In Canada, Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is from October 4-10 and today is World Mental Health Day.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, in any given year, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
If you are a regular follower of my content, I am very open about my depression and anxiety. There are people in my life who have a hard time understanding why I choose to be so open. What I’ve come to realize in sharing my experiences, is it allows me to let go of any baggage, practice resilience and courage to move forward and most importantly, connect with others.
So in light of World Mental Health Day, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about my mental health journey over the last few years.
There’s more to mental illness than “taking your meds”.
Ever been told to “take a pill”? If only it were that easy. While medication is often prescribed for mental illness, it’s not a means to an end. There is no magic, it can take time to find the right medication and there is often a lot of trial and error.
And sometimes, meds don’t work at all.
What I’ve learned through my experience is that that you constantly need to put in the self-work that goes along with medication. I often joke that I may not be rich, but I won the lottery by finding an amazing therapist covered by OHIP.
Getting Real with Therapy
Make no mistake: therapy is hard.
It challenges and changes you in ways you can’t begin to even imagine.
When I first started treating my depression in my early 20’s, my first therapist was an extension of my parents right down to the Jewish guilt. Not that this was a bad thing. But I held back from the difficult topics. I felt guilty all the time for not sharing my true feelings and felt this pressure to uphold this identity. The last thing I didn’t want to do was disappoint anyone.
And so, by trying to live for other people I only hurt myself.
My therapy in the last two years, however, has looked much different. In being truly honest with myself, I’ve experienced a lot of change and personal growth. Some sessions are harder than others. I didn’t realize how much I was grieving this time around. It’s super awkward, painful and embarrassing to talk about things that you didn’t even realize you were still carrying with you. But in order to move forward, you need to get real. Be honest with yourself no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it may be for other people. This is where I find myself today and while it’s leading me to some unexpected places, I’m becoming the person I wanted to be. For me.
Why It Happens
I only started to treat my depression as a “real” illness a few years ago.
But it has always been there.
Our mental health is affected by numerous factors. There’s biological factors (genes, physical injury and brain chemistry) and environmental factors (your daily life, the stress of balancing work with health and relationships). So, while I can’t pinpoint an exact reason why it happened, I no longer feel the pressure of having to explain why it happened. It just is.
Acknowledging World Mental Health Day allows the world to finally have important conversations about mental health and well-being minus the guilt, shame and stigma that often and closely follows.
If you are struggling, please take a moment and check out Wellness Together Canada. This website was launched by Health Canada during the pandemic and provides tons of great resources, tools and information for anyone who needs help and support.
Thank you so much for your continued support and wishing you all a safe and healthy week.