YOU CAN DO THIS.

Mental illness comes in all shapes and sizes, it can happen to anyone at any time in their life. Sometimes, all we need is a little support and reassurance that we are not alone and that we can do this.

Here are 15 positive affirmations to live by when you live with depression, anxiety or any other mental illness to remind you that you are a warrior.

  1. Self-forgiveness is essential for self-healing.
  2. Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what can be.
  3. You are enough.
  4. It is okay to ask for help.
  5. It is a disorder, not a decision. Be kind to yourself.
  6. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.
  7. Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.
  8. You were given this life because you are strong enough to handle it.
  9. Pain is real, but so is hope.
  10. Always remember that the future comes one day at a time, and so does recovery.
  11. Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times.
  12. You are loved.
  13. You have a right to heal at your own pace – you are allowed to take your time.
  14. Whatever it takes. You can make it through it.
  15. Your circumstances don’t determine where you go, it merely determines where you begin.

 

 

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Fight Holiday Time Depression

We are socialized to believe that this time of the year is supposed to be the happiest – filled with food, family, cheer and even some relaxing time off. So why is it that the National Institute of Health reports that there is often a rise in depression, and although not the highest, but higher reports of suicide? Could it be the shorter days and darkening skies at 4pm? Is it the rise in SAD? (Seasonal Affective Disorder) These may contribute, but are not the root of the problem.

Often, this time of year comes with immense stress. Students are approaching final assignments and exams, work becomes busier and stress builds up. So what is it that really triggers Christmas blues?

  • Financial stress of gift giving
  • Increase in social events and family gatherings
  • Loneliness
    • This may be based on the loss of a loved one or loss of a job

So what should you do if you’re experiencing an increase in depression?

First, you should seek help from a qualified mental health practitioner, and if that seems overwhelming you can always confide in a trusted friend or family member who will help you find the proper resources you need.

  • Focus on the positive things in your life, try not to dwell on what you don’t have
  • Set boundaries, especially regarding your finances – don’t create unnecessary stress for yourself
    • Gift giving can be personal and budget friendly
  • If you are religious, attend respective events for your church or organization
  • Keep yourself busy – grab coffee with friends or relax by yourself with a good book
  • Exercise
  • Journal about your holiday blues
  • If old traditions are no longer feasible, make new ones
  • Volunteer your time to help organizations that provide assistance at Christmas time

There are many ways you can fight the holiday blues, but don’t forget that seeking help may be exactly what you need, it may help you understand an underlying condition.

 

 

Top 5 Ted Talks About Mental Health

To gain a better understanding of mental health and mental illness, I’ve spent a portion of my time simply researching about my condition, as well as others. I’ve found that medical journals aren’t always easy to follow and don’t always offer that comforting aspect you may be looking for. I’ve compiled some of my favourite Ted Talks that have helped me understand, accept and progress in my diagnosis.

One of the best ways to better understand mental illness if you aren’t experiencing it firsthand is to hear other people talk about it, and perhaps offer up information that allows you to look at it from a new perspective.

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How Does It Feel Taking Anti-Depressants?

I have Generalized Anxiety, Agoraphobia and Panic Disorder and this is my experience taking anti-depressants to cope.

Terminology & Definition: Generalized anxiety is characterized as extreme worrying almost every day; it is excessive and disproportionate about several areas of one’s life. A panic disorder is characterized as a psychiatric disorder where a debilitating fear and anxiety arise frequent, and without explanation. A panic disorder triggers panic attacks, and its symptoms are (but may not be limited to) pounding heart, sweating, shaking or trembling, shortness of breath, choking sensations, chills, hot flashes, nausea, dizziness, numbness or tingling sensations, fear of dying and fear of losing control. Many people fear that as a direct result from a panic attack, they will have a heart attack, go crazy, faint or embarrass themselves. Agoraphobia is an extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places, which makes it difficult to attend lectures and enjoy a social life.

So whats it like being a 20 year old female enrolled in university with high expectations and ambition with such a debilitating condition, the answer isn’t so simple.  It’s tough, however embracing my illness was the best decision I’ve ever made. Acknowledging what is going on is the first step to finding a stable balance, and getting a proper diagnosis is crucial because there are many reasons to explain why one could be experiencing symptoms of anxiety or panic. No two diagnoses are identical and no two conditions are identical – each and every person suffering from mental illness will experience and react differently.

Synopsis: I was diagnosed by my family physician with GAD and a Panic Disorder, she then recommended me to a psychologist for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). After five months of that, medication free, it was decided that I needed to explore the options of Anti-Depressants. I began on Citalopram (5mg) and graduated to the brand Cipralex, a form of Escitalopram (20mg) with the occasional Ativan when needed. After about a year on the anti-depressants, my panic attacks went from 6+ per week to 2 per month, or less. However, my panic disorder under control, my anxiety was not. From then my family physician consulted with a psychiatrist who recommended clonazepam, a benzodiazepine. I now take 0.5mg of clonazepam everyday along with my 20mg of Cipralex.

How does it feel? I have never felt more like myself in the past few years. There is so much fear surrounding anti-depressant usage, a fear that they are not going to be themselves, clouded or worse off in their condition. I don’t dispute this as a possibility; however it could mean that the medication isn’t the proper fit, or that it takes a bit longer to adjust and the side effects will wear off. So if prescribed, don’t be afraid to try anti-depressants because the potential negative effects, are often outweighed by the positive.

I have good days and bad days like anyone, and I’ve found a healthy balance with my medications, therapy and overall health.

I credit a large part of my success to not only my medications, psychologist, friends, family and boyfriend, but I also give credit to myself. I embraced this, never once thinking that I would become my diagnosis. I saw this as a challenge to become the best version of myself that I could be.

My advice to those who suffer from any mental illness – embrace it, laugh about it, joke about it, and become comfortable with it. It is a piece of you, and not one to be ashamed of. Advocate and teach those who don’t understand, because I promise you, you will find a way to live happily despite it.