“Aggressively do your homework. […] Do your research and you’ll gain a better understanding of what is happening and you’ll know what to expect.”

“Seek professional help sooner rather than later. Anxiety is treatable and there is no need for extended struggling. And there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is as real as physical illnesses, even though we can’t see any of them on the surface.”

“And almost lastly this: People with anxiety are thinkers. We’re over-thinkers, actually. It makes us creative and compassionate, sensitive and caring. As odd as it is to say, it makes us good people.”

What You Need to Know If Your Child Is Diagnosed With Anxiety

“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling  —  that really hollowed out feeling. That’s what dementors are.”  — J.K Rowling.

I’d heard the dementor comparison sometime last year and I’d kind of forgotten about it. It really is the perfect description of depression. It sucks out all the happiness and joy from you until all you can feel is darkness, sadness, anger and negativity. As you get deeper and deeper into depression, even those negative feelings begin to disappear. You begin to feel numb. Occasionally, anger and frustration will come out, until they become too intense and somehow you end up feeling numb again.

I Don’t Fit the Stereotype of a Depressed Person
By Madeline Riddle, Contributor, The Mighty

Side note… It’s been a few weeks since I wrote this post, where I thought I was starting to get better. Turns out I spoke too soon. That’s kind of why I haven’t been writing much. I’m still struggling quite a bit.

Why me? Why do I not want to be around anyone? Why does everyone annoy me? Why does everyone sound so loud? Why am I so stressed all the time? Why don’t I have patience anymore? Why am I going through all this? Why do I feel alone? Just why? Why?

This article expresses it so well! It’s long and a little scattered, but it’s perfect because it’s exactly how it is.

I go online, see posts about depression and anxiety. Maybe the more I post and share, the more they will understand this illness and then I will not have to explain it.

I did this, for almost two years straight. When I hit my worst, I realized no one was reading or responding to anything I shared. So I stopped. I weren’t I whole months without a single post. The last one being on World Shocks Prevention Day, talking about suicide. One person noticed. One.

I shared one blog post I wrote, a months later.

After another month, and some serious struggles, I posted that I was in my wrist depressive episode ever. There likes/reactions on Facebook. One private message. One text message (from one of the three people who liked the post). That’s all. And those responses were all from people I expected some sort of interaction with. It makes me feel like no one cares.

I learned years ago to not rely on Facebook as a source of support. The problem is, 99% of the communication I get from my family members happens through Facebook. Not because I want it to, but because they rely on it. I hate Facebook! But I can’t get rid of it (also partly because I’m a web developer and I use the API at work).

I do not want to have this illness. I know I am loved. But I feel so alone. I know other people struggle like I do, but I feel I am the only one. I know it’s an illness, but I feel like I am just crazy and fucked up. I know people are aware of mental illness, but they really do not understand the struggle and day-to-day challenges of this illness. It is real.

A Look Into the Head of Someone With Depression and Anxiety By Alana Willis, Contributor, The Mighty

I really connected with this article, so I wanted to share it. You can read the full post here.

I want to hang on, so I play my role. Inside, I am suffocating. I need support but don’t know how to ask, so I’m hanging on the best I know how.

If you care about someone struggling with anxiety or depression, please reach out. Don’t expect them to make the move, even if you think you have made it abundantly clear that you’re available to them. They might believe their problems are a burden. They can become so consumed that they don’t think you care anymore, and don’t take it personally. Please reach out. Worst-case scenario, you appear too concerned or caring. Best-case scenario, you save a life.

~ When You Spend All Day Pretending to Be OK
By Audra Bothers, Contributor, The Mighty

You don’t see the strain in my eyes every time I have to talk to a stranger. You don’t see me crawling underneath my covers because I don’t want to step outside my door and interact with anyone. You don’t see me struggling to post on social media because I’m afraid of harming someone or being hated for my opinions. You don’t see me staring at your texts and Facebook messages for hours before giving up on finding the right response.

