Stories, skills, and positivity- to anxiety sufferers from anxiety sufferers.
This post originally appeared as a Facebook post on Rob's page. It has been republished with permission.
I have been visiting this house on the regular since April. Behind those doors are two or three different psychologist who conduct their daily operations. After having three friends of mine tell me about their positive experiences with therapy, I decided to give it a try myself. After the first session, I was not sure if I wanted to continue going. Not because I thought that it was fake or phony or too expensive, but because I was scared. I was afraid of being vulnerable, working through tough times in my past, and showing my emotions.
Over the past few years I have developed an internal locus of control, where I believe that I have the ability constantly improve myself. I am pretty realistic, and I know my strengths and weaknesses. One specific dimension of my well-being that needed work was my mental health. I recognized that my lifestyle was becoming very costly, and unhealthy. I recognized that patterns in my family life (that I did not want), were slowly creeping up on me. Lastly, I realized that my ability show emotions and just 'let it out' needed to be better. To truly improve myself, working on my own baggage was going to have to happen. Although it was scary, I worked up the courage to take the next step and continue attending therapy.
Throughout the next five months, I learned a lot about myself. I had to articulate thoughts that I had kept tucked away for many years. Some of these thoughts were things that I have known for a while, and some were brand new realizations about myself and my life. I had to be open to showing emotions, which was really hard for me to do. I had developed an inability to express anger and sadness because of certain traumatic childhood experiences. These sessions were filled with tears, rage, and many teachable moments. The lessons that I have learned through this experience will stay with me forever, and will continue to help me be the best version of myself.
I am not sharing this post because I want praise for going to therapy. The message that I want to send is that people should not be afraid to get help or talk about their feelings. Therapy is not just for people with mental health problems. Everyone has their own traumas in life, and unfortunately not everyone knows how to process their emotions and heal in a positive way. I hope that after reading this, some of you will feel inspired to maybe take that first step into improving your mental health.
After attending therapy I feel like I have the tools and mindfulness to be able to handle any of lifes obstacles. I feel like I am much better control of my future and how to handle my emotions, and I have my friends who inspired me(BH, JS, & NB) and the people in this house to thank for it.
"I have been very surprised and happy with the amount of positive support that I received after one Facebook post. I have received many texts and messages from friends, family, and people who I have not spoken to in years. There is so much support out there, and more people need to know it!" -Rob
Exploring the link between mental disorders and suicide may help you or someone you know prevent
harm. While the bulk of people living with mental disorders do not always die by self-harm, almost all of
the people who have died by suicide were suffering from some form of mental illness at the time.
How Mental Health Disorders Can Lead to Suicide
Some of the top diagnosed mental disorders include depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder,
schizophrenia and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Variations include multiple disorders or mental
illness combined with substance abuse. Any of these scenarios can bring the sufferer ongoing bouts of
hopelessness, self-doubt, frustration, self-bullying, low self-esteem, anger, and loneliness. These
symptoms can become so intense that the sufferer feels that the only relief is to take his or her own life.
Other Risk Factors for Suicidal Actions:
● Genetics or Family History: The risk of developing a mental health disorder greatly increases if
someone was born into a family with a history of that same illness, much more so than a person
born into a family with no such disorder.
● Traumatic Event: A person who has just been through a traumatic life event such as
disfigurement due to an accident, diagnoses of a terminal illness or death of a loved one may
start to develop suicidal ideations.
● Prescription Drugs: Certain drugs prescribed for dissimilar conditions can cause negative side
effects such as mood swings, depression, and feelings of hopelessness, which in turn can lead to
suicidal thoughts or actions.
● Loss of interest in things that once brought joy
● Dramatic change in mood and reckless behavior
● Unprovoked spells of anger
● Comments about killing oneself or feelings of hopelessness
● Poor self-care – sleeping more and lacking concern about showering or other personal care
● Sudden social isolation
● Increased use of medication, drugs or alcohol
Long-Term Prevention Strategies:
● Seek Council: Most at-risk people try to hide their feelings and emotions. They may feel
ashamed of their own thoughts and feelings. However, talking to a professional is one of the
best methods of prevention and recovery. The suicide prevention hotline provides emotional
support 24/7/365 and can connect sufferers with local mental health providers. Additionally,
talking to one’s family, pastor, and close friends can be helpful.
● Make Positive Changes: Depression can set in when people are not happy with their current life
situations. It is therefore recommended to make positive changes, such as a move in the case of
an unhappy home, a new job when job satisfaction, and moving on from a harmful relationship.
