You may not remember this. It was probably an insignificant interaction from your perspective, but I remember it like it was yesterday and I’ll probably never forget it. We no longer work together and because of the horrible place I was falling into, I was never able to properly thank you for what you did that day.

I don’t remember specifically what day, or month for that matter, this happened, I just remember that I was having a bad morning. I don’t remember all the details of what led up to this, but I am sure I cried heavily in the shower while getting ready for work.

As I walked the short distance from my car to our office building, I was dreading going to work. I wanted more than to call in sick and go home and cry. Not for any particular reason. My body just wanted to cry.

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This post started out as a comment in response to this video, but as usual, more thoughts came out as I began writing, and I decided to just let myself keep writing. This is not edited. I am not going to edit it, unless I notice typos unintentionally, which I totally do all the time. First of all, I just don’t have the mental energy to edit (let’s face it, I almost never do – very few of my posts here are actually edited), but it kind of came as my thoughts flowed, and I sort of want to keep it that way. Maybe I’ll change my mind later and go back through it, but for now, I’m posting it as is.

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It isn’t easy for me to express how I feel on a good day. Being in the midst of a depressive episode makes it 10 times more difficult. When I find words from others that I strongly relate to, I like to share it, because I feel like it does a better job of explaining my own feelings than I can. I also hope that it will help others understand what I’m going through.

I read this article on The Mighty this morning, and wanted to share it, for that exact reason.

Yes, I was doing okay for a little while, until about 6 months ago when I slowly began to slip into the most severe depressive episode I’ve ever experienced. It took a couple months to even realize it was happening. There was no trigger. There’s no reason for why I’m depressed right now, I just am. The fact is, there is a chemical imbalance in my brain and the meds I was on for a year and a half stopped working. It is likely there was a drastic change in my brain chemistry that caused the particular antidepressant I was on to no longer be useful for me.

“Depression doesn’t feel like sadness per se, but more of an emptiness, like instead of being able to feel 100 percent of emotions you can only feel 50 percent. The [other] half just doesn’t exist anymore. You can still feel happy/sad/frustrated/excited, but not to as full a capacity as normal.”

In addition, I also had a side effect at higher doses that made it very difficult for me to function on a daily basis, even though I had been feeling ok, emotionally, so increasing my dose, even temporarily, was not an option I was willing to consider.

Over the past 6 months, at my lowest, I couldn’t go 5 minutes without thinking about suicide, no matter what was happening around me. I could be surrounded by family or coworkers laughing and joking and I would sit there, feeling alone, surrounded by people, wishing I didn’t exist. Driving home from work each day was a tear filled 20 minutes where I imagined myself driving of the road and smashing my car, multiple times.

It took an enormous amount of energy just to get up and shower every morning, but the only reason I did was because I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I was struggling. I didn’t want the attention. So I went on auto-pilot.

“Just because I’m feeling this way doesn’t mean I’m worthless or lazy or slacking; it just means doing what I do each day takes a lot more effort than usual.”

Depression basically sucks the life out of you. It takes away not only your happiness, but your passion, motivation, and energy. I was constantly exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of exhaustion caused by severe depression. It’s like nothing else. Being exhausted from intense activity or whatever, doesn’t even begin to compare to the exhaustion felt in every millimetre of your body and mind because of depression.

I could barely concentrate on anything. I wasn’t even making it to a full 8 hours each day at work. I would barely eat anything all day. It took enormous effort just to find the motivation to eat. And when I did eat, it didn’t matter what I ate, it all tasted the same.

When I watched my favourite TV shows, I couldn’t focus for long enough to follow what was going on. I wouldn’t laugh at things I knew were funny. The sad things just didn’t get to me the way they normally do.

I became obsessed with suicide. I started reading a lot of suicide stories online. I don’t entirely know why I was doing it so obsessively, but I never seemed to get what I was looking for out of them. And the stories with happy endings just didn’t resonate with me the way they used to. Even though I could relate to the feelings these people were writing about, I didn’t feel it. Normally, reading stuff like that would trigger an emotional response in my body and mind, but it didn’t. That’s when I began to become aware of the emptiness.

One night, in September, all of this came to a climax. When I didn’t think I could get any lower, I did. I wanted to die so badly, but didn’t know how to do it. I cried for hours upon hours, in bed, just trying to fall asleep, praying for it to be over. I knew I probably should have woken my parents up and asked them to take me to the hospital, but I just couldn’t do it. I decided that if it wasn’t gone by morning I would go to the hospital.

Have I ever mentioned how talented I am when it comes to procrastination and convincing myself it’s not that bad?

That moment of procrastination was probably the worst possible thing I could have done. I was still too terrified to tell anyone and because I felt just a tiny bit better the next day, I did nothing. Nothing. I felt physically ill because I had taken several Tylenol Cold nighttime pills in an unsuccessful attempt to fall asleep, also hoping that maybe it would interact with the newer antidepressant I was talking and possibly do more than simply knock me out, which of course didn’t work. It took several hours after taking those pills for me to actually fall asleep.

I kept considering going to the hospital for the next few weeks, but couldn’t bring myself to do it because I never quite reached that same point again, even to this day.

I’ve stopped and started three antidepressants since August. I’ve just started taking what is now my 6th antidepressant in the past two years.

I definitely feel quite a bit better than I did in September, but I am still having a hard time. I may be through the worst of it, but I’m not on the other side of it yet.

My work has been extremely supportive, since I opened up about it. I’m currently working 5 hours a day instead of 8, but that is flexible. They know some days will be better than others and I might be able to work more. They know some days will be worse and I might not be able to work at all. They have made me feel valued and keep reminding me that they don’t want to lose me, and that is incredibly encouraging for me, especially given what happened with my last job.

I’ve also been told, by multiple people, that I am very good at hiding my depression and anxiety. I’m not intentionally trying to hide it. It just seems to be my body’s natural instinct. I don’t know how else to explain it. I’ve been hoping, for months, that someone would notice and ask me about it so I wouldn’t need to bring it up myself.

“If you ever have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I have a lot of friends with limited experience with people who have a mental illness, and being open to learning is a huge step into ending the stigmas associated with it.”

