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The silence and the stigmas that surround mental health makes this place that much darker, and that much scarier. If we open up the conversation, we can ease the guilt and shame that comes with having a mental illness -- it's as if battling with your own mind wasn't already hard enough.
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We speak in platitudes about the "road to recovery" with eating disorders, like there's an easily-replicable strategy, like winning a board game. My recovery was a hellish game of snakes and ladders: I'd make progress and then have a setback and slide back to start.
Joshua M. Ferguson.
I try to stay calm as my heart starts to race and my legs begin to shake. I feel nauseous and I might throw up. It's happening. Right here, right now, at work. A panic attack. My first one happened in my mid-20s. Thought I was dying. It runs in my family. My father has anxiety and panic disorder.
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We need each other. We need these connections to survive and we need to talk about mental illness to share light and hope. We need to stop stigmatizing mental illness. We need to survive mental illness. You need to survive it. You have to keep moving. Keep fighting. Keep dreaming.
The holidays can be great for some, but for me, and many people I know, they are more of a nightmare. So how do we move past this? I am going to share with you a couple ideas that I have had that have worked for me ( they may not work for everyone). I am sharing these things in the interest of conversation.
"I think the opportunities to access help are just not there for people in the north."
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This yo-yo or extreme dieting may be seen as harmless or even vain but we must recognize it stems from a very dangerous place. Negative body image is the negative self-perception of your body. It is often accompanied by shame; the unworthiness we feel due to our flaws. This combination of negative body image and shame is what leads us to take desperate measures with our bodies.
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If there is someone reading this who is in that dark place of having a plan -- a plan of how they want to exit this life and when they want to exit it. Please wait and listen to me when I tell you that these thoughts are not with you forever. I know they are excruciatingly painful, but they do pass. I promise you they pass. I promise you are worthy, and that you are not alone. You are loved. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are brave.
There is so much pressure on these kids to not only thrive and compete but to be perfect. And our sense of balance is gone. Competition and excelling is good but what about having fun? Commitments are skewed. Genuine, quality family time is compromised because parents are stressed, pressured and rushing to get their kids to and from programs and to do too many things at the same time.
Suicide is hard. It is hard to even say the word let alone imagine that someone close to you might think that is the only path forward is to take their own life. It's hard to relate, surreal on many levels. But take a minute to imagine. Imagine losing one of the people you love the most by suicide. Does your stomach drop, your heart race, tears come to your eyes or even fear race through your bones?
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The key to my mental health isn't just one thing. It's a combination of many factors all playing an important part in keeping me healthy. Contrary to popular belief, strong mental health isn't just "toughening up," "smiling more," or "staying positive." Let's give the brain a little more credit, it's a far more complex machine than something to solely run on cliché and ignorance.
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Throughout the teen years, vulnerabilities crop up. That, in turn, makes them susceptible to controlling friends. To identify negative relationships your teen needs to clearly understand the attributes of possessiveness, isolation and jealousy. These are strategies used by others to control a person.
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Anxiety is constant, it doesn't just go away. Sometimes it may be heightened... making it essential to learning self-regulation of my thoughts. This involves acknowledging my triggers, knowing what scenarios or environments may cause my anxiety or panic to heighten.
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The first person I told asked me, "What does that even mean, to have a mental illness?" I struggled to explain how I felt. That was three years ago. Today, I think I have a better grasp on what it means to live with a mental illness. So now I'll finally try to answer that question.
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These thoughts I have are irrational and uncontrollable. They're more than overthinking, and they're more than overanalyzing. Most people will tell me to "stop overthinking" or "if you're trying so hard, you shouldn't have this anxiety." Believe me, if I could stop them willingly, I would. But for now, trying is all I can do.
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Parenting expert Alyson Schafer and Gale Brown from Kids Help Phone reveal what to look for.
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To the people who care about them, once this young person chooses "the other way", all the people around them see is the consequences. "Didn't you know that if you did "X" you would end up "Y"". It is understandable for those around you to feel this because the process of suffering is so often done in the dark. The sufferers try to protect those around them and some feel that by minimizing it, it may go away.
For parents, the healthy relationship boundaries talk is a topic that can be revisited many times during the teen years. They need to understand what it means to have boundaries. Take the time with your teen to explain emotional and physical personal space, dealing with privacy, and what to do when someone crosses a boundary.
