CMHA Mental Health Week May 6-12, 2019
During this week the Canadian Mental Health Association encourages everyone to use the #GetLoud and talk about Mental Health. This post will be the first of seven I will be posting this week. 2019 will be the 68th annual Mental Health Week.
What is Mental Health?
Mental Health we all have it ,it is our state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also affects how we handle stress,how we relate to other people and how we make choices. Our mental health can effect our every daily life,relationships and even our physical health.
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is:
“… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
What is Mental Illness:
Mental illness occurs when the brain just like any other organ is not functioning properly. Mental illness is a wide range of disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Such as depression, anxiety,bipolar disorder, addiction and so many others. The symptoms can vary depending on what disorder your experiencing, and many symptoms can differ from each person. No one will experience all the same symptoms even though they share the same disorder. Mental illness interferes with daily activity and relationships,often leading to the person feeling isolated and misunderstood.
One in five Canadians lives with mental health problems, mental illnesses or addiction. Many Canadian and other nationalities will improperly use the terms mental health and mental illness therefore adding to the stigma surrounding the terms. I’m hoping that over the next week, my posts will help shed some light into the insight of living with a mental illness and how to promote good mental health. Everyone needs to realize that everyone has mental health but everyone may not have a mental illness. We all benefit from promoting awareness and sharing our stories. By talking about mental health we can all help to end the stigma and negativity towards mental health and mental illness.
I have never shared this part of my story with many people in my personal life, but I think sharing my story will help with understanding who I am. I was always shy, even as a child. I didn’t like to join in when other kids were playing together and talking. At family events I would try and stay by myself or close to someone I felt comfortable with. At the time I did not understand these were all signs of social anxiety, that only got worse as I got older. Around the time I started high school my mental health really took a dive for the worst. I was severely depressed, I started skipping classes and not wanting to see the friends I had made. My first boyfriend and I had broken up during this depressive episode, and I became to self harm.
I felt as if my life had no meaning, I was in so much pain and felt so alone. That self harm felt like my only relief. I was pretty good at hiding it at home, but a few people started to notice the cuts at school, and I was sent to the guidance office. Of course I denied everything,refusing to even discuss the issue. Eventually the counselor stooped calling me into the office. My anxiety also worsened throughout high school to the point where I would get physically sick if I had to speak in front of the class or give a presentation. High school was the lowest point of my life and I started having suicidal thoughts, about how no one would care if I was gone.
My Dad who had always been my best friend, began to suspect what was happening, he tried to bring up self harming with me a few times. I would tell him that if I needed to talk I would tell him, but I didn’t. I was scared of what would happen to me if I told anyone the truth,so I continued to suffer alone. When I was 17, I found out I was pregnant, that is when it all started to come out. When you’re pregnant there is a lot of physical exams and right away one of the nurses pulled my Dad aside. I knew I had to stop the self harming, even at 6 weeks pregnant I was already in love with this little baby and didn’t want anything to happen to it. I started attending counselling sessions at school and was also part of a group for other teen moms.
I finally felt like I belonged to something bigger and had a purposed. I started to feel better about myself and was much happier, even through the morning sickness. I was also terrified about taking care of another life, but I was determined to be better. My son literally saved my life, even though I was young,he gave me something to live for. However my anxiety never stooped, I have also suffered from panic attacks from time to time.
Now let’s jump Forward a little, the two most recent times I have gotten in a bad head space was during college. I became obsessive with getting the best marks, ignoring to eat or take care of myself. I was first in a Pharmacy Technician course then years later I took Practical Nursing.During my time in the pharmacy course I started on an antidepressant, I don’t think it was the right one for me and I stooped taking it. i never brought the topic back up with my doctor, she was hard to communicate with and instead I just let it go. My Nursing course was actually only in 2018, my anxiety at this time was the worst its been since high school. I never felt comfortable in my class, the course was extremely difficult and to make it worse during lab testing we were recorded. I didn’t pass the second lab course and I decided to leave the program, shortly after I found out I was pregnant a second time. And here we are.
This is becoming a very long post but I felt like I needed to share my story with you. I myself have not helped with ending the stigma surrounding mental health, when I was in my teens I ignored the help offered to me as I was already scared about the negativity surrounding mental health. I am finally in a pretty good place, even though I still suffer from anxiety, i have a better handle on what my triggers are and how to control it.What I’m trying to say is if you feel your in a bad mental state please seek help, it can be scary but in the end it is beneficial to your health to have the help.