Today is one of my favourite days of the year! It’s Bell let’s talk day, where bell donates 5¢ to mental health initiatives for every text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of Facebook or Snapchat frame used over the course of the day. Two years ago I put up a post about mental health so I thought I’d do something similar this year with just a little chatty post.
Over the last year I’ve come a long way in regards to my own mental health but I still had my bumps and roadblocks along the way. I’ve learned how to better cope with and express my feelings, I’ve come to value my own happiness and well-being and I’ve started to understand how extremely important it is to put myself first.
Learning how to cope with my feelings has been so beneficial to my own self-growth. I’ve come to understand how important it is to ask for help and to know help and support will follow. I used to be afraid of being judged for struggling with an illness that no one but myself could see. Having depression and anxiety wasn’t something I thought I had, I wouldn’t let myself believe that I had something bigger going on. But then I’d go weeks only getting 2 hours of sleep a night or days where I literally couldn’t stop eating, when I’d go out in public or to work and I’d start shaking out of nowhere and I felt unbearably panicky and paranoid without cause — I was afraid to speak up. I spent so many nights downstairs in my room just feeling this immense feeling of emptiness that I didn’t know how to handle or cope with. I didn’t let anyone really know how I was feeling, even when I talked to doctors about it I limited them to the need to know. It wasn’t until I was spiralling so bad that I felt I was going days without getting a good solid breath that I decided to speak up. I knew I had my family, my boyfriend, and my friends who loved and cared for me and it was time to let them in. I don’t have any regrets about opening myself up to them because it’s made our bonds stronger.
Valuing my own happiness came after I let people in. I was holding on to a lot of hurt that I just kept burrowing down inside me and i realized it wasn’t healthy. Not everyone was able to hear the ways in which they had hurt me and it ended friendships but I realized it was for the better. I became able to tell people how their actions impacted me as well. I’ve never been good at confrontation but it’s something that’s apart of life and I’m learning how to be better at it. But, with being able to tell people when they hurt me, I needed to be able to learn how to hear when I had hurt others. I became better at acknowledging both sides and giving apologies as well as accepting them.
I’m definitely not 100% there at putting myself first, which plays a big role in valuing my happiness but I’m learning. I know when I need a night in instead of forcing myself to go out when I’m not feeling up to it. I’ve realized I don’t need to say ‘yes’ to everyone and everything and it’s not something I should feel guilty over. I can confidently say the decisions I’ve been making recently benefit me for the better and I have my own best interest at heart which is something I’m not entirely used to.
Putting myself first is one of the harder lessons I’ve learned this year. I’ve learned that people don’t always have your best interest in mind, even when they say they do. I’ve learned that some people aren’t willing to see two sides of a situation and recognize their own faults. I’ve also learned that they’ll go out of their to make you hurt even when the damage has already been done. It’s hard when those who know your past experience with mental health, who advocate for it, bring you down even more.
Though, some good things have some out of the negative experiences. I’ve regained friendships that are now even stronger than they were before. I realized that I am stronger than I thought I was and I am capable of standing up for myself and the kind of person I know I am. I’ve strengthened and maintained friendships I’ve had through the years and made new friends who love and appreciate me.
I didn’t know if this was something I wanted to share today. It’s personal and close to my heart but today of all days I should be able to say that I struggled with mental illness and not be afraid that it’s “too much” for people to hear. Even though mental illness isn’t “normal” it’s not “abnormal” either. We shouldn’t be feeling the way that we do but knowing that there are other people going through the same thing and are willing to lend an ear and a shoulder to give support makes things better.
Normalize the topic of mental illness.
End the stigma.
Support friends, significant others, family members, co-workers, acquaintances, even strangers.
Be part of the change.