Keith is a regular contributor to Bring Change 2 Mind’s blog, and to the Good Men Project. If you are interested in working with Keith feel free to reach out. Contact WL if you want to be a Guest Blogger.
Worth Living Ambassador Felicia Singh
Hello, my name is Felicia. I am a 25 year old healthcare professional and
counseling/psychology student with anxiety. As well as someone with an unexplainable
yearning to understand mental health disorders. The who, what, where, when, and whys of it all
The S Word
1 of every 5 adults experience some sort of mental illness every year. 1 of every 5 youths
between the ages of 13-18 also experience some sort of mental illness every year, yet mental
illness is still a stigma. What can we do to change this?
If you are someone that does not have a mental illness, you may feel as if the discussion does
not concern you when in fact it concerns us all. Let’s look at it this way. I mentioned above the
amount of us who are affected by a mental illness yearly and for some a lifetime. Chances are
this applies to you or someone you know. Mental illness shows no bias to an individual’s race,
gender, religious beliefs, occupation, etc. We tend to get uncomfortable about discussing
anything mental health related because no one wants to be written off or labeled as being
Someone with a mental illness is not defined by that illness and is not any less of a
person because of it. Too often in society mental illness is viewed as threatening or something
I think a huge part of ending the stigma that surrounds mental illness is talking about it more.
Many of us may feel uncomfortable when sharing details about our mental health. Let’s start
there. Mental health is equally as important as your physical health. The brain works as a
control center for the entire body. It contains billions of nerve cells that coordinate our thoughts,
emotions, behaviors, and movement. It has everything to do with everything and that fact
although I’m not sure how is often overlooked. If you break your arm or have an odd rash, you
would usually go to a doctor. Seeing a physician for a mental health issue should not be any
different. Coming from someone that has been in the medical field for five years, I can honestly
say that there is no reason to feel ashamed about discussing a mental health issue. We’ve
practically seen and heard it all.
The comfort level you have with yourself and your mental illness definitely affects how those around you will deal with it as well. I always reassure patients who are hesitant to discuss something that we are here to help them and we can’t do that properly if there is a communication gap. You should take your time when choosing your health
care provider. It’s important to feel comfortable with your doctor and their staff.
We all have a role in helping to end the stigma that surrounds mental health. The easier it
becomes to talk about, the more aware others will be. Whether you know someone who is
affected by a mental illness or not, people are still people at the end of the day. And caring
about the wellbeing of others is just… well human. EVERY life has purpose and is worth living
Worth Living Ambassador Alex Campeau
Hi, my name is Alex, I’m 23 years old and am still going through a bumpy ride. I’m diagnosed with schizoaffective- depressed subtype, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a lot to swallow, but don’t think of them as disorders, think of them as personality traits. I have had three hospital stays and hope to have a smoother recovery than the one I am having now.
I was sixteen. That’s when things started to change. By change, I mean I was getting suspicious about people and their true intentions. To me they all meant to make me feel poorly about myself. Writing was the only escape. At first, they started out as just journal entries, but then they became my only method of speech. I would write endlessly until the school day was finished. I wrote about how much the world was a lie and that every action made by others was “fake” or “false”. My teachers became nervous around me and were worried about my endless writing. I had quite the grandiose personality but I didn’t show it. Everything was about me, Alex Campeau. I really was giving people a scare. I was seeing a psychiatrist, the school psychologist, my guidance councillor, and the vice principal on occasion.
When I was eighteen, I had classes in high school but I’d just go to them and after the lesson was taught, I’d leave and go to my “other” classroom where kids with troubles in school would go. There I wasn’t as scared but the anxiety and paranoia was becoming unbearable. The school psychologist and my guidance councillor came to the conclusion that I was psychotic. They made an appointment for me to get evaluated for a program called the On Track program. The On Track program was for people who were experiencing first episode psychosis. Anyway, I went to the appointment and lied. I told them that everything in my life was fine. They made a second appointment for me and I spilled the truth. I was a mess. In my head, home was a nightmare and so was the rest of the world. At one point I thought I was the antichrist and had powers.
At the On Track program I was assigned a nurse, a different psychiatrist and I was to attend groups there with the other patients. The groups involved things like walking group, cooking, gym, etc. I was the odd one out there due to my levels of anxiety and paranoia. My life took another turn when I had to call my father to take me to the hospital due to how I was feeling. For me it wasn’t just paranoia and anxiety, it was also depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. I was in the ER and without hesitation they got me a bed.
