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Sarah’s story

“Being open and talking about your own mental health is tough, especially when you don’t know how it will be received.”

What kind of stigma did you experience/observe?

My story begins where many others who have experienced and battled with mental illness starts: Fighting unseen battles alone, all the while not realizing just how many around us are struggling too.

Several years ago I developed Panic Disorder after a traumatic event in my life. The first time I had a panic attack I was convinced that I was having a heart attack because of the sudden intensity. Having panic attacks can be absolutely terrifying because it can feel like you have no control over them; like they control you.

Two years later, I developed delayed-onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The most difficult thing about living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and any mental illness, is that it is invisible to most people. It really affected my ability to go in to work and to feel like I could live normally. I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore and questioned if I would ever feel like myself again and able to enjoy my life.

Being open and talking about your own mental health is tough, especially when you don’t know how it will be received. I felt the worst part of having a mental illness was feeling like no one understood what I was up against daily. I felt isolated, depressed and alone.

How did you overcome this experience?

With the help of therapy and the support of loved ones I have been able to feel more confident in managing my illness. I’ve found the more I share my story with people I trust, the more I am reminded I am not alone. Taking time for myself; by doing art, yoga and meditation/prayer, has been incredibly important to my healing process. Cultivating self-acceptance takes time, patience and support, but I have found that in loving myself I have discovered just how strong I really am.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

For those who are battling mental illness always remember: your illness does not define who you are or what you are capable of. So, dream big! To those who support loved ones with mental illness: You are not alone. You play such an important role. So, keep being awesome!

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