What It’s Like to Have ‘High-Functioning’ Social Anxiety Disorder – Ahmad Abojaradeh, Contributor, The Mighty

Today is World Mental Health Day… I am not okay, but that is okay.

Earlier today, I read an article discussing high functioning anxiety and depression. Towards the end there was a description that resonated very strongly with me, so I wanted to share it.

Sarah Graham, a journalist living in London, has mixed depression and anxiety, but says she can still get on with day-to-day life for the most part.

“A friend of mine once described it as ‘coping privilege’ which I quite like as a way of looking at it, because I’m lucky in lots of ways that it’s obviously nowhere near as debilitating as mental illness can be for some people,” Graham says.

“That said, it does make everyday life more of a struggle – everything from forcing myself to get out of bed and into the shower, to leaving the house on time or taking the tube (which triggers my anxiety) when I don’t have time to take the bus – all of that is a constant day-to-day battle with my own mind, and I do sometimes wish I could just give in to it and stop ‘functioning’ quite so well.”

On the surface, high-functioning depression or anxiety appears to be easier to deal with, but this is not the case. There are dangers associated with keeping feelings bottled up, such as failing to seek help when it is desperately needed.

“I’ve said in the past that people think that high functioning depression is better than low functioning depression, but the problem with high functioning depression is that a person is not getting access to help,” [Carol Landau, a clinical professor of psychiatry and medicine at Brown University,] says. “Many of the women I see are perfectionistic and therefore have difficulty asking for help.”

Sarah says she didn’t seek help for years, because of the prevailing stereotype of what depression and anxiety should look like.

I definitely struggle with this. Constantly fighting the thoughts that it’s not bad enough to warrant the help I truly need. So I avoid talking about it. I pretend I am okay when I’m really not. And no one sees it. No one knows how bad it really is. Even those closest to me.

I sat here, staring at this blank text field for quite some time, Pirate of the Caribbean marathon on Space, in the background.

I feel very passionately about mental health awareness, but when I’m in the middle of a battle, it’s a lot harder to feel safe opening up.

When I’m not in the middle of it, I don’t mind talking about it. But right now, I’m at one of the lowest points of my life and saying that out loud, or even writing it, and posting it publicly on the internet, is absolutely terrifying.

I’ve mentioned it a little recently, but I don’t feel like I’ve explained it accurately. Probably because I was scared and each time I do, there’s always something I seem to be holding back on.

Anxiety has usually been the more prominent struggle in my life, moreso than depression, but the two have always been present in my life. Even though it was diagnosed quite late in my life, I know now that I’ve had anxiety since I was a young child and depression since my early teens, maybe even before that.

Until recently, my depression had always been on the mild to moderate side of the spectrum. Generally, when my anxiety was higher, especially my social anxiety, my depression increased. Stress increased both, causing major irritability and agitation, and when I was particularly overwhelmed I would have thoughts of ending my life or wishing I was dead so I wouldn’t have to face the things that were causing me distress.

I had never felt afraid that I would actually try to kill myself. Anxiety over what would happen to my dog and how my family would respond usually prevented it from ever getting that far.

When I moved, a little less than two years ago, and got a new doctor, my anxiety was more prominent, but the overwhelming emotions I felt had caused my depression to get quite bad. At the time my doctor felt that the anxiety was the main problem that needed to be dealt with. At the time, he was probably right, but in my head, I knew my depression was worse than anyone actually thought.

After several changes in medication, many sessions with a mental health social worker, and group CBT, my anxiety had calmed down a bit. I had just started a new job that I was enjoying. I’d paid off all my credit card debt and started building up some savings. I decided to participate in the CHMA’s 2016 Ride Don’t Hide event. It was around that time when something started to change.

I began riding my bike quite frequently, and even bought a new bike. I was feeling pretty good. My meds seemed to be working, after adjusting them so they didn’t make me so tired all the time. For several months, I was actually okay.

