Mental health is still such a faux pas in this day and age even though we talk about it all the time. Bell does their big mental health awareness to raise money, there are constant posts on Facebook with numbers for the helplines and people talking about their own struggles or at least sharing someone else’s. In most cases, it’s sharing someone else’s, because unfortunately even though a number of us struggle with mental health issues no one truly wants to admit it.
I’ve struggled with anxiety since 2006, sometimes it can be really bad but I know what my major triggers are and let the people around me know them as well.
Where it stems from:
In 2006 I was dating a fabulous guy. We both worked away on rotational jobs at different diamond mines but with the same rotation. So in other words, when he was home for 2 weeks so was I. We lived in the same apartment building and although we spent most of our time home together we did not live together. Every Monday night his guy friends had a poker night, so the second Monday we were home I told him to go. He said he didn’t want to, he wanted to veg out with me. I told him he needs his guy time too (back when I was a super chill girlfriend), I gave him the keys for my apartment and told him to come crawl in bed with me after. I woke up in the morning alone. I didn’t think much of it, he probably got drunk and slept over at one of the guys or just went to his own apartment. I had a coffee and a smoke on the balcony, there was an RV that’s been parked on the side of the road across the street for over a month, and it was burnt to a crisp. The teenagers in my area can be little shits at times so my natural assumption was they got up to no good. I gave it no more thought and got ready for my bartending shift (I worked a few shifts a week at a local pub during my time off work), stopped on J floor and left him a note under the door, we had cell phones but I thought this was cuter, he’d get a hold of me when he got up. While at work the lunch crowd started talking about how a body was found in the RV. Again I gave this no more thought, than what it was. It wasn’t until I got the phone call. J had children from a previous relationship, it was the girl’s mom calling he missed H’s swimming practice. He never misses a practice…..panic set it, everything I saw and heard that day was set in. I went to the manager and told him I had to go, then went straight to the mom’s house. We called the RCMP and they came we gave jewelry description and were asked a bunch of questions. One of the officers is a friend mine and he was driving me home. I looked at him and asked, “there’s still a chance it’s not him?” He replied with “the jewelry description was a perfect match.” I no longer wanted to go home. He took me to my mothers work. It turns out my dad was the first responder on the scene, he was a volunteer firefighter. After this moment my life was never the same again.
Since then, the words “have fun with the guys” can never come out of my mouth we again without giving myself an anxiety attack. If I don’t know where someone is and I expect them to be somewhere or to hear from them and I don’t, or can’t get ahold of them, a panic attacks set in. If something feels uncertain, I have a panic attack. Most of the times it’s just a small panic attack tightening of the chest, shallower breathing, using my coping mechanism of pacing. Then there are the big ones, they start slow, then increase in speed and intensity. I can’t breathe, I can’t sit still, I feel like I’m on fire, my mouth is dry, and I can’t stop pacing, even though at this point the pacing isn’t calming. There are other things that might set me off as well, but it’s less common and every now and then I have no idea what has caused this panic attack. My husband doesn’t understand anxiety, he doesn’t understand what I’m going through during these moments or how something that seems so trivial can set me off. But he’s witnessed first hand how bad I can get, so he tries. He tries to communicate if he’s going to be late or there’s a change in his plans. He tries to always keep me in the loop and make sure his phone is always charged, let’s me know if he’ll be out of service, he tries to put up with my constant plan making for something that was mentioned in one comment, because I need to be prepared I don’t like not having a plan. I mean sometimes he does fail but when it’s not happening to you it’s hard to understand it and be truly accommodating about it, but at least he tries.
I’m a lucky one, my anxiety can be bad but I know most of what triggers it, my friends and family are aware of my triggers as well. So I can normally keep it pretty well managed without drugs. Some people aren’t this lucky. Some people have a hard time getting one foot in front of the other. Some people still believe that they should be ashamed of their anxiety, depression or other mental health issues. This is real life, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, we are all dealing with something, we all have our own thing going on. Several are more extreme than others, and several are fortunate like I am. However, if we keep talking, more than we are doing now, together we can:
- Get rid of the personal stigma that we should hide or feel ashamed
- Make others realize when they say mental health issues affect a majority of the population they aren’t lying
- This is completely normal
- You have support
- And if you talk about it, putting one foot in front of the other will get easier.
Do you talk about your mental health for your own well being?