Worth Living Ambassador Emma Pratt
Hi everyone! My name is Emma and I am 23 years old from Ottawa, Ontario. Mental health has been a part of my personal life for about seven years. It had found its way into almost every part of my life when I decided why not invite it in fully and make it my job! I am a Social Service Worker with a passion for mental health. I try to do all that I can to create conversations surrounding mental health and to reduce the stigma that surrounds it. I like to live by saying “When we replace the I in illness with a We, it becomes wellness,” and that is my goal in life.
Can a Helper Ask for Help?
When I ask someone for help, I like to assume that they have the capabilities to help me. I put my trust and faith in this person in hopes that they can adequately help me navigate through the problems of my life. But what if I knew that the person I am trusting to help me needed the very same help that I am asking them for?
I am a helper. I help people. I do my best to guide people, to help them, and to advocate for them in situations where necessary. I am a social service worker. I have worked for two years in the field of mental health and am embarking on a new chapter of my career in a new role as an addiction support counsellor. Sometimes I worry that I am not cut out for this. I couldn’t count the number of times I have asked myself the following question, “How do you expect to help other people when you need help just as badly?”
I was diagnosed with depression when I was sixteen, and generalized anxiety disorder when I was eighteen. Mental health has been a part of my life for seven years. It’s the reason I chose the career path that I did, yet it’s the very reason I find myself questioning it.
During my dark days, this question sounds in my head with a resounding echo. However, on days when my mind is quieter, this question is one I can answer perfectly and with great certainty.
The struggles I have faced, and continue to face, have shaped me into the woman I am today. Would I want someone who has never gotten a tattoo before to tell me how badly getting a tattoo hurts? No. I would want someone who has gone through the experience themselves to tell me what it felt like and how I might find the experience myself. My own mental health status has not only brought me to do the work that I love to do, but I think it has made me even more well suited to it. I have a personal story to bring to the table, I can empathize with the people I work with, I can do my best to put myself in the shoes of another. But most of all, I can understand that when it comes to mental health, each and every story is different. The stories of what a mental illness looks like are as diverse as the people affected by mental illness. I have seen this diversity, I have felt it, and I try to live and breathe it into the work that I do.
I used to be scared that my mental health status would impede me from pursuing the work that I am passionate about. I used to think that there was no way I could be successful in this field. But what I try to tell myself now is that the struggles I have faced and the difficulties I have endured made me passionate about this work. Without living through the darkness, I would not have been able to embrace the person that the darkness made me.
Mental illness has been a part of my life for many years, but mental health will be a part of me for the rest of my life. I am proud to share with clients the places I have been and the places I hope to go. I am proud to see the light go on behind their eyes when they see that they can get there too wherever there is for them. I am proud to be a helper who needs to ask for help sometimes.