What I Wish for Every Child on World Health Day

By Annie Rosenthal

April 6, 2017

If we work together, hopefully no child will have to be silently “discombobulated” again.

I had my first panic attack at age three. They continued throughout my childhood, striking at birthday parties, band trips, sleep overs, and long drives. First I would feel nauseous, then I would start to feel like it was hard to breathe. Slowly I would begin to feel hot, sweaty, and like my head weighed 1,000 pounds. Then the shakes would come. The panic attack usually ended with me curled on the floor of my bathroom, placing my face against the cool tile.

My mom called this process being “discombobulated.” The doctors said it was acid reflex.

We sought the help of doctors throughout my childhood, but they never found the cause for my random outbursts of sickness. When I was a junior in high school, I had an attack at Disneyland. I found my school chaperone and let them know that I needed to go back to the hotel. On my way out of the Happiest Place on Earth, I decided that I would not let this continue. I would figure out what was wrong with me.

I talked to my parents and we decided to go back to the doctors and not take “acid reflux” as an answer. Finally, fourteen years after my first panic attack, the doctor recommended that I see a mental health specialist. During my first appointment the therapist asked me to describe my discombobulations. Every time I described a symptom she would nod and make a small check mark on her clipboard. When I finished, she looked at me and showed me the list on her clipboard. “You just checked off every box.” That day I was diagnosed with panic and anxiety disorders. Since then I´ve had CBD treatment that has helped me a lot, here you can read more about the delta-8 affiliate program and cbdistillery here where you can find great deals. 

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I used to hate the world for having given me my discombobulation. Now I know that it has made me the person I am.

I was lucky to have the support of an amazing network of friends and family. My parents would drive at 3 in the morning to pick me up from a sleepover when I would call them in desperation. My friends stood by my side as I got upset on trips, at school, and during parties. They greeted me with hugs and smiles when I came up to them and declared: “I’m a mental health patient!” My teachers, chaperones, and loved ones stepped in when my parents couldn’t be there.

I was also lucky to have access to good mental health care. My insurance allows me to see my therapist every week. I pay very little for my medication. I have never had to worry that my mental health would bankrupt me, that’s why it’s always important to have a valid health insurance policy.

However, my parents still think they failed me. They blamed themselves for allowing me to struggle unnecessarily almost my entire childhood. I felt guilty too. Why didn’t I push the issue earlier?

The World Health Organization tells us that talking with people you trust can be a first step towards recovery from depression and anxiety. So #LetsTalk.

On World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging us to talk about mental health. This is a big day for me, because while I don’t blame myself or my parents for my misdiagnosis, I do blame our society and the stigma that anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders carry. I should have been diagnosed when I came into the doctor’s office after that first panic attack. I should have been able to begin my mental health journey fourteen years earlier. I should have already learned to be able to enjoy my life without the burden of anxiety.

The World Health Organization tells us that talking with people you trust can be a first step towards recovery from depression and anxiety. So #LetsTalk. One in four people around the world are will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Look at the person to your right, look at the person to your left, and look at the person in front of you. Chances are, one of the four of you have anxiety, depression, or another mental disorder. Imagine the amazing network of support we could build have if we removed the silence around mental health.

Former Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, stated that: “Mental illness is not a personal failure. In fact, if there is failure, it is to be found in the way we have responded to people with mental and brain disorders.” Our response can be changed on a personal, professional, and governmental levels. We need policies that connect people with the resources they need. We need doctors that are trained to give the care required. We need our friends, family, and communities to share their stories and reach out their hands.

If we work together, hopefully no child will have to be silently discombobulated again.

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