Please note: this post was written by a UOIT student who wished to be anonymous
I have been asked to share my experiences with mental health illness. I feel a little funny about doing that as a lot of the time I don’t feel like I have any issues pertaining to my mental health. It is only when it is pointed out to me that the way I am feeling or thinking is not common (whereas I usually assume that this is how everyone feels and I am no different) that I see how unhealthy it can be.
While I have been diagnosed with more than one mental health disorder, I find that most of the time I am only ‘hit’ one at a time by them, with one being at the forefront and causing all the problems at once. That generally makes it easier to deal with. But then once I find a way to cope with (temporarily or otherwise) one, the other jumps to the front eager to take centre stage and bask in the spotlight. So it becomes an endless circle of dealing with one illness only to have the other jump in and take the empty spot in my brain. In highly stressful situations/times (like exams) I am not even given that – all go to the front smooshing together at the forefront demanding to be heard and have attention paid to them. I am still uncertain how I manage to get over these episodes/incidents but I know that a huge part of it is my support network – whether they be friends or the people here at school like the SAS advisors or mental health counsellors. All have been an immense help to me. Even just venting my frustrations & problems to them has been helpful. Just someone to listen without judging and sometimes offer methods of coping. It matters in the end.
This leads to me to one major help that mental health services had last semester which was the depression support group. It met ‘after hours’ in the U5 portable which allowed for a more private space to talk in. It opened in the same general way each time – saying your name and answering some question to help break the ice, followed by a mindfullness exercise. Then depending on how the group felt we would have guided topics if no one felt they had anything to say. I found that after the first few meetings the group as a whole learned to take more control over the direction of how the group was run and we were left to it, with helpful nudges if we became stuck. It was not always serious (a memorable conversation about milk preferences comes to mind) and there was smiles and laughter with everyone seeming to feel comfortable in the shared experiences with depression. Coping strategies from different perspectives were offered to see if we could help each other out. One thing that really struck me was the way the others in the group could finish your sentence for you or express the mess that is going on in your head in better way. You could they knew what you were going through and that they were going through it. Just that common bond between us made us closer as a group and easier to share. All in all, just the sharing of different ways depression has affected others, how they deal with it, and the knowledge that you aren’t alone in your battle.
I hope that people will see this and come to next depression support group which I believe is running in the fall semester.