Behind Brianne's Mind

  

     When I was in elementary school, I was really good at public speaking. In fact, one year I earned my way to saying my class speech at the town legion. My mom made me make some last minute revisions to my speech which lead me to forgetting it in front of everyone. I didn’t realize that this traumatic event was the beginning to my anxiety disorder until a couple years ago when I went to see a counsellor about not being able to talk in front of my classmates in a class where it was mandatory. The counsellor asked me to explain why I thought that I got anxious when talking in front of my classmates. I told her that I felt like I’m being judged. That I worry about making mistakes and looking like I’m dumb. She asked me to reflect back on my own thoughts to a time when one of my classmates made a mistake. I realized that I’m not judging them and that I don’t think they are dumb. The counsellor helped me see that everybody makes mistakes and that they provide good learning opportunities.

     This past spring I developed a panic disorder because of the high levels of stress and anxiety my body was experiencing, mainly due to school. I could hardly attend class, go to work or engage in any sort of conversation without my flight or fight mode going full throttle. I was told by my doctor that I needed to be on meds, do counselling and take time off school. This forced me to reevaluate my life. I used the meds short term to get back on my feet. I didn’t do counselling or take time off school but instead I read a very helpful book about managing panic attacks. I also started implementing self care measures to reduce my daily stress and anxiety. I stopped drinking coffee, I exercise more, I sleep more, I give myself time do the things that I love like playing piano or video games. I even moved over an hour away from the school and commute every day just to be able to spend more time with my family and boyfriend. I am so much happier now and I haven’t had a panic attack in months.

I’m not going to lie though, I still do suffer with anxiety daily. Tbh I have zero self-confidence. I always feel like I can never do anything right and that I’m not good enough. When I make a mistake, I think about it over and over and over again and beat myself up about it. I get anxious talking to people because I’m worried about saying something stupid. I constantly tell myself that no one likes me even though I know it’s not true. I am actively trying to change my thought patterns to be more positive, however it is still hard at times because the bad thoughts are my default.

In my experience, meds and counselling can help to an extent but your willingness to get better has the greatest impact on your prognosis. If you make an effort to improve, you will see results. I promise.

 

Brianne O.

Brussels, Ontario

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