Hi, my name is Janine B. and I suffer from mental illness. Yes, you saw it correctly, mental illness. No this does not mean I am institutionalized and in a straight jacket for 24 hours a day. It means parts of my brain get mixed signals and doesn't know how to process them. I suffer at times with anxiety, panic and depression. I have most of my life and never knew it. For me, it is both genetic and situational.
Through the years I didn't talk about it, I felt like the word mental illness was a bad word meaning taboo. I got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore and thought i was going crazy. I told a few good friends and I explained what I was going through. Some said suck it up, its all in your head. Thankfully, there was a friend who knew exactly what I was going through, and we had the same things going on. I will get to that in a minute.
For me I would say why me? Why not me?
There have been days where I have felt like the world was heavy and closing in on me. Like I was stuck in a corridor waiting to get to get to the other end, which seemed long and dark. At times made me think that life is not worth living, how can someone feel like this day in and day out? However as they say its not the first thought that counts its what you do with it.
If I wasn't feeling depressed, I was, and still do at times, feel great anxiety. I know, I can hear you say everyone get anxious and yes, you are right. But, when you get anxiety attacks it doesn't go away and starts to interfere with your day to day affairs.
For someone who has never experienced an anxiety attack let me try to explain how it feels. You are going hunting in the woods for bears, and everyone is excited and nervous all at the same time. All of a sudden a bear jumps out at you out of nowhere and your heart is pounding and for a split sec you are like run or shoot? This is the natural flight or fight response. You shoot the bear and it passes. Someone who has anxiety and or panic attacks this feeling comes on for no reason at all. I can just go to the store and feel it and want to run out of where I am. I then would avoid places and situations where this has happened. I couldn't drive too far much less hold down a job. I felt like I wasn't contributing to society and felt worse I wasn't able to work and feel good about myself and helping others.
I finally decided to stop beating myself up and go see a doctor. I was so against going on medication because I was feeding into the stigma too. I though well if you can't see it, its not really there. Wrong! My doctor worked with me for a while and NOW I'm finally on the right medication and I feel so much better. It is not a miracle drug. I still suffer from time to time but it is now more manageable.
Why have I written all of this? This is not a tale of woe but one of appreciation and gratitude. It just so happened I wanted to go back to work. But where was I going to find a job that understood me and how and what I felt and didn't think I was crazy? I had left Lifebushido due to my depression and anxiety, and quite frankly did not leave on the best of terms. I took a chance and got in touch with Steve. I don't know about you, but I do not believe in coincidences. It just so happened that Steve and I got to talking and he got me! He understood the depression part and I got a little deeper and talked about my anxiety and panic attacks too. He explained to me about his vision for Lifebushido and decided to give me a second chance.
Steve, you have given me my life back in a way most would never understand. Being able to work again for Lifebushido has given me a sense of respect and dignity again knowing I am able to work again. I love the idea of having people be able to know they are not alone and let them know they are supported and CAN be productive and obtain self esteem again. I am not afraid to speak of my mental illness and want to help others.
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger!
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