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.

Before 2 months ago, I really didn’t know much about anxiety disorders. The only ones I really knew anything about were social anxiety and panic disorder, just because I knew people who had them, although I didn’t really know much about the disorders, because people didn’t really talk that much about them. I had never heard of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) before I was diagnosed with it a couple months ago.

I experienced many signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression, long before I was diagnosed. All of these signs and symptoms were overlooked as being caused by something else, or simply ignored. Some are things only I could have seen, but some were missed by friends, family, and even medical professionals. I also experienced other signs, but these are the ones I feel were the misinterpreted, whether by myself or by others, or both.
Please note, if you see any of these things in yourself or a loved one, it may or may not indicate a mental illness. Keep in mind that these are my personal experience, not a list from a medical professional. Everyone experiences mental illness differently and everyone’s body will react differently. Especially the physical symptoms. Those could easily indicate other medical problems. If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness, please talk to someone. Don’t keep it locked up inside!

1. Always thinking worst case scenario

In every situation, I would always find myself thinking the worst.

If my parents were late getting home from work or being out while I was at home, I would think they got in a car accident or something bad happened. I would visualize every possible scenario. Then they’d come home, and I’d be so relieved, and then I’d forget all about it, until the next time. I never told anyone.

If I got sick or injured, I would always worry that it was worse than I thought it was, but I would never tell any one.

2. Visualizing bad results from insignificant situations

Going back to my parents being late, I would picture them being trapped, unconscious in the car, or being taken to the hospital. I would see it all play out in my head.

But not just things like that. I would be small things. Running my finger along the edge of a piece of paper, I would see the paper cut happening and feel how much it hurt, even though I caught myself before the paper broken the skin.

Driving my car, and seeing someone get cut off, or someone cutting me off, I would instantly picture the cars colliding, or me swerving to get out of the way and crashing into a pole or whatever happened to be near by. I would picture the car getting completely crushed and me being trapped inside of it. My legs trapped under the steering wheel or the door being smashed into my side. Nothing has ever happened to me to have a reason to see these things in my head. I’m not afraid of them happening. At least not so much that I can’t go out driving. I enjoy driving. Sometimes I think about as a scary thing. Sometimes, its more of a what if this happened and I died, and I wouldn’t have to deal with life any more.

Standing on a balcony, more than a couple floors up, I could picture myself falling and hitting the ground below. This is why when I lived in the 7th floor of my apartment when I was in college, I didn’t spend a lot of time out on the balcony. Nothing would have to happen to make me imagine these things. I would just picture it.

3. Not wanting to go out and do every day things

I often find myself sitting in my apartment thinking, I really need to go grocery shopping, or other mundane things that I need to do. Normal, every day things, that everyone has to do. And I find myself just having absolutely no desire to do any of it. I just want to sit alone and pretend I don’t exist. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to be.

People invite me out to do something. I will try to come up with any excuse to get out of it. Most of the time, I can’t come up with a reason I feel is good enough, so I’ll drag myself out of the house and the entire time, all I can think about is how I’m going to get out of the situation that I’m in. I try to think of an excuse to leave. Anything that can justify me going home and being alone.

4. Feeling left out, when it probably wasn’t true

Quite often, in high school and college, I would hear my friends talking about some thing that they did that I wasn’t invited to, and they make it sound like they had so much fun, and all I can think about is the fact that I wasn’t asked to join them. Even know, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go, had I been asked, I still get offended that I wasn’t.

Or I’d be doing something, working on my own, and I’d see friends or coworkers near by talking, having a private conversation. I wasn’t asked to join them. They didn’t even make an effort to include me. I don’t know what they’re talking about, but instantly, I think they’re talking about me. Which leads me to my next point.

5. Feeling like I was being laughed at or made fun of, all the time

When I see people, whether I know them or not, talking quietly or laughing, my first thought is always that they’re talking about or laughing at me. Even though, in all likelihood, they aren’t, I still think they are. I know that they probably aren’t, and that it has nothing to do with me, but I can’t help myself but to think that they’re making fun of me. This is the reason that I’ve always disliked teenagers, even when I was one. I see teenagers now, out in public, laughing as they walk by me, and I think they’re looking at me thinking, oh, she’s fat, and ugly, or whatever.

