Name: Jillian Maniquis
City: Toronto, Canada
Fav thing about your city: The diversity! So many new people to meet, places to explore, and food to eat.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself: I love reading and writing poetry!
What is your connection to mental illness?
I had always been a mental illness ally, it was always important to me to be accommodating and aware of what others suffered through and how they coped. It wasn’t until I was faced with my own mental illness that I formed my own personal stigma to it.
Growing up, teachers always told me that I was chatty and easily distracted. It had become embedded into my personality and never really concerned me.
In high school, I struggled with being organized, following deadlines, and paying attention in classes and especially during tests. I couldn’t study with my friends, couldn’t stay focused for more than 10 minutes, I couldn’t keep anything clean – from my locker to my bedroom. It felt like I was in a constant cycle of always being behind. It felt like I was constantly running after something that I could never, ever reach.
The truth was, this whole time, I thought this was normal. Except, it wasn’t. It’s true that everyone gets distracted and can sometimes fall behind in their work and be unorganized. Everyone procrastinates, but eventually, they pick themselves back up and on the right track. For me, it seemed that I never really got on the “right track.”
Before my first year of university, I was clinically diagnosed with ADHD.
Admitting to myself and others that I had ADHD felt like I was making excuses for my own actions. It felt like I was making excuses for not having the willpower to get out of bed in the morning; I told myself I was always procrastinating, and surrounding myself with constant distractions - as if I was lazy and not trying hard enough, rather than living with ADHD.
In university, I had nearly failed 5 of my 6 classes. I found it difficult to go to class, sit and pay attention, and start assignments. It was also in university that I found out that I had developed Social Anxiety. In high school I was extremely active in co-curricular activities because I knew everyone in my school community. Being overwhelmed was an understatement. I hadn’t made the effort to speak to anyone in my classes, talk to my professors, or join any student groups. I would get anxious when my friends would invite me to events, to the point where I started crying from my frustration with myself.
Now, nearing my third year, I’ve accepted my mental disorders and illnesses for what they are and stopped referring to them as excuses. I am constantly learning to grow with them, as oppose to trying to find a “cure” to them. They are parts of me, but that does not mean they are who I am or that they define me.
What does your everyday look like?
Some days I wake up at 8 in the morning and I’m ready to conquer all that comes my way and some days I wake up at 4 in the afternoon and I can’t find the will to get out of bed. It’s all a process of learning when to accept some days are better than others and doing small things every day to contribute to the bigger picture. If I write a blog post, finish my tasks for work, manage to hand in an assignment, and go to the gym – it’s a victory. If I can get up and make my bed and that’s all I do for the day – it’s still a victory.
What advice would you give to younger self?
If I could tell my younger self anything it would be to stop being so hard on herself. I tried so hard to prove my independence and that I wasn’t tied to any “excuses” that I forgot to worry about my mental health and ask myself: Are you happy? Find a reason every day to celebrate your accomplishments no matter how small or large they are.
Who is a Role Model to you?
I am constantly surrounded by incredible, hardworking, boss-ass women who constantly inspire me to be a better version of myself every single day. I find inspiration in all their grinds, their creative and beautiful minds, and the love they show me every day.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sundays?
It’s definitely my day in the week to refocus! I’ve started bullet journaling and it’s pretty therapeutic and helps me organize my week visually. One of my fave self-care Sunday routines!