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Mental Health Awareness Month: My Story

Because it's Mental Health Awareness month, I want to go into depth with a part of my story and how all of this (the blog) came to be. I'm going to tell you all about the time I couldn't leave my house for 3 weeks. And yes, you read that correctly, THREE WEEKS.

It all started when I returned home from 10 days in Morocco. The 10 days followed almost 5 weeks around Europe, all ending with a week and a half touring the Northern African country. Morocco is a beautiful country just south of Spain and has recently become more and more popular for tourists. Most of the year it is a great place to explore and take in a completely different culture. However, I decided to go in August, not realizing that that time of year came with temps above 100 on the daily and air so dry your ice cold water glass would be devoid of any condensation. Ok, that may be a bit of an over-exaggeration, but you get the picture.

Needless to say, I got extremely dehydrated and by day 6 or 7, I was so sick I could barely stand without immediately feeling dizzy. On day 6 or so I started drinking about a gallon of water a day. At the time this was a lot of water for me as my daily average was closer to 64 ounces, but I needed to hydrate. Years prior during a mission trip to Mexico I learned that I am prone to heat stroke and I was not about to go down that road again.

On day 10 we packed up our things and headed home. I was still so dehydrated on the plane I almost drank from the sinks in the bathrooms, but not to worry, that was the trip I discovered that long-haul flight attendants leave bottled water in their stations for passengers that get thirsty when regular service isn't going on...

Finally I made it home and proceeded to stay in bed for days. The thought of doing anything else terrified me. I remember taking showers just to feel cold for 10 minutes because even though I was back in the comfortable 70 degree weather characteristic of Southern California, I felt hot, all the time. Shows with the slightest bit of suspense threw me into full blown panic attacks. I'd take naps and sometimes spend half the night restlessly awake. I drank water like my life depended on it, because in my mind, it did.

One day when I was feeling up for walking around my house my step-dad decided to sit me down. He was wondering how I was feeling and when I felt I'd be ready to go out and do stuff. Within seconds I broke into tears. I wanted nothing more badly than to go out and do the things I loved doing but every time I even thought about leaving the safe space that was that house I suddenly couldn't catch my breath.

By the third week they convinced me to see a psychologist. I begged for a house call but they assured me I wouldn't be going alone and I could bring all the food and water I felt I needed. The office was really only 5-7 minutes from our house, but that was one of the scariest 90 minutes of my life. I could not keep myself calm.

Over time I learned to leave the house by myself again and it became easier and easier to leave for longer periods of time. That said, to this day it is hard for me to leave the comfort of my home without a bottle of water in hand. Sometimes I can do it, other times I can't. Maybe to some this story makes me sound over-dramatic, but it is a very real side of anxiety that most will never have to experience. I am sharing it with you today because I believe it is important. There are people out there just like me, some who may have it even worse, but none of us are alone, and none of us should ever have to go through this alone.

This is just a small part of my story, it's certainly one of my more memorable anxiety relapses and probably my most severe. For those like me, know you are never alone and no matter how scary it might be right now, there is always at least one person out there that gets it.