Seriously, I’m not afraid to talk about my issues if you ask! I may not have the right words to explain it in a way I feel is fully accurate, but I’ll try. I’m scared to bring it up because of responses I’ve had in the past. People often feel uncomfortable, which makes me uncomfortable. But the stigma needs to end, and the only way that can happen is if people ask questions and learn how depression, and other mental illnesses, effect those who have them.

Another article from The Mighty I wanted to share and relate my own experience to.

I only just learned about this disorder less than a year ago.

The named was previously, dermatillomania, in the DSM-4, but, was renamed in the DSM-5 to excoriation disorder. I don’t like the word excoriation. It just sounds super gross and makes me uncomfortable, so I prefer the old name, dermatillomania. It also sounds better with trichotillomania, which is compulsive pulling out of hair (scalp or body). The two disorders are commonly seen together. I struggle with both, but more derma than trich, and usually the trich triggers the terms because pulling out a hair, it can sometimes bleed and scab, or later cause an ingrown hair, which often becomes a pimple. It’s a visicous cycle.

It isn’t as severe for me as the girl who wrote the article which is also why when I first heard of it I didn’t think I had it (the photo on Wikipedia is super gross), but one of the symptoms is having failed attempts to stop picking, which I have had plenty of. Another important symptom is that the picking takes significant time out of your day, more days than not, which it did. My skin maybe doesn’t look quite as bad, but it is just as stressful, painful, and anxiety triggering.

For me though, I’m generally not searching for the blemishes. My biggest trigger is visual. If I see something in the mirror, once I know it’s there, I cannot forget about it. Same goes for if I happen to find something by unintentionally touching my face, I can’t forget stop thinking about it and touching it.

It used to be a lot worse on my face than it is now. Maybe I’ve had less pimples on my face, therefore less reason to pick there. I don’t know. Although I have been getting a lot of those little tiny pimples around my nose, but they clear up at lot faster than others. Lately though I’ve been more focused on my arms. It used to just be above my elbows (I have tons and tons of tiny little scars) but it’s gotten really bad and now, I constantly have no less than 5 scabs on each arm, below the elbow.

Just came across this article on Facebook, and in it, something caught my attention. It mentions a quote that the girl in the article, Meagan, found and it gave her the push she needed to share her story. And that quote perfectly summarizes why I have this blog.

“The world changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives.”

On the days when it’s harder to post certain things, I struggle with this, but all I was it to make a difference in someone’s life.

That is all. I just really wanted to share that.

It’s January 27th, 2016 and it’s Bell Let’s Talk Day so…let’s talk.

What is Bell Let’s Talk?

Bell Let’s Talk is an initiative that aims to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental illness. They also provide support for mental health organizations across Canada and invest in research to better understand treatments and cures.

To find out more, please visit their website:

The most common ways to get involved is to Tweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. Every year, on Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates a certain amount for every tweet with this hashtag on this day to mental health organization across Canada. If you are a Bell Mobility customer, they will also donate that same amount for every text message you send from your phone. If I remember correctly, last year they also did the same with Facebook shares of an image they posted.

My Bell Let’s Talk Experience

This is my second year of actually participating openly in Bell Let’s Talk Day, as someone diagnosed with mental illness(es). However, I had tried to open up on social media during Bell Let’s Talk Day in 2012.

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2012

I was terrified. I had never told anyone about my depression (I still didn’t know I had anxiety, because I didn’t actually understand what it was) and at the time had not been diagnosed, but I’d been struggling for many years by that point.

My #BellLetsTalk tweet was met with complete silence from everyone I knew. It got a couple likes and retweets from people I didn’t know, but only one, ONE, random stranger responded with a lovely positive message acknowledging my struggle. * I had posted something on Facebook as well, but was so terrified of friends and family seeing it and saying that I was looking for attention and other negative comments because people had previously told me that I posted everything on Facebook, in a negative tone. I think it was part of my coping skills. I posted a lot on Facebook so people knew I was still around, I was still alive. Comments on posts always made me uncomfortable, even though I’d posted them (they still do). It’s like part of me wants everyone to see it, but doesn’t want anyone to acknowledge it. But then when no one does, I feel hurt and betrayed. Sounds stupid I know, but I think that comes from my social anxiety.

I ended up deleting the post.

That’s when I decided to keep it all inside. (Although, it wasn’t the first time. **)

That’s also when things began to get a lot worse.

I felt like nobody cared. I was in so much pain but too terrified to say anything to anyone about it. It was during that time, and in the following few years where I began having a lot of suicidal thoughts again, and started self harming again.

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2015

I pretended like Bell Let’s Talk didn’t exist for 2013 and 2014. I saw the commercials on TV, and they made me cry, every time. But I didn’t say a word. Not to anyone. Not on social media, not in person. Nothing. I avoided the hashtag on Twitter. Actually, I think avoided Twitter and Facebook entirely on those days. It just was too painful.

But on November 17th, 2014, I got the nudge I needed to finally reach out and get help. That nudge came from Wil Wheaton, in an episode of Aisha Tyler’s podcast, Girl on Guy, which I was listening to during a drive home to Medicine Hat from Edmonton, which is about a 5 hour drive. (There are some more details about this in past posts and here.)

It took me about a week to finally call my doctor’s office and book an appointment but I did it.

Initially, he diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. A couple months later, my diagnosis was changed to Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Depressive Features.

I was still scared to tell anyone. I thought for sure when I visited my parents for Christmas I would tell them. I couldn’t. I intentionally left my antidepressants out on the dresser where they could be seen if they went into my room. They didn’t notice, or didn’t want to say anything. Since I take medication for allergies and asthma, seeing a prescription bottle isn’t that odd, so it’s possible they didn’t think anything of it.

It wasn’t until January 13th, 2015 that I finally decided I needed to tell someone. I didn’t know who to tell or how to bring it up, and then I thought, I’m a web developer. I spend almost every waking moment on the internet, and a lot of that time on social media.

I was originally going to write a post on Facebook, but then decided that wasn’t the right platform for reaching people outside my social circle. I decided to post on my Tumblr blog because I could do some formatting and add links without showing gigantic URLs in the post.

It wasn’t until a week later that I decided that I should start a real blog. Tumblr is more of a social network/mini-blog platform and writing long posts on it can be annoying for followers to scroll through. So, I started this blog on January 17th, 2015.

And then on January 28th, 2016, when Bell Let’s Talk Day rolled around, I knew I had to share my story. Thankfully, I had a lot of positive support. It was wonderful.

