Behind Manav's Mind
Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my mental health story! I originally heard of your campaign from a mutual friend. For me, anxiety has been a big struggle all throughout undergrad. I would get so anxious that I'd feel trapped in my thoughts for hours at a time. If I was with friends, I'd run to the washroom and try to calm myself down. Eventually I learned that if I called my sister, she'd talk me through things and I'd feel instantly better. With time, she encouraged me to explore therapy as an option, which I was super resistant to try until 2018 when my anxiety reached an all-time high.
Talking to a professional therapist was weird at first, but I did notice improvements with time. I would talk about stressors in my life, they'd listen and help me develop strategies to move forward. A big focus was on developing strategies to help destress - things like mindfulness, journalling and responsive friends. Nowadays, I do a much better job of prioritizing my mental health, but still have a long way to go.
In addition, I've gotten involved with Greenhouse! (a social innovation incubator in St Paul's). As I was looking for ways to improve student mental health at the University of Waterloo, I noticed I was slowly becoming a mental health advocate among my peers. I was openly talking about mental health, anxiety and mindfulness with my friends, and to my surprise, some of them would share their mental health experiences with me. I'm currently working on a resource guide to help social innovators understand the mental health landscape in Waterloo! It's also my 4B term so I'm figuring out ways to stay involved with mental health off-campus.
This term, I've been focusing on intentional coffee chats with friends. It allows me to check in with friends to see how they're doing. I do my best to create a safe space where I can also ask them about their mental health and how they're taking care of themselves. It's through these conversations that I hope to normalize mental health and make it an easier topic for people to talk about ♥️✌🏼