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Mental Illness Looks Like: Aliyah

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

Do you struggle with Mental Illness?

Yes, Anxiety.

When did you first realize that you struggled with mental illness?

It wasn’t until a few years that I realized that some of my actions and responses to certain situations weren’t normal. Most of the time growing up I just felt like maybe I  was overreacting or being dramatic. It wasn’t until my anxiety started to affect my relationship and my everyday life that I decided it was time to seek help. 

How were you diagnosed? 

I started going to therapy and after a couple of sessions of talking through the things that were going on with me and how I was feeling my psychologist diagnosed me with anxiety.

What does your anxiety feel like for you? 

The best way I can describe anxiety for me is that in the moments leading up to an anxiety attack I feel as though I’m trapped in a box and that the walls are slowly closing in on me. My chest starts to feel tight and I start to panic.  I feel as though I need to get out of this so-called box. It’s almost as if I go into a sort of “fight or flight” mode internally. I externalize these feelings by being super snappy or bitchy. It can seem as though I’m angry or in a bad mood when I'm really just trying to fight the thoughts going on in my mind. 

Do you go to therapy?

Yes. I’ve found an awesome therapist that has really helped me with coping mechanisms and tools to help ground myself when I’m feeling anxious. 

Do you take medication?

I was on Lexapro for a little bit, but I got to a point where the medication made me feel numb and not present so I stopped taking it. Since then I have used CBD oil as a way to help me stay calm. It has definitely helped me!

Do you do anything besides therapy and medications to manage your symptoms? 

I read a lot of self-help books. In times when I feel anxious I feel as though my mind is flooded with thoughts that I can’t turn off, so I try to distract my mind with other information. Self-help books have helped me turn my focus to bettering myself and not letting my anxiety control me. I also try to work out when I can. Boxing has definitely helped me let go of any bottled up emotions and anxious feelings.

Any stereotypes you’d like to address regarding the disorder?

“Anxiety is just in your head and you can get over it”

Yes, anxiety is a mental thing, but you can’t just get over it. I don’t feel as though it is something that you can be cured of but rather something that you can constantly work towards managing. There are always gonna be things that trigger your anxiety, but I feel as though we can definitely work towards overcoming those triggers and coping with them better. 

“Anxiety is an excuse”

It is definitely not an excuse! You don't know whats going on inside someone’s head nor do you know what someone has been through,  so it’s not fair to label their feelings and emotions as an excuse!

Any books, resources or influencers that have helped you?

As I said, I read a lot of self-help books! Brene Brown, Jen Sincero and Dr. Laura Schlessinger are a few of my favorites!

What do you want people to know about mental illness?

It’s not something to hide in the dark. It’s not anything to be ashamed of, it’s not something that should be overlooked and it doesn’t make you weak! Look around, it is more common than you think. Its an aspect in your life, but it doesn’t define who you are! Mental health, in general, is such a fragile and important thing, you really never know what someone is dealing with mentally so please be kind to everyone!

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