I was given a different psychiatrist and it was the same psychiatrist who dealt with me in my first hospital visit and in my second appointment at On Track. In most psych wards you have three options. You can either walk in circles, take meds that will make you tired, or make friends with the other patients. I had three good friends there who were my age and I trusted them. We would talk about our mental health which was a good subject for me because I don’t know how to talk about anything else. In the hospital, the nurses and my doctor told me to stop hanging around with my friends because the staff thought I was manipulating them, which of course I wasn’t. I always felt like the staff behind the nurse’s station were always talking about me and how I was a threat. Like I had done something wrong. I had thoughts like that all the time. Thinking I had harmed somebody without remembering it or robbing a bank, evading the police.
Those thoughts I had where I had done something wrong without remembering it, I thought they were so real.
houghts like that are a part of my OCD, well, It was like a psychotic OCD. Thinking that the number four would aid me in some way, thinking intrusive thoughts were reality. Anyway, I was discharged from the hospital after two and a half months of being there. I was sent to the Royal Mental Health Centre for some more testing and they were thinking I had schizoaffective disorder. I was introduced to the head of the schizophrenia program (yes another psychiatrist) and he thought the same. I remember my mother asking my doctor what he saw in me and I remember these words, “I see a young man being terrorized by his own thoughts”. I asked to be admitted and my doctor agreed right away. There were two schizophrenia wards, Schizophrenia North, and Schizophrenia South. I was in Schizophrenia South.
The Royal was amazing. I really liked my doctor and I know he cared about his patients. In the Royal, I was thinking I could read thoughts and that others could read mine. I was too paranoid to eat with the others so I remained in my room. I was also very depressed. The depression was the reason I was so skinny, I never ate. So they gave me two Ensures a day. Ensure is basically a meal replacement drink. So I had two of those and three meals a day. What was great about the Royal was the activities. Remember how I mentioned there were only three options in the hospital? This hospital had tons of options. There was walking group, gym, cooking, computers, and so much more. The one bad part was the medications. I felt like a lab rat sometimes because of all the meds they were trying on me. The most effective medications were Clozapine, Clonazepam, and Lexapro. The Clozapine slowly made me see things for how they were. I wasn’t “cured” but I was more like the Alex everyone knew at fifteen years and younger.
After nine and a half months of being there I was much better. But to this day I do not answer the door because my psychotic OCD would tell me that the person has a gun or when the phone rings I’ll think it’s the police after me. I did hear voices before that would only say my name and see a person who couldn’t have possibly been there. It was a very scary time. Going through that psychosis really ruined my life. I had lost all my friends, lost self- confidence, and I’m am lost. But I am close to being found. I only have one friend who had gone through something horrible like I had. But that’s all I need at this moment. I am still struggling, but I’m still alive and moving forward.
Now I use running and exercise as a coping mechanism. I face my problems head on and strong. I feel like I have a purpose in life and to all of you who don’t think they have a purpose in life, think about all the horrible crap going on and help others using that crap. Survive it and help someone who is feeling how you felt. Give someone else a life worth living.
Worth Living Ambassador Delicia Raveenthrarajan
Delicia is a performing arts student who also takes on the world with her passion in spoken word, motivational speaking, song writing, the arts, musical theatre, and changing the world with strength and kindness. She has become who she is by volunteering, speaking and life changing travels. Delicia simply states her journey so far: Canada Born. Kenya Bound. Arizona Built. Amazon Braving. Strength Embracing
Stigma isn’t Over: A Student Perspective.
Stigma isn’t over. I am a student and stigma isn’t over. I walk through the halls and stigma isn’t over. I reach out for help and stigma isn’t over. Stigma isn’t over.
Stigma isn’t over because I’ve heard countless comments on how I couldn’t possibly have a mental illness because of my academic standing. From “you don’t seem like it,” to “but you’re so smart,” the words burn into me like a lighter held near paper- slowly but surely. The pain of invalidation and lack of support.
I have high functioning disorders which make it easy for people to believe the facade. But it doesn’t make my illnesses any less real. I still suffer and struggle. I still hurt and sometimes tasks like putting my feet on the floor or turning on the bedroom lights are seemingly impossible. Just because one cannot see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Please stop invalidating my illness because like any other illness, it is just that. An illness. Stigma isn’t over.
