Taking the First Steps: My Struggle With Mental Illness

Mental illness is a hidden barrier for a lot of people. I am no expert on mental illness and I am not here to spout a whole bunch of facts about it. I am here to take the first steps in making mental illness less hidden among students.

I have struggled from depression and anxiety for most of my life. It became debilitating when I entered high school. I very quickly left school and took my courses online. Most of my anxiety is socially driven, but at times it creeps up for no apparent reason. I returned to physical school when I started at Douglas College in the fall semester of 2015. Since leaving high school I was able to mostly calm my anxiety and move past my depression.

Recently it has been worse than it has for years. I know why: I just changed jobs, I have the biggest course load ever in my college career, and I am having complicated relationship problems. For me my stressors are quite obvious. What that means is I have been suffering from constant anxiety and multiple anxiety attacks within the past month.

buzz lightyear and woody from toy story, buzz is pointing to the sky and the text reads anxiety anxiety everywhere

You’re probably wondering why I am telling you such intimate details about myself. One reason is because I feel comfortable enough with myself that I am not embarrassed of my mental health. I am taking the steps to take care of myself. I have seen my family doctor and am seeing a personal counsellor through student services. I have also informed my close friends and family of my struggles in order to receive support from them. Another reason I am sharing this with you is because I think it is important that others know they are not alone. I can count off more than a dozen fellow students who have spoken to me about similar struggles. If I can think of that many within my small group of contacts, there must be quite a few of us out there.

This single blog post about my mental illness is not going to change the entire culture around it. What will is when we talk about it. This is our time to share our stories with pride, not fear. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Once we can talk about it, we can conquer it together. If you are comfortable with it, please share your experience. Let’s take the first steps together and support each other.

Resources:

Douglas College Counselling Services 604 527 5486 (New Westminster Campus) or 604 777 6185 (Coquitlam Campus)

Crisis Centre BC 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

Counselling BC

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