In honor of Bell Let's Talk Day I'm going to share my story of mental illness and I hope it will encourage you to share yours as well in an effort to end the stigma of mental illness.
Ever since I could remember I have experienced depression, anxiety and OCD. Even as a toddler I had to line up all my toys in my playroom and bedroom before bed each night or I would have too much anxiety to fall asleep.
Later in my school years this translated into me having to complete all of my homework as soon as it was assigned without taking any breaks or sleeping. OCD and anxiety always pushed me to complete assignments as soon as possible as I put extreme pressure on myself to be a straight A student with a 5.0 GPA I would never let my family or friends come before my schooling and pushed myself to take 12 courses year round during my high school years on top of spending 50 hours a week taking dance classes, teaching and choreographing. I was so busy I missed out on family time growing up and care free time hanging out with my friends during school years. By the time I was twelve years old I had my first mental breakdown and had to see my first psychiatrist.
Depression made my busy schedule even harder. Just to wake up and get out of bed everyday was a struggle. I didn't experience depression until I was six years old and my family moved from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Victoria, British Columbia. My depression was seasonal affective in Victoria due to the fact that Victoria's wintertime is unlike the rest of Canada. Instead of being covered in snow, Victoria experiences a winter of rain, clouds, and a gray sky that made me feel like I was trapped inside a box with a very low ceiling. By thirteen years old I was seriously questioning if I still wanted to live or not.
When I was eighteen years old I had my second mental breakdown and began seeing my second psychiatrist. I continued to deal with this form of depression until December 27th 2014 when I made the choice to move my life and career to Southern California purely for the weather.
It was very hard to say goodbye to my home, my family and my friends but I just knew that living each year through ten months of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) only to look forward to a short two months of summer was no way to live.
I tried a couple different antidepressants and anxiety medications but nothing helped. I would waste my summer having anxiety about the coming winter where I would feel as if I was suffocating on the inside. My only way of coping was to make myself as busy as possible, plaster a smile on my face, go to the gym everyday, take as many dance classes as I could, and work as many hours as my employers would give me.
I finally hit my breaking point at twenty-three years old after I watched my Grandpa Don pass away. I realized life is short and decided "coping" was not how I wanted to live my only life. I wanted to live my life truly to the fullest and enjoy as much of it as possible and see all the world had to offer.
Moving to Southern California was the most life changing experience of my life and healthiest choice I ever made for myself. I am finally doing exactly what I want to do and living where I feel happy and healthy. I try my best to push positivity and optimism in my everyday life and social media as much as possible. I am proud to say I no longer need any medications and have never felt better.
This is my story of mental illness and how I overcame it. I have no secrets. I am an open book. If you have any questions, I will gladly answer them. Feel free to privately message me. Just know that you are not alone. There are so many people struggling with mental illness of all walks of life, races, nationalities, genders, ages, income levels. Mental illness does not discriminate and should be taken as seriously as any other illness. If this post can help even just one person it will have done it's job.
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