Stigma isn’t over because I can’t comfortably tell my teacher the reason for my absence without fear of disappointment or judgement. For some reason “I was at the hospital for medication changes because of my mental illness,” or “I was taking care of my wellbeing,” doesn’t flow off the tongue as well as “I broke a bone,” or “I had the flu.” Yet all of these challenges are valid. I still cannot go to my teacher and ask for an extension on my assignment because of my mental well- being but my classmate on the hockey team is given an extension without any questions asked. I couldn’t be exempt from exams despite a hospital note for a mental health crisis but concussions were exempt without hesitation. Stigma isn’t over.
Stigma isn’t over because I had to fight and I still have to fight for accommodations because I don’t look like I have an illness even though I have a hospital doctor’s letter in my student file. I was told that I was too smart to receive accommodations despite my need for them. My intelligence has nothing to do with my illness, but my focus, anxiety, memorization, and work ability does. Stigma isn’t over.
Stigma isn’t over because when I have a psychiatrist appointment, I feel the need to tell my school I have a dentist appointment when I sign out. Stigma isn’t over because when i reached out for school support, the first response I received was “but you don’t look like it. You look fine.” Stigma isn’t over because my several peers and teachers believe I am less than others because of my illness. Stigma isn’t over because in a time of no energy I still have to put in the draining effort of justifying my feelings to a school. Stigma isn’t over because some people simply don’t care. Stigma isn’t over because I fear judgement when I ask for help and support. Stigma isn’t over.
We aren’t done fighting the good fight. We aren’t done advocating to stop the stigma. We aren’t done the movement to change how society handles mental illnesses because I am a student. And for me, stigma isn’t over.
Worth Living Ambassador Meiyi Wong
My name is Meiyi Kiyoko Angel Wong, “Mei” for short. I am a 22-year-old Asian-American woman living in Honolulu, HI. I am a survivor of trauma including child abuse, domestic violence, and rape, and I have been fighting several mental illnesses since I was 19. I struggle with depression, anxiety, complex PTSD (C-PTSD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD); I am also in recovery from an eating disorder. This May, I graduated from Honolulu Community College with my Associate Degree in Human Services. In the fall, I’ll be transferring to the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. My dream is to earn my Master’s in Social Work, specializing in mental health and trauma, so that I can manage and work with individuals living in group homes. I currently am employed as a Residential Assistant at Safe Haven, an agency which provides services for adults who are homeless and severely mentally ill. My life’s passion is helping people who are dealing with mental health, trauma, and recovery. In my spare time, I run an Instagram (@fightingformei) chronicling my personal journey; I also blog about my experiences at fightingformei.wordpress.com. My mantra is “real, vulnerable, imperfect”; I want to inspire and empower others to be genuine on social media and in real life, to embrace their stories, and to live as beautifully flawed, unapologetic works in progress.
~”It’s Completely Acceptable to Stay Alive for the Little Things”
To bury yourself in a heap of laundry straight out of the dryer.
To eat fresh-baked restaurant bread so hot it stings your fingertips when you pull it apart, releasing a noiseless breath of steam.
To dive beneath the surface of a swimming pool and experience trillions of molecules of water rushing at once to embrace you, and just feel so alive in that moment.
To find out what happens to your favorite character on next week’s episode.
To wander through Bath and Body Works after September, sniffing candles scented pumpkin pie and apple spice.
To see that cute girl who works at the supermarket, then choosing exactly ten items or less so you qualify for her lane.
To scroll through funny GIFs until you find the PERFECT one for a friend.
To hear little kids burst into giggles whenever someone says “booty”.
To try a new shade of M.A.C. lipstick.
To be shown a photo of yourself, and not only be OK with it, but actually like it.
To open up a brand-new box of Crayolas.
To randomly discover a talent you never knew you had, whether that be origami, soothing crying babies, or hard-boiling eggs.
To finish something. Anything. A crossword puzzle. A blog post. A novel. The next level of Bubble Shooter where you’ll earn five gold coins.
To go to the Fourth of July sale at Macy’s.
To hear Christmas music on the radio.
To finally wear that outfit you bought a long time ago but always forget about.
To beam with surprise when the salesperson gives you a discount you weren’t expecting.
To hear the “ping” of an incoming text and have your heart flutter with excitement, wondering if it’s from that special someone.
To bite into a crisp, sweet piece of summer fruit and feel the juice trickle down your chin.
And many more…
~”It’s Completely Acceptable to Stay Alive for the Little Things”
Worth Living Ambassador Norah Quirk
Hi, my name is Norah Quirk. I’m 23 in my second year at St. Francis Xavier University, I am majoring in Development Studies and Anthropology
Caution: Norah mentions suicide
I for a long time struggled with anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and an eating disorder that I am finally coming to terms with and have finally turned things around with my life.