Bell Let’s Talk 2016

I can’t believe it has been a whole year. A LOT has changed!! I went through some very difficult things, but I’ve come out stronger having learned from each of those experiences.

It’s a new year. A new beginning.

So, here’s to Bell Let’s Talk Day and a excellent year! Bring it, 2016!

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I came across this post on The Mighty and I couldn’t help but feel a bit of similarity between my experiences and the author’s. Although she has a condition with more obvious physical symptoms than mental disorders usually do, I still found myself relating to parts of her experience. For example, being told “it’s all in your head” and feeling like you’re never going to get a proper answer. So, I thought it was worth sharing here.

This woman’s story can ring true for a lot of illnesses, including mental illnesses, and I certainly don’t want to sound like I’m diminishing either of them. I can really only speak from my own experiences, so if you’re reading this, I recommend you read Stefani Shea’s post on The Mighty as well. Here’s the link again, in case you skipped past it the first time:

Here’s some of my experience that I was reminded of while reading that article.Continue reading

One year ago, my life changed.

For the better? Well, I guess that depends on how you look at it.

But one year later, I am still here, and I’m okay. I guess that qualifies as a milestone.

November 17, 2014

I had been at a conference in Edmonton, representing my employer, at a booth with a coworker. During the 7 hour drive back to Medicine Hat, I was listing to some episodes of Aisha Tyler’s podcast, Girl on Guy.

About halfway home, I was listening to Wil Wheaton’s episode. Wil talked about some of the struggles he had during his time on Star Trek, which tied in to a later part of the conversation. They were talking about Google+ when Wil’s phone alarm went off, telling him it was time to take his “brain pills,” as he referred to them. This led to a conversation about Wil’s battle with depression and anxiety.

I had been aware that Wil had spoken openly about his struggle with mental health issues in the past, but even after struggling silently myself for most of my life, I hadn’t made any sort of connection to Wil’s story. Until now.

It was as if I’d run into a brick wall. I couldn’t breathe. Tears were streaming down my face. I thought, I should really pull the car over, but I didn’t. I kept driving, through the light snow blowing across the highway, illuminated by my car’s headlights. The highway was almost empty, as most Alberta highways often are at night in the middle of winter. I squinted through tear splatters on my glasses, as I tried to calm myself down.

Easier said than done. Never in my life had I ever felt such a strong connection to a person I had never met. Even though, situationally, what Wil was describing was not even remotely close to my experiences, the feelings, the emotions, the thought processes, everything else, he literally could have been reading my mind, right then and there.Continue reading

Job hunting can be frustrating for anyone. Simple day-to-day things can be difficult for someone with anxiety. Interacting with people when you have social anxiety can be really hard. When you have generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and severe social anxiety while looking for a new job, it can be hell.

Your mind is constantly telling you you’re not good enough for anything, let alone the job you are applying for. You think that they can tell something is wrong with you or that you’re weird or crazy and they won’t want to hire you. You’re constantly worried about whether your resume and/or portfolio are weak. Your mind tells you no one wants to hire you. That can be extremely debilitating. It can even cause you to avoid or procrastinate applying for jobs because you’re so terrified of what will happen that you’d rather not even go there.

If you’ve had a bad experience with a previous employer regarding your mental health issues, all these thoughts can be amplified that much more. It doesn’t matter how much friends or family tell you that you will find the right job or that you are good enough for a job, you still dread the whole experience.

I, myself, have always been overly nervous when it came to job hunting and interviews. I never understood why until recently. I was always hesitant to apply for jobs because the description didn’t sound perfect or they asked for skills that I didn’t feel I had or was very good at. This is due to the fact that I have severe social anxiety and with that, poor self-esteem. Up until about 11 months ago, I had no idea why I struggled so much with this.

As of just over two months ago, I am no unemployed after having an extremely discouraging experience with my former employer, related to my mental health issues and did involve some stigmatization. As far as how it effected me emotionally, it was actually pretty traumatic.

Now that I am back job hunting, I am absolutely terrified! I am worrying constantly that the same thing will happen again. I’ll start out nervous about the new job, then end up loving it and being super loyal, then get too stressed and have to take doctor recommended time off again, and then when I try to return they refuse to make modifications to ease me back in without overloading me with stress all over again.

Even though the last time this happened, I didn’t know going into the job that I had any sort of mental illness. In hindsight, I know now that I’ve had anxiety almost my entire life, and depression at least since my teens (varying in severity over the years). The problem was that I had no idea, and no one else did either. The signs were all there, but no one clued in. Not even myself, until I had a breakdown and realized I needed help. Course, I didn’t tell anyone initially. I didn’t know how. It had gone for so long. Years! At least 15, probably 20 years. I had the behavioural, emotional, and physical symptoms and everything but, I internalize my feelings most of the time, making it harder for the outside world to really notice, so I felt like no one would believe me. Course, that’s part of what kept me from seeking help sooner, was the fear that I would be told that there was nothing wrong with me and it’s all in my head. (Part of that is a justified fear, based on past experiences, but also a symptom of the illness itself.)

This unrelenting worry and paralyzing fear has forced me into an unending cycle of procrastination and self loathing. It has made me extremely irritable and triggered (or been a secondary trigger) for a few more than mild depressive episodes over the past few months.

The fact that I am currently on antidepressants has helped keep my mood more stable, and even improved it significantly on most days. It has also helped pull me out of a depressed mood faster than I would have been able to do on my own in the past. It doesn’t prevent the bad days from happening though, it just reduces the number of bad days, makes the bad days slightly less bad, and makes them easier to overcome.

All of this has made my job search that much harder. In reality, it probably hasn’t been all that different from past job searches. Course that’s not including when I worked in retail because that has always been easier since there are more local options than looking for jobs in my chosen career as a web developer, without having to consider moving to another city.

At this point, I am still looking searching, and trying my hardest to be less scared about it. It’s not easy though.

The thing I think we have to remember is that there is no finish line with depression, anxiety, or any other sort of mental illness. We’re on this path, and the path is constantly changing. Sometimes it’s flat and well-marked, and we can see all the way to the horizon. Other times, it’s so heavily shrouded in fog and mist, we can’t even see past our fingertips and we need someone to show us where the path is. And sometimes, we come to a wall that we don’t think we’ll ever get over.
tears in rain | WIL WHEATON dot NET

This is one of the reasons I love about Wil Wheaton! He is very open about his struggle with mental illness.

