I have to say, Chicago Med is doing an excellent job at handling mental illness on television. Probably one of the best I’ve seen.

The problem with them doing such a good job is that it makes it difficult to watch. Maybe it’s just me, but when I relate to a character in this way, it brings up a lot of past hurt. Sometimes it also teaches me something.

The show has had several mental illness stories in it’s first season, but I think yesterday’s episode hit closest to home for me.

**Spoiler Alert**

If you haven’t watched the episode yet and don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now. If you don’t care, please continue.

Continue reading

To the girl on the beach yesterday, whose friend was telling her that depression can be passed down genetically, and kept asking, “what do I have to be depressed about?” and insisting that she couldn’t possibly get depressed:

Your friend is correct. Depression can be passed on genetically, however, just as your friend was trying to point out, that does not necessarily mean that it will be.

Yes, if one of your parents has depression, or any other mental illness, you are at a higher risk of developing the same or any other mental illness, but that does not necessarily mean, 100%, that you will. Nor does depression require that your parents have any mental illness at all.

I wanted so badly to speak up and tell you that depression does not require a traumatic event or bad situation to effect you. You could lead a perfectly normal, even spectacular life, and still have depression.

As I contemplated saying something to you and your friend, my anxiety kicked in and told me that you would respond by calling me rude and that you were having a private conversation, even though it was quite loud and I was less than 10 feet away from you, and that you would be angry with me, a complete stranger, for intruding on your conversation. So I didn’t. But I wish I had.

You are contributing to the stigma. I know you weren’t doing it intentionally, and that it is simply a lack of knowledge that contributed to you response, but that is the biggest problem.

Everyone needs to be educated on the topic of mental illness and mental health! Even with all the recent accomplishments in this area (a lot of which, I think, can be attributed to Clara Hughes riding her bike across Canada to raise awareness for mental health), unfortunately you reminded me that the majority of Canadians are still extremely lacking in knowledge and understanding when it comes to mental illness.

I do have depression (as well as an anxiety disorder), but I don’t feel I have anything to be depressed about. I have a great family. I have never experienced a traumatic event. I have none of the obvious things that someone would see and think, oh, it makes sense that she is depressed. Yet, I still have depression. I feel worthless, like I have accomplished nothing with my life and I will never be happy. But I know it isn’t logical and I am fighting those thoughts and feelings, but it is hard. Depression can be very debilitating.

I am not the only one who struggles with this either. Many people feel guilty and ashamed for feeling depressed because there is no logical reason, in their mind, for them to feel this way. This is the reason many go for so long without seeking help, because of the stigma.

Depression is an illness like any other. It effects your brain, so it is not obvious to the outside world that something is wrong, and this is why so many people often go undiagnosed and too many end up attempting suicide before getting help, before anyone close to them even knew something was wrong. And unfortunately some do commit suicide and never get the help they needed that could have allowed them to live a long, happy life.

We need to bring more awareness and understanding to mental illness so people will stop feeling ashamed to talk about it.

Please visit the Canadian Mental Health Association‘s website to learn more about mental illnesses and mental health. Take the time to learn about it and make yourself, and those around you, aware and understanding of how mental illnesses can effect everyone.

How do you tell someone that the things they say to you hurt, when you know that logically they shouldn’t hurt and they weren’t intended to hurt, yet you feel the hurt nonetheless?

How do you explain to someone that when you’re alone, you cry for no reason at all, except that you feel like the entire universe is against you?

How do you tell someone that you hate yourself, yhink very little of yourself, that you are a failure at life, and are worthless and that all these things cause you to wish you could just die so you don’t have to deal with any of it ever again?

How do you explain that you feel like you have absolutely no control over your life? And that feeling this way causes you terrible emotional pain and anxiety?

How do you explain to someone that you intentionally, repeatedly cut yourself or that you compulsively pick at your skin or pull out hair from your body, because you never found any other outlet or a healthy way to handle or process all the overwhelming emotions you feel every friggen day?

