December 8, 2022

I thought I had been so strong. I didn’t realize my strength led me to where I am now – having anxiety.
In August 2020, I had recurring dry throat and dry mouth, numbness on one side of my face, chest pain at midnight, nightmares, difficulty breathing, and headaches for several days. All of these were manageable except my dry mouth and dry throat. So I went to three different EENT doctors and a dentist but all of the results of my checkups and laboratories were normal.
I also lost my appetite. I had no energy. I wanted to sleep all day or sit and drink coffee. I felt dizzy. I had leg cramps and experienced neck and shoulder pains. So I went to a massage center every three days. Having massage helped me relieve muscle tensions and pains.
Until one day in September, I felt nervous. My tongue tingled. My hands and feet were trembling and I couldn’t control them. I tried home remedies for one week – walking, doing physical activities, deep breathing, and drinking ginger and lemon tea. But all of these didn’t work. So I consulted a mental health institution in Baguio which referred me to a psychiatrist. Thanks to my seminars on mental health, mental health issues and awareness and mental health professionals. These experiences made it easy for me to seek professional help.
It pained me to hear from her that I have anxiety and have to undergo monthly consultations and medications. I wasn’t prepared for this. I asked for other natural remedies but she said medication and consultation are the only remedies based on my symptoms. I was hesitant to take medications until it was the only option I had for me to calm down and sleep better.
So the consultation and medications began. I had to take two different medicines and monthly consultation with my doctor-psychiatrist. The journey was never easy.
For five months of medications and consultations, things were rough. I had sleepless nights. I had nightmares. I had hyperacidity. There were times my blood pressure rose. All of these drained my energy that there were things I couldn’t accomplish on time.
Despite all of these, I clung on to the hope that anxiety is manageable and treatable as mentioned by my doctor. I hoped all will be well in the end. And it really did. But how?
I took the medicines prescribed by my doctor. I was told I have to do this if I wanted to be treated. The medicines helped me calm down and get enough sleep. I started to feel well. No more acidity, nightmares, chest pain, and dizziness.
While I took my medications, I found ways to help myself. I listened to inspiring songs. I read the Bible at night and prayed for healing. I went hiking. These, along with consultations and medications, helped me get well.
Battling anxiety is never easy. But when in this situation, hope is one of the options you still have. For me, I kept the hope that I shall overcome my situation someday, and it happened because I really hoped and I believed.
Had I been so strong? Maybe. But I didn’t know that my strength has its own limits until I have reached this condition. My doctor-psychiatrist told me I already had the signs of anxiety two or three years ago, but I am a strong person that I was not aware of it until I have reached the point where my symptoms manifested physically and cannot be controlled unless I take medicines.
Today, I realized that mental health is as important as our physical health. So let’s take care of it just like how we take care of our physical health. Consulting a doctor-psychiatrist is as normal as consulting other medical professionals.
For those having the same battle, keeping the faith is not only the solution we have. There are several steps you can take.
First, you can reach out to people you trust. Share your experiences and feelings with them. They could be your family, friends, mental health professionals, or anyone who can give the support you need. Consulting my doctor-psychiatrist was a great help in my recovery.
Second, change your mind and attitude about mental health. I was very open about my anxiety because it’s my way of coping. But it pains me to see that there were people, who are even professionals, who looked and laughed at me every time baliw was mentioned. It was as if they were telling me that I am baliw because I have anxiety.
Having anxiety is not being baliw. So when you consult a doctor-psychiatrist, a registered guidance counselor or a psychologist, it doesn’t mean you are baliw. They are professionals who can help us.
Changing your mindset on mental health is a great step to healing.
Third, educate yourself about mental health. There are printed and online materials where you can access information about it. These could offer you self-help sections. I browsed the Internet for home remedies on panic attacks which I applied for my own healing. My doctor-psychiatrist agreed with me on this. She told me in one of my sessions, “Walang ibang makakatulong sa iyo kundi ikaw mismo.
Indeed, being strong is a foundation in facing life’s adversities. However, mental health, just like other physical illnesses, consulting a professional when home remedies do not work would help much. (ELIZABETH A. DIP-ASEN)