The main reason I wanted to share this post is because the conversation he shared, towards the end, really hit home with me.

Wil is also hilarious. This line made me laugh:

there is no such thing as a good morning at bullshit o’clock.

And also, this:

(If you can spell bananas without Gwen Stefani doing it for you in your head, you’re missing out on something great.)

Note: His post is really long and he is mostly talking about some game that I know nothing about, so I skimmed over that portion of it. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’d recommend reading up to the part where he says, “We went on like this for a few more minutes, my anti-morning sass offset by Ashly’s relentless happiness and positivity.” You could probably go a bit further if you wanted to. Go as far as you want. Then skip down to about where he says, “Still with me? Good.” and continue reading from there. Even skipping that big chunk in the middle, it’s still long, but it’s worth it!

Wil has said on several occasions (on social media and interviews, etc.) that he hears stories like this all the time, which in some ways makes it feel less special, but for each of those people, it is deeply personal. At least it is for me. But knowing I’m not the only one also makes me feel good at the same time.

This is the paragraph that got me:

I extended my hand and thanked him for playing, because it was a genuinely fun and challenging match. He took my hand and he said, “I was really hoping that I’d get to play with you, because you saved my life.” Before I could respond, he continued, “everything you’ve written and shared about anxiety and depression helped me get treatment for my own mental health.”

If I ever get to meet Wil Wheaton, I hope have the opportunity to tell him he saved my life too!

He is also, all around, a pretty cool dude, so meeting him would be an honour!

I knew who he was and that he had been on Star Trek, but I only started following him on social media after he appeared on The Big Bang Theory because I discovered that he was a huge nerd and that is freaking awesome! I just wish I had figured that out before I attended my first (and second) convention (Calgary Expo 2012 and 2013) because he was there both times and I didn’t bother to get a photo op or autograph because I really only knew him from Big Bang, and that he was on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I wasn’t that big into it, so I didn’t care that much at the time. Plus, I was busy meeting Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, Richard Dean Anderson, and Nathan Fillion! Now wish that I had added Wil to my list of people to get photos with, or at least an autograph! But back in 2012 and 2013, he didn’t mean to me what he does now.

I’m sure I’ve written about it enough times on social media that by now most people reading this probably know, but I’ll share it again anyway.

I suffered for many, many years with self hatred, poor self-esteem, and basically zero confidence. I worried constantly about what people were thinking about me, whether they liked me or not, whether the group of kids on the other side of the room were laughing at me because of how fat I look, how terrible my hair is, my ugly clothes, or something stupid I said. I also had horrible situations constantly popping into my head, triggered by things as simple as one of my parents being 5 minutes late getting home from work which means they got in a terrible car accident and I’ll never see them again, or I forgot to lock the front door and now there could be a serial killer somewhere in my house waiting for the perfect moment to jump out of a dark room to murder me.

After moving over 3,000km away from the friends I’d known since grade 1, to a teeny tiny little town in the middle of nowhere, I began to retreat into my own little world inside my head where I pretended all those old friends were not slowly drifting away and losing touch and we’d all be together again some day, while in reality they were growing up and moving on with their lives. Today, very few of them are still friends with each other.

On the outside, I was completely miserable.

High school is traumatic enough without being the new kid who just moved from another province, and completely different culture. Moving across the country at 13 years old, when all the kids have formed their little groups and refuse to accept anyone new, add in anxiety disorders that have begun to create physical symptoms, but no one seems know be able to figure out what is causing them, so the mental illness remains undiagnosed, and you get a teenager who has lost all interest in the things she was once passionate about and struggles to find new things to be love, and thinks the entire world is against her.

Fast forward to adulthood. In November of 2014, at age 26, I was driving home from a convention for work. (A 7 hour drive! No joke. The joys of living in the Canadian prairies!) I had planned out all the podcasts I was going to listen to on my drive there and my drive back. I listened to Wil Wheaton’s episode of Girl On Guy on the drive home. I’m glad I didn’t listen to it on the way there! It would have made for a very rough weekend otherwise!

I had heard Wil speak about having depression in the past, so I was a little bit aware, and kind of expected the topic to come up, but I did not expect the reaction I had to it this time.

If you listen to the episode, at 1:24:58, Wil gets a notification on his phone which he then explains, “that’s my alarm telling me, ‘it’s six o’clock, you have to take your brain pills.'”And then Aisha asks if they can stop talking about Google+ and start talking about that.

So, he goes on to explain his situation, and then it ties back to their earlier discussion about how he was always so angry when he was younger.

As the conversation continues on in that direction, I am suddenly hit with overwhelming, brick wall of emotion. I’m driving in the dark, on the highway at 115km/h, and I can barely see through the tears in my eyes, I’m hyperventilating through violent sobs, my whole body aches, my nose is completely plugged up (does crying make anyone else congested or is it just me?), just trying to keep my car between the white lines. I debated pulling over, but I couldn’t seem to get my body to do that, and I knew if I did that I might never stop crying and then never get home, and I had to be at work at 8:30 the next morning, so I kept driving.

It wasn’t because I felt his story was sad or that I felt sympathy for him or anything like that. It was because it felt as if he was talking about me. He was describing my life. My situation. My feelings.

I was just so unbelievably stressed and overwhelmed with life, and had been for at least a year. I felt like I wasn’t going to survive much longer.

Something I realized recently: If it wasn’t for the fact that I had my dog, Mosley, depending on me to feed him and keep him safe, I probably would hate attempted suicide at some point in the past 3 years. I thought about it frequently, but the thought of Mosley being left alone with no one to take care of him before anyone realized I was gone, broke my heart and kept me from going any further, kept me from turning my thoughts into actions.

I know I said earlier that Wil saved my life, but obviously my dog did too. If it wasn’t for Wil talking about this on Aisha’s podcast, I wouldn’t have gotten help when I did.

Listening to Wil’s story made me realize that there was actually something wrong with me, medically, and no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t going to be able to fix it on my own. I needed help.

