Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking about ways in which I could share my story. It started with an open mic night last spring, at which I gave a brief account of my anxiety. The experience as a whole was one part terrifying and one part exhilarating, a cocktail of cold sweating and heart pounding and shoulders straightening and voice quaking. Afterward, though, the affirmation I received was incredible, and even though most of it came from my friends, who already know my story, I was moved.
In part, sharing my story is an incredibly selfish act. I soaked up my friends’ support like a sponge, and internally I used it to combat all those times when I could feel someone staring at my scars or those nights when I all but convince myself that my anxiety makes me unfit for human society. I hope, though, that sharing my story also does work that really isn’t about me at all, but is about other people who suffer and struggle and need to know that they are not alone. I hope that sharing my story helps to chip away at the stigma that prevents discussion of mental health. Even if I didn’t know anyone in the audience, if I didn’t expect that anyone would be there to hug me afterwards, I would share my story just on the off-chance that one single person listening might need to know that someone else experiences what they experience, and that it’s okay to talk about it.
I originally began writing this account with no particularly thoughts of where I might publish it or with whom I might share it. This blog is a coincidence– or perhaps, more appropriately, an opportunity. In trying to depict my present experience as a student, and as a person, it is necessary to include my mental health journey. If I didn’t include it, I think I would be lying.
My name is Madeleine, and I struggle with depression and anxiety that manifests itself physically as dermatillomania.