Hand in Hand: My Journey with Mental Health

Trigger Warning: Hey guys I’m going to throw a trigger warning in right here. The following is my experience with mental health and will include things like anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and rape. Please do not read if any of those make you uncomfortable or bring you to a low point in your life. I am aiming to talk about my mental health not to trigger someone else’s. 

I sit on the bed as thoughts race through my mind. It’s always the worst scenarios but something in me makes me think that it’s the only scenario. My stomach hurts, sending sharp pains all throughout my body, I feel nauseous. Then comes the throbbing in my head, like nails being hammered straight into my skull, each negative thought making the nails go deeper. The world starts to spin around me and I feel dizzy until finally I get up only to make my way to the bathroom to get rid of the nausea.

This is what it feels like when my anxiety begins and it only gets worse from there, sometimes these can last seconds, sometimes hours, and sometimes the effects linger for days. It all really depends on the day and the situation. This is not how everyone experiences anxiety, it isn’t even how I experience anxiety all the time. It is however how I experience anxiety most often.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, let’s go back to the beginning, to when it all started. I was seven years old when everything took a turn in my life. My father, the man who was supposed to protect me from all the evil things out there became that very evil thing. He rapped me, something I have always found hard to talk about. It didn’t just happen once and yet I remained quiet, scared of what might happen if I told someone what was happening. Even my mom had no idea what was going on when she wasn’t in the house. I held onto the burden for years, all the while beating myself up, making myself believe that I deserved it, that I did something to bring it on.

It wasn’t just sexual abuse with my father, it was also emotional abuse, there were so many times he would tell me that I wasn’t good enough. It got to where I believed the words he was saying. I truly believed that I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t ever going to be good enough. no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t live up to the expectations I set for myself. Because you see when you start believing you aren’t good enough you look for reasons why, you begin to create them. I set goals I knew were too much, goals I knew I would always fall short on. It was an endless cycle that just brought me deeper and deeper down into a depression I didn’t know I was falling into, all I knew was I wasn’t good enough.

So I started to put all my focus into school, nothing else was as important as making sure I achieved those high grades, those goals that I set for myself. School was that one thing I was good at, that one thing I seemed to have control over in my life and no one but myself could take that away from me. My standards were high, a lot higher than everyone else around me had for me. I can remember the first time I got anything lower than an 80%, I came home devastated and informed my mom that I had failed. She asked me what my grade had been and I sadly told her a 75% as if it were the end of the world. Of course she told me it wasn’t a fail and it was in fact a very good mark but I didn’t believe her. My whole life had been focused on honor roll and this wasn’t an honor roll mark.

Looking back on moments like I realize how much having the high standards I had were setting me up for failure. There were many moments just like this one and each and every time the result was similar. Sometimes it was a sense of failure, other times anxiety was added. It was a hard thing to deal with and yet I put myself through it each and every day. It came to the point where before doing something new, spending time with someone new or even going somewhere I had been a million times but knew there was going to be a lot of people I would have an anxiety attack about it. Life had become not as fun as everyone was telling me it was.

In fact high school was the worst four years of my life. Not only was I bringing myself down but others around me were finding everything they could to bully me for. Life truly seemed to suck and that would bring on more anxiety. I was a mess of anxiety mixed with depression I was trying to silence. Many days I was low but I would put on a happy face, after all in a small town such as the one I grew up in anxiety and depression didn’t really exist. Everyone seemed to know everyone’s business and this was not something I wanted other people to know. It was during these years I found some ounce of courage and was able to tell my mom about the abuse I was facing. She immediately took my siblings and I before leaving. She called the cops and my dad was arrested, he was later sentenced to two years less a day jail time.

There were many times over the course of my life where I thought about suicide, thought about just taking that way out, getting away from it all. Thankfully I had my mom and she always let me know how much she loves me, I believe this is part of what has kept me alive. Two years less a day my dad was released from jail, his suffering was over and yet mine was still present. I was still living with the anxiety and depression, the aftermath of it all. Why was he able to walk free while I was a prisoner to my mental health? This is something I don’t think I will ever understand.

Life was hard, everything seemed bigger and worse than it should be but I was holding on, if only by a thin thread. It wasn’t until my mom also fell into depression that something in me changed. While she was low I was there telling her that it was going to be okay, that she was going to make it through everything. I was helping her wherever I could. That was when I took a look at my own life: If I could say those things to my mom why the hell couldn’t I say them to myself? It was that realization that had me thinking. It was from that moment on I took a second look at everything, at myself and started telling myself the opposite of what I had been telling myself all these years.

So what does all this mean? Why am I writing all this today?