How do you tell someone that you have been struggling for so long that you don’t even know who you are as a person?

How do you say that you wish someone had told you years ago that something was wrong and that you needed help, but no one ever did, so you went on, suffering in silence for far longer than anyone should?

How do you explain that telling you not to worry about something only makes you worry more about it? Telling you to get over it, only makes it harder to move on?

How do you tell someone that you just want to be alone, but at the same time you don’t want to be alone at all? You want to spend time with them, but you don’t want to put in the effort because you think they’re just going to leave you eventually anyway, or realize that you suck and aren’t worth being their friend. You want them to invite you out because you’re too scared to invite them out because you’re worried they’ll think you’re too clingy.

How can you feel like you have no friends at all, even though you know you do? You feel constantly alone. You feel like no one asks you to hang out when you want them to, but you can’t work up the nerve to ask them first. People tell you they’re there for you if you need to talk, but you feel like they’re just saying that because that’s the nice thing to do, and they don’t actually really care about you.

friends and build relationships with people when you know they’re just going to leave you? It’s happened so many times before, and nothing has changed, so it is going to happen again.

When someone says things like, “oh, I know this person who you’d get along with. You should be friends.” How do you explain that that is the most uncomfortable and anxiety inducing thing in the world? Set me up to meet this person in an intimate setting, where we’re forced to get to know each other. And what if they’re wrong? You won’t get along. Now you’re in this super awkward position where you feel like you have to be friends with this person that you don’t have anything in common with and you really don’t like them. If they’d just let us meet in a relaxed setting, where they didn’t introduce them as “someone you would like” then it would be so much easier. You figure out naturally whether or not you even sort of like each other, and if not, it doesn’t matter. No harm done.

Why am I alone? I’ll always be alone. No one actually likes me, even if they say they do. They don’t mean it.

Am I the toxic friend? Is everyone leaving me because I’m a terrible person and don’t treat people well? Or am I pushing them away, without realizing I’m doing it, because I don’t think that I’m worth their time and energy?

I know that this is just my depression talking (and my anxiety too) and that all these things are totally irrational and stupid. Depression is excellent at deceiving its victims into believing terrible things, including that it (the depression) doesn’t actually even exist. That’s what it does. Depression lies.

All the questions above are things I struggle with daily. And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

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.

When your mind is scattered full of thoughts, it is very difficult to figure out where the beginning is.

Let’s start with this: I’m struggling.

Wow. That was harder to get out than I’d expected.

I don’t like talking about my innermost feelings. It makes me uncomfortable. Extremely uncomfortable.

Even after that, I still don’t even know where to start.

I knew I had to write my thoughts down. While they were happening, there was a lot going through my head. I was having a breakdown in the shower.

Now, I’m sitting here on my bed, in my towel, hair dripping, down my back, picking at a dried up scab from a pimple I tried to pop a hundred times when I knew it wasn’t ready, holding my tablet, staring at the blank white screen of a new post in the Blogger app, trying to ignore the sound of my mom vacuuming upstairs and yelling at the dogs to get out of her way, and I don’t know what to say………….

Just like when I’m forced to talk to a group of people. No matter how much preparation I do, as soon as I go to start, my mind goes blank. Everything is gone.

All eyes are on me, analyzing everything I say and do. Every little detail.

That may not actually be true, and I’m painfully aware of that, but that’s how it feels for me.

Continue reading

I have never attempted suicide. I don’t think I ever could bring myself to do it. I over think it too much. I have, however, had suicidal thoughts, on several occasions.

I don’t often think about how I would do it. I don’t usually let myself get that far. But I sometimes find myself in situations like when I’m driving, and thinking about the things bothering me, and I would think, oh I could just crash my into that poll or drive into that ditch or off that cliff and it would all be better. Course I don’t actually do it. I usually just end up in tears instead. But if I’m at home, and there are no immediate actions that come to mind, I don’t think about how, I just think about if.

