REFLECTORIAL: On mental health…
I have personally been in University for six years, doing my first diploma at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver, BC then coming to Mount Royal to pursue my degree in Journalism.
In my first year, things were going alright, but I felt awful. I first tried to push it off as the change of scenery, a new city and new friends. But as the year progressed, and my emotions continued to spiral out of control. By the fall semester of my second year, I knew something was seriously wrong.
After nearly a year of trying to control things on my own, I reached out for help. I called my mom in the middle of the night sobbing, and confiding in her that I was feeling low, and out of place all the time. We talked for nearly four hours, until she finally felt that she could leave me to sleep without being concerned for my well being.
Over the course of the next month my mom focused solely on getting me help. I started seeing a therapist twice a week and discussing the issues I was having. By the new year, nearly three months after I confessed to my mom, I finally went to see a Doctor. The Doctor diagnosed me with severe depression and anxiety and immediately we worked on finding a medication that would work for me.
That was five years ago. While my life has significantly improved, I still struggle. I am currently still dependent on my medication, meaning that I can’t stop taking it or my symptoms will continue, but I now know how to monitor my moods and stop from things getting out of control.
I think the biggest struggle for me has been the focus on feeling like I didn’t fit in, like I was different or like having a mental illness somehow made me a “freak.” As mental illness has now taken the forefront of many conversations, and days like ‘Bell Lets Talk Day,’ it still can feel incredibly overwhelming to be diagnosed with a mental illness. So from one survivor to another, you are not alone, and there is help.
Trust in the people around you, and confide in someone you feel will support you. For me that was my mom. She has been there for me since I told her about my struggles, and continues to be someone I can talk to if things are feeling out of control. Find that person in your life and reach out to them. Take advantage of the services offered to students, like free counselling, you will be amazed as to how great it is to talk to someone and get advice on dealing with your issues. And lastly, don’t be ashamed! Your illness is no less serious or important than someone suffering from a physical illness, and it should be treated that way.
While this may sound like a pretty heavy topic, it is one that needs to be continually talked about. So remember, you are not alone and people do care.
-The Reflector Staff
Personal story by Kari Pedersen