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I had the honour of speaking with Catherine, and she listened intently as I answered her question about what I think is the most important message to share about mental health. She was incredibly down to earth, and the care and interest that she showed towards me made the situation all the more memorable. To see such high profile individuals -- real life royalty -- advocate for youth mental health... gave me great faith that they will have tremendous success in breaking down barriers.
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In retrospect, I can say that on some level, I saw what was happening to me. I was just truly powerless to stop it. That's not to say I wasn't in control. No, each hunger pang I endured proved I was in control. Each starving hour that passed between four o'clock and bedtime made me feel focused, disciplined. It was all the fuel I needed to resist another meal. The truth is, anorexics feel a lack of control in their lives, so they take control of one aspect -- food. Alas, this illusion of control can only last so long.
Technology plays a large part in the lives of everyone; it's where we communicate, learn, express ourselves and spend much of our leisure time, but what does it look like when the primary medium we use for these things becomes corrupted with hate and abuse?
The bullying I faced earlier in my life, was something that stuck with me and is still something that affects me today. My social anxiety and depression went hand in hand making events seem impossible, school lunch a nightmare and made my bed the only place I felt comfortable being.
My name is Quinn Greene. I am mentally ill. My mother, Roxie. My father, Dave. My brother, Kane. We are all mentally ill. We are actor, entertainer, musician, writer. And we are anger, hoarding, anxiety and depression. But we are also working hard, fighting back, finding health and strength in each other, and we are full of hope.
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In my family, we do our best to be open about it. We share with each other and talk openly about the challenges and struggles surrounding mental health -- challenges that have touched our family directly, and the families of countless Canadians. The conversation can sometimes be uncomfortable or difficult, but it is too important to let that stop us. We work hard every day to try to reduce and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. In order to recover, we must be willing to find and accept help. We can have conversations with our family and friends, even when it is difficult to do so. Some of you may not have families who are available or open to conversations about mental health, but that does not mean you are alone.
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I get your feelings. You feel so unimportant. Like nothing you do is right. You feel like you're judged for something you can't change. You feel like you can't trust anyone, even your parents of all people. You are told you're too young to make a difference, and I disagree completely!
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The feeling of not being enough is a lie that many of us end up believing at some point. It can send us on a dangerous chase to find external things to make us feel satisfied, but there is no such thing. If we can't find happiness within, we will never be able to find it externally.
I'm on medication that works for me. I exercise and eat healthy. I check in with my doctor and family health team. I sleep regularly and experience no lingering symptoms. My support system of friends, family and neighbours are always there. I work full time. I have a spouse who loves me for better or worse. I parent two wonderful little tyrants, whom I love dearly.
On the night of Tuesday April 28, 2009 our son died by suicide. As the shock lifted we began the agonizing process of trying to comprehend our new reality. Our 23-year old son had lived with a robust disease that had been brewing for years. He was a strong, intelligent young man; however, even he could not see where his path was headed. Mental illness is a formidable foe. Our tragedy is his absence from our ordinary lives. We are now referred to as survivors. What exactly we are surviving is unclear. We are broken in so many places; trying to put the puzzle that was our life back together. Only now, the pieces do not match.
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Our daughter Maddie tragically took her own life at the tender age of fourteen and forever changed the lives of our family and friends.... Maddie's Mom, our boys and friends have made it a personal mission to tell our story, bring greater awareness to youth mental illness and help create better access for those families currently affected by this troubling disease. With all this attention being paid to this illness, largely promoted through the likes of social media, are we fuelling the fire and putting the idea of suicide in our youths' heads?
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I mentor young adults labeled and stigmatized with every mental health issue you can imagine. They all have two things in common when I meet with them: each one of these millennials has greatness hiding within them and they all feel imprisoned by their labels.
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I really didn't understand why I was so sad all of the time. It was a whirlwind of overwhelming emotions of loneliness, frustration and annoyance with everything. It's these times when you need to recognize what's happening with yourself and discover and use the tools to help you get through it.
Each one of our stories is important. When we find the courage to have real conversations about our inner worlds, we have the potential of helping another through their struggles. When we reveal our humanity and imperfections, it connects us to one another and create an opening for meaningful, authentic conversations about how we are doing. To have them know and understand they are not alone. I am a mother of four, a wife, an Olympic athlete, a writer, a speaker, a changemaker. I am also someone who has experienced mental illness. I hope that we have the imagination to define one another in our complexity.