Hi everyone! Welcome back to the last installment of Mental Health Awareness Month May. All month, I have been sharing guest blogs and mental health journeys from people that were willing to open up to me. It is my hope that through this series you have learned that your mental health should be a priority and that if you happen to be living with a mental illness, you are not alone. The more we support each other and accept each other, the more people will be willing to recognize when they are struggling and get the help they need.
Today’s blog feature is Sarah Minnix, a fellow writer and small business owner of Trendy Moo, a women’s clothing company. Sarah and I sat down for a virtual chat. And she was kind enough to share her story with me and now all of you. Here’s her story.
Sarah’s First Panic Attack
I had a major panic attack randomly at the end of April 2018 that was terrifying. And then over the next several weeks, I kept getting them frequently. I was also having anxiety about doing anything for fear of another panic attack.
When I graduated at the beginning of May 2018 I was completely overtaken by my anxiety and panic attacks. I had to speak at my graduation while going through all of this and not understanding what was happening. It was absolutely terrifying and miserable. At first, I thought my anxiety was stemming from a lack of career direction. I didn’t have a job secured upon graduating.
After graduation, I specifically remember driving an hour home to my family’s graduation lunch for me. I had a full panic attack and was bawling on my drive home. When I arrived at the parking lot of the restaurant, I had a full breakdown. My dad had to drive me home. I couldn’t even go to lunch. I literally went home and laid in bed and cried for hours. That is where I specifically can pinpoint the start of everything.
However, after having anxiety for a while now I can think back to times in my life that I had anxiety. I just didn’t know what it was. I stayed at home for 7 months that felt like a total nightmare. Weekends were spent at my boyfriend’s house (an hour away). My mom would bring me to meet him (bless her haha). Weekdays were spent sitting in my parent’s house afraid to do anything but constantly applying to jobs. I got a lot of work from home freelance jobs during this time. And it helped me find some purpose and gave me something else to focus on.
Sarah’s Diagnosis and Epiphany
My whole life I had never been a doctor person. I wouldn’t even go to a clinic to get antibiotics for a cold because going gave me so much stress. So the thought of me going to a therapist was stressful and I was extremely skeptical of the process. I just didn’t think it would do anything for me. My mom had to basically force me to go. But thankfully I had someone that would.
I went to two counseling sessions in July. The second one gave me a bit of clarity as to my career direction. However, I wouldn’t say as much help with my anxiety. I was sick of seeking validation from another company in my success. She brought clarity that I already knew I wanted my own company and I needed to act on that… Hello Trendy Moo 😉
Sarah’s Breakdowns and Recoveries
During this time I desperately wanted my independence back. I attempted to drive an hour from my parent’s house to my apartment at college to see my roommates. And maybe even stay a few weeks. I drove 25 minutes and had a terrible panic attack where I felt like I couldn’t even see. I had to pull over on the side of the highway and call my parents to come to get me. In the meantime I had two cops pull over to talk with me which made my anxiety even worse. I felt like I had failed and this made me feel depressed. This event had a huge factor in my driving. I still am not able to do much of it.
Over the next few months, I went to about 5 counseling sessions with a new counselor. For me I did so much research I felt like I already knew everything they were telling me along with me just being skeptical of the process. Don’t get me wrong I definitely think in the long run it was good that I went and told my story and issues to them and got assurance that it was normal. I think counseling can be very beneficial for people. In my particular situation, I didn’t feel that was my best treatment.
Sarah’s Big Leap of Faith
In December my boyfriend and I decided to move to Charlotte, NC. This was a gigantic leap of faith for me. I felt like I needed a fresh start and needed my independence back. For me, the thought of staying at home would continue my same toxic behaviors of sitting at home all day working in my bed crying and depressed. My boyfriend is an amazing support system for me and I knew together we could work on things one step at a time.
It has now been a year since I first started having crippling anxiety. I am now able to go into stores, drive with my boyfriend more, and drive extremely short distances alone, as well as have an overall happier mood. Things are still tough and I have very bad days still. But understanding what anxiety is and knowing every day isn’t going to be 100% ruled by it is encouraging.
I got the opportunity to be a vendor at a huge event in the Charlotte Convention center last month. As I stood inside in terrible fluorescent lighting (this is a trigger for me), talked to hundreds of people, and worked at my booth for almost 15 hours, I was shocked at what I could accomplish if anxiety wasn’t holding me back. I DID THAT. (with Chase’s help <3). That blows my mind when I think back to where I was last April. To me, that is the grace of God. This is a MAJOR improvement in my eyes! I know that this is just the first step and that I am continuing to grow and challenge myself each day.
Sarah’s Advice to those Struggling
I am nowhere near perfect but I want to leave you with some sage advice. All I can say is, It gets better. I remember thinking, “oh my gosh I am going to feel miserable forever.” I thought I would never have another day without crying haha.
You have to educate yourself. I think that was the most comforting thing for me is learning to understand what was happening. Baby steps… if going out in public is hard for you, start small with getting ready and going to pick up something from a store. Exposing yourself and making yourself uncomfortable is important but I have had to learn patience.
You can’t push yourself to do too much at once or it will lead to a panic attack and you will feel discouraged to try again. Don’t bottle it up. Explain it to a loved one or therapist, whatever works for you. SELF CARE. Remove stress from your life. If you can pinpoint in your life what is causing you an unhealthy amount of stress.. remove it from your life. You and your well being are the most important thing. If that means quitting a job, leaving a relationship, taking on less work, whatever it may be.. do it with no regrets. Find what works for you 🙂
Keep up with Sarah
A note on Mental Health Awareness Month
I want to thank everyone that shared their stories on the blog this month. Your mental health matters and if you find yourself really struggling, please use this resource provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to help you locate someone locally that can offer support.
I hope you all enjoyed this series and if there’s anything you’d like to see on the blog in the future, please reach out. If you want to check out the rest of this month’s posts, you can find them here.
Rosé & Ruffles