In the weeks leading up to Ride Don’t Hide, I started losing my motivation to ride, but I kept going because I knew that I needed to. I was riding at least 5 times a week. After the event, I gave myself permission to take a day or two off from riding. I kept trying to keep myself going regularly but slowly my riding got down to twice a week, once a week, once or twice ever couple weeks, and then not at all. It wasn’t intentional. The days just sort of got away from me. It was always, oh, I’ll go tomorrow. Eventually, tomorrow stopped happening.

I had noticed I was frequently having intrusive thoughts while driving to and from work about driving my car off the road or into oncoming traffic. I would see the entire thing play out in my head. The crash. My car smashed up so bad that no one should have survived. Sometimes I wouldn’t survive and sometimes I would. When I did, I imagined being in a coma for a while. Eventually I had to explain that it wasn’t an accident, that I did it intentionally. That’s usually where I started crying, and the images dissipated. When I realized how often this was happening and how often I was thinking about suicide outside of the intrusive thoughts, I actually began to fear that I would actually try to kill myself.

Some days, it was so unbelievably overwhelming that all I wanted to do was numb the pain. I would take pills. Too many pills.I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted the pain to go away. I often hoped that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning, but I always did. This wasn’t exactly new for me. Before I was diagnosed, I often took several Benadryl and/or night time cold medicine, because they made me drowsy, trying to make myself fall asleep so I wouldn’t have to listen to all the noise in my brain anymore. But by this point, I had a prescription for clonazepam and a few different sleeping pills that hadn’t really helped me feel rested in the mornings, so I would take more of those than I should have.

I’ve since run out of all of them and am terrified to ask my doctor to refill them because when I initially ran out, it was much sooner than I should have, give the number of pills I had with each prescription. Not because I was taking them frequently, but because I was taking a lot at a time. Moreso the clonazepam than the sleeping pills, but the sleeping pills only lasted maybe a month longer.

Around the end of July, the intrusive suicidal thoughts were happening on a daily basis. When I realized I was losing interest in playing with my dog, watching my favourite shows on TV, and hardly laughing at things I knew were funny, I was having an extremely difficult time concentrating at work, and I was crying myself to sleep almost every night I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I had even lost my appetite, which was especially bizarre to me. Part of me was hoping it was the meds, because my first antidepressant did that to me, as well, but this felt different.

Even worse, I was beginning to feel empty inside. I’ve always been a very emotional person, feeling everything very deeply. Now, I’m finding that I’m just not feeling at all. I can sometimes laugh, in the moment, when something is funny, as I’ve always found laughter hard to contain, but a part of me often wonders how genuine it actually is. About halfway through the laugh, the emptiness returns and the laughter ends abruptly. While I can still laugh, it’s not as strong as normal, and frequency in which I laugh is significantly decreased.

Here’s the kicker. I can not, for the life of me, figure out why I am feeling so shitty. In the past, there has always been something that seemed to be the cause, and once I figured it out, it would start to get better. I had noticed the changes earlier, but figured it was a normal mild, down swing, and in a week or two I’d be fine. More than a month later and it was still getting worse.

I saw my doctor the first week of August and he took me off of sertraline and put me on Trintellix. He had me remain on Wellbutrin. My symptoms continued to get worse.

About 5 weeks into Trintellix, the night before World Suicide Prevention Day, I found myself at the absolute lowest I’ve ever been. I wanted to die so badly, more than I ever have before, but I didn’t know why. I had been crying for hours, and at around 1am, I was lying there, in a slight pause between sobbing sessions, and I thought to myself, this is really bad. I might actually do something I’ll regret. Is this how bad it has to be for me to go to the hospital?

I knew I didn’t have any pills that could do any real damage and no alcohol worth drinking. I continued to lie there in my bed, crying off and on for some time, before I took a handful of Tylenol Cold Night Time, hoping it would make me fall asleep. A hour later, I was still wide awake.

