Well after watching this video… I asked myself the question… What is at the root of my “weed”?? Fear of Death is what first comes to mind. I have had a fear of contamination & catching hiv/aids..
When I first started writing here on Everybody has a brain, it was pretty difficult to identify with my mental health. I had problems just starting to put words down - whether they were on the computer or on a piece of paper. How would I write about it? Who would I write about? What was mental health? When I started thinking about these things, my head would fill up with what seemed like every anxiety, compulsion, or fear that I ever had.
But as I started writing about those very things, I started to calm down. Recording them somewhere, and seeing the words form - somehow made them less scary. They stopped being these big, formless masses in my head that would never leave. I began to feel more of an acceptance in who I was, and the things I thought about.
It was the beginning of thinking about mental health in a new way for me. Something that, when ‘exercised’, could help us in how we see ourselves and the people around us. And one of those ways of ‘exercising’ can be having a healthy dialogue. So when I wrote, I took the extra step of framing my mental health in a *positive* outcome, no matter how bad the feelings I experienced before were.
I’m incredibly grateful to know that, along with Daniela and Mark, we’ve helped to frame mental health in a positive light. Both in ourselves, and to the people that read the posts on here. It has inspired me to keep writing often - and more importantly, to keep my brain healthy!
When I was about 5 years old I had a horrible experience at a restaurant that made me agoraphobic. I remember the whole thing very clearly.
My dad called at night to say that he wanted tacos for dinner, and that my mom, grandma and I should meet him at his favourite taquería.
I told my mom that I had already had dinner, 3 madeleines and a glass of milk, and that I didn’t feel like going. But she said that my dad wanted us all to go, and that we never went out, so that I should make an effort to eat something there.
We arrived to a packed taquería and ordered a lot of food, and because I was such an obedient girl, I ate my whole weight in tacos.
I started to feel really sick, and I remembered I thought I could shake it off by singing, but after a few seconds I knew the feeling was not going away.
My grandma looked at me and asked if I was ok, and I told her I needed to go to the bathroom. She got up, grabbed my hand and we started heading there.
The place was so filled with people that I had to squeeze in between the chairs and tables. I was still singing in my head trying to be distracted, but it only seemed to worsen my sickness. Before I knew it, I puked just a few steps away from the door of the bathroom, in front of all those people, all those faces looking at me— I felt so humiliated, I cried all the way back home.
After that experience, I couldn’t bare to be in crowded places. Every time I felt surrounded by a large crowd, I would start feeling anxious about vomiting in public again, and then I would actually start feeling nauseated, so I’d have to leave.
I avoided being in large crowds for years, so that meant no restaurants, no movie theatres, no arenas. I was missing out on so much fun!, and my social life was probably a little deteriorated as a result.
It took me a long time to even try to attend crowded places, and even though my agoraphobia hasn’t really gone away, I don’t let it rule my social life anymore.
It started getting better by attending to those places more often, and exposing myself to the situations that I had been avoiding for so long.
The beginning was really hard, I actually used to carry a bag with me to restaurants thinking that maybe I was going to need it. The bag made me feel a little safer, but I never used it.
Eventually, the more I went to crowded places, the better I got at handling it. It’s been a combination of deep breathing, positive thinking and sometimes just saying to myself: Look, even if you puke right here, right now, it’s not going to be the end of the world. So every time the thought of puking comes, I let it happen, but I also let it go, I don’t hang on to it anymore.
Trying so desperately not to feel discomfort, nausea or dizziness only made it worse, I learned to accept that all those feelings might come, but they will also pass.
My anxiety felt like really big waves, the discomfort would come and go constantly, but with practice the waves started to feel smaller and slower, and now I feel calm almost all the time.
Now I can go to arenas, movie theatres, and restaurants without a bag inside my pants’ pocket, and that’s pretty awesome.