This is story number twelve of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. I want to thank Jenna for sharing her story with us. Jenna is a strong young woman with much determination and ambition. She does not give up even through thick. This is her story:
Jenna is from Ohio and she enjoys listening to music and singing. Jenna loves to spend time with friends and family. Her favorite movies are Iron Man, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Jenna’s goals five years from now is to hopefully be studying psychology to become a therapist.
She was diagnosed and still struggles since she was 16 years old with general anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Jenna fist saw a therapist and later on visited a psychiatrist whom confirmed her mental disorders. She was always an anxious child, but one day during Spanish class she experienced a panic attack with an elevated heartbeat, lightheadedness, sweats and shallow breathing. This provoked Jenna to isolate herself, she did not want to leave her house, not even to go visit her grandmother. She also stopped eating, losing approximately 15 pounds.
Jenna started to feel hopeless, and felt like she was a burden due to her stubbornness. Her parents became concerned because every time Jenna had a panic attack she would leave. Thankfully Jenna never considered suicide, but she did want to disappear and live somewhere isolated. Her behavior affected her relationship with her parents because they could not understand what was happening to her. Jenna also grew distant from her friends because she did not want to hangout.
This made Jenna feel a wide range of emotions, except for happiness. She felt confused, angry and sad because she couldn’t understand why this was happening to her. Jenna also felt desperate because she thought she would live like this for the rest of her life. Because of this Jenna begged her parents to see a therapist. Since this did not help her she decided to see a psychiatrist. Jenna was prescribed medicine that helped her on some days and she eventually learned to cope with her disorders and now she is getting better day by day.
She is determined to fully live her life, Jenna does not want her life to be ruled by her anxieties. She said, “I’m not going to let it get in the way of what I want to do, who I want to be, and I sure wasn’t going to let it steal my happiness away.” She used the techniques her therapist taught her to deal with anxieties. Jenna also bought herself a couple of self-help books that helped her tremendously. The strategies she used was to maintain herself distracted by listening to music, watching television, doing chores and using the computer. She also surrounded herself with close friends and family that stuck with her through thick and thin, giving her the help she needed.
This is what she learned from this ordeal:
“I actually have more courage and strength than I thought. This was definitely the darkest time of my life, but I never gave up no matter how hard it became. My life was never over because of this, even though it seemed like it did at the time.”
This experience changed Jenna in many ways. She said:
“I’m definitely more empathetic for people who struggle with this or any mental illness. It’s not easy living with a mental illness, but I believe anyone can get through it. It has given me a more positive outlook on life, to keep going even when times get tough.”
This is her advice for others struggling through similar situations:
“First of all, don’t be ashamed to get help. If you need to see a therapist, go to one. They are so helpful and they will not judge you. Also, if you think medicine will help, I would recommend it if therapy isn’t helping 100%. Lastly, never ever give up. You are a lot stronger than you think you are and I know you can get through this tough time. Keep yourself around people you love and always have a positive attitude. I have faith in you.”
Jenna hopes her story will motivate others with similar situations. She is extremely motivated to fully live her life. It is still an ongoing battle for her, but I believe with her positive attitude and strength she will be able to move forward. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.