I couldn’t work up the nerve to get out of bed to try and go to the hospital, so I decided, if I still felt this bad the next day, I would go.

I woke up the next morning to a World Suicide Prevention Day email from Wear Your Label containing a link to this video:

It hit way too close to home for me. I cried some more before finally getting out of bed. I felt pretty shitty, physically. It reminded me of the feeling my body has when I have a cold, which I decided was likely due to the cold medicine since I didn’t actually have a cold.

I managed to get through the day without any serious urges to do anything bad, so I decided I would call my doctors office on Monday and try to get in before my scheduled follow up. He was on vacation that week, so I had to wait another week to see him. That was the hardest week, trying to be “normal” at work and around my family, but at the same time hoping they would pick up on the subtle signs and actually ask me if I was okay. No one did.

I was also supposed to see my counsellor the following week but I got an email notification that his father passed away suddenly and he would be rescheduling appointments when he returned to work. I felt terrible for him, given that it was a sudden loss, but part of me was wondering if it was some kind of sign. Now, I don’t think it meant anything, because I got through it.

I saw my doctor on September 19th, and he took me off Trintellix and switched me to Cipralex. On the 28th, I saw my counsellor again, and we talked about how things were getting worse. He recommended a mood disorders outpatient program where they do consultations and multi-disciplinary treatment, uniquely tailored to each individual, to find the best treatment. It requires a doctor’s referral, so I got in to see my doctor again two days later. I’m still waiting to hear back.

In the mean time, things have calmed down a little. I think the sertraline and Trintellix both being completely out of my system has helped. I noticed a few weeks ago that my mind seemed clearer. I’m still struggling every day though. I have very little energy and completely lack motivation to do anything. I’m still getting up and going to work every day (although, I’m on vacation/stay-cation this week because I hadn’t used any of my vacation time yet and it’s been almost a year) but the whole time I’m there, I don’t want to be.

Last week, I had a completely random, out of nowhere, anxiety attack while at work. No idea why. My heart was racing and I suddenly needed to use the bathroom. I felt all weird and jittery for most of the day after that. I still don’t really know what caused it. I have a couple theories, but it wasn’t something that was making me consciously anxious, so I’m not entirely sure.

I’m still unsure of whether or not the Cipralex is helping. It’s only been three weeks. My mood is still mostly down, and I’m still finding myself suicidal almost every day, but not quite as severely as on September 9th. I have definitely been isolating myself over the past 5 months. No one really seems to have picked up on it though.

I did open up to one of my coworkers, because I know she’s struggled with anxiety in the past, so she gets it. She’s been very supportive and willing to help ease my workload as necessary (it is part of her job).

Right now, my anxiety is manageable, but it is not gone. I still deal with it on a daily basis.

Right now, my depression is raging through my body and my mind. Most days I just want to give up because it’s just so difficult to keep going.

Right now, I am not okay, but I know that that is okay. I am working through it. I am fighting.

I saw an article talking about this tweet on Facebook just now. I realize it’s almost a year old, but the article, for some reason, was only written a few days ago.

The date is irrelevant though. It’s still a very important topic.

If you are aware of what OCD actually is, then you will understand why the girl was offended by this sweater. And to be honest I am too.

Two years ago, I probably would have laughed at it, but that was before I knew what OCD truly was. I admit, I was previously guilty of making OCD jokes, but now that I know what it is, I do not make them anymore, and I actually find them quite upsetting.

Reading some of the responses to @ReignMurphy‘s tweet, reminded me, yet again, how clueless people really are.

One insensitive tweet (I am not giving credit to the author!) read:

@ReignMurphy you’d think someone with OCD wouldn’t dress & look as stupid as u, I don’t have OCD but looking @ u would drive me nuts #growup

Yeah, because OCD means you can’t go out with short died hair and a sweater…? What?! That makes no sense.

