Diego s Story
Naperville, IL USA
"In 2012, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety in combination with insomnia. With the right medication and therapy, I was able to feel ‘normal’. However, as the years went on, my mental health was de-prioritized as I shifted my focus towards other aspects of my life like school, family, and friends.
On January of 2017, about five years after my first severe incident with anxiety, the amount of stress around school, and life in general, was compounding, which only perpetuated my anxiety. Yet, I continued to minimize my mental health— 'it’s just a little anxiety', 'it’s all in your mind', 'everything is going great, why are you worrying so much?' I felt the signs, in my mind and my body, that I needed to address my anxiety—yet I swept it under the rug because I thought that my mental health wasn’t important enough to deal with.
Fast-forward about three weeks and I am out of town visiting some friends and having some drinks. I tried to act normal, but I felt my mind on edge. The stress of midterms, scholarships, and just about everything else was bubbling in the depths of my mind; at the edge of it was pure, untamed anxiety. All the unchecked anxiety exploded out of my mind and manifested itself into irrational panic. My heart was exploding out of my chest and my mind was in flight-or-fight mode. In my intoxicated state, the panic, scared part of my mind convinced itself that it was dying, and soon thereafter the rest of my mind and body followed along.
For the next four hours, I proceeded to have a complete separation between my mind and reality. The memories of that event are now almost lost, but I explicitly remember what my mind was telling me: you’re dead. My mind basically created Hell for me. All I felt was pure and absolute terror. Yet, the episode eventually passed and I came back to myself.
The storm, however, had just begun. I tried to brush the whole episode off like it was nothing. However, the next few weeks and months were filled with anxiety like I had never experienced before. For days, my body and mind were locked into a state of anxiety. I honestly thought I was crazy and that I wasn’t even alive—that I shouldn’t be alive. It took several hospital visits, immense support from my girlfriend and family, and intensive therapy to get me to where I am today.
If this story, in some form, can connect with that someone who has anxiety, or any mental health issues in general, then it’s infinitely worth it. I minimized my anxiety, I told myself anxiety wasn’t worth dealing with, and I didn’t get the help I need. Please learn from my mistakes. And most of all, know this: there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and although the issues do not always vanish, it can get better."
Story by: Anna Ferrone, North Central College Campus Representative
Photo by: Juan Andres Jara