I'm sure it was at the age of 10, the first signs of my anxiety started and questioning myself am I normal? I lost my Grandmother to cancer, which rocked my world as you can imagine. A child should never witness a person dying, let alone a member of their own family. After her passing, I had vivid dreams of her to that point I refused to go back to my Grandparents farm. This was the farm where I had grown up, where I had felt safe. I also refused to go to school. I remember my parents taking me to the local GP believing I was suffering from stress due to the death and that I would grow out of it. As I got older, I dismissed the notion that something was wrong with me and as always I thought, it wasn't normal.
At 28 years old, my ex husband had an accident which left him severely injured. My head went into overdrive. I cried, I shouted and I was angry. The fear of loosing someone again like my Grandmother put my anxiety as a 10 year old back in my head. Once again I asked myself, am I normal to feel this way? As the years went on and my life was changing, I knew something was not right but I didn’t want to be "labelled" as a result of speaking about it so I tried to deal with it on my own.
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my best friend and she said "Sally, you need to get checked out" that I began taking it seriously. So, at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety. I felt ashamed.
My Psychologist has determined that the issues I had and still have - stem from when I lost my Grandmother. So I asked her the question "am I normal?". Her response was to ask me to define "normal". That question has remained with me for years.
Having worked in mental health for 23 years, it is common that you no longer recognise your own mental health and the stigma that’s attached to it. The feeling that you are “not normal" is hard to shake. There have been many dark times in my life but to counteract them, there have also been so many bright times too. Lately my anxiety had a knock due to an accident with my horse, and once again I found myself questioning "Am I normal to feel this way???".
My PTSD and anxiety will never go away but I’m now focused on learning coping mechanisms to make life easier for me. I have to spent time finding what works for me it will most likely not be the first thing I try.
Having been more open and spoken to more people of late, I am fast coming to the conclusion that yes...it is very normal to have these feelings. I am normal.
“Mental health problems don’t define who you are they are something you experience”.