I've thought about this moment a lot, what I would say, would it make an impact on someone, if people would listen to me, and after sinking those thoughts into my head for what seemed like forever I decided to just go with it.
Since the age of 13, I have suffered with mental health in various ways. For me, my depression slowly progressed into a monster that almost took my life.
It's been a little over eight years now that I have been fighting with my mental health. In those years I have faced challenges that I never imagined, but I have also overcame so much more.
As my depression peaked during my high school years, I found myself being robbed of the normal teenage experiences. Durning a mental breakdown on Halloween night, I was brought into the hospital and admitted to the third floor, at the time the old hospital was still in use for this floor. So I was driven in a cop car to Sarnia General Hospital where I would stay.
While being off of school for a week, knowing I had to go back to face the people, caused such a deep fear inside of me. I think I had every illness that week, at least that’s what I told people.
The summer of being 16 my friends we're learning how to drive, and I was on my way to a treatment centre in London. I can honestly say that without the support and resources from that summer, I don’t believe I'd be here standing today.
Although that didn’t justify that my depression would leave forever, two years after I found myself becoming more isolated, and withdrawn. On my last year of high school, the normality of anxiety about the future was common, although for myself this is where I started the journey of my anxiety disorder.
While being robbed of my high school experience, and being told that once I graduate my world is about to change sparked a flame inside of myself that haunted me. I enjoyed that summer, trying to keep busy and began to think these feelings would pass.
I recall the night before my classes at Lambton started, I cried myself to sleep because I was terrified of change. For myself, I was back in the spot of being a child on Christmas Eve where sleeping was not a option because of the excitement for Santa, although in my case this was fear for the unknown.
Up until 2014, I had never given much thought into what an anxiety disorder really was, all I knew was that anxiety became a term for a description word. In that year I had lost a family member, I had started and ended an abusive relationship, and to make matters worse my parents had decided to call it quits after 18-plus years together. Starting my second year of college at Lambton for child and youth work, I was unaware of the challenges I would face.
I can recall one of the first times I had experienced a panic attack. I was sitting in a interview feeling all sorts of emotions at their peak, unaware of what was happening. I couldn’t handle the feelings that I kept trying to shove back down. And I broke, it was silent, unnoticeable besides for the initial tears that I tried so very hard to hold back. So here I was, in a placement interview, crying. I remember instantly trying to to push this under the carpet. And that had worked for me for a while.
I do remember when it didn’t work for me, I was taking a bath, a typical routine for myself, up until the moment I decided that it was okay to try to hold my breathe underwater. I wanted those emotions to fade, and I never intentionally thought this could be it, but my doctor had called it a suicide attempt. And I guess the part of myself that I was trying to kill was my anxiety disorder. Still, it wasn’t diagnosed.
I took a leap moving forward and had decided to try driving lessons again, at this moment I was able to obtain my G2 at any given time. After failing when I was 16, I had waited until I was 19 to try again. I took the test, and I remember those same emotions had come crawling back, this time they were worse. Much worse. I ended up failing, and retook my test a few to many times, it wasn’t because I was a bad driver. It was because the thought of anyone judging me on a life-changing moment caused such a stress that was uncontrollable for myself to focus on anything.
Those are a few of the major signs in my story where I had noticed things that seemed uneasy, but I kept moving forward and kept getting a longer rug. While the school year progressed I fell extremely ill. I was hospitalized for a week, and on bed rest for two months, unable to go to school, placement, or work. Durning those weeks I had a lot of time to think about things, what people would say, would they think it was another suicide attempt?
Durning that summer I had battled with myself about furthering on in school, I felt as if I wasn't going to be successful but with the support and care of my professors I decided to take the shot and go back to finish up.
Only a few months into third year when everything around me had come crashing down. It was a Monday night in November when I got news of something that had sparked the final flame inside of me. I was working durning this time, I was on my break, sitting in my car I started punching my steering wheel, screaming, crying, and everything in between. I held it together to walk back inside, although there was nothing inside of me that wanted to keep it together, so I thought it was okay not to. I remember puking, I remember my managers coming in as I was going crazy, I remember calling my teacher, I remember my uncle picking me up taking me to the hospital. That was when my spark had burned out. I stayed in the hospital for two days.. After chatting with doctors, and therapists it was then I got the final diagnosis of a generalized anxiety disorder. I was then put on medication to help with my illness.
Being able to pinpoint my actions was such a relief, understanding that it's not okay to stand in a crowd of people who love and care for you, but all you can think about is do they hate me, did I do something wrong? The thing about anxiety is, I was very open in the years I suffered with depression, but with my anxiety I never spoke of it till now. I never used the term till I was diagnosed.
For myself my anxiety had convinced me that every one of my friends was going to leave me, I decided that the best way for my friends to leave was to make them angry with me. I started stupids fights about nonsense to push people away before they would eventually leave. Thankfully, my friends have stood by me through it all.
But just like any illness, I have good and bad days. Some days I can go a full 24 hours without the slight thought of any negative things. Although some days I can't, and on those days I feel as if my bones are unable to move, my breathing increases, and my heart beats faster than ever. But the thing I've come to learn is that there is only 24 hours in one day. If you can get through each minute then you can eventually get through one day.
An influential man I look up to told me last week, “When your mind is going through those thoughts, start counting numbers. Not in order. Your brain wont be able to focus on the anxiety,” And with that said, here I am counting numbers.