Let’s Talk About It

 Please Note: this blog post mentions self-harm and various symptoms of mental illness. If this is triggering for you please be gentle with yourself and keep yourself safe.

Once again, in honour of Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign, I thought it was the right time to remind everyone that mental health is still a highly stigmatized topic and for many people a hard one to come out and talk about.

Last year I wrote a post about self-harm and the importance of seeking help. End the Stigma Around Mental Health

I was in a really bad place last year and I wanted to make my pain and suffering helpful for someone else. Writing that blog post was incredibly difficult and I almost didn’t post it. However, I thought that if that post could help even one person on one bad night then it would be worth it.

I put myself out in the open about my own self-harm and talked about the things that helped me when I was trying not to cave to those self-destructive feelings.

I now realize I have been suffering from chemical depression since I was 11 or 12. I never discussed this with anyone until I was 20. I felt on some level like I was broken, or my feelings weren’t valid.

I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently because I was always the bubbly, outgoing one with a bad joke up their sleeve. It took a lot for me to finally come to terms with my depression and accept that it is just a part of who I am and something I am going to have to live with.

I was scared if I discussed my mental health people would look at me like I was broken or treat me like a porcelain doll that would break. I didn’t want to be seen as weak, manipulative, or toxic.

It has been one year since my last mental health post was released and I am still working on recovery. In this blog I wanted to discuss the road to healing and recovery. This road is not linear, and it is not the same for everyone so take that into consideration and don’t think because my experiences are different from yours that you are not on the road to recovery as well.

One of the aspects of healing that I found the most difficult was trying to settle on an anti-depression medication that worked for me. For many people, it does take a few tries to get the medication and dosage right, so if one doesn’t work don’t worry.

Some people might find their perfect medication right away and that’s awesome. For others, like me, it takes time and patience. With anti-depressants you can’t just stop taking them; you have to gradually lower your dose as your doctor recommends before beginning a new medication. Then the new medication could take up to a few weeks to start helping with your symptoms of depression, but you know what doesn’t take a few weeks to start… it’s the side effects.

It is not a fun process, but it is very important that you push through all of those bad things because once your body gets used to the medication it could be the one that works for you. (Note: if any of your side effects are serious, your depression worsens, or you have suicidal thought or actions please call your doctor immediately! I know that makes me sound like an infomercial but seriously do it.)

One of the traps of anti-depressants that I fell into over the summer was the feeling of being okay after a few months on them, and I was like “Oh hey, look at that, I’m better,” and then stopped taking them like an idiot. But you know why I felt better… SHOCKER! It was because I was on the anti-depressants and they were making my brain work properly.

Part of the reason I stopped taking them, other than feeling better, was because I didn’t like the idea of having to take medication for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to believe that I couldn’t be happy without them, but that’s not how it works.

I shouldn’t feel as though I am less because I take these medications. Someone with a heart condition wouldn’t feel weird about having to take their medication for the rest of their life, so why should I? Also, fun fact, apparently if you stop and start the same medication it will sometimes not work as well for you afterward, so you will have to increase your dose or find a new medication. So, kids! Listen to your doctor, don’t feel weird about taking your medications, and be safe.

Another aspect of the road to recovery is therapy. Taking medication is a good start but it is better to pair the two together. You are not weak or ‘crazy’ for going to counselling or to see a psychiatrist. You are taking care of yourself. I have been to a few different counsellors and a psychiatrist and a few things that I have learned are:

  1. If you don’t ‘click’ with them find someone else. They will not take it personally and you know what you need to get better so find someone that can help you get there. It’s like the medication, it might take a few tries to find the right one
  2. You know yourself better than anyone and sometimes trained professionals get it wrong. If you feel like that is the case don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. It is after all your health.
  3. If you know you feel more comfortable with a female or male counsellor, tell the person you are booking with that.
  4. If you worry about one on one interactions with a counsellor, there are group therapy sessions available. But make sure those are right for you, too. I know for me group therapy is completely out of the question because I have a tendency to take on other people’s pain and try to help them and shove my own recovery aside.
  5. Therapy is another thing that you need to stick with. I know after my first few sessions I felt worse because they ask all the hard questions and make you really think about your symptoms. Sometimes they make you fill out a checklist asking questions like: Do you self harm? Have you attempted suicide? How often do you have suicidal thoughts? All these questions suck. That is unfortunately just how it is. But stick with it and know after the first few sessions to be extra gentle with yourself.
  6. After your first few sessions treat yourself to coffee and a snack, watch a movie, or curl up in bed. Make sure you don’t have any other responsibilities that day like work or class.

Any other thing you do to help yourself recover is not stupid or weird if it helps you, it helps you. You don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks about how you recover. I for one get tattoos. I find that covering my scars or the spots where I tend to self-harm prevents me from continuing to self-harm.

I don’t touch my tattoos because I don’t want to ruin my art. I also do dumb stuff to my hair when I am feeling self-destructive and impulsive, hence why I had a mohawk for the last 6-7 month that changed colour every two weeks.

Some days will be harder than others, some days I look at my scars and absolutely hate what I have done to myself, but I know over time they will heal. You can get better, and you will grow as a person. The road to recovery is an ongoing one, there will be many twists and bumps along the way. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient. It is a slow process and sometimes that process stops and other times you fall back a few paces. It is important to keep trudging along.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s quote from ‘A Knight’s Tale’. I would have used an actual photo but he is very naked in this scene

Recovery is not linear; it does not follow a set path, and everyone must go about it differently. Bad times happen, and that is something we all must accept. The important thing is coming out the other side.

You deserve help, you deserve to eat, you deserve to live, you deserve to feel safe. You are loved. Be gentle with yourself. Stay safe. You are so important.

Important Resources:

Canadian Assn for Suicide Prevention

Text Chat Lines

UVic Counselling

Island Community Mental Health

 

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2 Responses

  1. Jes says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful post!! ♥️

  2. Kevin says:

    Being recently diagnosed with depression, I love the power that this post yields. Thanks for sharing!

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