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Featuring HER (Women & MHA): Taaqiyah Sallie

Twenty-year-old Taaqiyah Sallie relates her raw and honest experience with anxiety.

Over these past few years of struggling a LOT with anxiety and constantly feeling depressed over seemingly small things, it brought back so many memories of how this would happen growing up.

As a kid, I was constantly nervous and stressed out over small situations. I would always feel this pit in my stomach and it would never go away.

I would easily get sad and stressed out if a family member was mad at me. The feeling I get when I'm anxious and sad brings back the memories I had as a kid from the age of 8. Ever since then, I've always been unnecessarily stressed and it’s just gotten worse with age.

I constantly feel irritable and miserable. I find it extremely hard to concentrate as my mind is somewhere else and overthinking things that I shouldn’t be worried about. I feel upset and sad and I can’t even explain it to the people around me. It happens so naturally that it doesn’t become a problem for me because I'm used to it.

I’m so grateful for my life and what I have, of course, but I can’t help but still feel sad. Physically, I am often exhausted to the point that I can’t even function properly and do daily tasks like eating or driving. My hands become really sweaty, my body perspires, and it becomes extremely frustrating and quite embarrassing to deal with.

I usually experience the feeling of worrying about everything and everyone 24/7. I feel the need to apologise for just simply being myself. I live with the fear of something bad happening to me or those closest to me. I picture bad things happening and I start to feel very scared.

Whenever I become stressed, I experience dizziness, nauseousness and physical pain. This happens when a test is coming up. The experience is accompanied by terrible aches in my body that I have to see a physiotherapist for.

When it comes to feeling depressed, I can cry very easily until it becomes quite excessive. I tend to get so sad that I sometimes isolate myself from people in my life because my depression tells me I don’t belong in theirs.

The one thing that affects me is my lack of appetite. I just never want to eat food. I usually have one meal a day, and not a big one. I just never want to eat. Firstly because I just don’t feel like eating much, and secondly because I feel like every time I put something in my mouth, I’ll gain weight.

Having anxiety has a huge impact on my everyday life. I wake up and immediately have thoughts. It feels like my mind never gets a break. I wake up tired and frustrated because I don’t get much sleep.

Pictured: One of Taaqiyah's favourite quotes.

My self-esteem also becomes a struggle as I’m never happy with myself. I’ll look in the mirror and constantly think of how I wish my body and face looked different.

Some days I’m just randomly sad and upset and won’t do anything; I’ll just lay in bed, cry or watch TV. It shows to the people around me but I have no explanation other than I’m anxious and stressed. It takes over my life as I’m constantly feeling like something is going to go wrong.

I started medication in 2019. Sometimes I wish I started it earlier because I’ve always needed that extra bit of help from a psychologist. However, I only started therapy in that year and that’s when I was diagnosed with anxiety and prescribed medication.

Since then, it has helped me cope with my anxiety. For example, the year after I got a car I couldn’t drive. It took me months adapting to the medication for it to ease my anxiety about driving and build up that strength to get in the car and drive.

The reason I couldn’t do certain things like this was due to traumatic experiences I’ve had to face in my life. But my medication has really been a help in making me a calmer person in situations I could never face.

On the other hand, I still struggle a lot and have frequent panic attacks because I am easily triggered, which is okay because my medication wasn’t meant to make me a different person. I have been given an emergency tablet when I feel like I’m out of breath and might not breathe again.

My coping mechanisms might sound strange but I tend to do something as simple as taking myself out for an iced coffee or something I love to eat/drink. I also love drawing, so if I’m really sad, upset or lonely I’ll draw something to take my mind off of things. Sometimes I take a drive when I feel like this, and I'm so happy because I was once terrified of driving. Now it’s become one of my favourite things to do because it brings me peace.

I think it’s SO important for people to be aware that anxiety can be caused by anything. ANYTHING you’ve experienced can trigger a panic attack which a lot of people don’t understand that. Something as simple as conflict immediately gives me a panic attack.

Photo: @taaqiyah.s

You become so fragile and can cry and get out of breath in seconds. People tend to think that's you being dramatic or overly sensitive. It’s important to remember that someone who’s anxious and sometimes depressed can easily just burst into tears.

No one understands that there’s so much that goes on in your head; there is frustration and sadness that feels like a monster is growing inside you and wants to make you unhappy.

It’s so easy to cry over how scared and fragile your heart and mind become due to all the overthinking and constant pressure on yourself - never feeling like you’re good enough for anyone or anything.

This feeling doesn’t just come once in a while. It remains. It’s always there. 

When needing assistance in an anxious state, I prefer for someone to calm me down, give me affection, and just try to understand that I’m struggling and be there for me. No one needs to talk to me either. I just need to feel like I matter and that I’m cared for. I know I am and again I’m so grateful for that, but this monster makes me feel that I’m alone and everyone’s life would be better off without me so that kind of assistance is comforting.

When I’m feeling depressed, I prefer to be alone. I have this coping mechanism for when I'm sad about not wanting to tell anyone, especially my family and friends. I never want to put my sadness on anyone else. I prefer it this way and deal with it by myself so no one needs to worry about me.

When I get panic attacks when I'm alone I try to deal with it by myself for the same reason as to when I’m sad. However, most of the time I need that assistance and comfort as my panic attacks worsen to where I feel like I might die.

I’m definitely proud of being more social. I am a social person. I’ve made a lot of new friends and have made an effort to keep the friends that bring me joy and happiness in my life, which makes me feel content.

I’m glad that I could overcome getting into a car and driving because I really struggled with that emotionally and physically. I'm also proud of the fact that I’ve constantly pushed myself to deal with my anxiety thus far.

I’ve acknowledged when I have a problem and I’ve always tried to learn from it. I believe everything you do can be a lesson for yourself and for others. 

My ultimate goal is to get to a point where I don’t need my medication anymore. I don’t want to be dependent on medication forever. I believe I can build the strength to deal with my anxiety to the point where I don’t need that extra help. I also hope to see myself dealing better with the difficult struggles I’ve had to face in my life.

I’m personally proud of the fact that I have gained a lot of strength through these challenges. I’m happy to be a person that is kind and loving. I never want to show people I’m sad and miserable and I’ll always try my best to be nice to everyone.

Lastly, I’m proud that I’ve gotten to a point where I’m much more optimistic than I was before. I think more positively about my future when thinking of how I want to grow and what I want to achieve. I’m trying to make changes to give myself better self-esteem and I’m trying to explore my talents to create more opportunities for myself in the future. 

Written by Taaqiyah Sallie.

Thank you Taaqiyah for your raw, honest and empowering contribution.

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