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 Conference Final Thoughts

Hey Everyone,

In this post I am going to discuss my thoughts about the Mental Health Conference that I had the pleasure of attending.

In all honesty I have never been to a Mental Health before this one so I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t have any expectations going into it, though now for future I will have some expectations going to more in the future. This could possibly be a positive or a negative thing depending on how it is you look at it. On one hand I know what to expect and I know how something should run. On the other hand I may judge something a little harsher in the future.

Overall the Mental Health conference was very informative and inspirational all wrapped in to one. It is something that more people need the opportunity to attend so the word can be spread about mental health and eating disorders. Everyone should have the chance to become informed about mental health. There are so many people who live with mental health or know someone who lives with mental health and I think educating others is the first step to a much bigger picture. Conferences such as this one is such a great step and it is something that needs to get out there, word on these needs to be spread.

I believe everyone who was able to attend the conference gained something from it and I believe that when it happens again the result will be the same. It is a valuable resource and sad that not everyone sees it that way. I know there is still a stigma around mental health and eating disorders but only with education can that change. People need to have the chance to learn about those topics surrounded with stigma or the stigma is never going to disappear and the conference is one of the ways that can happen. If you ever have a chance to attend a mental health conference I highly recommend attending.

Talk Soon,

Lyndsay

Mental Health Conference; Day 2

Hey everyone,

So day two of the conference was just as powerful as day one and I’m sorry this has taken so long. Work got really busy and I hit some hard anxiety that took some time to work through. Day two began with a talk from keynote speaker Kat Singer. It was very powerful and they shared some of their art which was very moving.

The workshops for the day were to follow the keynote speaker. The first workshop was presented by Subata Khalid and Susan Chen and was titled Reframing Body Image. They spoke about body image and changing it from negative to positive. It really meant something to me and I am so happy I got to experience it. The two of them were very knowledgeable and inspiring.

Another workshop was presented by Tyler Sarry and was titled Outside In. Tyler spoke about not only being physically fit but also being emotionally fit. He shared strategies about mastering ones mind and body. His workshop was a lot of fun and everyone seemed excited to be there. The atmosphere in the room was very uplifting and this was a very enjoyable workshop. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tyler outside of his workshop and he is a very positive and uplifting person.

The third workshop was titled Healing Through Yoga and presented by Marlee Liss. She focused on using yoga as a tool for healing. She was also one of the vendors at the conference with her book titled Re-Humanize. It is a very powerful, thought provoking book that I will be doing a post on at a later time. Marlee is an inspiration and someone I am so happy I got the chance of meeting.

The final workshop was presented by Shaila Khan and focused on using movement for self care practices. This was an interesting workshop and I had a chance to participate in some of the activities. I really enjoyed it and it’s something that I would recommend to others. She introduced different movements to deal with stress.

The final keynote speaker was Jennifer Poole who is a professional within the mental health field. She brought a different perspective to mental health and it was a very interesting talk.

Also on day two was the living library which I had the pleasure of being one of the books. There were “books” standing around the room and people were able to go and “read” them. I spoke about abuse and it’s effects on body image and I believe that it went really well. The living library was a new concept to me but it was also a very powerful one. It is something I would do again if given the chance.

Day two was a success as was the entire weekend. I am so proud to have been part of it and it is something I look forward to being part of in the future. I hope that everyone who attended walked away with something they were looking for or something they didn’t know they needed.

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey

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

Spread the Word

Growing up in a small town meant that there were a lot of things that weren’t talked about, a lot of things that “didn’t exist.” In fact I didn’t meet anyone who was not of Caucasian decent until I entered high school, and even then it was exchange students and not families who lived in my small town. I also didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t “straight” until high school, because everyone who identified as something other than straight had to hide who they were. Mental health was something else that was hidden, something we didn’t talk about. This meant that everyone seemed to be the same, which in turn caused something that made someone different to be considered bad. This went for everything from being good at school to someone’s sexual orientation to mental health. Due to the fact it was considered bad many people didn’t talk about it, there were so many things considered to be taboo, so many things that people kept hidden as much as they could.

As I got older things began getting talked about, however most of the time this was in a negative way, things that made someone different were still considered to be bad. There were still many things that people didn’t talk about. This was not a conducive way to grow up, it didn’t help anything, in fact it made life harder. I was already hiding something and now I was going to have to hide so many other things just to make sure I fit into the cookie cutter image of my small town. Let’s start with the first lie I ever told about myself; that I wasn’t smart. I actually was pretty smart and yet I hid it from everyone because it made me different. This meant instead of celebrating my uniqueness I spent all my time and energy on hiding it. This made my biggest secret that much worse. The biggest thing I hid from all those people in my small town was my mental health.

I live with depression and a wide range of anxiety, it is something I have been living with for quite some time. In my small town this wasn’t something that happened, this wasn’t something that people talked about. This meant that finding help was difficult, which in turn meant that help wasn’t something that I looked for. This proved to be rather damaging to myself as well as the way that I viewed myself. My whole life I had grown up believing that I wasn’t good enough and not being able to talk about something that made me who I was only strengthened this thought in my head, this made both my anxiety and depression worse. It was an endless cycle, one I couldn’t seem to break out of.

Now things are different, now I am able to talk about my mental health and I am doing things to be able to help myself. I am on my road of healing and recovery. However in my small town there are so many things that aren’t talked about, so many things that are overlooked and ignored. This is such a harmful thing, and we might not realize the damage it is causing but I can assure you it is causing damage. So many children, teens and even adults are forced to move through there lives not talking about something that is so prevalent in their lives, something that makes them who they are as people. Everyone is unique, everyone has something that makes them unique and yet sometimes these are still the things we avoid talking about. Not talking about something doesn’t make it go away. In fact from my experience it makes it worse.

