I’ve often wondered if my life would look different at this point, if I had spotted my anxieties and depression sooner. I remember having so much anxiety when trying to complete assignments while in school, that I simply did not do them.
I remember having panic attacks when taking a day off from school when I was sick. This wasn’t because I was so concerned about my grades. It was because I was so panicked that something would happen that I would miss out on. It felt like something horrible would happen if I didn’t show up when I was expected to.
I remember every summer I had to find a project to work on such as, writing a new story or learning to draw in a more advanced manner. If I ran out of things to do that felt productive, I had feelings of hopelessness and panic. I felt like my life was worthless.
Now that I understand better the habits I currently have that are signs of a mental health problem I’ve asked Clinical Counsellor Lois Jones to explain Mental Health in more detail from a professional stand point.
My hope is then that with further explanation, those that are concerned for themselves or someone they know, can get help sooner.
How would you define a mental health problem?
“You ask great questions lady! This one’s a bit tricky. Because what if someone you loved just suddenly died? Of course you’d be devastated. Wouldn’t be able to think clearly. Be overcome with intense emotion. Be unable to carry on with daily life as you know it. Might even contemplate ending your life so the pain would stop.
That’s grief. Devasting but normal grief. So is that a ‘mental health problem’? Language is really important about most things but mental health in particular. At what point are things like medication feasible options? What’s just ‘normal’ suffering?
So in answer to your question: I believe it all boils down to coping. A good indicator that our mental health needs some support is when we aren’t coping or functioning like we used to.”
“I think your story is quite common: someone struggling with something for a long time but without the words to describe it. Add to that a layer of fear (“Am I crazy?”, “What’s wrong with me?”) and shame (“Why can’t I cope like everyone else?”) and things can become even more confused.
Many people wait a long time to seek mental health support for reasons like this and end up suffering alone. I see a lot of folks who, when they understand that anxiety, for example, is the word for what they’ve been battling for years feel relief that they’re normal and, more importantly, not alone.”
For more information and resources please visit www.loisjones.ca