Fav thing about your city: The culture. There’s just so much to do and something for everyone!
Tell us a fun fact about yourself! I love dressing up for Halloween (though, I rarely actually go out to celebrate). Recently I’ve combined my love of costumes with my love of old Hollywood for Tippi Hedron in “The Birds”, Marlene Dietrich in “Morocco”, and last year’s Clint Eastwood in “The Man with No Name” trilogy. Even more fun fact: I make a surprisingly attractive man!
What is your connection to mental illness?
My mental illnesses are very closely tied to my invisible disability. I’ve lived with different forms of depression and anxiety since I was a little kid. In high school and university, though, when I began to deal with physical health issues, my depression and anxiety became much worse. As I struggled to manage my bodily disability, I also struggled mentally to cope with the change and limitations it brought into my life. I sank into a deep depression, experiencing panic attacks, developing binge eating disorder as well as body dysmorphic disorder, and performing self harm. I felt like I was useless, and unworthy of being happy because I couldn’t even function properly as a person. I was also deeply embarrassed by these facts and kept them a secret from everyone. I isolated myself and basically tried to stop existing.
That was the darkest time in my life.
Over ten years later, I’ve learned how to manage both my physical and mental conditions in ways that are much healthier. It is still hard to live with a disability that takes away 99% of my energy, knowing that there are things I’ve had to give up. I have my blue periods and sometimes I get the mean reds -but the point is, I DO live through them. I’ve gone through a lot in my 27 years and felt like giving up plenty of times, but I never have. Despite all the things mental illness can take away, it gives you back strength. The strength to fight, and the strength to survive.
What does your everyday look like?
This is actually kind of a tough question for me to answer because of the way my disability affects me. At the moment my condition has taken a turn for the worse and I’ve had to step back from things. I’m unemployed, I am taking a break from school, and I am focusing on getting myself better again. What that means is that my everyday is pretty uneventful and is entirely dependent on how I’m feeling. No matter what though, lots of resting and snacking will be involved!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
The most important thing I would tell my younger self is that there is NO SHAME in needing help. Not everything has to lie solely on your shoulders and that you have an amazing support group that just wants to help you. Talk about what you’re going through and just get it out there!
I’d tell myself that being depressed or having a disability aren’t things to be embarrassed by. That they actually make you stronger and more resilient.
I’d tell myself that food is not the enemy and that all bodies – fat, thin, muscular, disabled, abled - are good bodies.
Finally, I’d tell myself that I’ve got this and that I will make it through. It’s okay not to be okay. I’m a survivor.
I’d also tell my younger self that sparkly blue eye shadow is not, nor has it ever been a good look, and that despite being broken up Spice Girls are still forever.
Who is a Role Model to you?
A role model to me is someone who is inherently themselves. They stand strong and firm in their beliefs, and fight for what’s right. They are kind but take no nonsense. They persevere through their hardships, yet still allow themselves those moments of vulnerability.
I believe that you don’t have to do anything spectacular or heroic to be a role model. You just have to be yourself.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sunday?
Sleeping-in late, at-home spa day with mani/pedi and face masks, and Netflix and chill with my pupper Rupert!
Photos by @debbietrash