Maybe its more accurate to say that I think about dying rather than about killing myself. How if I could die, it would make all my stress and anxiety go away. It would all be better. It would all over and I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.

Then I think about my dog, and what he would do, and that makes me really sad. I think about if I tried to kill myself but failed, then I would have to explain to people why, but I wouldn’t really know how to explain it. I feel like others wouldn’t understand.

On the other side of things, when I hear people joking about going and killing themselves, it makes me hurt inside to think that they’re just making jokes, having no idea that I have had actual suicidal thoughts. I mean, I’ve been guilty of it in the past, but during times where I wasn’t struggling as much and wasn’t thinking about it.

Recently, a coworker was annoyed with some requests from a client and they said, several times, “I’m just gonna go I kill myself now.”

This came the morning after an evening where I struggled quite a bit. That made it hurt even worse. I wanted so badly to say, “hey, you know, I thought about actually killing myself last night, so please don’t say things like that, ever!”

I couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my coworker about my struggles and that their comments were upsetting to me.

Its not that I want to kill myself or that I want to die. I don’t! I really don’t want to. But when I’m having a really bad day, and I’m really stressed out, and I don’t know how to handle it, I just find myself in that thought pattern. I can’t stop it from happening, I can only stop it from continuing.

I’m still fighting. Trying to get through each day. Some days are better than others. Some days are worse.

The battle continues.

I haven’t thought about suicide in a while.

Today was not such a great day for me.

I have been quite stressed out lately. Knowing now that I have an anxiety disorder, I at least know what’s causing it, but for a long time, I was going through the same feeling that I am right now, but I had no idea why.

I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with my anxiety and stress. I still struggle with it quite a bit.

I booked an another appointment with my doctor a little later this week to talk about this.

While I was out with my dog for a walk this evening, I was thinking about some of the things that were stressing me out (see previous post about why this is bad for me) and it led to my version of an anxiety attack. I broke down into tears the moment I got in my apartment door. It was the hardest I’ve cried in a couple weeks.

In trying to think of ways to solve my anxiety at that particular moment, I found myself back in a thought pattern that I hadn’t seen for quite some time.

I found myself thinking, if I could just die, right now, it would solve all my problems.

I wouldn’t have to deal with the decisions I currently feel like I’m being forced to make.

I wouldn’t have to deal with the things that are making me stressed out.

It would all just be over.

I didn’t get to the point of thinking about how it would happen. What I would do.

I managed to stop it before I got into my usual cycle of worrying about what would happen if I attempted to commit suicide but failed and then I’d have to explain it to people (which is what prevented me from doing it when I was in high school).

Although I’m not in the middle of a breakdown right now (it happened a couple hours ago) I’m still worried about the same things.

They haven’t gone away.

I haven’t solved them.

I don’t know how to solve them.

I don’t think talking to anyone is going to fix it right now.

I honestly, don’t even know why I’m writing it here right now, except that I feel I need to tell someone, I just don’t know who.

I thought about suicide today.

But I am still here.

Since today is Bell Let’s Talk day, I wanted to share some of my personal experiences with mental illness.

The Early Years

I was known as a fairly happy kid. Maybe a little shy at first, but for the most part, happy. What most people didn’t see was that I would get stressed out over things that even to me seemed stupid, but I couldn’t stop it from happening. I would have a complete meltdown over a homework assignment, sometimes even just one question on a homework assignment.
My parents didn’t know what to do about it, so nothing was ever done. It would usually end up in my dad yelling at me because he didn’t know what else to do and I was stressing him out and I would end up crying even more than I already was.
They didn’t know anything about anxiety disorders. They didn’t know they could talk to my doctor about it and that there was help out there for me. Something could have been done. Instead, over the years, it got worse.
The stress was part of the reason I took the easier courses in high school. I thought that if the work was easier, I’d get through it easier. I didn’t care about going to university. I didn’t think I was smart enough.
Looking back now, I probably could have done the harder courses and gone to university instead of college, had I known that there was something wrong, and what it was, and developed coping mechanisms by this point, maybe I would have taken those harder courses. I don’t know. That’s not to say I don’t like what I do now, because I do, and I may have still ended up doing the same thing, but we will never know.
Of course, even with the easier courses, I still had my regular breakdown over homework and other things.