Growing up I was I guess you can say I was shy, I had a few friends but I could never tell them about the problems I was facing with at home. My parents were both teachers but they never were fully employed. So the were more like Substitute teachers, and once I got a job I was able to help out with money in the house. Growing up there was a big push I guess you could say on being well rounded in my house. I was involved with choir, soccer, basketball, track, curling, tennis, cross country, you name it I normally was involved with it one point. I did enjoy these activities but once I got into high school it was more of a way to not be stuck in the house.
My parents never let me hang out with my friends and after a while, my friends just stopped asking altogether because they knew no matter how much I wanted to that my parents would just say no. There are other things that happened that I am still not ready to openly talk about quite yet.
I loved school, it was my escape from reality. When I was in school I could just throw all my attention into school. Whatever happened the night before or whatever happened within the morning, it could all be pushed to the back of my mind and put all my focus on the school work.
During a summer evening in high school, I was going for a run just like any other night. Iit was a trail that I had been on 100 times before but that night was not like the rest. That night I was jumped and raped, I never told anyone for years. I still have my bad days, there are times when I’m in the shower and have to sit down in the tub with my arms wrapped around my knees. I would just let the water run till my body would go numb.
I tried many things too but nothing seemed to work. I attempted suicide which now looking back, I am so grateful that it was not a success. I am still struggling but I know that I am at a better place where I don’t hate myself as much as I did at one point. I still have a long way to go but I now know that my life is worth living.
No one ever asks for what we are given in life but what we can do is try and live it to our best.
Pride Countdown with DJ Scratchley Q, The Worth Living Official DJ
Let’s Celebrate! This week’s countdown is all about celebrating Pride. I’ve done a few Pride events and these 30 songs are just a few that get the crowd moving. Hope you enjoy! – DJ Scratchley Q
30. Secrets- Mary Lambert
29. Te Amo- Rihanna
28. Sissy That Walk- RuPaul
27. Work B**ch- Britney Spears
26. Run the World (Girls)- Beyonce
25. Ghost Town- Adam Lambert
24. I Want to Break Free- Queen
23. Same Old Love- Selena Gomez
22. Firework- Katy Perry
21. Closer- Tegan and Sara
20. Born This Way- Lady Gaga
19. Together Again- Janet Jackson
18. Free- Ultra Nate
17. Same Love- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
16. Girls Like Girls- Hayley Kiyoko
15. We Are Family- Sister Sledge
14. Lady Marmalade- Christina Aguilera
13. It’s Raining Men- The Weather Girls
12. Let’s Have a Kiki- Scissor Sisters
11. Believe- Cher
10. True Colors- Zedd ft. Kesha
9. Colors- Hasley
8. True Colors- Cyndi Lauper
7. Rhythm is a Dancer- Snap
6. Different Colors- Walk the Moon
5. Every time We Touch- Cascada
4. I will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
3. Paradise- Change
2. Vogue- Madonna
1. I’m Coming Out- Diana Ross
Worth Living Ambassador Felicia Singh
Hello, my name is Felicia. I am a 25 year old healthcare professional and
counseling/psychology student with anxiety. As well as someone with an unexplainable
yearning to understand mental health disorders. The who, what, where, when, and whys of it all.
There are all kinds of ways to deal with stress in your life. Stress can be a major trigger
for many of us that deal with a mental illness. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress is a key
part to living a fulfilling life. Here are a few simple everyday activities that can have a big impact
on our overall mental health.
Exercise can play a major role in our mental health. Exercising on a regular basis allows
you to burn off built up energy and can help improve sleeping patterns. It can be therapeutic to
take some alone time for a workout. Exercise gets you energized and feeling good. Plus when
you look good it helps you to feel good. Not to mention all of the other health benefits that come
along with working out regularly such as reducing the risk of certain diseases, improving focus,
and increasing your overall life span.
Music is an amazing way to relieve stress and to relax. For a lot of us music is an
expressive outlet. Whether you make your own music or you enjoy others. The music we like
usually causes an emotional response of some sort. Music has the ability to make us feel great
or not so great. And I think that maybe we crave both at times. It can be a coping mechanism for
dealing with the difficult parts of life. Or simply a great beat that makes you smile when you hear
it. With so many different genres I think there is good music out here for all of us to find
satisfaction and pleasure in.
Are you spiritual or religious? Many of us find peace and comfort in our beliefs. I
personally feel centered through my faith. It is the starting and ending place for my overall
peace. Some of us meditate to help refocus and balance the energy and emotions in our lives.
