My Undiagnosed Anxiety and How Seeking Help Failed Me

anxiety mental health Social anxiety stigma symptoms therapy undiagnosed

It took me a long time to figure out why I felt certain ways. I knew they weren't normal, but I couldn't identify them. After doing research and talking with other people experiencing similar symptoms it became pretty obvious to me what my varying mental states were being caused by. Still, I haven't sought professional help. I did once, as a teenager, and since then I've never wanted to again.

I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't.. erm.. use the ladies room. I was physically and mentally a mess. After 2 full nights of no sleep and feeling like death, I decided it was time to make an appointment with my family doctor. I couldn't go more than a few hours without crying and when I wasn't crying I wasn't feeling anything.

My appointment was early in the morning and I hadn't slept. Everything was fuzzy and I was barely functioning - I was struggling to keep myself from breaking down in the waiting room. I was so nervous I was shaking. I kept thinking my doctor wouldn't take me seriously because I was young, or that I was over exaggerating, or even worse that something was wrong in my home life -- and that was far from the truth.

I was having relationship issues and some serious self-confidence problems. I had somehow spiraled into a pit of self-hate and what I could only assume was depression. I had closed myself off from everyone around me and didn't leave the house for days. I chain smoked cigarettes and contemplated why I should continue existing. I wanted to self-harm, I wanted drugs, I wanted to be self-destructive.

Once I was in my doctor's office I was visibly shaking and probably visibly unwell. My doctor looked uncomfortable once I started telling her what I'd been going through. I couldn't hold back the tears and she did not console me. After that, it was all a blur. She didn't offer me any help, didn't diagnose me, didn't prescribe medication. I don't remember getting home and I don't remember the rest of the day. What I do remember is never wanting to expose myself like that to a health 'professional' again.

I know I have social anxiety. I know I go through bouts of depression. No one has to tell you when you have a cold, a sore throat, a strained muscle. I know how I feel and even though I've never sat with a therapist to be analyzed doesn't make my mental illnesses any less valid. You know your body, you know when things aren't right and you can recognize the signs of anxiety.

Anxiety can have a lot of physical effects. For me, my stomach churns and my IBS flares - I shake, I sweat, I stutter, my mind goes blank, and when it's not my thoughts are racing. I bite my lip, I run my fingers along my scalp, I squeeze my hands and rub them together, I touch/cover my face incessantly. No one can tell me I don't feel these symptoms and that these symptoms aren't synonymous with anxiety. Someone could say I might have more going on than anxiety, and they might be right, that still doesn't mean I don't feel the effects of anxiety.

Social anxiety can make it very difficult to seek help. The whole aspect of going to bare you soul to a stranger can be terrifying and be triggering on its own, but I believe therapy is important and medication has its place, but it's not for everyone and it's also not available to everyone. I hope to eventually see a psychiatrist and get to the root of what I assume is a multitude of issues. For now, I'm trying to take this journey to a healthy mind on my own.

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  • Wayne on

    Hi there. I know the feeling. My experiences are similar except my doctors have been more compassionate. I had one good therapist but she was an intern and was only there for a short while. I then started going to a psychologist and that is where things became unglued. I was more or less shown the door. I have no intention of going back. If you would like to chat please contact me.

  • Lenore on

    You are the bravest most inspiring person I know. Your ability to face your challenges head on, shows your strength and determination. Please continue your journey and sharing with us. You’re helping a lot of people.

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