Joining a gym to boost those happy chemicals (dopamine) is another positive change that can
● Go to Rehab: If you are suffering from substance abuse or addiction, a quality rehabilitation
center in your area is a great step toward mental clarity.
● Self-love Affirmations: You are what you say you are! While self-bullying can lead to suicidal
thoughts and actions, self-loving can lead to feelings of high self-worth, confidence, and self-
esteem. Even if you do not believe it at the time, look at yourself in the mirror several times a
day and repeat these affirmations, “I am enough”, “I am worth it”, “I am strong”, “I am
valuable”, “I am confident”, and “I am loved”. If you find that chanting affirmations is difficult to
do on your own, seek help via a meditation class.
● Release Healthy Endorphins: Once released, good-mood endorphins can help alleviate feelings
of anxiety, anger, and stress. Eating dark chocolate and spicy food can help release these
chemicals. Exercising, laughing, and smelling soothing scents such as vanilla, lavender, and
chamomile can also release healthy endorphins.
Suicide is preventable. In fact, the majority of people who resort to suicide don’t actually want to die;
their actions are typically an attempt to rid themselves of overwhelming distress. Making positive
changes will help to reset and retrain the mind, which works like any other muscle, and feelings of
hopelessness can begin to gradually subside.
I was always a cheerful easy going child and teenager. “I go with the flow” and “I don’t care” were my mottos. There was rarely an anxious thought that went through my mind. Then, one afternoon in July 2016, it hit me like a bullet through my chest. Why was I breathing so fast? Why was my heart rate faster than most people’s speed limit on highway 407? Why couldn’t I speak? Why was Niagara falls coming out of my eyes? Then I realized, I was having my first panic attack. After I calmed down, I assumed it was a onetime thing, but mom, turns out I’m not always right.
An Open Letter
Tonight I attended a mental health town hall hosted by Lloyd Longfield (Member of Parliament for Guelph, Ontario). It was for me… underwhelming at best. I felt the panel answered heartfelt and genuine questions with generic answers that reflected not only a misunderstanding of what people need from services, but also a reluctance to make the moves that really matter. There wasn’t enough time for all the questions to be answered, so I wanted to take the time to share mine here.
My mental health history is very intimately tied to the discovery and acceptance of my sexuality. In that capacity, I was a very late bloomer. Many gay men will tell you they knew from a young age that they weren’t straight, but in my case I didn’t fully come to the realization until I was about 15 years old. Looking back the signs were absolutely there before that point, but a combination of naivety and denial prevented me from fully realizing until the truth became undeniable.
Quick Thoughts on Trump...
I watched the American election results roll in until the early hours of the morning. When it became apparent Donald Trump was going to win I just sat back in shock. I couldn’t believe he was explicitly chosen, by millions of people in spite of his many obvious, and horrific failings. I went to sleep that night in shock. When I woke up in the morning I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I did.
Facing my mental illnesses has always been challenging and I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I come from a culture where mental illness isn’t even considered “real” or maybe because facing it means admitting to certain things that I’d rather not. But that’s a whole different topic I could fill a book with. For now, I’m going to talk about my experience with anxiety.
Learning to Say "Yes!"
By: Katie McLean
Have you ever felt so busy that you’ve felt you barely had time to breathe?
There are two sides to being busy. Being busy can be great. When you’re busy, you often don’t have time to think about your problems. Busyness is known as a positive form of maladaptive behavior. This might sound like an oxymoron, but many individuals with anxiety, depression, and PTSD use activities like running or playing music to de-stress and avoid their issues.
Breathing Through the Cold
By Alyssa Logan
Fall has always been one of my favourite seasons. The cool weather, the beautiful colours on the trees, and the falling leaves. But it also signals the beginning of my SAD (seasonal affective disorder) symptoms. I notice it’s first effects as I take my dog for a walk and realize it’s almost dark at 7pm. I see the leaves falling off of trees and know that soon it will be dreary, dark, and grey for the next six or so months.
"Thank you for being a part of her life, but she will only be with us through the night."
I sincerely hope that no one else will ever have to hear those words about someone they love. On June 12, 2016, one of my best friends died after being in a car accident; she was 22. I have repeated these words to myself and in explanation to others over and over so many times that the words don’t feel any more like I am reciting some line from a play that can’t be the truth. I wish every time I am reminded of it that it wasn’t true.
Katie McLean holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and bases her anxiety aid in personal experience, as well as techniques that have been passed on to her by counsellors, friends, and fellow anxiety sufferers.