Some of us pray to find solace and understanding. Our faith can have a big impact in both our
mental and physical health.
However you choose to express yourself it should be done in a positive way. One that is
not harmful to yourself or others. Discovering what makes you the happiest and most peaceful
is such a big part to our overall wellbeing.
Life is worth living so why not find the best ways to live it.
Worth Living Ambassador Paige McKinnon
Paige, 20 years old from Scotland! A trainee mental health nurse with a passion for people and making a change. Weird, Wacky and Wonderful!
Caution: Paige mentions suicide
Change Is Coming
Hello, I’m Paige’s mental illness and I’m going to be speaking on her behalf today. You see, I’ve drained her and made her feel like she can’t go on. I don’t think I’ll be here for long, she has kicked my ass on several occasions. Despite this, I will not go away. I am a part of her, a part of who she is but I am not all she is. I’d love nothing more than for Paige to let me take over her life, she is stronger than I. Everyone who has encountered me is stronger than I am but they don’t always know it. World domination is what I thrive for, many times in my existence I have accomplished this. I have taken lives and I have hurt millions but nobody batted an eyelid. They didn’t say anything, they didn’t do anything and they were so scared. A lot of people didn’t believe I existed which made it much easier for me. I turned family members against family members, I turned friends into strangers and I turned strong individuals into nothing but shells of who they once were.
Fast forward to 2017, everyone is banding together. I’m losing my grip but I won’t be going anywhere. Mark my words I will fight. Oh no, she’s coming! Mental illness is my name. I come in many forms, you will not always see me but I will make you wish you were never born. I’m coming for you!
‘Excuse me? Get out of here.’ Oh hi guys, I’m Paige!! I started this blog differently because there are two parts of me I wanted to share. There is me and then there is my mental illness. It almost felt like someone was talking about me huh? Nobody was. It was me, I wrote that. I’ve been riding one rocky rollercoaster the past few months and it did take its toll. It had me thinking, I fight every day to make a difference to my life and others.
Why do I feel so miserable? Why do I feel alone? Most importantly why do I feel like my life has no meaning? I sat in the corner of my bedroom on the floor many times, staring at a blank wall. Replaying every bad memory in my mind, I was the star of my own show. I was torturing myself because that’s what we do, isn’t it? We blame ourselves for everything that has ever gone wrong. We blame ourselves for the lives that were lost and we couldn’t save. The hurt people felt their scars, their wounds we blame ourselves. It could have had nothing to do with you and that voice, that voice in the back of your mind could have convinced you otherwise. I’m here to tell you, it’s NOT your fault.
Mental illnesses have become somewhat of a ‘trend’ the past few years. Leaving us individuals who truly suffer, back in the dark. People used it as an excuse to cover up their evil acts of hatred. We are not evil people and we are not any different from the rest of the human race. I have had my heart ripped out and stood on many times before, because of my mental illness. Admitting how vulnerable I was. Attracted the attention of small minded humans. I was truly suffering but because of my social status growing up, nobody believed me. I was the attention seeker, the bully and the liar. In actual fact, I was the girl who fell under the spell of substance abuse to block my mind. I was the girl who felt brave enough to confide in people who I thought were my friends, only to have them laugh at me and call me crazy. I was the girl who spoke nothing but the truth, everyone believed the liar. That’s just it! It’s so much easier to believe lies than to believe the harsh truth.
In today’s society too many people live in a bubble that they believe will keep them safe. It won’t, it will trap you in. You will be trapped inside your own head and you will eventually drown. We don’t deserve this, we don’t deserve to be social outcasts, to feel like nobody will ever love us and to feel like our lives mean nothing. It’s NOT true. It will never be true because mental illness is just a part of our lives. It’s our decision to make if it becomes our life.
I will believe anyone who says to me ‘Paige? I want change. I want to live and I want to kick my mental illness’ ass’ and I will stand beside them. I will make sure they know they are not alone. If you can help one person a day, every day for the year? That’s 365 people you have helped. We cannot just assume someone is lying or not telling the whole truth. They could be telling us their truth, which will always be different from ours. It shouldn’t matter! Everyone suffers differently but everyone deserves help. Resources are limited, knowledge is not. It does not make you weak to stand out and speak. It does not make you any less ‘cool’ to confront someone who is bullying someone else for feeling low. It makes us god damn human.