6. Constantly worrying about situations that will never turn out the way I think they will

I always worry about how a situation will play out. I run through conversations over and over and over in my head before they even happen. I also play over them after, wondering what could have gone differently.

If I know that I have make a phone call to book an appointment or discuss something important like banking or whatever, anything that isn’t calling a friend or family just to talk, I can’t do it right away. I think about what will happen running through the conversation, and trying to plan out the entire thing in my head before it happens, but it never goes as expected.

With other situations that are a little more stressful, that would get regular people a little bit nervous, I stress about them right up until the moment they end. If it turns out good, then I can usually move on easily enough, but if it doesn’t, then I continue to stress about it long after its over. The more stressful the situation was, the longer I stress about it, running through the situation in my head, over and over.

7. Difficulty handling stress

Sometimes complete inability to handle stress.

It happens with small things and big things. When I was a kid, I would get stressed out about homework. When I got stuck on a question or project, I would try to get help from my parents, but for some reason, I wouldn’t accept it. I would freak out and lose control over everything. I would end up having a complete meltdown. I would be crying for no reason, over some stupid homework assignment. I knew it was dumb but I couldn’t stop it from happening.

That sort of thing still happens to me now. When I get stressed out about work or other situations, I tend to shut down. I get so overwhelmed that I can’t function. I can’t do anything. I can’t get anything done.

8. Angry or agitated for no logical reason

Stupid little things will set me off. Most of the time I keep it to myself, but sometimes it gets too hard to hold it in. Someone will do something that I don’t like, and I’ll just get so agitated, but I won’t tell anyone. I just keep it bottled up, because I know that its stupid to be angry over it.

9. Generally unhappy about life

This one kind of speaks for itself. Not that my life is crappy or anything, I’ve just never been happy with it. I’ll be happy in situations, happy about things that happen, but just in general, I’m not happy. I don’t even remember the last time I was genuinely happy about my life. Whenever I think about the things I’ve accomplished or want to accomplish, I suddenly feel like I’ve accomplished nothing with my life. I’m 27, and the things that I dream about accomplishing, most people have already done by my age, and it makes me upset that I haven’t done those things by now. It doesn’t matter that I know that it shouldn’t matter, but it still bothers me.

10. Undiagnosable physical symptoms

This is a multi-part item. I could have easily split it into separate items, but felt it made more sense to group them together into one.

a. Severe stomach pain

When I was in high school, I experienced persistent stomach pain. It was so bad that my doctor had a whole bunch of tests done. He didn’t want to say it, but he said there was a small chance it could be cancer. Obviously it wasn’t, but they were never able to determine a cause of the pain. Eventually, it went away.

When I went to my current doctor, when he diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder, I mentioned to him, because it was one of the things that had me scared about going to the doctor about how I was feeling. I was scared it would be another problem that would never be solved. He told me that it was likely my body reacting to my anxiety.

b. Heart palpitations

In college, I started experiencing heart palpitations. I had some tests done, including a 24 hour holter monitor. They never found a cause. My doctor at the time said it may have just been stress. College really shouldn’t cause the kind of stress that would cause heart palpitations in a normal person.

Since being diagnosed with GAD, I’ve been doing a lot of research. Heart palpitations was one thing that I kept seeing on different websites as a known physical symptom. Which makes way more sense, knowing now that I had GAD then, it explains everything.

c. Digestive issues

This is another thing I keep seeing listed, but I don’t know for sure if it is a direct result of my anxiety or not. I’ve had digestive problems my entire life.

11. Low self esteem and self confidence

I’ve always had low self esteem and self confidence. Now that I know I have GAD, I know that it is the cause. I’ve always wanted to believe that I don’t care about what other people think of me, but the truth is, I always worry about it. So much so that it makes me shut people out. I don’t tell people how I really feel, what’s going on in my head. I’m always worried that people thing I’m stupid, annoying, ugly, fat, every possible negative thing that anyone could possibly think about another person, I worry that everyone sees me that way, because I see myself that way. Most of the time, I don’t like myself, I don’t like anything about myself. I have the occasional day where I feel a little bit better about myself, but the majority of the time, I don’t feel good about myself or my life.

Today is Bell Let’s Talk day. With that, CTV aired Clara’s Big Ride, chronicling Clara Hughes 11,000km bike ride across Canada to raise awareness for mental illness.


