NAME: Meg Colt
LOCATION: Fernandina Beach, FL*
OCCUPATION: Freelance Writer*
“My name is Meg, and I have struggled with both anxiety and depression for most of my life. It took me many years to become truly aware of my mental illness, but my first memories of struggling with it go all the way back to my childhood. Looking back now, I presented symptoms of anxiety as early as seven years old, and odds are that was because of the trauma I experienced in childhood. My mother died of cancer when I was five, and after that I spent many years being secretly abused by my stepmother. I often distanced myself from my classmates in school, because I found that my life experiences were very different from theirs. In general I just felt different, and really struggled to fit in.
When I was old enough to begin to slip out of my stepmother’s control (at about fifteen), I ended up trading one form of abuse for another, in the form of a long term relationship.
The abuse of that relationship was yet another secret that I kept, because I didn’t know where to turn for help. It took me almost two years to finally gather the strength to leave him behind, with the support of my co-workers.
Even after terminating that relationship, I still didn’t truly understand that I needed help. I had my first panic attack when I was seventeen, after a classmate said something critical, though in a joking manner. I couldn’t breathe, and I was terrified. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I ended up having to leave school with a friend that day.
That was just the first of the many panic attacks I would experience.
Because of my lack of knowledge, it still took me awhile to really get the help that I needed. I wasn’t formally diagnosed with generalized anxiety or depression until I was twenty-one, but by then I knew I had been presenting symptoms for many years. I attended therapy briefly, but unfortunately didn’t stick with it. I was put on medication for the first time, and found that even a low dose antidepressant made my anxiety symptoms far easier to manage.
I began to recognize the signs I exhibited before I was about to have a panic attack. I bookmarked soothing sounds on my phone and computer, to help calm me down when I began to feel anxious.
I learned to decline obligations that stressed me, and to practice self-care as often as I could. As a mom of three, even something as simple as a bath in the evening is enough to help me recharge.I recently decided to start regularly attending therapy, because I never properly dealt with most of the trauma that I experienced as a child. So far it has been very beneficial, and I am confident that I will be able to at very least make peace with the events that were out of my control as a child.
My only regret is that I didn’t get help sooner. There is absolutely no shame in seeking out help if you are struggling, and I can only hope that speaking out about my experiences will let others know that they are not alone.
My illness may not be visible, but it is just as real as any other illness, and the pain is just as valid.”
Check out meg’s blog here: https://irrevocablyinreverie.wordpress.com/
Inspired by Meg’s story? Leave a comment below!
* Correct at time of submission.