This one is going to be a little personal, Taylor Nation.
Note: I meant to post this on January, when Bell did their mental health awareness campaign, but I wasn’t sure it was ready. At this point, I don’t think it will ever be ready. I’m just going to post it as it is and hope for the best.
First of all, let me do a disclaimer. I’m not a healthcare professional in any capacity. I’m a blogger in the internet with his own mental health baggage. I am not claiming to know everyone’s case and scenario. I just want to talk about it because I believe that it affects a lot of people. It will be different for you, so I can only speak from my point of view. I can tell you the one thing that everyone has in common: it’s not going to go away just by ignoring it.
There are many people that suffer from mental illness. They’re not cured by just chilling out, they are not cured by snapping out of it, they are not cured by just willingness to stop being worried or sad. They need treatment and support. They also need elements in their life that bring them joy.
You can easily make the mistake of just living for your favourite thing in life and neglect the rest. It’s not always obvious. I’m still a person that would attend class, do assignments, go to family meetings, see friends, go to social events. But I learned how to squeeze through. I learned what was the minimum effort require to get the borderline acceptable results while applying the less amount of attention. It’s amazing how a lot of people think of you as an excellent student because you once were and don’t notice that you’re doing marginally good enough to still be considered good with a slight dip. It’s a downwards slope that you won’t even notice you’re on.
Anxiety is a constant struggle. You worry about things you shouldn’t. That usually means you have things that really need your attention while stress consumes you about some inane choice you may have taken a decade ago. I often revisit my life, find a point in time in which I went zig instead of zag and endlessly debate of how I could be so stupid. Ever imagine the worst case scenario? I do that, then I imagine the fallout and then I can’t stop stressing about a fictional scenario for two days. A completely imagined issue and I’m worrying about consequences that I’ll never face.
Depression is related but different… For me it kinda simmers in the background, a layer underneath all layers. It’s like your life and your hopes and your dreams walk on this layer of ice that could make you slip at any moment. It’s like a background noise. You learn to control the volume to the point where you can barely hear it and then drive your attention to something else. I know it’s still there, but I focus elsewhere.
You’ve heard that saying that goes “you can fool some people some of the time, but not everyone all of the time”. Without knowing, you are an expert in fooling yourself most of the time so make sure you’re ever vigilant. Listen to other people, and have people that will listen to you. Make good friends that are part of your life, and I mean the part of your life that happens offline. Your support group should not be comprised of people that you only see through a screen, it should be people you see in real life.
And if ever it gets too much for you or you don’t know how to start, please make sure you get help.
- Bell Let’s Talk is an online campaign where Bell donated 5 cents to mental health initiatives in Canada every time you use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. It’s now over, but the page still has a great collection of resources.
- For adults in Canada, a great resource is the Canadian Mental Health Association.