How did I get here? Why am I still alive? When did things get this bad? Where do I go from here?
I don’t remember the first time I felt depressed, the first time I experienced Psychosis or a panic attack, I don’t even remember the first day that I choose not to eat. But I do know how these things changed my life.
I remember being 15 years old and being in a downward spiral with my mental health. Attempting to talk to school councilors and teachers- asking them for help- only to have them tell me that it was just regular teenage emotions and that I needed to stop being dramatic. I didn’t understand. If what I was struggling with was regular teenage emotions then why was I told not to talk about it? Why was I told that I needed to be quiet about what I was going through?
I remember not being able to get out of bed to go to school. Days of lying in bed and feeling like a failure. Voices in my head telling me that I am a disappointment- that I don’t deserve to live. I remember believing these voices.
I remember being suicidal. I hear people tell me all the time that suicide is a very selfish thing to do. All I can do is shake my head at them and ask them if they have ever hit rock bottom- if they have ever thought of taking their life. When you are at the point of considering suicide you feel like a burden on others. Like you are a waste of space and other people’s time. I spent most of my teenage years feeling like this.
I live with severe anxiety disorder and am recovering from depression and disordered eating. I would love to imagine a day when I can say I am fully recovered from every mental illness that has chosen me- however I believe that recovery is a lifelong process and a very slippery slope.
I began advocacy work for mental health in 2011 by co-founding the international organization ‘Faces of Mental Illness’. Through this I have had the opportunity to speak in over 200 schools and community groups about why taking care of your mind is so important. In the summer of 2013 I worked with Simon Fraser University to create a program called ‘HiFIVE’. This program focuses on raising awareness about mental health in university age students. It is now in four different universities across Canada.
Through this I have had the opportunity to work with many other organizations including the Jack Project, the kelty patrick dennehy foundation, the Lions Gate Hospital Hope center, the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign and many others!
The conversation around mental health has begun but now it is our chance to turn conversation into actions.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass – It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
-Christine Jamieson, @jamieson_chris