Flashback to December 21st, 2013. Exactly two years ago. Only my closest friends (I can count how many on my hands), and close family knew of my mental health struggles.
As of right now, Surviving by Living has had approximately 10 000 views, with over 4500 unique viewers from more countries than I can name. I am immensely proud of this fact. Not for what I have accomplished, but I am proud of the fact that so many people have engaged with a topic that is far too often ignored.
Last year, I followed the format of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” and thought I’d do the same for the sake of consistency.
- I had tons of friends who openly supported me, my struggles, and were willing to do what it took to help me feel okay.
- I led a mental health fundraiser, called the Defeat Depression Run, which raised over $13 000 for local initiatives.
- I was lucky enough to be a delegate for the 2015 Jack Summit, an innovative youth summit changing the way we look at mental health.
- I was a summer intern for Jack.org, lived in Toronto, and had the most incredible summer with people I will never forget.
- I won by business school’s public speaking competition, where I openly spoke about my mental health struggles.
- I’ve been getting the best grades of my life at school.
- I was featured on As We Are, a style blog about how our struggles shape our unique style choices.
I have had tons of good in my life this past year, and I can’t help but smile as I recall how blessed I am to have good opportunities, good people, and a good life.
Despite the good, I had plenty of challenges in 2015, if not more than ever before. Anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and low self-esteem all reared their ugly heads more often than I would care to admit, and more often than before.
- My mental health began to decline again over the course of the summer, and as the fall progressed.
- I had to increase therapy from once every month or so, to 2-3 times per week.
- I’ve been on 6 or 7 different prescriptions over the course of the year to help with my mental illnesses, and am still on 4.
- I learned my depression is “treatment-resistant”, and my brain doesn’t respond to therapy or medications the way it ideally should.
- I will be starting a new, intensive medical treatment in the new year, which has forced me to drop half of my course load, and rethink my spring graduation. Though it is safe, I could have temporary memory loss, experience extreme nausea, muscle fatigue, and migraines, and there is always a possibility of it not working.
Similar to last year, the ugliest part of mental health is the stigma attached to it. This year, I discovered that our mental health system is broken, and it’s uglier than I imagined.
- Waitlists to simply see a mental health practitioner can be over a year.
- Seeking outpatient psychiatric help in the form of group therapy ranges from 5 months to 18 months.
- Private counselling or therapy can cost upwards of $150 per session. Sliding scale rates usually have a wait list.
- People still don’t see mental illness as a legitimate illness, and this stigma disables people from accessing support.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability.
- Suicide is the leading cause of non-accidental death in youth ages 15-24.
- Someone dies by suicide every 40 seconds.
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who has stood by my side throughout my struggles. I can’t count how many of you there are, but I’ll also never forget everything you’ve done for me. I’d also like to thank those who didn’t, for showing me how to be a stronger, more independent, and more resilient person. 2015 has been interesting to say the least, and though 2016 may get off to a bumpy start, I’m excited by what is still to come.
Keep Surviving by Living.