The Teen Years

Being a teenager is hard enough as it is. Throw in an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, plus moving over 3,500km away from all your friends from a city of 333,000 people to a town of 1,200.
Thirteen was the age where things began to get bad. I had a hard time making friends. In such a small town the people were very clicky.
I started out with the Christian girls, who I met because my dad was attending the Bible college in town. (Yes, there is a Bible college in that tiny town, I know.) But I never really felt comfortable with their group. They all grew up together. I was an outsider. Not to mention, I hadn’t been a Christian for very long, I wasn’t confident in my Bible knowledge and I felt inferior to them. They were, what I consider, “hard core” Christians. I was not. (Still not, actually, maybe even less so now. But that’s a different story for another day.)
I ended up hanging out with a few other girls in my class for a while, but I still felt like I didn’t fit in. I never felt comfortable around them. I spent a lot of awkward lunches near them, but not participating in their conversations because half the time I didn’t know what they were talking about, since I was still new and didn’t know the people. They ended up being the semi-popular girls. Kind of second rank on that whole popularity scale. Not quite the most popular, but sometimes hung out with the more popular group.
Eventually, I moved on, and became friends with a few other people. They kind of had their own little group somewhere in the middle. Not overly popular, but not the druggies or smokers, and people who were considered “uncool” by high school standards. I had things in common with them. We enjoyed a lot of the same things. We shared a similar sense of humour, as well as slight disgust at the more popular kids, and I became fairly close with them.
What my friends didn’t know is that on the inside I hated my life. I liked my friends, so when I was around them, I was usually happy, but when I went home after school, I was the complete opposite.
For the first year or so, I wrote letters. Most of my friends would write back, but as the months went on, more and more time would pass between letters. One day we got a new computer, and dial-up internet (foreign concept nowadays, I know). I got MSN. That was a big deal. I had tons of friends add me. When I was at home, I would chat with my old friends from my old city. They would tell me about all the things I was missing out on and I’d tell them about my new friends.
Then one day, after several months, I realized that on MSN, I was always the first to start a conversation. So I decided to do an experiment. I stopped initializing conversations. Suddenly, I went from talking to 10+ people on MSN each day down to 1 most days, maybe 2 every few days. Eventually, it was just my new friends that I talked to, but we didn’t talk about much online since we saw each other every day.
That’s when things started to get really bad. I would find myself sitting in my house not wanting to do anything. I would procrastinate my homework, until it stressed me out and I’d have a breakdown. I took up web design, which of course lead to a career, but at that point, it was a way to escape from my life. My life that I hated.
I remember, several times, sitting in my room, alone, blasting music from my stereo, crying. I didn’t know why I was cry. I just felt like I needed to.
Eventually, I found myself thinking, what I died? Would anyone even care? Would anyone notice?
I was never a rebellious kid. I didn’t skip school, I think mostly because I was scared of the consequences. I would force myself to get through the day, and then I would go home, and think about how much I hated my life.
No one ever noticed. If they did, they never said anything.
The only person who made an attempt was, oddly enough, my least favourite teacher. She called my parents into the school and told them that I wasn’t as happy as the rest of the kids. I don’t remember much about the conversation, just that we were sitting in the classroom across the hall from hers because there were students working in her’s, even though it was lunch time. And the one thing I remember my dad telling her is that if you told that to any of my teachers from my old school, they wouldn’t think you were talking about the same kid.
I wonder now if that is actually true. Would they really not believe it? Or would they think, oh, I did see some signs, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I don’t know. I always kind of wonder if people did notice and just didn’t want to bring it up.
My thinking about what would happen if I was dead, eventually lead to thoughts of killing myself. I would think about how I would do it. Different ways that I could do it. I didn’t know this was a thing that people actually thought about though. I didn’t know that I wasn’t the only one. Those thoughts, however, were usually overpowered by thoughts of, what would happen if it didn’t work. How would I explain to people why I tried to kill myself. What if I caused brain damage or something and I couldn’t tell them why.
It turned into this big huge cycle. I’d thinking about not existing, then think about how I could kill myself, then about what would happen if it didn’t work. I’d cry for a while, alone it my room, and then it would happen all over again.
I never told anyone what I was going through. I didn’t know how. I was embarrassed, scared, you name it.

