This post contains content that could potentially trigger individuals.
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Six Nations Youth Crisis Line: 1-866-445-2204
Haldimand/Norfolk REACH Crisis Line: 1-866-327-3224
Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-877-209-1266
Mental Health Crisis Line St Leonards: 519-759-7188
We all have mental health. So many of us experience mental illness. In any given year, approximately 1 in 5 people will personally experience a mental health problem or illness (CMHA). There are so many factors that play into mental health, and anyone can suffer from a mental illness. Self-care and wellness are talked about a lot these days, however many of us still don’t know what this entails, and how we can implement this in our daily lives. This is my introduction to a new weekly blog series all about wellness and helping your own mental health in little ways. As a disclaimer, I’d like to say, not everything will work for everyone! We are all individuals and it’s important that we all feel safe to be able to try and find new things that might work for us. Not everything has worked for me over the years, and I’ve worked to find things that help me and my mental health.
My platform as Miss Teenage Ontario is raising awareness for youth suicide on reserves, and I’ve been lucky to have already done a lot with this topic and start a conversation, which is my goal as a titleholder. Part of the conversation when it comes to the topic of suicide prevention is mental health, and I believe that the more people in the public eye come out with their own stories, the more comfortable people will feel seeking help, lessening the stigma that is surrounded by mental illness. I’ve experienced this in my own life, after having read Pattie Mallette’s book Nowhere But Up. I was 13 when I first read her book that went into depth about her trauma she experienced, and seeing that we had similar experiences made me genuinely feel as if I weren’t alone. I was able to open up about my own trauma, and it helped me begin the process of healing. If I am able to help someone even half as much as her book helped me, I know I will have made a difference. This is why I tell my story.
My experiences with mental health started when I was very young. I witnessed it in my own family, with addiction, anxiety, and depression. This impacted me as a child, seeing the effect it could have on my loved ones. My own personal struggles began soon after, and I dealt with my own traumas as the years went on. When I was in the eighth grade, I began having anxiety attacks at school and struggling with self-harm. It was the beginning of a long 4 years in high school, coping with panic disorder, depression, and later as I found out, post-traumatic stress disorder. This was accompanied by a number of hospital trips, medications, and hours and hours of therapy.
Beginning grade nine was hard for a number of reasons, but for the most part, it was loneliness. I didn’t have many close friends, and I felt extremely alone for most of the year. I was lucky to discover theatre before the end of the year, and I found a home within my school. However, this wasn’t the end. I had friends and people who accepted me, but I was still struggling with things that lingered from the past. I was constantly unhappy, and it worsened as grade 10 began. Situational things arose, and it had a negative effect on me as well. To make it worse, I had a hard time with coping skills and had difficulty working them into my life in a practical way. Grade 11 and 12 were much the same, my mental health going up and down throughout the years. I’d have weeks when I struggled to get out of bed, missing days of school and getting behind in all my classes. It was in and out, I would have these episodes, then for a while, things seemed to be looking up. However, around December of 2016, everything seemed blue.
Things slowly got worse over the next months, and one day in April 2017, an incident occurred that incited my decision that I was going to take my life. I had suicidal thoughts and ideations in the past, but this was different. After my suicide attempt, I spent around 2 weeks in the hospital. It was lonely and scary at times, but looking back I can clearly see how much I needed it. Prior to all this, I knew I had wanted to participate in Miss Teenage Ontario again. This, as well as the play I wrote which would be performed by my school the following year, gave me something to work towards and look forward to. For the next months, this is what I put my energy into. It paid off, and putting my time into something to better myself and something positive had such a monumental effect on my mental health. I had made many changes in my life for the better, and I am thankful for how far I have come. This does not mean my story is over. There are still things I am dealing with and there are still days that are hard, but there is no shame in that. Healing does not come easy. I am thankful for this voice I have been given through my title, and I am so excited for what is to come. I always stay hopeful for what the future holds for me, and I know God has a plan for my life, something I am thankful for every day. We all have a reason to be in this world, and every life is important. I’m looking forward to starting the first official post for my wellness blogs! Stay tuned for my next post in the series!
Til Next Time