You cannot put a limit on knowledge. We need to spread it, we need to spread the knowledge of mental illness and make those aware who don’t live with it. What it’s truly like. Through the tears, the suicide attempts, the agony and right down to those letters you wrote for your loved ones. Those letters saying goodbye, that you will always love them. These are all a part of a lot of people’s lives, end the stigma. End the stigma before it ends someone else’s life. We are not alone and we are never going to be alone.
I’m Paige, I have survived suicide attempts, self -harm and I live with Bipolar Disorder, depression and anxiety. I’m a lot of people’s friend, I’m a daughter, a niece, a cousin and a little sister and a big sister and I’m a fighter. Change is coming, it may be slow but it will create the biggest impact when it hits. We got this. Much love to you all.
Worth Living Ambassador Ruairi Mcenroe
My name is Ruairi Mcenroe, an ultra-runner from Ireland.
I always dressed okay. I suppose it depends on your situation. When I went to school, we had a uniform in primary and secondary school. Over the last couple of years I have stepped up my game. I changed other areas in my life for the better so why not the way I dress? You can dress well in any situation and do so without standing out too much even if your workplace has a casual dress code. Here are my reasons and maybe you can consider asking yourself the same.
When you go for an interview, what is the first thing you think about? The answer is of course, your attire! What should I wear to make a good first impression? Wearing casual all the time can lead to a casual attitude and to be casual at your job. When you dress well, you mean business!
Here are reasons and tips:
• It lifts my mood, gives me confidence and sometimes changes my day for the better.
• Make sure that your clothes match your complexion. I’m Irish and have pale skin so would not do well wearing light colours so I often wear darker suits.
• It makes a good impression, always important for most things in life. Most people want to make a good impression.
• People notice you more, compliments are nice sometimes and you won’t get them wearing the same Star Wars t-shirt for three days in a row.
• I use fashion to express my mood, just like the music I listen to.
• It helps you engage your creative side when putting an outfit together and you can work with many options.
• I feel more productive in a nice pair of trousers than I would in a pair of running shorts or a tracksuit.
• Why should I save it for just special occasions? I want to feel good every day!
• It shows respect for yourself and for those who you meet on your day.
• It’s fun!
Worth Living Ambassador Michele King
Hi! My name is Michele and I am 28 years old. Living with both depression and anxiety, I want to be a positive force of change to help end the stigma associated with mental illness, with hopes that what I share will help at least one person who comes across it.
A Word of Encouragement
About a month or so ago I had a doctor’s appointment (non-mental health related). As I was walking up to the doctor’s office (my therapist and general doctor were located in the same building) I was reminded of when I used to come to there for therapy.
A flood of memories came back. I remember my first time going to therapy. I remember driving to that building, holding back tears, afraid of what it would be like, but knowing it was something I needed and that I would come out stronger and hopefully happier.
There were so many times I would go to that office and sit in my car full of fear because there is nothing more frightening than facing your own shit. I was scared to talk about the past and to be honest with myself and what I would find out about myself with each session. It was hard at first to talk about what I was feeling because I had let so much bottled up for so long. It was also hard to do the exercises the therapist wanted me to do. I had to dig in to my mess and face my demons head on. It was absolutely terrifying.
It got easier though. By the end of my therapy sessions I was coming to my therapist with things written down in advance that I was starting to recognize or that I knew I needed to talk about to help myself feel better. The exercises she gave me became a priority. Of course there were times when I didn’t do some, but I was kind to myself instead of beating myself up. And of course there were days where I didn’t feel strong at all. I felt like I couldn’t control what was going on around me and even had to call my therapist a couple of times to help me remind me to take breathes and calm myself down and see the big picture. Anxiety has this funny way of making you feel like everything has to happen this second and that anytime you “mess up” it is a catastrophe, but this isn’t true.
Once I did the dirty work and realized I was not my depression, I was not my anxiety; I was not my past. I realized I am simply me- a growing and evolving human being who deserves love.
I guess my point is once you get past the mess and the negative thoughts (that are absolutely lies) you realize you are a warrior and possess strength like no other.
When I walked in to that building about a month ago I laughed to myself and saw how far I have come. Of course I have my bad days; the difference is that now I have more tools and confidence to deal with them in a more healthy way. I am now able to give myself the same advice that my therapist would give to me, without actually having to call her or go see her.
So to anyone in the struggle right now I will leave you with this:
You are not your mental illness and you are not weak. It takes a brave, strong person to ask for help and to face their own demons. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different. It does get better. I realize how cliché that sounds, but I promise it is true. Keep facing your stuff and keep believing in yourself. Remember it is about progress not perfection. Be kind to yourself and even laugh at yourself along the way.