Something else I started struggling with in my early teens was my self-esteem and confidence. They started to go down the drain. I was always thinking of what other people thought of me, of how I looked. People who know me may notice that I’m always adjusting or fidgeting with my shirt. Its because I’m always trying to cover my stomach. I know I’m overweight, its pretty obvious, but I’m super self conscious about it. In photos, I hate when it looks like I have a double chin.

People will give me compliments, but I never know how to take them, even though I know I should just say thank you, I feel like they’re wrong and I was to argue it away. Doesn’t even matter what the compliment was about.

Then we moved again. In the middle of my grade 12 year.

It wasn’t so bad. I took my last high school course by correspondence, so I could still graduate from my high school.

After High School

After graduating from high school, I got a job at Wal-Mart. Having moved in the middle of grade 12, I sort of forgot about college. So I worked for a year before I finally went back to school.
I made some friends. Some pretty good ones. I did kind of try to tell one of my friends about my struggles in high school, when we were talking about someone else she was friends with, but I felt like what I went through wasn’t as bad as her. She was diagnosed. I wasn’t. My struggles felt insignificant. That was the only time I tried to open up about it. I don’t remember if it was something she said that made me stop, or if it was my own insecurities. Either way, I never talked about it again.
I had ups and downs. I had one friend from before who I still talked to a lot, but we got into some fights over MSN, and we stopped talking for a while. That was one of my down periods. We made up later on and things were good with us for a long time. Not that they’re bad now, we just haven’t talked in about a year.
Overall, I did pretty good through my first few years out of high school. Eventually, I ended up at school, a few hours away from where I’d lived until I was 13. First year was great. I stayed during the summer, and that’s when I had another bad period. I assumed I was just homesick, which I thought was ridiculous, since I didn’t want to live where my parents were. Maybe I just missed my parents. Now, I think there was more to it, I just didn’t know.
I was spending a lot of time alone at that point in my life, and I think that’s what led to me falling into another depression. My second year was a bit rough.
Then I ended up back living with my parents after graduating. Things were good. I visited with friends a lot, and everything was fine.
I had one friend who I thought was one of my best friends suddenly stop talking to me. I’m not sure why. I don’t know if it was something I did, or something going on with her. I mean, she did have quite a lot going on, but I thought I was supportive of her and the things she was going through.

Becoming an Actual Adult

After about a year, my parents ended up moving, but I stayed where I was because I liked my job. I got my own place, and a dog and I was happy, and life was great, aside from that one friend still not talking to me. I’d met a few people in my apartment building close to my age, because they had dogs too. We weren’t close friends or anything, but we’d hang out on occasion.
But I was spending a lot of time alone. I found myself not wanting to do day-to-day things. I hated cooking, I hated grocery shopping, I didn’t want to get up to take my dog out for a walk. I just wanted to sit on the couch and watch TV. In the mornings, when my alarm went off, I didn’t want to get up to go to work. I just wanted to stay curled up in bed. When I was at work, I didn’t want to talk to people. I just wanted to get my job done and go home and do nothing.