Well because I know there are so many other people out there who feel the same way, who think the same way I do. I want all of you to know that it can get better, you can love yourself. I am currently on my journey of self-love, I make sure I participate in self-care because it is something I deserve. It is something we all deserve. Self-love can be the hardest thing in the world to do, and yet I believe it is the most important thing. Yes there are lots of days where I hate myself but there are some days where I love myself, and that is more than I can say for my life growing up.

I still go through life with the anxiety and there are a lot of times where I hit my wall of depression but there are good times and smiles to even those out. Yes when I’m low I’m low but low isn’t my daily state anymore. The road I’m travelling is a long one, there are so many twists and turns but I believe I can make it to my destination and you can to. Everyone is unique, but that doesn’t mean something bad. Just like each flower is unique we all have something that makes us beautiful. Something that makes others want to pick us to have in their lives. We are all special in our own way and damn it we are so worth all the good things that are coming.

Keep you’re head up and believe in yourself because you are stronger than you know. And when you don’t believe in yourself just remember that I believe in you, we can do this. It’s not going to be easy but it is going to be so worth it in the end. I’m always around if you need someone to talk to, someone to brighten your spirits. If you don’t have that support in your life I’ll be that support because each and every one of you deserves it. You are worth it, I am worth it, We are worth it.

In the words of Christopher Robin: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Keep on being you!

Lyndsay

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Mental Health Conferece: Day 1

On the weekend of February 3rd and 4th I had immense pleasure of attending a Mental Health Conference at York University that was organized by one of my friends with Project Heal. This was the very first Mental Health Conference I have ever been to, however I know that it won’t be my last as it was such an inspiring experience. Not only was I able to attend but I was also able to assist in running the conference over the weekend.

Day one began with a welcome address presented by Alicia Pinelli, who then introduced the first keynote speaker Charles Hargobind. Charles spoke about Mindfulness in the 21st Century and his talk was very relatable. He focused on calming one’s mind and body through mindfulness practices and the benefits such practices have on everyday life. He spoke about his own life experiences and how he has used mindfulness practices to calm his mind and body.

Once the keynote speaker had finished there was a break to allow for everyone to mingle as well as check out some of the displays and vendors. These included Scared Queerless and NEDIC both of which I was able to talk to. Scared Queerless is a nonprofit organization started by a group of individuals who are aiming to combat violence in and towards the LGBT+ Community. NEDIC is an organization that focuses on awareness and prevention of eating disorders, food and weight preoccupation, and disordered eating by promoting critical thinking skills and a healthy, balanced-lifestyle.

Next everyone had a chance to attend one of four workshops all of which were very well done as I had the pleasure of attending bits of all four. The first was presented by Alan Faigal and was titled Mindful Movement. He focused on using movement and self-care, including moving creatively to gain vitality and self-awareness. Everyone involved in the workshop was able to find news and creative ways to move their bodies to release some of the daily stressors and replenish their energy. This was a very fun workshop. The second workshop was presented by Alyia Chan and focused on Supporting Loved Ones Experiencing Mental Health. She focused on being able to support loved ones and other’s we work with who are experiencing mental health. She taught how to facilitate conversations, identify changes in mental health, and other ways of support beyond the medical model. Her workshop was very informative and something I think I will be able to use.

The third workshop was presented by Cameron Algie and was titled Overcoming Anxiety Through Play. He spoke about using Improv and play to help with anxiety. He introduced different forms of improv to allow someone to connect with their body, let go of judgement, make mistakes and laugh. This was a very fun and helpful workshop as I live with anxiety. It was nice to be able to let go, just be myself without worry. The final workshop was presented by Alicia Pinelli and was titled Reclaiming Your Awesomeness. Alicia spoke about the awesomeness we had as children and what has made us lose that sense. How society has shaped who we are and what we can do to get back what we had as children. This workshop was very inspirational and is something that really makes someone stop and think.

Once the workshops were finished lunch was provided and NEDIC did a presentation that was truly powerful. Everyone was then able to go to a second workshop of the four that were presented. Finally everyone came together for the last keynote speaker of the day Janna Morrison. Janna spoke about her experience with an eating disorder in a talk titled The Chaos Within: The Healing Process. She shared her journey with an eating disorder as well as her experience with the healing process. Her talk left very wet eyes in the audience, it was very moving and inspirational as well as emotional and very real.

Overall the day was a success and by the end of it I was ready for day two to begin. Stay tuned for Day 2 as well as an overview of the weekend.

Talk Soon

Lyndsay

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 23 – 27

Day 23: A letter to someone, anyone

Grandma,

I miss you more than I can put into words. Each and every day I think about you and I hate that you aren’t here anymore. I thought it would get easier with time but it hasn’t and it sucks. I hate not having you to be able to just call on my way home from work like I used to. I hate not being able to drive to see you for dinner before driving the hour home so that I wouldn’t miss work in the morning. I hate not being able to tell you everything.