It took me about a week and a half to work up the courage to call my doctor’s office and book an appointment. If it wasn’t for the feeling I got listening to Wil, I never would have even talked to my doctor. I would have continued down the road I was on full of so much stress I was making me physically ill, completely irrational anger towards people and situations that were entirely out of my control, self harming because I didn’t know how else to escape the overwhelming hopelessness of it all, and hating myself so much that I just didn’t want to live.

If Wil’s story hadn’t encouraged me to take that first step, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I know things would have gotten worse. I don’t know if I’d be alive right now. It may have gotten to the point where Mosley wasn’t enough to keep me alive.

But I took that first step because of Wil Wheaton.

Wil Wheaton saved my life.

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted on here. I’ve been dealing with a situation that has caused a significant increase in my stress and anxiety and triggered what was, for me, a relatively severe depressive episode. I can’t go into much detail due to the nature and current status of that particular situation, but my emotions were running extremely high to the point where I was so overwhelmed that I found suddenly that my emotions completely shut off for about 3 days. (This happened about two weeks ago.)

In the time leading up to those three days, I did relapse in my self harm a bit. I had been clean for about 3 weeks, and gave into the urge due to how overwhelming my emotions were. I haven’t self harmed since. I think it has been over 3 weeks since the last time I self harmed.

Anyways, I didn’t cry at all during those 3 days and I found myself completely unmotivated to do anything except lie on the couch with the TV on, but not really even watching it. If I wasn’t required to feed and walk 3 dogs (my parents were out of town for a few days) I probably would have just stayed in bed the entire time.

I found myself contemplating suicide, which wasn’t exactly a new thing for me, but I was thinking about it a lot more frequently than normal. It was the fact that I was dog sitting my parents’ dogs as well as the extremely adorable face of my own dog that kept the thoughts from becoming anything more than just thoughts.

Side note: I can’t remember if I wrote this here before, but I know I have on other social media. I realized recently that if I didn’t have my dog, I’m not sure I would have survived the past 3 years. It was the thought of him being left alone for days because no one would notice I wasn’t around that kept me from actually doing it.

It was the fact that I found myself not laughing at jokes on The Big Bang Theory reruns that I knew I had found hilarious in the past. I wasn’t laughing at anything. I also happened to watch a rerun of Flashpoint that I remember being really sad and I cried the last time I watched it. I couldn’t even make myself cry this time. I knew it was sad, in my head, but I didn’t feel it. I did’t feel anything.

When my emotions came back, it was sudden and so overwhelming that I couldn’t get through any task without bursting into tears.

It began while I was taking a shower. I suddenly found thoughts running through my head about what was going on and they just became so overwhelming that I began to feel weak in every muscle in my body and I started sobbing uncontrollably.

It was so intense that I couldn’t stand anymore. I ended up on my knees facing the back of the shower with one arm in my lap and one in the ledge on the back of the tub with my head rested on my arm, water from the shower head streaming steadily onto my back. It was as if every single emotion that had been locked up tight inside me was suddenly exploding out of me and my body, physically, couldn’t handle it.

I don’t know how long I was in that state, but the timer on the bathroom fan had run out. I did finally managed to get back up on my feet and finish my shower, but not without bursting into tears 2 or 3 more times.

The rest of my day continued like that. Random moments of uncontrollable emotion left me so physically exhausted that I found it difficult to do anything.

I needed to make a quick trip to the grocery store for a few things so I managed to keep myself from crying for long enough to get my eyes less red and puffy so I didn’t look ill. I ended up forgetting some items on my list because I all my focus and energy was going into not crying in the middle of the grocery store.

As I was leaving, the traffic on the road outside the store was really bad. Normally I would be making a left turn, but there is an alternative route that allows me to make a right turn, and immediately pull into a left turn lane so I only have to cross one lane of traffic at a time. Problem was there was so much traffic, I couldn’t even make the right turn. To make things even worse, it was raining. Luckily, there wasn’t anyone behind me for a while, so I didn’t feel rushed, but I was starting to get frustrated. Then someone did pull up behind me, so I tried to find a smaller gap in traffic that I could sneak into, but it was hard, and the jerk behind me started honking at me. That pissed me off. I felt tears starting to build up in my eyes.

I managed to find a big enough gap in traffic to sneak through the first lane and into the middle left turn lane. I thought that would get me away from the jerk who honked at me, but nooooooo. A few seconds later, they pulled in behind me. Great.

The traffic in the lane going the opposite direction was backed up well past where I was sitting, from the set of lights that was a few hundred meters behind me. Then a nice person going the other direction stopped and waved me across.

As I lifted my foot off the break pedal, the asshole behind me pulled into the lane and swerved over to the street I was trying to turn onto. I saw a woman in her 30s or 40s in the passenger seat, looking at me and the guy in the van facing us, laughing. Thankfully, the guy in the van saw what an idiot those people were and waited for me to turn as well. I ended up following those people half way back to my house, and they did not stop at a single stop sign. They just blew right through them. Then they turned down a street where I continued on straight.

The entire time I was so frustrated and angry that the tears had been building up, until it exploded and I was sobbing in my car. The rain outside seemed to get worse as tears streamed down my face.

As I turned the corner onto my street and into my driveway, I saw the neighbours outside, and I was certainly not in a state to speak to people, so I pulled into the garage as quickly as I could without letting them see my face, shut off the car and closed the garage door, and burst into tears all over again. I sat in my car sobbing for at least 5 minutes, while the dogs were inside barking, waiting for me at the door.

I managed to calm down enough to bring the groceries in, unloaded the cold stuff into the fridge and freezer and left everything else on the counter and went and lied down on the couch in the living room sobbing some more. Dogs came over, concerned and wanting to snuggle. Once I calmed down again, I got up and finished unloading the groceries and went back downstairs to the family room and turned on the TV.

Later that night, I had a good phone chat with my parents and a couple text message chats that made me feel a lot better, and I was able to get through the next few days without anything too eventful happening.

My emotions went up and down over the next little bit, but not quite as bad. Then I started to notice some changes starting to take effect from the recent increase in the dose of my antidepressants. My emotions are calming down and stabilizing. Its not perfect, but I am seeing an improvement. I still think I need to wait for a while before I decide whether the changes I’m seeing are good or bad.

Been sitting here staring at these for 20 minutes straight. Torn between wanting to get better and not wanting to do anything at all, wanting to just stay curled up in bed for the rest of my life.