At night, lying in bed, alone, I would find myself stressing over stupid things like situations with people, various conversations, and so on. I would run through scenarios constantly in my head. Sometimes in anticipation of them occurring. I would stress out about making sure I handle it correctly.
Often it would be after something happened. I would replay the situation in my head, over and over, thinking of things I should have said, things I could have done differently. Even if the situation turned out well, I would still run over different scenarios.
In 2014, this began to get worse and worse. I found myself thinking about dying again. Most of the time it didn’t get past “what would happen if I died?” But the thoughts were there.
I was also thinking about wanting to move home, to where my family is, where I grew up. But I didn’t have enough money to do it on my own. I would try to save money, but it wasn’t working. I would never have enough. Being an adult is expensive. Especially when you live alone and have a dog.
Work was getting crazy busy. I found myself struggling to get through the day without feeling super stressed out. I was starting to take it out on the people around me, my coworkers.
I was agitated and angry, all the time. I kept thinking, maybe I do need to go see my doctor, this has been going on for a long time. Then I would think, maybe I just have anger issues. He’ll probably tell me there’s nothing wrong with me. Maybe that one girl who called me a bitch when we were 14, was right. I need to fix this myself because no one else will be able to help me.
I was so wrong.

Finally Getting Help

One weekend in November, a coworker and I went to a conference, 6 hours away, to run a booth for our company. We drove up separately, so I could come back a day earlier. I was listening to podcasts in the car.
I was struggling quite a bit in the weeks leading up to this. Things were getting really bad. I was crying at home alone several times a week, and I didn’t even know why.
On the drive home, I listened to Wil Wheaton’s episode of Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler. The topic of his struggle with mental illness came up.
I’d known that he had depression, I’d heard about it before, but it was always at a time when I felt I couldn’t relate. This time, I could.
It was like every single thing he said was about me. He was describing me.
That’s when I finally realized, maybe there is something wrong. Maybe I do need help.
I found myself crying on and off the rest of the way home.
I cried myself to sleep that night.
I found myself fighting back tears several times a day while I was at work.
I couldn’t bring myself to call my doctor. I had gone back to thinking he would tell me there was nothing wrong with me, but I would cry on my way home from work, sitting on the couch after work, and when I went to bed.
It got to the point where all hours I wasn’t at work, I was thinking about this. Stressing about it. Running over the potential conversation in my head, and all the ways it could go.
I was crying myself to sleep every night.
Then finally, one morning, over a week later, I left for work a bit early. I kept telling myself, today is the day. I got there before anyone else. I thought, if I’m on the phone when someone else gets here, I might chicken out. So I stayed in the car. I called the doctors office. Booked an appointment for two days later.
I sat in the car for a few minutes, on the verge of tears, and then finally got up the nerve to go inside. Luckily, I was there early enough that no one showed up for a good 10 minutes.
I was thinking about it all day. I still cried myself to sleep each night before my appointment.
When the day finally came, my doctor was running late. I sat in the waiting room for about 30 minutes, trying to hard to hold myself together. I sat in the back corner, where everyone else was facing away from me.
They finally called me in, and when the nurse asked why I was there I lost it. I couldn’t even say it. Then I waited for what seemed like an eternity. It was about 45 minutes, before my doctor finally came in.
We had a very long conversation. Probably made him even more behind, but its what I needed.
He wrote me a prescription for something but told me I could do some research and stuff and decide whether to try it or not. He told me some of the risks and potential side effects. I decided to give it a shot.
For some people it takes a long time to get the desired results from medication for depression and anxiety. It can be a lot of trial and error.
At this point, I’ve only technically been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, but I’m fairly certain, after a lot of research, that I also have persistent depressive disorder.
The medication I am on has made a difference, but I think a lot of it was just knowing what was going on. The first few weeks, once I started to notice a difference were great. But then, some things triggered a bit more anxiety, and I have kind of fallen back to feeling like I did before. Not completely. I’m falling asleep a lot faster than I used to, however, during the day, I’m still experiencing a lot of the same anxieties that I was before.

