I promise you will develop courage through every counselling session and challenge those thoughts you are worth it, you are able, you are your own person.

I have gained confidence speaking about my journey with anxiety, it’s something I feel I have gained some control over, been able to reason with. With depression, it’s something I feel I may never achieve.

Depression first gained presence in my life during my teenage years, playing an insidious role stripping me of my self-esteem and self-worth right up to my relationship with it today. I have been on prescription medication on and off for the last 8 years, trial and error with different brands, different counsellors, and different destructive behaviours to numb what I couldn’t understand that was going on in my head.

I’ve been hospitalized twice fighting the fight with depression, with the most recent being in my third year of studies in AIT. Was it pleasant experience? Absolutely not. Do I feel ashamed and lesser? Yes. If I didn’t go in would I still be here today? I truly believe no…

When you’re caught within depression’s grip, it slowly erodes the things you once enjoyed in life, your own self-image and your daily functioning. Until you catch a glance at yourself and see the control it has gained within your life, but you have to fight back, you can’t let it win.

Throughout my life external factors have contributed to my mental state today, an easier route would have been to use them as excuses to stop moving forward, go on bender, stay hidden away in doors and feed into the illness. Or a more constructive way you could speak to your GP and devise an action plan, and attend the counselling services within your college, which I can’t credit enough for my recovery over the last year.

The last year has probably been one of the toughest years I’ve been through, learning to rebuild yourself from scratch, learning to not to be so critical of yourself dealing with those grievances you have buried within you. Yes I am still on medication but I am on half the doses from last year which I can count as a great achievement, however if the depressive episodes came back I wouldn’t hesitate going back up again. I still attend the counselling services within the college and I probably will till I leave, I find it’s a great place to work out all the stuff going on in your head, making you more equipped to tackle life’s challenges. Please remember you’re a lot stronger than you think.