By Jade

You’re too young to be stressed.

You shouldn’t be sad.

People have it worse than you.

What’s there to be sad about?

Don’t be so sensitive.

Stop letting things get to you.

You need to be more positive.

Stop feeling sad.

Just be happy. Choose to be happy.

These are the phrases I’ve heard too often.

If I could just choose to be happy, don’t they know that of course I would?

If I could just tell myself, stop feeling sad, and the solution was that easy, don’t they understand that of course I would?

I do not want to be stuck in lingering deep dejection.

Blaming someone for their mental illness, telling them they simply need to change how they think and feel, disregarding the importance of a mental illness are all hurtful attitudes towards mental health. They do not help, but only fuel the stigma that exists today, which can make it discouraging or more difficult for someone to seek help.

The social stigma I felt is what hindered me from reaching out for help. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I thought I would be judged harshly if I sought out help from a psychologist or if I went on medication. I was convinced it was my fault I felt this way and that I was supposed to be able to control myself.

I am a girl who loves playing soccer, reading, and spending time with friends and family. I laugh easily, I like being around people and socializing with others. I love photography, being outdoors and exploring nature. But when depression forces its way into my mind and takes over, I don’t feel like the girl who loves playing soccer, being outdoors, or reading anymore.

It began when I was fifteen. At first depression and anxiety were only whispers I was able to ignore, but gradually as time went by, it became screams, shrieks—loud.

Fifteen was gloomy.

Sixteen was gloomy, tearful.

Seventeen was gloomy, tearful, isolated, lost, heavy.

Eighteen added on panic, anxiety, worthlessness.

Nineteen piled on exhaustion, doubting, hopelessness…

That’s how depression affected me, slowly it crept onto me until it suddenly burst, invading my mind and imprisoning my happiness. It continues today. I feel extreme prolonged moments of sadness, it can truly feel as if there are heavy weights sitting on my shoulders, like I’m dragging a boulder behind my back, like there’s someone repetitively punching my heart. It makes me somber and tired. When I feel this I don’t want to socialize, I want to retreat and hide, maybe curl up and just cry. Along with this, I often feel waves of anxiety and panics. When it comes, it comes as a sudden force, making me feel as if I had the wind knocked out of me. I can’t breathe, my heart races, my body gets tense, my thoughts race, my head hurts.

All of this has significantly impacted my daily life, even the simplest tasks become challenging. Some days I just stay in bed, because the world just seems too unbearable to face. Now and again the activities I love, I suddenly hate. I’ll pick up a book to read, and I won’t be able to make it through a paragraph. I’ll be in the middle of a soccer practice and all of a sudden hate it and want to leave. I’ll be surrounded be my all closest friends, yet still feel absolutely alone.

Many times, I’m not okay, I’m not fine.

Sometimes when people ask me “how are you” and I reply “I’m good” I desperately want to be honest and say “I feel absolutely terrible.” Occasionally I’ll be having a terrific day, everything is going well, and still depression—out of no where—is powerful enough to strip away all my positive feelings.

I can hardly remember what it was like to wake up feeling good, even just fine, and fall asleep in a peaceful state. All I know now is how to live life with depression, but I don’t want to anymore. I’m not okay with this.

It’s been extremely difficult to share my experience with mental illness. Opening up about my mental health makes me horrified of the reactions and judgment I will get. A couple years ago, I did start treatment and regularly saw a councillor, but I after a few months I turned away from it because I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I shouldn’t have been, there is nothing to feel ashamed about. I know that now.

I’ve finally started to reach out for help again, to no longer feel like a prisoner to my own body and mind. I want to get better, I want to have happier days than sad ones. I want to defeat depression. I can and I will. It won’t be easy, it will take time, but getting better is a process.

It is important for people to understand that any illness, whether it’s affecting the body or the mind, needs to be taken seriously. The stigma around mental illness has to be eliminated, it can be a barrier to those who suffer, impeding one from pursuing treatment and recovery. That is why it has felt like a battle for me and the reason my path to recovery was prolonged. But I hope what I’ve shared offers better understanding to mental health. I hope we can all eliminate stigma together, and I hope everyone can find the help they need to get better.

"There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind." - C.S Lewis

About The Author:

My name is Jade, I am a second year student studying at UBC. I love exploring and travelling, I can’t go anywhere without some kind of camera, I find that there are many opportunities to capture a photo that shows how beautiful this world can be. I love reading, especially collecting books. I really enjoy being outdoors and exercising, I like hikes, swimming, I play soccer, I love to bike, walk, and so much more. In my free time I like to play piano, or write. I love being with family, I have six younger cousins who I spent my childhood with and mean the world to me. And when I feel good, I smile lots, I laugh easily.