Is this what my life has become? Taking pills just to get through the day? Not living, just surviving.

I feel like there’s no reason for it. No excuse.

I haven’t had a shitty life. I haven’t had a spectacular life either. But I can’t even remember the last time I felt happy about where I was in life.

Yeah, I feel happy in a situation like playing with my dog, and it makes my mood a little better, but it doesn’t make me feel happy about my life.

I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing with my life and that I never will.

I dread getting out of bed every morning. I find myself hoping that I won’t wake up, just so that I won’t have to deal with the day.

Every day feels like I’m fighting a loosing battle.

But the fact that I’m still here, does that mean that maybe I’m not loosing the battle?

This is something I wanted to share during Mental Health Week, but I never got around to finishing it, but its still relevant, so I’m sharing it now!

I came across this article via social media and I think everyone should read it.

The Thing About Anxiety Is…Huffington Post, by Tayana Simons

Here some notes about how I feel the points apply to me. I’ll include some quotes, but I recommend reading the full article yourself, first.

1) It’s more than just worrying

Everyone worries about things from time to time, it’s a natural part of being human and letting your brain figure out the next move. Anxiety is different, it’s irrational, and it’s constant.

In my case, it becomes obsessive, fixating thoughts about any particular situation. It can be a potential situation that may or may not happen, and I will imagine how the conversation is going to go, whether its bad or good. Or it can be something that has already happened, and I’ll be stuck fixating on some stupid thing I said (which may not actually be stupid, but I felt like it was stupid) or I’ll obsess about something someone else said or did. It’ll get to the point where I am super stressed out and/or terrified by what may or may not happen. It can literally be anything.

2) It takes over your life

This is basically what makes it a disorder vs. simple, every day problems.

3) It stops you from thinking clearly

Whether it is a task at work, a film, or a conversation, you are usually only giving it a fraction of your attention. This can be especially difficult when at work or studying, as the fear of failure can almost paralyse you into not being able to do anything at all.

Holy shit that is so extremely true!! When I feel overwhelmed (which is my most common feeling when I, personally, am feeling anxious) I become less productive. I can’t stop thinking about how many things I have to get done, and that becomes the only thing I can do, is think. I can’t just take it one thing at a time, I feel like I have to get it all done right now.

4) It can strike at any time

We don’t want to admit a weakness. We don’t want to talk to anyone about it because we don’t feel we really have anything to feel worried about. This dismissal makes the illness grow stronger.

I struggled with this for a very, very long time! This is a huge reason that I didn’t seek help sooner. I thought my problems weren’t big enough to get help, and quite frankly, they were embarrassing most of the time. And I have had my worries and feeling shut down by people on several occasions and that makes me want to stay silent even more.

5) It’s not logical

I think this one speaks for itself. I am generally a very logical person, in how I process information and situations, but that seems to be often contradicted by the emotions that come from my anxiety and depression. It makes no rational sense to me, which means it probably makes even less sense to other people.

6) It steals your sleep

Being sleep deprived just adds to being unable to concentrate, to feeling inadequate in your job or personal relationships, and thus adds to your anxiety. Not being able to escape the feeling even when it is time to sleep is enough to send you to breaking point.

Holy shit does it ever! My sleep deprivation usually comes from the obsessive thoughts I talked about with point number 1. Before I started taking medication, it would often take me hours to fall asleep. If I woke up in the middle of the night, for whatever reason, I would struggle to fall asleep again. Since being diagnosed and starting medication, this has gotten better, although my sleep isn’t perfect, I am falling asleep much faster these days, about 85% of the time. So that’s good. My sleep quality isn’t great, but I believe that may be due to some other factors.

7) It is truly frightening

The impact of a state of constant fear on your brain and your body should never be underestimated. With your body in a constant ‘flight’ mode you expend so much adrenaline that your body is often left exhausted and running on empty.

Although, I haven’t really experienced a full on panic attack, I do get what I refer to as “anxiety attacks” which happens when I just get too overwhelmed and just can’t deal with things and I need to cry and not talk to anyone for a while. When I’m around other people, I’m generally able to control this, to an extent, but when I’m alone, I can’t, because its very difficult. A full blown anxiety attack (my kind) usually consists of uncontrollable, heavy breathing/gasping, and sobbing. From an outsider’s perspective, it probably just looks like I’m crying uncontrollably, but inside there are thoughts racing through my head, and my body just wants to give out. I basically have to curl up on a corner or under the covers in my bed and just let it all out. There’s nothing else I can do but just let it happen. I don’t know if that is actually an panic attack or not. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. I don’t know. That’s why I call it an anxiety attack.

8) It changes you

Anxiety can change the way you behave, interact, think and feel.

This speaks for itself. I think that I have had this for most of my life, but when I was a kid, before it began to develop, I was always very happy. And even when I wasn’t experiencing anxiety in the moment, I was very happy. As I got older, I gradually became less and less happy about life in general. My depression was “triggered” when I was a teenager after moving over 3000km away from the place I grew up and where all my friends were and I don’t think that I am the same person I was before that. But that can all, also be chalked up to growing up and getting older too.

Like a huge slap in the face, I suddenly realized this morning that I haven’t actually looked at myself in the mirror in a really long time.

Yeah, I use the mirror for doing my hair and putting on makeup and whatnot, but those are very specific tasks requiring my focus to be zoned in on those areas to perform those tasks.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about depression. Not necessarily in a bad way, just sort of thinking about the concept of it. (I mean, it is mental health week right now too, but it started before that.) I may spend too much time on the internet watching videos and reading articles about other people’s struggles and just general information about depression, but its more of a learning, educational thing. Although, it may be a bit obsessive.

Even though I was in denial about my issues for so long, I always knew something wasn’t right. When I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) I didn’t know, at the time, what anxiety really was, but I knew, more or less, what depression was. Because of that, I had kind of expected a diagnosis of depression.

Even though my doctor at the time didn’t say I wasn’t depressed, I felt like because said I have anxiety and didn’t say I had depression, that that’s all it was. Just anxiety. No depression. Because he didn’t really give me a clear explanation of what an anxiety disorder was, I felt compelled to do my own research to figure out exactly what it is that he says is going on in my head because I totally didn’t get it.

