Mental Health Awareness- Breaking the Stigma

Mental Health     by Preferred Insurance

We’re taking a deep dive into mental health and working to build awareness around demystifying the stereotypes which surround mental illness. In doing so, we reached out to our friend, Mike Moorman, and sat down for a candid conversation where he spoke to his experiences with anxiety.

Imagine your son is struggling with similar experiences as you, what advice would you share with him?

I would try my best to comfort him and ease the situation; to do my best in helping him diffuse the problem as much as possible. So much of what I’ve read and learned focused on how you can manage the disease even though you will never be 100% “over it.” By sharing my experiences, he will know he’s not alone with his feelings. I’ve said many times, you can’t just push a button and turn it off. Believe me, I wish it was that easy! Sometimes that’s the hardest part about anxiety and panic attacks, that “unknown” that we can’t turn off. Looking back, I honestly believe at some point in my 25 years, the strongest feeling has been the dread of another panic attack. That’s obviously a natural human feeling, not wanting it to happen again, yet we can’t allow ourselves to live thinking that we aren’t “normal” and not talk to anyone about it. That is why I try to be proactive on the topic. There are so many people who do not understand the disease and at times start to think it’s a crutch. I would want my son, and everyone for that matter, to know that it is REAL and encourage others to try to understand what people who struggle with anxiety go through.

What are some things your loved ones have done that have helped you the most?

All my family and friends love me and only want the best for me. Most of my family and friends try to understand the disease. They are there for me to talk and open up to, but it’s also clear that it’s very hard to understand if they don’t also have anxiety. Sometimes, it is hard to open up to them about an issue I am facing because I think they won’t understand. It’s very common for people to suffer from all different kinds of anxiety issues and it’s difficult for family and friends who have never suffered from anxiety to relate, regardless of how much they want to help. One of the primary things I’ve learned over the years is it’s hard for people to understand my anxiety and all the triggers and feelings that come with it because it can be difficult for me to put what I’m feeling into words.

I remember some of my first experiences with anxiety and panic attacks occurred while in school. I would get totally overwhelmed and lose control of my body and mind. I remember sitting there, and all of a sudden getting a very weird dizzy feeling, my heart started racing and it even became hard for me to swallow or take a deep breath. At that time, I was probably 14 or 15 years old and had no clue what was going on, but I did know one thing: I did not want to have that feeling again. I didn’t know what caused it but related it back to the classroom. I wanted to avoid that situation, yet still had to continue going to school. Imagine associating that fear to a classroom full of people and having to go back there every day. Also imagine the fear of talking to anyone about what you are feeling because you yourself think those feelings aren’t normal, which then makes YOU feel like you’re not normal. The mind can be a very powerful/manipulative thing.

Is there something you would challenge the community-at-large to do differently that would make an impact for people suffering from anxiety?

Not only the community but the world! I would challenge people to take time and try to learn about the disease. People who have never suffered from anxiety or depression, or those who know someone who has, often don’t know what to do or how to react. It’s obviously not their fault, but I do try to encourage people to learn about anxiety, depression and everything that comes along with it so when they are approached by a family member or friend, maybe they will be able to offer some assistance. I do mention depression because, for some, the two are linked. Just like anything else, do your homework before making assumptions.

I’ve heard people who suffered from depression are able to look back and say that some good did come from the disease. Have you found any hidden blessings within your struggles?

We all have blessings whether we have anxiety, depression or not. It truly is about recognizing the small things that make us happy or feel blessed every day. I know that I appreciate the little things so much more now. For most people, a simple task such as going to a wedding or family event is a walk in the park. For me, that’s not how I see it. I wish it was as easy for me to do those “simple” things as those around me. So when you say blessings, I view being able to change my mindset and get out of that depression as a blessing. Blessings to me are all the small things. I may battle anxiety but there are people battling things that are much worse in the world. I see that perspective as a blessing.

To give those who have never suffered an anxiety attack, could you describe your experience?

Absolutely! I can only describe what has happened to me and what I have gathered over the years, as everyone has different experiences. For me, the most powerful feeling I get is a sense of immediate danger or an overwhelming sense that there is no escape. That sounds wild, I know, but they are absolutely true feelings when they occur. An attack can last a few moments to a few hours, and as I stated earlier, can happen out of the blue. Some other feelings I’ve experienced are dizziness, overall tightening or freezing of my body, rapid heartbeat and feeling absolutely out of control of my thoughts and body. When you experience an attack, it is very tiresome and draining, sometimes those feelings of fatigue can last through the entire next day.

To try an offer a perspective as to how this disrupts your life, could you share something you were able to do that was out of your comfort zone, but might be something simple or easy for other people?

The simplest things for others as I stated can be very hard for me but I try my best to do them anyhow. For example, any of my son’s events, a ballgame, school play or event, a mini vacation somewhere close, and anything like that, I view other people are able to navigate those easily. I played baseball at all different levels throughout my life, from high school all the way to semi-pro and coached high school and college ball. It’s something I truly love and still do, but my anxiety overtook me and made it very hard for me to continue. Traveling to away games were causing issues and my anxiety was getting in the way of a sport that I love. I’ve been done coaching for four years now and I miss it every day, but it was becoming such a daily battle for me that I had to give it up. That is how powerful anxiety can be. Now, I take it day-by-day and try my best to make the little things happen for my kids and family, and take strong steps to make things work out for the best. There are things I still miss that I wish I didn’t have to, but I just have to take it day by day.


We hope Mike’s experiences helped to give a little insight into an often overlooked issue plaguing approximately one-third of adults in the U.S. To learn how you can offer support to your loved ones experiencing anxiety or depression visit: www.nami.org or check out this Mercer County Resource Handbook

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