Editorial – Lets Talk

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I had my first severe anxiety attack in October 2009. Stressed, I curled up and worried about everything going on around me.

While only a junior in high school, it seemed like the world was crashing down and there was nothing I could do.

Depression took over my daily tasks — depression lied to me, saying I was never to feel better again.

I lost an insurmountable amount of weight and found myself diagnosed with a stomach ulcer triggered by generalized anxiety disorder.

That month was the worst month of my life. I met with counsellors at the high school, missed work and classes for doctor’s appointments and made my body shape indented on the couch in my house. I was weak, and I didn’t want anyone to know.

Today, I handle my anxiety better — I keep myself busy to avoid worrying about uncontrollable events and usually find solace in writing or spending time with a close-knit group of friends.

Those friends know about my illness, yet I don’t talk about it.

But the anxiety still gets to me. I still find myself having panic attacks every now and then with my thoughts moving to the most irrational reasoning.

Frequently I am challenged by my peers, many of whom cannot — not because of arrogance, but ignorance — understand what it’s like to live with a mental disorder.

Control is lost when you have anxiety — simple worries for a “normal” person are certainly stressful, but for me I battle with control of my life.

I can’t talk to anyone about it because they tell me to calm down. I can’t reason with anyone because they don’t understand that worrying is my second nature.

It’s not something I choose to do: it’s something I am unable to stop doing.

For a long time, I believed I was weak for letting my anxieties and worries get to me. How could someone not handle the stresses of their life?

Everyone goes through it. I was weak and I didn’t deserve to be helped because I couldn’t handle it.

But it’s this very thought process that hurts people like me, who go through the worries of life with a heightened intensity. We need help and we need to feel like we deserve it.

We need to realize we’re not weak, we are sick — and we deserve to be treated just like someone with a physical ailment.

We need to break the stigma that those who are not mentally okay are going to be treated to someday feel okay.

January 28th is Bell Let’s Talk Day. It’s a day where money is raised for mental health initiatives through the use of social media. All of the money raised through text messages with a Bell provider, tweets with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk and direct donations go to funding mental health services so people like me who once chose to curl

up in a ball can be strong enough to combat their illness.

I am in full support of Bell Let’s Talk Day, but I know this struggle goes far beyond just a single day.

Those who suffer from mental illnesses are not weak, they are sick and they need to know they have people who are willing to help.

That’s why it’s important to focus just as much on binge texting and tweeting on the 28th as you do on remembering the reasons for all this after the day is over.

One day of support is wonderful for people who feel like they have no support any other day.

But please remember that on those other days of the year, someone with a mental illness is begging for someone to help them be stronger and find a way to get better.

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