There was one lady who was featured in the show who said some things that really stuck with me.
The first thing she explained was that she had never actually attempted suicide, but she had suicidal thoughts. For example driving across a bridge and thinking, I could just turn the wheel, that would be it.

I have definitely thought of stuff like that before. Like, while driving under a bridge on a highway, at 110km/h and I would think about just driving into the pillar in the middle. I would think about how it would feel to end everything right then. Or driving on road on the edge of a hill or steep cliff, I’d think about just taking my hands off the wheel and letting myself fall.Come to think of it, most of my suicidal thoughts have involved a vehicle. Not all if them, but most. (Random thought I had to just throw in there.)

The other thing she said that I can definitely relate to, a million times over, is that other people have had worse lives, worse experiences, and they don’t feel like this. What right to I have to feel this way?

That is another big reason why I kept quiet for so long. I think I have had a pretty decent life. Great family. A few good friends, although I don’t feel like I have many close friends anymore. My life isn’t, by any means, spectacular, or all that interesting, but I’ve never really experienced anything really, truly terrible. So why do I hate myself all the time? Why do I get angry so easily? Why do I worry about everything? Why do I have such a difficult time dealing with stress? Why do I wish I didn’t exist? I feel like I don’t have the right to feel any of those things because my life has been pretty good, and yet, I do.

 
I’m really glad that Bell and Clara are doing what they’re doing. Let’s end the stigma.

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!

You know how when someone is stressed or worried, they will often got for a walk to “clear their head”? It seems like such a simple thing, and for most, it works.
This may or may not be true for other people with anxiety or depression, but for me, that ” going for a walk to clear my head” thing does not work!!
Walking is such a mindless activity. It doesn’t require much thought to do it. When I do things that don’t require active thought, my brain doesn’t shut the hell up.
If there’s something bothering me, stressing me out, making me anxious, going for a walk tends to make it worse. The only way for me to move past the issue is to distract myself from it. I have to keep myself actively thinking about something else. It is very difficult, nearly impossible, for me to “clear my head.” My brain just doesn’t work that way.
Today was a particularly bad day for me. It started right from the moment I woke up and hasn’t stopped. My eyelids hurt from crying. And there’s not even a good reason for it. At least not from the perspective of someone without a mental illness. I’m sure people with anxiety and/or depression can relate.
I’m still trying to find ways for me to get through those bad days.
What do you do to clear your head or get through anxious moments or stressful days?

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.

You know that old saying, “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Or some versions say, “words will never hurt me.”

When you have a mental illness, that saying is really not accurate. Yeah, I know, you’re not supposed to let those things get to you, but it is harder than a lot of people know.

Words do hurt. And I’m not meaning in the sense of someone saying, “oh, you’re crazy.” I mean, when people say things like, “don’t worry about it” or “stop stressing.”

I know they’re intended to be helpful and make me feel better, but mental illness (at least my type) is NOT rational. You tell me to calm down, not to worry, to stop stressing. You think it is going to help me do those things. Truth is, it makes me less calm, more worried, and even more stressed out. More anxious!

I know it makes no sense. I know it isn’t rational. I know it shouldn’t happen that way. Believe me, I know!

Just because I know it, doesn’t mean I can change what is happening in my brain. I tell myself all those things, all the time, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. If it did, we could eradicate mental illness altogether!

Unfortunately, that’s now how it works.

This is why awareness about mental illness is so important!

I recently mentioned to someone in an email that I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Although the main topic of the email was something else entirely, it did relate to it, and I even told them why.

I spoke with that person on the phone a few hours later (they called me to follow up) and although we discussed the main topic of the email, they didn’t even get anywhere close to talking about the fact that I had told them I had an anxiety disorder. I don’t know if it was because they just sort of overlooked it or they were scared to bring it up, however, the person said those things to me, “don’t worry,” ” don’t be stressed” and all I could think was, “did you read my email?!”

In this particular case, it was a bit easier to overlook the comments, due to the context of the conversation, but it still bothered me a bit.

People need to know what these conditions (anxiety, depression, etc.) mean, and I feel like most people only learn about them if they have one themselves. We need to share these things with people. We need to educate the world!
Edit: Came across this on Facebook a few days after originally writing this post. Its more about bullying, but I still feel it applies.

