Since the day I moved to Belgium, on many occasions, I started to feel some things that I haven’t felt before or at least not as intense as it had hit me at that time. The new environment, language, culture and being so far from my comfort zone kind of triggered my emotions in a way I didn’t expect. Things got a bit better after I met my ex-husband. Between all the battles us immigrants must fight when moving to another country, I found myself in a place where I was constantly nervous, unquiet, afraid. After some ups and downs, with the support from my ex, I applied for this job in the summer of 2018.

One day in October of that same year, a few weeks after I got the job, I woke up feeling my chest heavy and I couldn’t stop crying. That feeling of panic was consuming my whole body and I just didn’t know why. The following days were tense, I felt like I couldn’t go out of my house or talk to anyone. I was so scared of talking to people, afraid that they wouldn’t understand me, especially at work. The fear of having to speak Dutch had hit me in a way I wasn’t prepared for.  

I just had the first of many panic attacks. I called work and said I was sick. This job was my first try on the Dutch speaking market and I was at the same time excited and scared because I really wanted that job and the fear of losing it because I was not able to communicate properly really got to me. I then talked to my general practitioner, and she thought that it would be a good idea to see a therapist. Meanwhile I was being treated for anxiety disorder with antidepressants.  Some time passed till I had another one and another one after that till I fell into a depressive episode. Those were probably the scariest days of my life because I knew what was going on and still, I couldn’t do much about it. Not long after that, I hurt my back while I was working. It was an extra punch on my anxiety. For over 3 years I went through several specialists, different types of physiotherapy, medications, and injections in my back. The last specialist I saw then told me that what is now happening is that I am a chronic pain patient.

All this just elevated all levels of anxiety in my body. I am constantly in pain, which obviously leads to a lot of stress and fear, consequently having anxiety attacks.

I just started to feel like nothing good would ever happen to me. Then I got to my lowest point, where I started to have really dark thoughts. At this time, I felt like I needed help more than ever. I then talked to my doctor, and we decided to change my medication and after some rough time adapting to this new pills, I started to feel the shift in my head. Even though my thoughts were feeling lighter, my body wasn’t following and from time to time when I have a back pain crisis, it all come together like an avalanche. In the meantime, I had to level up the amount of medication I take to at least three times now. However, I’ve always been someone who faced my problems and tried to solve them by myself and that is probably what took me out of that dark place I was drowning in. 5 years and lots of other triggering situations later, I’m here, still fighting anxiety but feeling stronger than I have ever felt. So, do not give up on yourself!

Love, Victor