At 28, Rajpreet is feeling good about herself. But it's been a long journey to get to this point - one that required her to identify her triggers and learn to manage them.
At 28 years old, I have finally found the strength to remove myself from toxic influences in my life. They have caused me anxiety for as long as I can remember to the point where it became so extreme that I was hospitalised when I experienced my first panic attack.
In my twenties my anxiety gradually increased as each year went by. Nothing seemed to get better and as each birthday came and went, things got progressively worse in almost every aspect of my life. I lost most of my close friends, I was unable to keep a stable job for long, and almost every relationship I had was ruined. My paranoia was becoming a real issue in every social environment. It felt as if no one could understand me anymore. How could they possibly, when I couldn’t even understand myself?
"I remember sitting on social media looking at other people, and wishing that for even just one day I could swap lives with them."
I realised that one of the biggest triggers I had was constantly obsessing and comparing my life with others. I remember sitting on social media looking at other people and wishing that for even just one day I could swap lives with them. Over time this became really damaging - I just became so unhappy and I felt so incomplete. No matter how many things I had worked so hard to achieve, I still felt so worthless.
Another massive trigger was living at home with my overprotective family for so long, never really being able to take control of my own life or be allowed to have a mind of my own. Mental health in Asian cultures is something that is fairly stigmatised and so, living with anxiety and depression with a family who (unintentionally) didn’t understand or support me was a huge obstacle that I had to cope with.
At the peak of my anxiety where it was starting to experience depression, the most damaging trigger was my mind. I was constantly living in the past and the future but failing to live in the present. There were so many times where I would just say to myself “why is this happening to me?” or “what have I done in my life to deserve this?”. There are so many things that I’ve held onto from in the past and have never been able to let go of.
"I decided that enough was enough. I could no longer let my anxiety create this non-stop, never-ending turmoil."
After experiencing a traumatic event last year, I decided that enough was enough. I could no longer let my anxiety create this non-stop, never-ending turmoil. I felt like this was as good a time as any to find an escape from my non-stop negative mind.
I decided to apply for different jobs outside of London. With that, I managed to find an incredible career opportunity in Manchester, and so I moved. Moving away from my family was daunting yet the most positive and refreshing thing that I could have done. Living by myself has given me the chance to discover who I am again because so much of that had been lost. I control every aspect of my life now and it feels great. I joined a gym not too far from where I live and I began talking to absolutely everyone! It felt so good to have the confidence to talk again, because I had become such a shell of myself. The gym was a great way to interact with so many different people, and I’ve made friends along the way.
I also decided to get rid of most of my social media. I used to post things but then immediately afterwards I’d feel paranoid and uneasy about doing so. It always made my anxiety worse, regardless of what I was posting. I do miss it from time-to-time, but then I just think of how far I’ve come in terms of getting my self-confidence and self-esteem back and never wanting to feel how I did last year, so I avoid reactivating if I get a quick urge! This is not to say I’ll never get it back, it’s just that right now, I feel much happier and less anxious without it.
"I’ve realised the present is all that’s in my control."
Finally, everyday I wake up and I thank God for blessing me with another day in my life. I no longer live in the past or the future. I finally am living in the present and focusing on what is happening in my life right now, because I’ve realised the present is all that’s in my control.
At 28, I have my own place, I live by myself, I have a job that I absolutely love with the most amazing colleagues, I am engaged, I continue to strive to make lifelong friendships, and I no longer compare my life to others. I can safely say that I feel good about myself. For the first time, I can finally breathe again and feel happiness in my life instead of never ending dark tunnel. I am finally content in what I have and I am grateful for the person I am. I have learnt to be kind and to love myself again.
I accept that I will continue to have anxiety, but I will strive to make sure that my anxiety does not take over my life anymore by removing both internal and external triggers that I’ve realized is worsening my mental state.
This is a blog for those who feel that there is no escape. There is. If I found it, anyone can. If you suffer from any sort of mental illness, realise that you are not to blame. There are so many genetic, environmental, and social factors that come into play that can exacerbate your mental health condition. Learn what your triggers are, then do what you can to avoid them. Believe me, it pays off ten-fold.
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