It isn’t fair that you were taken from us. There are so many bad people in the world and yet you were the one taken. I think about you all the time and miss you even more often. I love you so much and I am going to keep living my life trying to make sure you would be proud of me. You mean so much to me and I will never stop loving you.

Till we meet again,

Lyndsay

Day 24: Write about a lesson you learned the hard way

I have learned a lot of lessons the hard way but the one that comes to mind is not to trust everyone. Sure there are some people in the world that can be trusted but there are also a lot of people who shouldn’t be trusted. I used to trust a lot more easily than I do now even when I had a bad feeling about something but now I know to follow my gut when it’s telling me not to trust.

Day 25: Think of any word and search it on Google images. Write something inspired by the 11th image

Word: Believe

Dreams are a strange but wonderful thing, they come in two rather abstract concepts. Let’s begin with the one most people think about when someone says dream, the ones that happen when you are sleeping. Such a concept to think that our minds can create these images while we are asleep. When all other functions are put on pause we still see those images and they create something we might not understand. Though dreams are our subconscious trying to convey something we want or something we are afraid of happening.

So why is it that the second type of dream is where we set a goal we wish to achieve? Well it is because we are aiming for something that we want and while there may be fears holding us back that goal is still present. I believe that in a way the two concepts intertwine with each other and although we may not know it they each shape the other. Follow your dreams, both kinds and reach for the stars.

Day 26: Write and area in your life that you’d like to improve

This was by far the easiest one for me to do… I want to improve the way I see myself. I want to be able to love myself. I have been through a lot and come out stronger but I still have many many moments where I hate myself and I hate the way I look. I’m working each and every day on loving myself and accepting myself for everything I’ve been through and all the scars that I carry but it is still a difficult road.

Day 27: Write about something that’s kicking ass right now

Last night I went to my first paint night and I think it kicked ass. I loved it and I’ve signed up for the next one. I also have my bullet journal going and it’s allowing me that creative outlet. I believe the creative parts of my life are kicking ass!

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 12

Write about 5 blessings in your life

  1. My mom. I’ve been through a lot in my life and there have been some really rough times. My mom has been there through everything and is the person who keeps me going. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my mom in my life.
  2. My siblings. As much as we might fight and bicker my siblings are very important to me. My brother has seen me through a lot and has helped me more than he will ever know. My sister shows me each and every day that though someone might be different they can still accomplish the same things.
  3. My friends. My friends are there to pick me up when I’m down and I am thankful for each and every one of them. I know that I can always count on them and that is such a good feeling to have. My friends are really important to me and I don’t think I would be where I am without them.
  4. My puppy. Logan is fairly new in my life but he has already done so much for me. Whenever I am having a lot of anxiety he seems to know and he is there. He has a way of calming me down which is simply amazing.
  5. The opportunities I have been offered. There have been some points in my life when I have been down and thought things were going to stay bad. But I have been offered a lot of opportunities that have brought me back up and given me hope for the future and that hope is something that can’t be beat.

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 8 and 9

Day 8: Share something you struggle with

Something I struggle with is loving myself. This is something that I have always struggled with and I’m starting to do things to try to help with that. There are some self love challenges I have been doing and little by little I can see changes happening. However it is still a struggle each and every day.

Day 9: Post some words of wisdom that speaks to you

I have the words tattooed on my foot so that they are always close and I can read them if I need them. They are “believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a powerful thing.”

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey

30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day 4

Write about someone who inspires you

My Whim Partner is the person I have chosen to write about for the someone who inspires me. Growing up my Whim partner and I weren’t friends. I was the same age as their sister and based on my dislike for their sister I disliked them. Further in life I had a chance to spend time with them and I realized they were nothing like their sister, that was when we became friends. When we first became friends we were both over weight, though they seemed happier about it than I did. I didn’t know how they could be so positive about it. However by watching them I learned to be a little more positive about the way that I look. They opened my eyes to seeing some things in a different way.

My Whim partner then got the news that they needed to lose weight for health reasons and started their journey towards weight loss. Watching them go through their journey I know that it is possible and it has inspired me to lose weight as well but that isn’t the only way my Whim partner has inspired me. I have watched them go through many struggles and come out of them a stronger person than when the struggles started. I have watched them on a path of self love. My Whim partner can always seem to find a positive from a negative situation. They are such an amazing person, someone I aspire to be. I want to be as strong as they are, I want to be able to find that self love. Seeing that it is possible helps. My Whim partner has inspired me more than I think they know they have. Whenever I need those uplifting words I know they can be found with my Whim partner. When I feel like giving up I look back at everything they have achieved and I remember where my sights are set.

So thank you Whim Partner for just being who you are. Thank you for inspiring me each and every day. And thank you for letting me be part of your life. You mean so much to me and I am beyond happy to not only call you a friend but to call you my Whim partner. ❤️

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey