The importance of discussing Mental Health and why it matters.


*It is important to put a trigger warning at the beginning of this post, mentioning that Mental

Illness, Anxiety, Depression, and Suicide are discussed within this article**

There was a pivotal moment in my life, where I can remember exactly when my anxiety

started. I was young, getting through elementary school, living in a beautiful house in the

country, playing hockey all the time, and suffering from anxiety attacks. At nighttime I would, in my own mind, “loose it”. I would cry and scream, my mind so terrified of the world. However,

when my parents asked me why I was scared, I could not give them an answer. I had no idea

because at that time, I didn’t even know what anxiety was. And so, every night the same thing

happened. I cried, screamed, worried, felt sick, and didn’t sleep. It took me a while until I started

to feel better. As part of this anxiety, I also hung on to my parents like a safety blanket. I realize

now, it was because I was not confident in myself and during that time in my life, I did not believe

that I could deal with my anxiety, I did not believe I could get through that moment alone, and I

did not believe I had any skills that would help me feel better. I did not believe in myself.

I was now so aware of how I had been feeling for a long time.

I was struggling with depression, body dysmorphia, anxiety, and a lot of self hate.

Over time, I started to feel better. But I never fully addressed my anxiety or lack of

confidence. Then, high school started. In grade nine, a person I knew and had played sports with

committed suicide. They were in grade eight, 14 years old. It was like someone dumped a bucket

of water on me. I was now so aware of how I had been feeling for a long time. I was struggling

with depression, body dysmorphia, anxiety, and a lot of self hate. This is also when I started to

self harm and have suicidal thoughts. As more and more serious issues arose, I continued to keep my struggles quiet and to myself. There were some things I couldn’t hide, like the anxiety

attacks. So, my parents took me to see a counsellor. But I always downplayed my issues. When

they asked me on a scale of 1 to 10 how suicidal I felt, I would say 5 when I felt like a 8 or 9.

When they asked me if I had ever thought of self harm, I would say once or twice, not the actual

once or twice a week that ran through my mind for months. I didn’t want to talk about it because I felt awkward, scared, embarrassed and ashamed. I did not believe that my issues were big enough or important enough to talk about. And again, I had no confidence in myself to get better. One symptom of my depression and mental illness (which may be common for others as well) is

feeling worthless. This can result in a very skewed view of yourself and the world. On top of

that, the stigma surrounding mental illness makes it so difficult to speak up.

I have learned the tools and techniques that work for

me to manage, combat, and accept my anxiety and depression and as a result I have become stronger and more confident in myself.

So, I now ask myself, how was I supposed to advocate for myself and seek help, when my

illness, and the stigmas surrounding it, were against me. How is anyone expected to speak up

when every single bone in our body is telling us it won’t matter, it won’t help, and we are not

worth the time, resources, or money.

Going into university, I struggled with anxiety a lot during my first year. I went home almost

every week, unable to stay too long or be away from my parents, who I still saw as my security

​blankets. But then slowly, over the years, I have learned the tools and techniques that work for

me to manage, combat, and accept my anxiety and depression and as a result I have become stronger and more confident in myself.

I will never say that I don’t have anxiety. Everyone has anxiety at some point in their life; it is a

natural response to stress, activated when you feel fear. For some people, like myself, it is just

active way too frequently, intensely, and at the wrong time. I still have an anxiety disorder. But I

manage it, with medication and techniques I have learned over the years and well as some

amazing people who continue to support me every day. I have become way more effective in

recognizing anxiety attacks and knowing how to proactively deal with them.

The biggest change in my life is that I now feel comfortable talking about my mental illness with

others. I have begun to share my experiences, perspectives, knowledge, and thoughts about

mental health. And to me, this was so important in my journey to being mentally and physically

healthier. It is something I am passionate about because no one talked about it when I was

struggling. No one said it was okay to feel this way. So, I started to share and write down my

thoughts and experiences. And it felt liberating. A weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I

was able to help others.

mental health is normal,

important, and needs to be discussed.

Talking about mental health doesn’t have to be this huge, life changing, crazy moment. It can be,

and some people need that experience. But at the end of the day, mental health is normal,

important, and needs to be discussed. It should be a part of our everyday life, the same as

making a cup of coffee or discussing the weather. Because mental health matters.

I no longer feel like I need to hide my mental illness, because I know it is nothing to be ashamed

of. It has made me into the strong, independent woman I am today. And for anyone who is

currently or has previously struggled with mental illness, I just wanted to remind you that you

are worthy to be listened to. Your experience is important, your mental health is important. The

world is better with you in it.

Madison Robertson is a PhD student, mental health advocate, blog writer, and wedding photographer from Kingston, Ontario. She started her blog, The Sun Will Rise, to share about mental health, self love, and confidence after she struggled with anxiety, depression, and negative body image for most of her teenage years. Her goal is to use research and evidence-based knowledge to talk about her experiences and perspectives towards mental health and self love.

www.thesunwillrise.ca

Instagram: madirobertson

Finally, below are some online Mental Health Resources that may provide information and help

to those who need it:

Befrienders

www.befrienders.org

Lifeline International

www.lifeline.org.au

IMALIVE

www.imalive.org

Lifeline Crisis Chat:

www.contact-usa.org/chat.html

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

#mentalhealth #depression #anxiety