For our last issue, each editor was tasked to fill their section with pieces on a theme or topic they feel strongly about. I was torn between doing something on rape culture or racism, but after doing a takeover on the Gazette’s Instagram, I decided I wasn’t done talking about mental health.
The Instagram takeover, namely the response to it, showed me the necessity to have people talk openly and honestly about shit mental health. This is a collection of just a few individuals who have struggled with their own mental health and their stories.
And, I threw my story in there too, because I’m a narcissist.
Name: Jennifer Lee
Occupation: 4th year journalism student, opinions editor for Dalhousie Gazette
Labels: Panic and anxiety disorder, depression
Tell us about your mental health.
I never thought about my mental health until the summer of 2010—when I experienced my first panic attack. After that, my life was a flurry of self-doubt, anxiety and stomachaches. The anxiety and depression can exist at varying degrees. I can go about my day with only a little bit of fear and worry then the next day the dial is cranked up to 100. The unpredictability of coping with poor mental health is the real challenge.
How did you first realize something wasn’t right, mentally?
There was a period in my life when I would wake up and the first thing I would mutter is “I hate myself.” A couple months of this mindset, some mild-self harming, and complete avoidance of social situations eventually led me to the foot of my mother’s bed, crying as I unpacked what was going on in my brain. I’d like to take this moment to give a huge shout-out to my mother – I love you forever.
What don’t people know about mental health?
You can be happy when you talk about mental illness. Just because I’m anxious and depressed doesn’t mean I can’t have a smile on my face when I tell you about it. Also, I’m tired of the idea that we can’t talk about mental health openly in everyday discussion. I’m done hiding my mental health the way women hide their tampons in their sleeves on the way to the bathroom.
What’s your favourite self-care method?
When people walk into my house they often say: “It smells like LUSH in here.” That’s because I have a arsenal of bath bombs and bubble bars stowed away in my bedroom. Yes, relaxing in a bath is great and is definitely on of my most favourite self-care methods.
What advice would you tell someone who is struggling with mental health?
Just be kinder to yourself. Take the morning, afternoon or the whole day off if you need it. Go for a walk, or run or swim. Take a nap or sleep all day. Smoke that joint. Rub one out. Take a bath. Do something that makes you understand that you are worthy of joy.
Something my therapist told me to do is to take that shitty voice in your head and treat it as if it is its own person. When they call you a piece of shit, or suggest that you die, look at them and tell them to shut the fuck up. It helps if you give them a name, too. I call mine Stacy.