After a diagnosis of a mental illness, most people probably start by telling their close friends and family. (I am making an assumption here.) I struggled for a month to figure out where to even begin. I didn’t tell anyone. Not because I was ashamed or embarrassed. Just because I really didn’t know how to even bring it up.
I also live over 3,000km away from my parents, have no siblings, and don’t have a lot of close friends, especially where I currently live. All of these things were contributing factors to my more recent struggles, which ultimately lead to my diagnosis.
I am heavily involved in technology and social media. I am a web developer. I spend the majority of my time online. Its just what I do. It is who I am. I’m also fairly emotional when I talk about personal things verbally, but I also often struggle to find the right words to explain things. This made it particularly difficult for me to figure out how to tell people about my diagnosis. I know if I told someone, or began talking about it verbally, I would cry. Didn’t matter who I told, guaranteed, I would cry. I cried in the doctors office when I was diagnosed (mostly before he told me what was wrong with me, once he told me, it was like, oh, that’s what it is).
I decided that the only way I was going to be able to do it, was to put it in writing, and going along with my personality, posting it on social media. This was before I decided to start this blog, and the best place I thought I could do it at the time was on my Tumblr account. I then shared the post to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I later posted something on Instagram as well.
This method was a deeply personal decision, and is definitely not the correct choice for everyone, but it worked for me. It got the conversation started, and I’ve since been able to talk to my parents about it over video chat (still difficult to find the right words, and I get extremely anxious when I do talk about it) and have had a few friends and family members send me private messages talking about their experiences. People I didn’t know were struggling with the same things as me came forward and shared with me and offered to help me if I needed to talk. It was so comforting to have that.

I’ve had several blogs in the past, as I was beginning to develop my skills as a web developer (this is going back into my teen years), but eventually I realized that I really didn’t have a lot of interesting things to write about. Well, actually, in some ways, I still don’t. But, as I embark on a new journey in life, I feel like maybe I do have something to contribute to society, however small it may be.

What is that new journey? You may be wondering. Well, I was recently diagnosed with a mental illness. I’d struggled with it for many years – ok, that makes me sound old… I will be turning 27 in 2 weeks – but never got help.

There were a few factors contributing to why it took so long for me to get help.

  1. I was young when it started. I didn’t know what was going on. I thought it was normal or just a part of my personality, and that I was terrible and handling stress of life.
  2. When I did sort of start to gain an outsiders understanding of mental illness, I didn’t fully understand the symptoms or the illnesses.
  3. No one else really noticed, or didn’t speak up about it. No one ever asked me how I really was. I think most of the people in my life didn’t have the knowledge or understanding themselves to see what was really going on.
  4. The stigma around mental illness. I was scared of how people would react when they found out. It terrified me.
  5. The biggest reason: The illness itself. Every time I started to think, Hold on, maybe this isn’t right. Maybe there really is something wrong. Maybe I do need to talk to someone about this. The response would be, Nope. Its all in your head. Its not real. If you tell someone, they’ll tell you that you’re making it up. They’ll say there’s nothing wrong with you, just suck it up and move on. Or sometimes it would be more along the lines of, No, you’re crazy. If you tell anyone, they’ll say that you have issues. You’re can’t handle normal life, so they’ll lock you up and never let you have a life ever again.

I’ve been posting things on my various social media sites, but I decided that I needed a central hub, to keep everything. Then it came to me. I should start a blog! Its been probably 6 years since I’ve maintained a blog, so I’m a bit out of practice, but like I said, I feel like I have a little more to contribute now, than I did before.

I definitely don’t plan to make this blog exclusively about mental health, since I don’t feel I could maintain something like that but at least for a little while, it may be focussed a little more towards that topic.

Other things you might see here are my geekery and fangirlness! Yes, that’s right, I am a bit of a nerd. (Come on, I said, right in the first sentence, that I’m a web developer, what did you expect?!)

I love sci-fi and fantasy!

I am not a gamer, so there won’t be much of that here. (Not that I have anything against video games, I just never got into it.)

I am one of those people who goes to sci-fi/comic/entertainment conventions. One day, I will go to San Diego Comic Con!! It’s on my bucket list…or would be, if I started having a bucket list.

I am not a cosplayer…yet. I’ve been considering it more and more recently, so one day I may get into that. If I do, you will definitely hear about it here!

There are other things I am interested in too, so I’m sure they will show up on here eventually.

Anyways, that’s all for now.