I read that people with GAD tend to have “depressive episodes” even if they don’t have actual depression, meeting diagnostic criteria. So, I wrote off my depression as these “depressive episodes” and left it at that.

Even though I continued doing my own research, and read a lot about the relationship between anxiety disorders and depression, I intentionally – yet subconsciously – stayed away from anything directly talking about depression. I thought, it’s just anxiety, not depression. It explains everything. All these years that I thought I was depressed, I wasn’t.

It goes back to my fears of being told it was all in my head. I was making it up. I’m not actually depressed.

That’s only a small piece of the giant load of bull shit that depression was telling me.

It was completely random and by accident that I came across the word “dysthymia” and had to find out what it was. I found out it was an old name for chronic depression, which is a milder but longer lasting form of depression.

As I read more about it, I kept thinking, holy shit! I think I have this.

That of course had me worried that I was self diagnosing and that, again, it was all in my head.

I have since, more or less, been told by both my old and new doctors that I have depression. They never like outright said, “ok, so you have this specific disorder.” I know I should be ok with that, but a big part of my brain wants to put a name on it. I feel like somehow it would be easier to tell people, “yeah, I have this, this, and this,” than it would to be like, “yeah, I have this big huge mess of shit in my brain but I don’t have a specific word to give you for it.” It makes it seem less real somehow.

But it is real.

Today is Wednesday. On Monday, I actually felt pretty good. No particular reason I could think of, but I was just, generally a in a more positive headspace.

I wasn’t like really happy or in a spectacular mood or anything. I certainly wasn’t in a bad mood and I wasn’t “down”. I don’t really have a good way to describe it. I was just somewhere in the middle of not bad but not awesome either.

The thing that was weird is that I was shocked by it. I didn’t feel my regular level of annoyance at certain things. I just generally had a more positive response to daily things and for some reason that surprised me. I was like, whoa, this is weird.

But I didn’t fight it. Not consciously anyway.

Then Tuesday rolled around and it was the complete polar opposite. It was like the little workers that keep my brain functioning were saying, whoa, wait a minute. Somebody fucked up! Someone is going to get fired for this. Now we have to overcompensate and make today the absolute shittiest day for Keira ever!

I was getting annoyed and irritated by everything, and I just wanted the day to be over so I could curl up in bed and stay there forever.

Fast forward to this morning…

When I went to get up, I rolled over to my dog, who was fast asleep beside me. As usual, he stirred a little, while looking slightly annoyed and sleepy. I rubbed his head and his ears, scratched his back and his legs. He adjusted himself to bring his face closer to mine and I kissed him on top of his head and got up. He stretched and jumped off the bed, and stretched again before I opened the bedroom door.

This has been a regular thing since moving back in with my parents. This isn’t what mine and Mosley’s mornings looked like before, as he usually slept in his bed, probably be cause my bed was a bit smaller and I tend to kick in my sleep. Not that there was anything wrong with our old morning routine. I just really like this one better! It usually has me giggling because he’ll roll over weird and look like he doesn’t want to get up and just wants me to rub his belly and give him lots of love, even though he is a super high energy dog and the second I look like I’m getting out of bed, he leaps gleefully off the bed and prances to the door and bounds up the stairs (my room is in the basement) for my dad (who is usually already up) to let him outside for a pee.

I went into the bathroom to get ready to shower. For some reason, it suddenly dawned on me that I couldn’t remember the last time I looked at myself in the mirror. I mean really looked.

I had no intention of inserting a picture of
Jensen Ackles here, but when I  Googled
for something to use it came up, and it
just felt right. 😉

I stood there, in my plaid pajama pants and too big, weeping angel “don’t blink” T-shirt. (Doctor Who, for those of you who have no idea what that means.) I avoided my face, as I’ve done many times. I looked at my shirt, my body and my un-bra’ed chest, and groaned silently to myself. I hate my body. Always have.

Then, I made a conscious effort to look at my face. My expressionless, tired looking face.

I thought, wow, I look like shit!

I stared for a minute and then tried to make some sort of shape or expression of any kind with my mouth.

This is ridiculous, I thought. I tried to form a smile on my face and it immediately felt completely, utterly stupid and I broke eye contact with myself and stared down at the sink. I couldn’t look up again.

That was kind of my “holy shit” moment telling me, I am not happy.

Its weird. When I was really young, I was always a happy kid. My parents have told me a few times recently (probably mostly due to discussions about my grandpa, since he passed away back in March) about how cute and happy I was as a kid and how I was always smiling.

And I remember being generally a fairly happy kid as I got older. Even as I started developing, what I now know was anxiety (didn’t know at the time) I was happy. Even though I was shy around new people and I would have mental breakdowns at home about homework and other stupid things. Outside of all that, I was happy.

Somewhere along the way, things changed.

Yes, I feel happiness in moments where I should (which is part of why I struggled to admit that something was wrong in the first place). I genuinely laugh and giggle and get excited for things. I can laugh hysterically at jokes and funny stories. Receiving cool gifts and things for Christmas and my birthday and having funny discussions with my family, I do feel genuinely happy, in the moment.

Sometimes my happy reactions to things may feel a bit over the top, and I tend to realize it half way through it happening, which makes me wonder how much I’m faking without realizing I’m doing it. Sometimes I won’t have as strong of a happy reaction as I expect to have in a given situation, but many times the happiness is truly genuine.

It’s the moments where I’m alone in my head, or nothing is going on around me to distract me where I just kind of don’t feel anything. Or everything all at once. It’s not always even that I’m feeling down, although, sometimes that is the case. It’s just kind of nothing. Everything. Nothing in particular. Everything .

Usually, there are thoughts running through my head about various things and I might get panicked or upset by them, but they never make me feel happy. And sometimes its like my emotions are just blank. My brain doesn’t know what to feel, so it just feels nothing.

And that’s what I saw when I looked in the mirror this morning. Nothing.

Its how I felt last night sitting in my room watching TV. Nothing.

There were some moments of irritation mixed in there due to things happening in the house, but while that wasn’t happening… Nothing.

I think there is a part if me that is ok with life being this way, and for a long time, that part was a majority.

I realized this morning that that part of me is getting smaller and the part of me that wants to feel that child-like happiness again is getting bigger.

I don’t want to look in the mirror and see nothing.

As I mentioned previously, I have a new doctor now, since I moved. And so far, even though I’ve only met him twice, I am really happy with him.

