Bell Let's Talk Day: My Story Of Mental Health

Uncategorized Jan 26, 2022

A few years ago the phone company Bell decided it wanted to support mental health initiatives by getting the collective population involved.

The first year they started this I posted and texted to do "my part."

But as the years have gone through I gain more and more steam on this day and now I am a huge supporter. The best part is... You can participate without having to shell out a bunch of money. All they're asking you to do is text (if you're with Bell) and interact with posts (share, comment, like and save). It's that simple.

Mental illness has been a big part of my story. I have had depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember, honestly.

So this cause is something personal to me.

Mental illness sees no bounds when it comes to age, gender, race, sexuality, etc. It can affect anyone, at any time. Yes, there are some groups such as the LGBTQIA2+ and BIPOC who statistically see higher numbers but anyone can struggle with it at any time of their life.

I grew up with teen parents. My mother had been orphaned the year and two years before I was born and our family was not a well-off family. Growing up I saw drug and alcohol issues, anger, instability, mental health issues among other things. I was the shy, quiet kid who could be found sitting in a corner reading a book because that felt like the safest spot sometimes. 

Don't get me wrong, I loved my family and we had great times but it was always an extreme. If it was a good time it was a really good time and if it was a bad time it was bad enough that we had to leave a 10-year-olds birthday party because certain family members were caught in the basement with heroin.

This not knowing created a wall I would put up mixed with huge amounts of anxiety. I would spend most of my time either in my room or at one of my million activities / jobs. I'd plug my headphones in and tune out the world and read books or watch the same three movies on repeat so I could leave the world I was in. I developed habits like nail-biting and scratching body parts until they had permanent discolouration.

I cried all the time. My mom used to say if you looked at me sideways I'd cry and it was true. I was very sensitive. Since studying Developmental Psychology I came to learn that that was one of the signs of childhood depression.

When I started university things didn't get any better.

I had ingrained habits and beliefs that were not adaptive to the "real world."

Eventually, I developed an eating disorder.

I ate very little, I exercised a lot and I took my measurements and weight obsessively up to 6 times a day. I had a tape measure in my drawers where I hid the pad of paper where I recorded my measurements. I never reached "the goal."

Things got progressively worse. Anxiety and depression ruled my life. I became scared of everything. I would be so afraid of being late for school that I would catch 3 buses ahead of the class I needed to go to and wait at the stop 10 minutes early... The bus stop was on my driveway so the chance of me being late was minuscule.

I also had anxiety-based OCD tendencies become exacerbated. Friends used to tell me they didn't want to come to my house because they were "afraid to touch anything and upset me." But no one suggested going and talking to someone.

Eventually, I did speak with someone. I was in school for Psychology after all. So I saw someone at the school who diagnosed me with depression, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, phobic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They prescribed me a mood-stabilizing pill that wreaked havoc on my system.

I became a fraction of a person. It's like I wasn't even there. I couldn't function. So I took them back to the pharmacy and never touched medication again.

Around the same time, I participated in many studies as a way to get extra credit for my degree. In one of these studies, it was suggested that I also had neurodiversity. But I put that notion aside thinking since I was studying it maybe I was just mimicking the behaviours.

Throughout my years I had written a total of 7 notes. Sometimes to specific people and sometimes just to the collective "everyone." I never attempted but during my second and third years, my thoughts were dominated by this subject. I had a knife hidden next to my bed but no one noticed.

After university, I thought things would get better but they didn't. I still silently struggled. I went back and forth between wanting people to know, to reach out, to help me and desperately not wanting people to find out.

No one ever said anything to me, even into my later 20's. Everyone has their own stuff going on and I never had a "best friend" who was close enough to notice that something was up. But I guess if your personality doesn't change they wouldn't notice anyway. It would just always be who you were.

After graduating from university my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved up the island a little ways. Working was really hard.

I loved what I was doing but I worked long and hard hours to make not enough money to live. The job was hard, physically and emotionally and I was stressed all the time about money.

A few years after starting to work for this company I was driving to meet a client and was in a car accident that resulted in my car being written off on sight. I struggled (and still do) with trauma resulting from it. 4 years later I still get extremely scared and often have panic attacks while driving (or sometimes being a passenger) on the highway in the rain.

I knew I needed to tackle this. This wasn't a way to live so I started working even more to get my hours up for benefits. When I worked enough hours to qualify for benefits I started seeing another psychologist that was recommended to me.

She didn't see any mention of diagnoses and asked where I'd been diagnosed. Immediately she said, "oooooh, that makes sense." Apparently, the school was notorious for not being organized or very good... Hence the bad prescription.

She re-diagnosed me and helped me tremendously. We did a lot of dissecting my past, working through fears (she had me write out all of my fears on a piece of paper and it resulted in more than 30 items), EFT, EMDR and other methods that were extremely helpful.

Fast forward to today. I am much better than I was in the past. I have an amazing and supportive husband so I feel a lot less lonely.

I can't say I'm 100%. I don't think I ever will be but I am actively working to ensure that I take care of myself first. I cannot be of service to or help others if my mental health is out of control. While I still have depression and anxiety it's not the same out-of-control state that it was for most of my life.

Anxiety is my biggest influencer now. It's something I live with every day but it's also something I manage every day. I have spent a lot of time learning about myself, about anxiety, about strategies that work in the moment and about what works in regards to preventative health.

That has been my key. Preventative health. 

I exercise, I walk, I spend time in nature, I have lots of activities that keep me busy, I do things like reading, puzzles and word searches to keep my mind busy, I dove into spirituality, I started eating a plant-based diet and filling myself with nutrients, I learned about slow living, I drink lots of amazing spring water, I have bought courses so I can keep learning about new things, etc.

I turn 30 this year and despite facing a lot of setbacks currently, I haven't dropped down to "the worst." Like I said I will always struggle with depression and anxiety but I now know that in my hardest times I need to be kind, loving and patient with myself. Now is the time when I need to pour into myself the most.

I have up days and down days and some days where I desperately wish someone "noticed" but for me, things really started to change when the mental health narrative started to change.

It's initiatives like #BellLetsTalkDay that help support the narrative change, the stigma change. So I am definitely on board with this. And it's so easy. All I have to do is reshare posts and comment and spread the word.

Maybe someone is in a place where I used to live. Maybe they will see my Bell Let's Talk Day shares and know that my account is a safe place to land. If you're reading this and you're lonely and just want someone to "notice" as I did, please head to my Instagram and drop into my DM's. You are not annoying, you are not a pain, you are safe.


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