There were also several responses telling her to lighten up and laugh it off and whatnot. Sure, it’s great to joke about our mental illnesses. In fact it often makes it easier to deal, especially when joking with people who can relate.

I have a friend with cerebral palsy and she often jokes about how it effects her daily life and has plenty of funny stories to go with it. She has several friends with cerebral palsy as well (some of who I have met) and when they get together they can make fund of themselves and have no problem with it. I can’t say I can relate to them in that sense, and I certainly wouldn’t go around making jokes about it, but they see the lighter side of it. At the same time, they will also stand up to people who do say inappropriate things about their disabilities.

The problem isn’t the jokes themselves. The problem is when uneducated people make these jokes, they are contributing to the stigma and misunderstanding of mental illness or disabilities or other illnesses and conditions (it’s not only mental illness that has this problem) and this often causes people who are suffering to continue to suffer in silence.

Because of society’s views on mental illness, we see these disorders as a weakness or character flaw, when in truth they are real, treatable conditions that many people struggle with. Most are manageable, and some people can even reach complete recovery from their mental illness. Yet, we are often afraid to open up and talk about them for fear of being judged or stigmatized. While logic tells us that we shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed, many of us have experienced the stigma and in a lot of ways that is harder to deal with than the illness itself. So we don’t speak up. And that’s a huge problem.

It was the stigmatization I experienced before I had any idea that I had anxiety and depression that prevented me from getting the help I needed. I remember as early as the first grade, right up through high school and college, several occasions where I was having a hard time with various things. I had very obvious signs of anxiety and depression, but being a child and having no education in the area of mental health, I had no idea what was going on.

As a child I relied on my parents and the adults in my life to support me, but I was told, countless times, to suck it up, get over it, stop being over dramatic or sensitive, etc. I was even told flat out, by my parents, that I didn’t have depression, when I mentioned symptoms from a commercial for depressionhurts.ca. That was about 5 years after I started exhibiting signs of depression, 4 years after one of my teachers called them in to my school to tell me I wasn’t as happy as the other kids in my class, and about 8 years before I was actually diagnosed. It was that experience, along with several others that stopped me from talking to anyone, including my doctor, about what was going on in my head, because I was convinced that I would, once again, be told I was making it up.

I’m not going to get into an argument with some random on the internet about this stuff, because it’s just not worth it, however, I do firmly believe that the general public’s language around mental health needs to change. People need to be more educated.

It’s still less than two years since I was initially diagnosed (the anniversary is getting close though) and it’s been a rough journey, but I am learning to pick my battles. I’m trying to be less sensitive, but I still feel very passionate about awareness and ending the stigma, so I am not going to stop talking about it any time soon.

October 2-8, 2016 is Mental Illness Awareness WeekSpreading Awareness, Reducing Stigma.

I initially heard about this at work today, from one side of a casual, phone conversation a co-worker was having around 5:30. I had no context, only hearing half the conversation, but it immediately caught my attention. It caught the attention of a few others in the office, but not for the same reasons.

Burlington Skyway reopens in both directions following police investigation

All they picked up on was something about jumping off the bridge. They laughed.

What I heard, was that a person was on the skyway, ready to jump, and my brain immediately translated into, someone is in crisis and they want to end their life. I felt their pain. I still feel it now.

I don’t know anything about this person, aside from that it was a male, in crisis, and is now being treated by professionals.

Both sides of the skyway were shut down for nearly 2 hours. Post of me thought it was odd that they’d shut down both sides, course o don’t know where exactly the incident was taking place, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how necessary it would be.

I have never gotten to a full blown crisis point, but it has gotten to the point where I have had the scenario play or in my head, minus the first responders trying to stop me. I’ve gotten to that point several times over the past 15 years, but the worst has actually been just in the past 3 months.

