Behind Olivia's Mind

  

     I’ve had anxiety ever since I can remember. It felt like a normal part of my personality and so for a long time I didn't question if it was normal to live in a constant state of panic and worry. I just accepted that I was a "high-strung", "dramatic" and "over-emotional" person.

Even after I figured out that I did have anxiety, I stigmatized myself by comparing my anxiety to other people's. I believed that because I was an outgoing person, a leader, and someone who loves investing in others, my anxiety must not have been "that bad" because I could still handle social situations and was "functioning". I made excuses and attributed my anxiety to just being "stressed about school" and that was "normal" because "everyone experiences anxiety.“ But what I was experiencing wasn't "normal" and it wasn't until my mom candidly and honestly opened up to me about her journey with mental health that I was able to really feel safe reaching out for help.

The past year has been a difficult journey of learning what it really feels and looks like to take care of myself mentally. Now I see a counsellor every three weeks, I journal when I'm feeling anxious, and I take medication.

When I made the decision with my family doctor that medication was the right choice for me, I felt like I was admitting defeat, that I wasn't mentally strong enough to manage things alone. However, what I've realized since that moment, is that we don't have to manage things alone. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's just part of being human and the beauty of this world is that we are all on this planet to help each other.

Starting medication has changed my life. I'm able to be present and invest in my relationships without constantly worrying about something I don't have control over. It has made me feel strong and more myself than I've ever felt. It doesn't mean I don't still struggle, or that I don't still experience anxiety, it just means that there's a lot more good days than bad days and that grounding myself when I'm feeling panicked is an easier, more manageable task than it used to be.

The biggest reason I wanted to share my story is because my mom opening up about her mental health is what encouraged me to take the first step, reach out and move past the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I hope this campaign and my story does the same for others! ❤️

 

Olivia M.

Belleville, Ontario

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