I have lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember. It lurked below the surface until one day; it reared its menacing force, and never left.
For far too long, I struggled alone with my mental health. I struggled in silence.
I reached a breaking point and finally asked for help; and, with time, I started to heal. I began to come to terms with its existence–with its daily and unwelcome intrusions into my body and my mind. Even after many years together, my anxiety still catches me off guard. It can crawl into my mind when I least expect it and is nowhere to be found when I am awaiting its arrival. However, with the support of family, friends, coworkers, and professionals, I have learned that, while anxiety will always be a part of me, it doesn’t define me and, in many ways, it makes me strong.
For too long and for too many people, mental illness has been a taboo subject. It is something we desperately try to sweep under the carpet. I used to be embarrassed to talk about my anxiety. I felt like I needed to keep it locked up like a dirty secret. But days like today help those suffering in silence to find their voice. To see they aren’t alone and don’t have to hide in the dark.
The best way to break down these stigmas attached to mental illness is to share our stories and to have honest conversations related to our mental health. We need to show the light to those struggling to find their way out of the darkness, to educate those who don’t understand, and to continue to support those who advocate for mental health awareness.
It is hard to ask for help. So, I encourage those who are struggling, to find one person to confide in. Taking the first step is always the hardest. While the journey will be ridden with bumps and bruises along the way, the destination is worth every second.
Mental Health Resources Available
Covid-19 has impacted our lives tremendously, and that includes the mental well being of many. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 38% of Canadians report that their mental health has declined due to the pandemic and those already struggling are two times more likely to say that their mental health has worsened. Now, more than ever, discussions and actions related to mental health is imperative.
While not a perfect substitute to in-person interaction, technology like Facetime and Zoom we can stay connected with our loved ones and support network. There are also apps like Calm, and headspace (my personal favourite) which are effective to help unwind, mediate, and quiet your thoughts. Perhaps exercise is what helps you heal. Maybe it’s finding 15 minutes in your day to claim as your own. It could be speaking to a professional. Or it might be a combination of several things. Whatever helps make YOU feel better and stronger, do more of that when you are able.
If you, or someone you know, are struggling please know there are resources available. And, to support Bell Let’s Talk Day, please visit their website to find out how you can help raise funds for mental health initiatives.
For those living with mental illness, know you are not alone, you are brave, you are loved, and when you stumble, someone is there, ready, and willing to hold you up.