Hearing this incident being mentioned in such a causal manor actually hurt. No one in my office knows that I’ve ever been suicidal. Some of them are aware I have anxiety. Two of them know that the reason I didn’t come to work on Thursday was due to the panic attack I had Wednesday night. A few others knew I was having sleep issues back in December-February (it was severely effecting my day to day functioning – turned out it was being caused by the high dose of sertraline I was on at the time)

The thing is, most people don’t associate anxiety with suicidal ideation. I mean, in the majority of cases, it is connected more to depression than anxiety, but a lot of people with anxiety also have depression.

But I haven’t talked to any of my co-workers (except for one, who left last month) about the fact that I have depression. I find it’s easier to talk about anxiety. For some train I feel like it’s more normal or accepted. Tell someone you have depression and they somehow treat you differently, or they don’t believe you. Especially on my case, because I’m apparently really good at hiding it (my counselor actually told me this last week). I’ve always felt like anyone I tell, who hasn’t been through it, or other mental health issues, just doesn’t see it. But anxiety is different for some reason.

Anyways, I’ve wandered a bit off topic. I’m not sure anymore what my original point was, other than that, as a society, we need to be more sensitive to this kind of thing. I know the only way to do this is to talk about it, but it’s hard, when it makes people uncomfortable. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable, I’m just highly sensitive to how uncomfortable it makes others.

Also, I hope this man gets the help he needs and deserves and I hope he knows he’s not alone!

Thought of the day:

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if something is a symptom of my mental illnesses or simply a personality trait.

Problem is, most of the time, I worry that if these “quirks” are part of my personality, they may  actually point to a personality disorder. That terrifies me.

No, I’m not self diagnosing. Trust me. In this case especially, I don’t want to! It’s just that I feel like these thoughts and feelings that I frequently have mean that I’m a bad person. I want so badly for them to simply be symptoms of my anxiety or depression, because that means they aren’t necessarily always going to be there. But I even on days when I am doing better, I still often experience them and that makes me think that they aren’t going to go away, ever.

When I first started researching personality disorders several months ago, I initially thought, hey, maybe I fit into this category! It seemed like a good thing at the time because it might give me an answer. I know now that I was just trying to figure out who I was. Trying to understand myself. I had to explore the possibility, even if I didn’t know what it might mean.

I did mention it to my doctor a shortly after and he assured me that I didn’t have a personality disorder. Which at that moment actually left me feel a bit defeated because, yet again, I thought I was close to finding the answer – to what question? I still don’t really know – but ended up feeling further away from it than ever.

I continued researching and never really did find whatever I was looking for. But along the way I have put together many puzzle pieces of my life. I’m still figuring my shit out, but I still often find myself struggling with understanding who I am and what I want out of life.

I still feel very angry and misunderstood. I know that piece has nothing to do with me, but at the same time, it has everything to do with me.

It’s strange. I actually saw a link to the article that this writer is talking about. It showed up in my Facebook feed as a related link to something else is clicked on.

I often fall victim to those links. I mean, I like to think I’m pretty smart when it comes to the internet, you know, being a web developer and all. The tech side of it and the cautiousness about where the links are taking me comes very naturally to me.

The actual written content on the other side of those links, however, is a different story. I have found myself triggered, just like this writer, by things I’ve read that I randomly find myself reading.

When I saw this link, I wanted to see what it was that this person thought was a blessing. I was very curious. Most of the time, that curiosity would get the better of me and I’d click it. For some reason, this time I didn’t. I don’t know why, but I scrolled past it. I kept thinking about it for a while, but I never went back to find it.

This morning, when I saw this in my feed, I was curious again, and quickly realized what article the writer was talking about. At first I was wishing I had clicked that link the other day so I would know what she was talking about it, but the further I got, the more I realized I was not meant to read that article. Especially since this writer did not link to it and she even mentioned it been taken down. It probably would have triggered me in much the same way, so I guess in glad I didn’t read it.