We need to change the way society views the differences in people, we need to change the way we view the people around us. Now I know this is something that won’t just happen over night, it’s going to take time but we have time and the more we change things the quicker it will be to change more. We need to be able to allow people to feel safe to discuss those things that make up who they are, those things that make them unique. All too much people are forced to try to fit into that cookie cutter image and that is not what people have been designed to do. People were designed to be unique, to be different.

We need to take a look at the way everyone is handling the different aspects of life, not just small towns. Even in the larger cities there are limited resources for mental health and I find that fitting in and being the same is still a large aspect of daily life. Though larger cities are better with having space for people to be unique but there is still a lot of room for improvement. People should not have to walk around afraid to be themselves, instead they should be proud of who they are. It’s such a big deal in the media right now and that’s because before now people have not been allowed to be who they are without ridicule. It’s not just adults who go through all of this it’s children and teens as well, it’s just called something different; bullying.

Why is it that everyone is so against bullying and we have many anti-bullying movements but when it comes to adults it’s not the same? Every day I see anti-bullying commercials, I read anti-bullying articles and as an Early Childhood Educator I teach children to be kind to each other and not to bully their peers. It is very rare that I see commercials about it being okay to be different as adults, that being different isn’t a bad thing. Treating someone differently just because they are different than you are is still bullying no matter what age you are and it needs to be changed. Everyone deserves to be treated the same regardless of gender, sexuality, mental illness, physical differences, disability, and difference in likes and dislikes. We need to start talking about all these things like we would talk about anything else, like you would have a conversation about what you were going to do on the weekend.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, because nothing worth it is ever easy, but it’s going to be so worth it in the end. Not everyone is going to be open to changing and that’s going to have to be okay, because everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions. However we need to start somewhere, we need to start with those people open to changing, we need to make the movement big enough that it makes an impact. It’s something so simple to start, it’s making sure it continues that is the difficult part. As human beings we all need to take a look at ourselves and how we are treating other people. Are we judging other’s based on something that makes them different? In order to get other people to start thinking about how they treat other’s we first must start with ourselves. We can’t change the world if we first don’t change ourselves.

Maybe you are already doing this, maybe you are already open minded and don’t fault people for being different. If that is the case you’re already past step one. The next step is talking about, getting information out there and stopping the stigma. Talk about those topics that have a stigma or taboo around them. Talk about mental health, talk about sexuality and gender. Let people know that it’s okay not to fit into the cookie cutter image of what is seen as “perfect” because the truth is no one is perfect but as long as people are being themselves they are the perfect version of themselves and that’s what is important. Everyone is worth it and everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, everyone deserves to have resources to help them through life.

Change starts with you and with me. We can work together to advocate, we can work together to get the word out there, we can work together to make the world a better place. Don’t fault people for being different, celebrate those differences!

Talk Soon

Lyndsay

 

Photo Credit: http://news.berkeley.edu/story_jump/poll-californians-support-health-coverage-for-mental-health/ (Taken from google images)

Bell Let’s Talk Day

Hey Everyone,

So I want to talk about something that a lot of people don’t talk about: Mental Health. I personally have some mental health diagnosis including anxiety but there are some others. I also know a lot of people who also live with mental health. First it is not even close to something that is easy to live with and it is considered taboo to talk about which makes it that much harder to live with. People are afraid to express the things that are going on in fear of the repercussions that come with it. I was fortunate to grow up with a mother who is very supportive and has made herself approachable with topics such as mental health and I am forever grateful for that, however not everyone has that in their lives.

In fact many people live in an environment where mental health is seen as having something wrong with you, something you don’t talk about. This is one of the many reasons Bell Let’s Talk Day is a good thing. It promotes talking about mental health and taking away the stigma that is attached to it. I really hope that we can achieve this and make it so that many other people are willing to talk and find the support that they need. My wish is that we some day live in a world where talking about mental health is no longer taboo, where seeking support is easy. A place where everyone can be accepted whether they live with mental health or not.

However of course with the good also comes the bad as with every situation so here it comes. Having one day where people are showing their support isn’t enough. Having one day where people say “I stand with you regardless of mental health” is not enough. This needs to happen each and every day. Furthermore there are those people who will support Bell Let’s Talk Day and then turn around and make mental health taboo. People who will be the first to tell you there is something wrong with you because you suffer from mental health but will also be the first to #bellletstalk . This is the kind of thing that needs to change. If you stand with people living with mental health you have to do it year round, not just one day.

Living with mental health is not an easy thing to do. Nor will it ever be 100% easy but with the correct support and no stigma attached it can be easier. Let’s all do our part in making the world a place where everyone is accepted no matter what. Sometimes it’s as easy as listening to someone needing to talk, sometimes it must go deeper. Regardless on how it happens the important thing is that it happens. “Alone we are all unique but together we create a masterpiece.” -source not known

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey

30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 28-30

Day 28: Post five things that make you laugh out loud

  1. A well thought out pun
  2. When the kids at work say something that is pure gold
  3. The pterodactyl joke
  4. Some inside jokes that I have with friends
  5. When Logan is very uncoordinated which is often

Day 29: What are your goals for the next 30 days?

I want to keep blogging and keep up with my YouTube channel. I also want to try something new at least twice in the next month and join a gym.

Day 30: Your highs and lows this month.

Honestly there are way too many to put into a blog post since I’ve had so many ups and downs over the month. It seemed to be a roller coaster this month.