Where I’m at, Right Now

I’m definitely not 100%. Nowhere near it. It has only been 2 months since I was diagnosed. I am still trying to figure out ways to handle stressful situations, but its hard. Knowing that there is a reason for it, makes it a lot easier for me to step back, and give myself a break.
I’m still trying to find the right balance. I’m still taking medication, but I’m not sure that its the right dose. It may not even be the right drug for me.
I’m also in the process of changing my living situation to help me be less stressed, less anxious.
Its still early though. It takes time to figure all these things out.

Bell Let’s Talk Campaign

I had heard about Bell Let’s Talk a few times in the past few years. I actually tried to reach out to people close to me, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it in person. I posted some things on Twitter, and a little on Facebook, but I was so scared people would say that my issues were minor or even non-existent. That I was making it up. I was just looking for attention. No one that I knew actually said anything. I had one completely random person on Twitter, reply to me, acknowledging what I was saying, but that was the most that I got. I didn’t participate in the campaign in any way after that. I refused. I hid. I didn’t even go on Twitter at all.

Now, I have a completely different perspective on it. I know that there’s something wrong. I know there’s a reason for the way I feel. I’ve experienced the stigma. I want everyone to know that it is ok to have a mental illness. It isn’t your fault. You didn’t bring it on yourself. You didn’t ask for it. But you can get help. It does get better!
If you think there might be something wrong, but are scared, you don’t want to admit it to your self or anyone else, don’t be afraid. Talk to someone. Talk to someone who has been through it. Talk to me, if you want. I know I’m not an expert, but just getting it out there, makes a huge difference. I struggled for many years without seeking help. It was very hard, and I don’t wish it upon anyone. Once people know, once you know, for some reason, its just easier. Maybe not as easy as I’d like to think it is, but it is easier than it was.
And for those of you who know someone with a mental illness, diagnosed or not, don’t avoid the topic. Each person may be a little uncomfortable talking about it, so tread lightly.
In my case, I wish people had spoken up. I still do. Even though it’s out there, I’m finding people don’t like to bring it up. I’m not scared to talk about it, I just don’t really know how to start. If you want to ask me questions, I am totally open to it!! I want to talk about it, but I don’t know how to start the conversation… actually, I struggle to start regular conversations too… So if you’re curious, or whatever, don’t hesitate to ask me questions. Just don’t be rude or patronizing. Don’t just me. Don’t contribute to the stigma. End the stigma!

Leading up to Bell Let’s Talk day, CTV aired a documentary this evening that they originally aired in 2012 called, Darkness and Hope: Depression, Sports and Me.
In that documentary, Clara Hughes said something that stuck with me. She talked about how she always tried to fix herself on her own. That is something I was definitely doing.
I knew deep down in my heart that something was wrong, but I didn’t want to admit it. I never told anyone because I didn’t understand it. The people around me didn’t understand it. Or at least that’s what I thought. I really didn’t know anything about depression or anxiety.
Clara said, “I learned to just deal with things internally. And that’s just the way I was conditioned. There was something wrong with me. But I was dealing with it completely alone.”
That’s exactly what I did. I kept everything bottled up inside. I never told anyone what I was going through.
She explained when she talked to her doctor and the doctor told her, “it doesn’t have to get worse from here” and that was the moment she stopped trying to fix herself, herself.
I relate to that so strongly. I was trying so hard to fix myself on my own that it would just make the way I felt even worse. When I finally went to my doctor, and got the diagnosis, I realized, I don’t have to do it alone.
I’m still struggling with that. I don’t talk about it as much as I should, as much as I want to. I don’t know how to start those conversations. I’d kind of prefer others start them.
Its funny, I saw this documentary when it first aired, but even then, I couldn’t admit to myself that something was wrong. I felt that my struggles were smaller, insignificant in comparison. I realize now, that was my illness talking. I wish I had figured that out sooner.
But I’m on the road to getting better. Its a new journey.
Bell Let’s Talk day on this Wednesday, January 28th. Click here to learn more about this amazing campaign.