a journal entry by Ahmed Al Houbi
art by Mia Nazir @ohwhybread
Mental health can be a very tricky topic to talk about because no two people will have the same experience. There might be similarities in our struggles, but no one experiences it the same way as you. The main reason for that is that every person is born with a different brain, and if you ask any scientist worth their dime, they will tell you that every brain is unique in its own way. The only reason I say this is just to set the idea that every person has different hardships when it comes to mental health, and I will be talking about my own struggles.
I remember hearing, from an early age, about people having difficulties with their mental health and I just couldn’t relate to that. No matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t understand it until my issues hit me like a train. I suffer from anxiety, and I will be honest, it isn’t the worst thing a person can mentally suffer from but that doesn’t mean it isn’t downright terrifying sometimes.
My first experience was around three years ago. I had just finished grade 8 and I was enjoying my summer holiday. I was lying on my bed thinking about my IGCSE which I was going to start in grade 9 and it suddenly hit. I remember panicking thinking about what would happen to me if I messed up my IGs because they kind of decide your future. I remember feeling suffocated as if I was drowning and it scared me. I even started to tear up. It wasn’t only about failing my exams, I started to think of everything. What if I don’t make it into university? What if I can’t get a job? What if I end up alone with no one around? That last thought really put me in an abyss.
Thinking about it now, it was probably stupid to think about things that are still five to ten years in the future but that is just how anxiety is. It’s an unreasonable state of mind that makes you distrust yourself to the point where you’re scared to wake up the next morning. What made it worse for me was that I couldn’t speak to anyone about it. All my siblings were way older than me and I was scared of them not understanding me. I myself had no idea what I was going through so that didn’t help either. One of the scariest things is to suffer without knowing what is causing the pain.
Sometimes it got so bad that I couldn’t wait for the holidays to end. I will never forget the night before my first day going back to school, I was so excited to meet my friends to be able to talk to them, to confide in them and to finally get rid of these things that haunted me. I was so excited that I couldn’t even get a wink of sleep. Now fast forward three years and I feel like I have started to cope with it. Do I still get panic attacks sometimes? Yes. Does it still terrify me? Yes. Do I need therapy? Probably. But do I think I will overcome it someday? I sure hope so.
Mental health is important. It is like a hidden pillar that supports us without us noticing it and if it crumbles so will our bodies and our lives. There is no shame in admitting that something scares you or that you are struggling with something physically, so why should there be a shame in admitting that you are having difficulties with your mental health?
If there is anything I want to leave you with, it is that your struggles are different from anyone and a lot of people might not understand them, but that doesn’t devalue your struggles. Even though our hardships are different, I hope you learnt something helpful about yourself or the hardships of a close one. So, stay positive and try your best.