Name, Age, Preferred Pronouns: Holland Todd, 17, she/her
Tell me about your overall experience with mental health(only share what as much as you are comfortable with):
I have struggled with mental health since I was very young. I have never been medically diagnosed with anxiety but it is definitely something I struggle with. In 2019, my grandpa had just beat pancreatic cancer and was doing fine until about 7 months later he started to feel ill again, we then found out he was diagnosed in his back/spine. After the first round of chemo my grandpa was done, he didn’t want to go through that pain again which ached all our hearts but we understood. It was March of 2020 he was diagnosed and September 2020 when we lost him. After his death my mental health got worse and I started to have severe anxiety attacks in the middle of zoom classes and days where I just couldn’t get out of bed. I also started to lash out at my parents and just couldn’t take anymore pain. When my great grandma died less than 6 months later that was my breaking point and my mother finally asked me to start seeing a therapist.
How did the pandemic affect your mental health?
The worst of my mental health started back in during the pandemic when everyone went into lockdown and didn’t leave their houses. I am a very social person, so seeing no one unless I am staring at a phone made me go into a hole of depression. Also my grandpa had died only 3 days after online classes started so I had no idea how to handle my grief and do school in a way I never have before.
Is mental health something you talked/talk about within your household?
Mental health is frequently talked about in my household, especially between me and my mother who are very open when it comes to sharing about our mental health.
If you are in therapy, how has that helped with your mental health journey?
I am no longer in therapy at this time but I did talk with a therapist for just over a year to help me deal with the losses of my loved ones and my higher anxiety levels. My anxiety is still hard these days but after speaking with my therapist I finally was able to grieve properly and find ways to help manage my anxiety better during anxiety attacks and also how to let go of things sometimes. My therapist really helped me find my old self again.
What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome within your mental health journey? How did you overcome it?
The hardest thing about my mental health journey would have to be my anxiety attacks. For anyone that doesn’t know what an anxiety attack is, it is like an overrun of negative emotions. It is different for everyone but for me, either I breathe so heavily my face tingles or it gets hard to breathe, almost as if the wind had been knocked out of me, my eyesight goes blurry while my spins and I can feel my heart beating in the pit of my stomach. All the negative thoughts and insecurities in me surface. Before I met my therapist I would just try and wait for the anxiety attack to stop but after meeting her I found better ways, my favorite is the tapping method where you tap different parts of your body and say positive things about yourself.
What do you do for self care?
For self care, I read books, watch tv shows that make me laugh and I have a daily morning and night skincare routine. One other thing I do for self care is that one night a week I will put on a face mask and really give myself a night to focus on me.
What is a piece of advice that you would like to share with others going through similar things?
Something I tell everyone that goes through anxiety like me is to try and find a balance of things, for everyone one thing that brings negative emotions(like school, work, etc.) do 2 things that bring you joy and happiness. Life gets to people sometimes but it’s just a matter of perspective, are you going to let all those bad things cloud what can be a happy day or are you going to enjoy the sunshine.
What is a piece of advice you would like to give your younger self?
If I could go back in time I would tell my younger self to enjoy her life, to not let others beat down over the looks she can’t control. I would tell her to also be easier on herself when she doesn’t get the grade she hoped for, because she’s still just a kid who has time to grow up.
Is there anything else you would like to share with KCL?
For anyone that deals with loss, anxiety, depression, etc. Talk with someone, whether it be a friend, a co-worker, a family member, a counselor, a teacher, or a therapist. There is always someone there for you too talk to, don’t let it eat you from the inside out.
Holland also did an interview with blogger (and mother), Melody Todd. Check it out on honestchatter.com - Interview with a QuaranTEEN