The good news is, the writer of this article did an excellent job expressing the problems with that article and how it proves that the signs still hasn’t gone away. People are still ignorant and judgmental about mental illness. We need to change that!

On June 26, 2016, thousands of cyclists will come together to celebrate and strengthen mental health for all Canadians while raising $1,500,000 for mental health programs and services – and I will be one of them! Ride Don’t Hide is a community bike ride taking place in over 30 communities across Canada benefitting the Canadian Mental Health Association. I’m proud to participate in Ride Don’t Hide 2016 and invite you to join the movement and show your support with a donation or by joining me as a rider, a fundraising virtual rider or a volunteer. Thank you!

I first heard about Ride Don’t Hide about a year ago. I considered participating then, but it was really close to the event, I wasn’t in good enough shape to even survive the event, and every other possible excuse you can possibly think of.

About 7 months earlier, I had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Physically, my excuses weren’t unfounded. Mentally, I really couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of actually participating in such an event, even though I had been quite open about my battle and I legitimately wanted to do it.

There was this voice in my head – that little voice that is supposed to remain in the back of your mind… it was front and centre – that had me convinced I couldn’t do it.

Over the past year, the idea of participating in Ride Don’t Hide has been floating around in my brain, occasionally popping up to remind me I wanted to do it. And each time, that nagging little voice of anxiety and depression were there to remind me that I’m in terrible shape and every time I make any attempt change that, I fail. I set insane goals for myself with no timeline for completion and I fail every time. Why? Because my greatest talent is procrastination.

Then, the weekend of CAMH One Brave Night rolled around – which I participated in without a second thought, even though I have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder and I really shouldn’t be messing with my sleep pattern on such a significant way. I had been wondering when Ride Don’t Hide was taking place so I went to the website. I sat there staring at it for a while, coming up with excuse after excuse.

I considered signing up as a virtual rider because then I wouldn’t have to do anything. After about 30 minutes of excuse making it hit me. I want to get in better shape. Be healthier. I don’t care so much about losing weight, I simply want to be able to do things I used to do without being out of breath or in pain. Although, out doesn’t help that I have asthma and enough old injuries to pretty much guarantee something will always hurt, no matter what I do. I’ve struggled with my weight since my preteens, but I have never been in as terrible shape as I have been since my early-mid 20s. (I’m now on my late 20s.)

Telling myself I can get in shape at my own pace, clearly, wasn’t working. I’ve been trying for years and it’s only gotten worse.

I kept thinking, oh I’ll sign up once I start exercising more so I know I can do it. That wasn’t working either.

Then it hit me I knew I had to register now or I would never do it!

Now, I have a very achievable goal with a timeline for completion. Having that deadline has given me a ton more motivation to work at it. It’s only been a couple days but I’m already doing better than all the other times I tried to get myself in better shape. My sleep/wake phase issues are making my preferred exercise time difficult, but the thought of not being able to do the ride is keeping me going when it would be more than easy to “skip it,” but I know that skipping it will lead to giving up. I may have days where I don’t want to, and I’m not in denial about that anymore. Knowing I have this goal in mind, I think, will force me to keep going.

This is one of those things where my anxiety actually works in my favour. More than wanting to be in better shape, I don’t want to look an idiot. Normally, I would expect people to tell me not to think that way and tell me all kinds of positive things about myself that I won’t believe, but that’s part of what is going to keep me going and get me to June 26th!

The only thing I’m concerned about is what I’m going to do to keep myself motivated after Ride Don’t Hide. I’m hoping that I will have had enough success, by that point, that the success itself will keep me going, but I’m trying not let myself get my hopes up. I’m going to need to find another date oriented goal to keep me going, but for now, I just need to keep my focus and get as much support as I can to help keep me on track!

Please, help me reach my goal by sponsoring me for Ride Don’t Hide! Your dollars will go towards helping the CMHA provide much needed support to those battling mental illness and will help keep me motivated to advice my goal of being healthy, both physically and mentally.