This time last year I took a leap of faith and talked about my experience with mental health.
I received an overwhelmingly positive response, and I am overly grateful for that.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can either scroll down my blog posts to find it, or click on the link here
Because I wrote so extensively about my experiences in that post, I won’t spend a lot of time talking about it here.
Essentially, my mental health put me in a terrible spot. I was in a dark place and took my emotions out on a lot of people. It ruined friendships and relationships that I held very close to me all because I wouldn’t talk about it. Although I had gone to see multiple different professionals about what I was feeling, no one wanted to diagnose me with anything specific because of what I think was the ‘stigma’ around it and it left me feeling like everything truly was all in my head.
Being away from home wasn’t something I necessarily liked at the time. Every fall when I moved back to school, it took a lot of time and many weekends at home for me to be able to get used to being away again. During this time of year, the sun also set before 5pm, and as you can probably guess, resulted in it being pitch black by the time I was out of class.
Where I left you last year, I was still figuring out how to cope and learn from this. I had just gotten out of a four-year relationship and I felt really lost. That’s why I created this blog, I’ve used it as an outlet and a way to keep my mind off of reality.
Fast forwarding to the present, I can honestly say that I am better than I have been in easily three years. My anxiety is basically non-existent anymore because I’ve come to learn what works for me to get through it. When school rolled around in September and the sun was setting at 4:30, I wasn’t sad and lonely. I waited for that pit in my stomach to form, and that dreadful feeling to hit me out of nowhere as it had in the past, but it never came.
Last January was a fresh start for me. I was able to work on myself and grow as a person. It was like someone had pressed a reset button. I realized what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and did what made me happy. I changed my program, and truly focused on school to improve my grades. If someone or something had upset me, I took a step back to reevaluate the situation and discover what I could do to improve it, rather than coming at it with heightened emotions. I distanced myself from the people who were toxic and who weren’t in my life for the right reasons. Surrounding myself with supportive people, and keeping myself busy are the two key reasons I am able to say I’m happy today.
Right now there isn’t much to complain about because I’ve worked to make sure that I am happy with most aspects of my life.
I recently surprised my parents by telling them I wanted to travel by myself for the first time and go to Peru to volunteer over reading week. How was someone who wouldn’t spend more than two weeks away from home supposed to travel to a different continent for 10 days, not knowing a single person on the trip? It’s safe to say I am overly excited for this opportunity and count on this being a trip I’ll talk about my entire life. It gives me the opportunity to gain real life experience, and attain an appreciation for how lucky I am to have the life I live.
Reaching happiness and bliss is not something that appears overnight. Mental health is a day-to-day challenge. It takes work and commitment to adapt to the changes and set backs that come at you on a daily basis. It is not unreachable, however it is a winding road with many hurdles along the way. Trust me, I still dedicate entire days to being sad in bed… but I don’t let it consume me anymore.
The best advice I can give others experiencing similar situations as I, as cliché as it sounds, is to do what makes YOU happy. After all, it is your happiness that you’re fighting to get back. If you feel that overwhelming, dizzying, out-of-body wave of anxiety starting to appear, close your eyes, focus on where you are in this moment, and simply breathe. Lastly, talk to someone. Get some help!
Mental health is real. It’s devastating. It’s debilitating. Don’t let it define you. You are a warrior. You are irreplaceable.
It’s not easy to open up, but I encourage everyone to do so. Talk to your parents, your doctor, someone you trust who will make your battle easier and help you become stronger.
Please make sure to text, tweet, donate, and support today to raise awareness for mental health #BellLetsTalk
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Mental Health Help Line: 1-866-531-2600
Ontario College and University Students: 1-866-925-5454