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Vic’s Story

“Mental illness is not your fault and you are not crazy.”

Share your stigma experience.

When I began high school, I started to feel very anxious. I felt like my schedule was overbearing and was struggling to keep up with the other students. I was very dissatisfied with myself and was unable to sleep at nights. During the class period, I would often hide in the restroom to avoid contact with others. I had expressed to some of my family members and friends about my feelings, but was told that I needed to “calm down” and “get past these emotions.” I even had one family member claim that I was lying to everyone and just wanted attention. This was very hard on me. I began to refrain from telling people how I felt. This only made me feel worse about myself. I started to feel very depressed. While I felt this way, I put on a facade like nothing was wrong. When I went to college, everything got worse. I couldn’t make friends, because I was too nervous to interact with anybody. I would hide in my dorm room and keep my head down when I was out in public. There would be points where I didn’t even get out of bed in the morning to go to class. I felt paralyzed when I woke up. I resorted to binge drinking alcohol to escape my emotions. I would even put alcohol in my coffee sometimes to just get through my day. While the alcohol helped in the moment, I always felt worse off afterwards. I had started to contemplate suicide and would isolate myself from the outside world. I remember telling myself that my life was hopeless and that the world would be a lot better without me in it. After much consideration, I decided to go to the counseling center at my university to seek help. I remember my first appointment vividly. I had walked in and burst into tears about how I felt. The counselor was very understanding, and I learned that I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD. I continued to seek counseling services after this appointment and began opening up to some of my classmates about how I felt. To my surprise, some of them had felt this way too and were very open with me talking about this.

How did you overcome this experience?

The counseling center helped me talk through what I was feeling and find healthy ways to channel my emotions. I began exercising regularly, improving my diet and was prescribed anti-anxiety medications. I also began volunteering more with non-profits such as the local humane society. These activities gave me a sense of purpose. After one year of counseling and two years of treatment, I was finally able to get off of my medications. While I still do feel anxiety to this day, I am definitely better talking and channeling my emotions.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

Mental illness is not your fault and you are not crazy. Mental illness is no different than any physical illness. There are people out there that can help you, and you CAN recover from this. I believe in you.

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