SELF CARE :: I Have a Mental Illness

By on January 27, 2016

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MENTAL ILLNESS :: I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder a.k.a. GAD, chronic anxiety and most recently depression.

Depression? Me? I thought only those who couldn’t get out of bed and slept all day had depression.

Apparently not.

I have met with numerous counsellors, attended group therapy sessions, and have long talks with my GP. Through these sessions and my willingness to understand, accept, and work with my mental illness, I have gotten better over the past year. I was prescribed daily anxiety meds, but I didn’t take the prescribed dosage because I didn’t like how it made me feel when I first started taking them. Plus, I am not down with taking a drug for the rest of my life when I know I have the power within me to face my illness and deal with it without western medicine.

Have you ever taken anti-anxiety or antidepressant? The first three months are hell. If you have ever taken ecstasy a.k.a. “E” then you may be able to relate to how I felt. It was like I was “peaking” (intensely high) for three months! WTF? And I was dizzy and sometimes couldn’t walk in a straight line. Let me tell you that looked great when I was at work, teetering here, swaying to and fro. Who the hell wants that? If I want my serotonin levels to rise I will go for jog, do a yoga class, take my puppy out for a walk. All these actions will increase my serotonin levels and make me feel better. Even talking to someone who will take the time to listen will help.

I am still not fully comfortable letting the world know I have a mental illness due to the stigma, but here I am writing this. Many people who do not understand mental illness are simply ignorant or chose to ignore it and /or not educate themselves on it. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, mood and anxiety disorders impact an estimated 22% of the Canadian population. And this number will rise.

I have missed work due to my mental illness which of course causes me more anxiety but I simply have no choice. I can’t show up at work shaking, crying, breathing heavy and feeling embarrassed and ashamed someone will notice. I have to shut down my day. I cancel my plans and concentrate on me by doing something good for myself such as going for a walk, watching happy movies or TV, cooking, or taking a nap to reboot. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada on any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness.

Listen below to Miss Raquel Richards talk about this post on The Shaun Proulx Show

 


Over the past year I have started to pay attention to what my triggers are and have practiced working with them, avoiding them, or eliminating them completely. For example, I discovered I need to work in a social environment where there is open conversation, sharing of ideas, and freedom of expression. If I am not in this type of environment I instantly feel my anxiety rise and my depression starts to cover up my happy soul.

Due to this being a serious trigger I have eliminated this type of work setting. Don’t get me wrong I know there is no perfect working environment but I do know a stale, corporate cubicle environment, non-creative work place with a lack of communication both professionally and socially is no place for my cheerful self.

I don’t call my friends when I am in need of help because I don’t want to bother them. I feel embarrassed to call them; to have them experience this side of me. My mother, although she cares in her way, isn’t capable of helping me. Although I feel she is trying and I have to say is getting better at it, so I will still call her when I really need help. The one person who has always been there for me is my ex-boyfriend. He has been my anxiety rock since I was diagnosed with it about nine years ago. Sadly, he’s not always around when I need him, so I have to go it alone and this is frightening. But it’s also good for me to learn to cope and get through my attacks or bad days.

According to the Canadian Medical Association only 49% of Canadians said they would socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness. With that stat it’s no wonder I don’t tell many people about my illness.

To help me work with my mental illness I have taken control and taken care of myself. I got a puppy, which is great because I have to care for him and he’s now part of my daily schedule. About three years ago I discovered hot yoga and this helps me more than anything! I trade at a yoga studio and I find solace in volunteering my time. I put in four hours a week cleaning the studio in exchange for unlimited yoga. Funny, how cleaning toilets and showers in a calm, serene environment really keeps me at peace.

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I recently took over a co-worker’s gym membership at a monthly rate I could not pass up. I felt it was the universe; the law of attraction working for me. Exercise wakes up that happy chemical, serotonin.

I schedule a task to do every day such as running an errand, job hunting, and working out, etc… And you know what? It helps! I feel I am accomplishing something, being productive, and when I am busy I have no time to over think even the tiniest of tiny issues because I am too busy to worry about issues that are of no real concern in a healthy mental state.

I am strong, motivated, driven, and a high achiever. Many who have these characteristics have anxiety issues or depression because it’s the intense pressure we put on ourselves to achieve and to be the best. It’s a lot of work I tell you, and so tiring! If my upbringing had love and encouragement rather than the hostile abuse I received, I believe, through my therapy sessions, I wouldn’t have a mental illness. Mental illness doesn’t just happen; it stems from a deep seated emotional trauma – or could be hereditary.

According to the Canadian Institute of Health Research 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life. I never thought I’d be one of them, but I am and I have to accept it and deal with it in order to live a productive life. I believe I will eventually get along with my mental illness, or better yet get over it because I am practicing every day to make my life better.

The struggle is hard but I am wrapping my head around it. I know I will be in good health because I am a survivor and I have come this far and I am still standing.

 

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3 Comments

  1. JR Fleet

    February 4, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Liked reading and learning more

  2. Miss Raquel Richards

    June 11, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Thank you JR Fleet for commenting. There is so much more we need to in order to stop the stigma surround mental health. Thanks for reading.

  3. Jazz1975

    June 11, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you Miss Raquel for sharing your story. I had no idea you have this. It’s true the most strong ones suffer behind closed doors. But it makes you one bad ass bitch! Muah! XO

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