My previous doctor

I did actually like my old doctor. He was funny and always had good answers for things. Physical things, anyway.

I found that when I met with him the first time, about my mental health, he wasn’t giving me the full attention I needed. He was running almost an hour behind that day, but I was in a really rough place and I really needed help, and I didn’t feel like I got 100% of what I needed.

He said that was I was describing was “classic anxiety disorder” which, when you Google it, isn’t even a thing. Could be that it was renamed (I’ve done a fair amount of research into this area and have found that the DSM has renamed several conditions over the years) to generalized anxiety disorder, however, it would have been easier for me to understand if he had told me what it was. I had to research it myself because I did not understand at all what an anxiety disorder was to begin with.

In our discussion, he did clearly try to assess whether or not I was depressed, but I don’t think he went deep enough with it, because it took me coming back a second time, a couple months later with very little improvement in symptoms for him to now say that I have “depressive tendencies”. Whatever that means.

During that first appointment, he asked me if I had ever self-harmed, but that was something I wasn’t really prepared to talk about at the time.

Because I was sort of caught off guard, even though I wasn’t actually surprised that he asked (weird, I know) I tried to avoid answering while also answering at the same time. It wasn’t a conscious thing, its just how it came out.

Verbally, I tried to say that I tend to pick at scabs and stuff really bad, while physically, I found myself pulling my sleeve up as I said it (wasn’t even thinking about it, just did it), like I was trying to show him, but not say it.

Here’s the thing….. I’ve never done any like really bad stuff to myself. I used to try to punch or hit walls and things, hoping to injure my hand or arm or kicking things to injure my foot or leg but was always too scared of causing damage to what I was hitting and having to explain that. An injury is easy enough to explain away than a hole in the wall of my parents’ house.

I did actually kick a hole in my bedroom door once, but it was more out of anger than an attempt at self harm. Probably like 20% self harm, 50% anger at my parents (don’t remember why, now) and 30% anger at the fact that the door wouldn’t slam hard enough to my satisfaction.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I started, sort of, cutting. I didn’t really have anything handy that was sharp enough to really cut with, so it was more like scratching with whatever sharp-ish object was nearby, like scissors.

It started out small. Later it became a way to distract myself from whatever was going on, because I could focus on that tiny little thing, and I had full control over it. Except for the fact that it wasn’t cutting deep enough. I went over each scratch many times until I was distracted enough from the thing that was bothering me that I could go to bed or do something else.

So I do have some scars, but they aren’t completely obvious, unless you’re looking.

I’ll talk a bit more on something semi-related to this in a later post, because it isn’t entirely relevant right now.

Anyway, I think I was hoping he would see the scars, even though they really don’t stand out, so I wouldn’t need to say it. But all I could get out was picking obsessively at scabs and scratches and stuff and he cut me off saying, “that’s not self-harm” and moved on to something else.

In addition to that, I feel like he was just throwing meds at the problem without really trying to help me. He did mention cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and said it would be a good idea, but didn’t really make it easy. In addition to the three doctors that were based out of that office, they had a councillor two days a week (she worked at different offices in town on other days) and he suggested that I meet with her.

I met with her a few days later, and we had a good conversation, and she did say that it sounded like I was a worrier. She gave me a ton of papers with information and ideas for things to manage my anxiety, but she didn’t tell me that I should come back to see her again.

I kind of felt like I was left to fend for myself, which wasn’t much better than it was before I went to see my doctor in the first place. That’s partly why I ended up doing so much research on my own. I mean, getting a diagnosis (sort of) did kind of lift a huge weight off my shoulders, but after the first week or so, it all came crashing back down again.

My new doctor

My new doctor, is in an office that is basically a whole health centre. They have about 10 doctors, several nurse practitioners, a mental health team, and they run several different programs for various things. It is actually kind of cool.

Although we haven’t talked about the whole self harm thing, we have talked in detail about my anxiety and depression, and he gave me a referral to see one of their mental health workers.

My doctor has seemed genuinely invested in making sure that I get better. I’ve met with him twice now. He asks me lots of questions and has really seems like he’s trying to help me find the right solution.

One big thing he said, that I really hadn’t thought about or realized for myself, is that my depression and suicidal thoughts aren’t so much feeling hopeless and alone, its more that I feel overwhelmed. Figuring that out, he said he actually feels better about me getting better, because of that.

He did still feel that he should give me the local crisis number, just in case I needed it. That’s something neither my previous doctor or that councillor did.

But I realized, this is why I get stressed so easily and why my suicidal thoughts tend to come more when I’m stressed than anything else. They tend to be more along the lines of, it would be so much easier if I could just die, then I wouldn’t have to deal with all this shit anymore.

When we were talking about my past suicidal thoughts, he asked if I had ever attempted suicide or had a plan for it. It has never gotten that far because I always over think it (or at least that’s how I used to describe it, but I now know this was anxiety related) and end up thinking about if it doesn’t work, then people will find out and I have to explain it to them, and that scared the shit out of me. His response was, “you anxioused yourself out of it.” I laughed, because it is kind of funny, but it is totally accurate!

I also think that’s why I’ve always felt like people would say I wasn’t actually depressed, because I didn’t fit into the typical hopelessness type of depression. I also still, usually, feel joy and happiness in many things. Its just when there’s too many things going on I get very overwhelmed and that causes me to get super stressed out.

I’ve started CBT with someone on the mental health team at my new doctor’s office. The first appointment was just for him to get to know me and see what’s going on. Then we had a second appointment where we had our my first CBT session. I’m still a bit nervous about the whole thing. We joked a couple times about how it would be so much nicer if they made an “easy button” (like the old Staples ads) but its not. Its more like school. I always hated school. I have to work at it all the time, until it becomes second nature.

Light at the end of the tunnel

I feel like having these resources readily available to me now has given me a new perspective on things. I have a doctor who actually cares about what I’m going through and wants to help me get better. And the resources are available to me through my doctor’s office to help me work at getting better. That is so important, and I think everyone should have that!

I am still struggling. I’m not afraid to admit that.

I have good days and bad days.

I have good hours and bad hours.

Good minutes and bad minutes.

But I actually finally feel like I have a chance.


It’s Mental Health Week! #GETLOUD
Find out more here:
And also, here: