What I Would Tell My Younger Self About Mental Health

The Child Mind Institute has an awesome campaign that I love to follow. It’s promoted in May for Mental Health Awareness Month.

#MyYoungerSelf offers inspiring messages of hope. Celebrities, athletes, business people, and social influencers give short videos about their struggles, and what they would tell themselves as a child. They’re super open about their own journeys and stress that if you’re suffering from a mental illness, you are not alone. It’s okay.

Emma Stone speaks about her anxiety and panic disorder, Mayim Bialik talks about depression, Michael Phelps about ADHD, Barbara Corcoran about dyslexia, and so many more.

Today I watched a video from Alex Boniello, a Broadway actor, whose anxiety began in high school. He was in the cafeteria when he experienced such frightening symptoms, he thought he was having a heart attack. He had no idea it was anxiety and panic attacks.

This got me thinking… I totally relate to what Alex says. My panic attacks started around age 10. I didn’t know what was going on, why I had such frightening feelings. I was embarrassed and didn’t tell anyone. Now I know that stigma and shame kept me from saying anything. I finally got medical help in my early 30s for panic disorder.

That’s why I speak openly about mental health. I want to encourage people to talk about it, to reach out for help.

Image result for images for talk about mental health
Image courtesy of here

So, what would I tell my younger self?

Jenny, I know you’re scared and worried there’s something really, really wrong with you. You’re exhausted from keeping it a secret. You think no one else in this entire world could possibly understand what you’re going through. But millions of other people do understand! Because they’re going through the same thing.

The symptoms are terrifying, but you won’t die from them. Those horrible physical sensations and strange thoughts, like you’re living in a fog or dream, actually have a name: Anxiety and panic attacks. Panic disorder. You are not imagining it. It’s a real illness.

And something else… there is treatment, you don’t have to do this alone. There’s no magic cure, it’s not going to simply go away. You’ll always have to manage it, but you’ll feel a ton better than you do now. The road to recovery isn’t easy, but you’re going to do great.

I know you’re nervous about your friends finding out and you don’t want them to think you’re weird or treat you differently. They won’t. Having panic disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Millions and millions of people struggle with their mental health. Talk about it and get help — the sooner the better.

Don’t ever forget, you are NOT alone.

Courtesy of The Child Mind Institute

22 thoughts on “What I Would Tell My Younger Self About Mental Health

  1. Such an important message on an issue that affects so many. I’m so glad it’s more openly discussed these days. Great post and great letter to yourself Jenny. If only we knew back then what we know now. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very important words in this post. You are not alone….this is crucial for people suffering from mental illness. I am older and when I was growing up mental illness was never discussed and no one would admit to suffering from anything that even sounded vaguely like mental illness. It was just “pull up your boot straps and get on with it” . Mercifully now mental illness is recognized as legitimate illness and people like you are helping other sufferers .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your very kind words, I appreciate that so much! I completely agree, it was that way for me growing up too. Honestly, in high school, I’d never even heard about mental health. I used to think that only people with a mental illness had mental health. The topic simply wasn’t discussed. Thankfully the conversation is much more open now and the stigma is beginning to lessen. We have a long way to go, but I’m hopeful for future generations, that mental health/illness will be spoken about as openly as a physical illness. Thanks again for your nice comment! Jenny

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I think it’s good to look back on our journeys… even though it can be with sadness or frustration. I see how much I’ve learned and grown along the way, and am grateful for that. Thanks for you kind words!💖

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s great advice. I too felt alone and scared when I started feeling anxiety. It started when I was a kid. I used to panic at night in my bed. My heart would beat really fast and my eyes would pop out of my head. My constant fear was that someone was going to come in the house, so every sound, every creak petrified me. I never told anyone; I don’t think I even knew what was happening. I was in my 30’s too when I started treatment for my anxiety. On a separate note, have you heard of musicares? Since I am a huge music fan and can’t live without music and my concerts, I was so happy to come across this not for profit organization. They help musicians with mental health, financial help, dental and medical, medications, the touring life, and how to be healthy as a musician. I was so excited to see this because musicians are a separate niche who need their own help. The grammy people created this organization years ago. They can get a musician in treatment within hours of a crisis/breakdown. They help them stay sober and drug free. It is a tough life; I honestly don’t know how they do it. Dave Navarro is an advocate for this organization and I watched a video where he said standing on the stage is incredible and then it’s over and you just drop, but the hardest part is having to perform each night while feeling depressed and lonely and smile and do meet and greets etc. He said he has felt lonely in a room of hundreds of people. Then they go on the bus, have to get up early, sound check, meet 100 people who want so much from them physically and emotionally and then perform. And some go to the bus and meet fans after show too. It’s so easy to see why they become addicts and destroy families. And in between all this they do interviews during a tour and have their families fly out to be with them. Touring is the only way they make good money in today’s digital age. An artist can make just 6 cents off of one itunes song.
    Anyway, I feel a lot of empathy for them and I was so glad to see they have a place to go to and know they are not alone. I think I would tell my younger self to tell someone, anyone, how I felt and ask for help. It’s great all of these things exist to hep each other. Musicares has a twitter account and various musicians are sharing their stories about their symptoms and their treatments. It’s great for fans, especially young ones, to see this. Wow I wrote a lot. You inspired me! XO

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment, for sharing your experience, and about Musicares. What an awesome organization!!! Just googled it, and that sounds incredibly helpful for musicians who otherwise might not know where to turn for help. I totally agree with all you said about how hard it is for musicians, what a tough life they have. It may seem wonderful and glamorous on the outside, but if people truly knew the pain many of them go through, they wouldn’t think it’s all great. All the money and fame in the world can’t buy health and happiness! Thanks again! xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome; I’m always happy to share my stuff with you. I agree that money and fame are fleeting and can’t be the thing that keeps people going. Sometimes I think about my future and dating etc and I wonder could I be with a rich man just because he’s rich and I always say nope. It sounds great, with all the perks but they fade and then there is no substance and I imagine I would feel empty. Maybe I can find a rich guy who is also a good guy!! Lol
        Take Care

        Liked by 1 person

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