Month: January 2018

Dear Past Me #BellLetsTalk

Last week, I published a piece about anxiety that I wrote when I was 17 called “I had anxiety before I knew I had anxiety”. It was written two years before I began to understand the way my mind works. If you haven’t read it already, you can read it here. For #BellLetsTalk, I wrote an open letter to myself, and today I’m sharing it with you. 


Dear Past Me,

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the tools I have now, and I’m sorry that shame made you suffer in silence for too long. I blocked you out for as long as I could, until your words somehow found me. Even though you were a shell of a human, built on lies that society forced you to make a reality, you persevered. I want you to know that you grew and became stronger, and shed the skins you never wanted. I want you to know you’re still shedding them. But more importantly, you’re doing what you can to be unapologetic for who you are.

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IMPACT@Work

I am SO excited to announce a new project I’ve been working on, called IMPACT@Work. A branch of off last year’s initiative, The IMPACT Project, IMPACT@Work addresses how our professional lives and mental health are undeniably intertwined.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen mental health become a more approachable conversation with friends, family, and other people I interact with. What has progressed at a snail’s pace is the presence of these conversations in a professional context.

According to CAMH, 39% of people in Ontario would not tell their managers if they had a mental health concern, and 64% would be concerned about how work would be affected if a coworker had a mental illness. These facts are not okay. IMPACT@Work is here to change these statistics.

Employee mental health is not the sole responsibility of the employee – it falls to the employer too. Even if we speak crassly in pure dollars, the cost of mental illness to companies is estimated to be upwards of $6 billion every year (CMHA).

IMPACT@Work will explore mental health at work in a number of different ways, including:

  • The impact of our careers on our mental health
  • The impact of our mental health on our careers and professional development
  • What workplaces are getting right when it comes to supporting people, and what they are getting wrong. The “workplace” involves three separate realms, that all need to work together to support employees
    • The company as a whole, through policies and culture
    • The employees’ direct managers and their attitude and support
    • The nature of the work itself, and the mental health issues that can be brought on by it

There are SO many stories out there, and I can’t wait to share them with you over the coming weeks. From HR professionals, to first responders, every contributor has a unique story, and each one will inspire action to make our workplaces a more inclusive space.

If you’re interested in being involved, either publicly or anonymously, please reach out to me at ameeraladak@gmail.com, or contribute anonymously here.

Our stories deserve to be told, and it’s time to hold employers accountable for making workplaces accessible to everyone.

Keep Surviving by Living.

I had anxiety before I knew I had anxiety

I am often asked when I first started dealing with my mental illnesses, and I generally go on a tangent of how it started when I dealt with conversion disorder and subsequently depression at the age of 19. Anxiety, however, is generally an after thought that I mostly considered an unsurprising side effect of my high-functioning personality, crippling depression and other mental health issues. Until now. A few weeks ago, I was transferring files from an old computer of mine to a new one. I stumbled upon my old high school papers and decided to read a few of them, just for fun. Nestled in the literary analysis and Shakespeare essays was a file simply labelled “anxiety.docx”. It was penned at 11:37pm in early 2012 – almost a year before I was officially diagnosed with a mental illness. I don’t have any memory of writing this, nor do I remember dealing with anxiety in high school. My mind had blocked it out. So here it is, my 17-year-old self’s take on anxiety, and also the first time I ever wrote about anything mental health related…six years ago.

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