Written by QCMHA Case Competition Coordinator Lauren Macdonald
Navigating my mental health has been one of life’s most confusing experiences so far. I have consistently struggled with accepting the reality of my emotions, and recognizing that you cannot hide from your own mind.
For as long as I can remember I have been an overly anxious person, whether this was evident through sports, school or other daily tasks, anxiety heavily impacted how I would function. However, it was in grade ten that my anxiety began to feel demobilizing. I felt immense amounts of guilt regarding my emotions, and since I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt that way, my struggles felt invalidated.
It was also in grade ten when I started to face panic attacks, something that was so foreign to me prior to experiencing one firsthand. Being completely uncomfortable with vulnerability, I kept these experiences to myself hoping they would just stop one day. Due to the embarrassment, I felt, as a result, I grew anxious over the thought of having a panic attack. In these cyclical moments, I felt entirely consumed by anxiety and was too affected by the stigma of mental illness to seek help. Looking back, that is my biggest regret. I wish I never felt like I had to hide because at that point I was the only person not being supportive of myself.
As I have grown, I have learned the power of acceptance, and recognizing that it is okay to not have everything together- no one does. There is absolutely no shame in accepting that you are struggling, and while anxiety still affects me every day I am no longer embarrassed for facing some of the most human experiences.
There is so much emotional labour that is involved in hiding how you feel and what you’re going through, and the first step towards feeling better is accepting that at the moment you are not operating at the best version of yourself.
I encourage everyone to get comfortable with being vulnerable, there is so much strength in admitting that you don’t feel strong.