Day 6: Acceptance and compassion #NowImStronger

“Thanks to a combination of the proper medication, therapy time, and support, I can say with confidence that I am doing incredibly well. It is a year later and I often find myself in aw, wondering how I never knew life could be this good.”

For as long as I can remember mental illness has been a part of my life. I have always been aware that mental illness ran deeply on both sides of my family, but I had never given much thought to the possibility that one day I would be dealing with serious mental health issues of my own.

Looking back on my life now, it has become very clear that I have been struggling with anxiety since my early childhood years. This anxiety escalated as the years went on, and by the time I was in my final year of high school I was dealing with crippling anxiety and depression. Little did I know then, the next few years would be some of the most difficult times of my life.

After my final year of high school I found life at a complete standstill. I was battling depression, severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts wondering how my life had gotten to this point. I had absolutely no hope that anything would get better. In some of my darkest moments I struggled to find the will to keep fighting, to keep living this life that had suddenly become so unbearable for me. Desperately looking for a way to escape from myself, I was ready to make peace with this life, with the hope there would be something better waiting for me on the other side. I had tried different medications and therapy, but found little results. Feeling as though I had exhausted all my options, I was completely despondent and had no faith anything could change. About a year and a half later after numerous intense panic attacks, breakdowns, and episodes of self-harm, I made one last attempt to save myself.

A few days before Christmas, I had my mom take me to the hospital. There I had a psychiatric assessment, my medication was adjusted and I was admitted into a four week therapy treatment program. Somewhere hidden deep inside me was the will to keep fighting and for the first time in a long time I felt a tiny spark of hope. I took time off from both of my jobs and made recovery my only priority.

Thanks to a combination of the proper medication, therapy time, and support, I can say with confidence that I am doing incredibly well. It is a year later and I often find myself in aw, wondering how I never knew life could be this good. I have found a new appreciation for life and I try to value and treasure every moment I have. Though my journey was extremely painful and dark at times, it has helped me discover so much about myself. I am truly blessed I was able to see a light in the darkness and I am grateful for what that opportunity has given me. Acceptance and compassion for what I’ve been through has helped me to see my strength and encouraged me to love myself again. By living in the moment and listening to my body and mind, I am able to live an authentic life as my true self. My journey has helped me to learn and love things about myself that I never used to pay attention to.

At 20 years old I now feel as though I have found my true purpose in life and am able to live my life to its full potential. I am in the midst of my first year of psychology at the University of Calgary and I couldn’t be happier with where I am at this time in my life. I am pursuing my passion and am dedicated to showing the world the importance and support mental health deserves. I recognize that my battle is in no way over, but I find reassurance in knowing that I am well equipped and better prepared for whatever comes next. #NowImStronger

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