Name: Jill Martin
School: University of Saskatchewan
Year: 5th Year student, 2nd year in my major
Fav thing about your campus: Walking through the bowl on a sunny fall day. The view of the administration building with the coloured trees surrounding it is just so picture perfect. The same goes for right after it snows and everything is frosty.
Dream Job: My dream job would be working on the We Day California team with Free the Children or being a university professor. We Day is like Christmas to me and to get to do it close to the coast would be unbelievable. Being a university professor is something that I have recently taken a shine to. I don’t know- something about encouraging the minds of tomorrow that they can do the impossible if they understand the world around them seems really fulfilling.
What is your connection to mental illness?
I feel as though I was like a lot of high school students, I wanted to do anything to be popular & well liked. For me, that meant having a boyfriend that was popular. In that effort, that I was never successful in, I ended up opening myself up to a lot of embarrassment and ridicule which tends to wear on a person. Thankfully, I switched high schools in grade 12 and everything changed. I ended up graduating by having a really positive outlook on high school and feeling a lot more comfortable in my own skin.
About 3 years ago, I was crowned Miss Teen Canada 2013. It was an unbelievable experience that I wouldn’t take back for the world but it definitely had its hardships. I travelled a lot, felt the constant pressure to be perfect, and essentially had a long distance relationship with my boyfriend. It literally took everything out of me.
Even after I finished my reign, I started feeling like everyone was going to be mad at me and hate me if I did something wrong. I never felt good enough. I started having panic attacks and getting overwhelmed at every turn. I never wanted to do anything because I felt like there was no point and I was just going to fail at it anyways.
Finally, April 2015, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder and started my road to recovery. It’s been really tough and I think that I’m still figuring out. I still have bad days, more than I would like to admit to. Sometimes my way of coping with my anxiety wasn’t always the best.
Self harm and cutting has became a more recent part of my reality when things became way more than I could handle. Actually, it was a year ago this past weekend the first time I cut. I haven’t done it since May but I still think about it a lot as a way of coping. I’m currently on medication and going back to counselling. I’m doing my best to seek all the help I can get and do the best I can.
How do you deal with stress from school?
In reality, it feels like not very well! But I’ve found for me, what gets me overwhelmed the fastest is all the thoughts rattling around in my head. So the best way I’ve found to deal with them is using my agenda to put down all my homework, appointments, reminders and to-dos down on paper and colour code them. It makes me feel like I kind of have my life together. For all my thoughts, I use an app called Pacifica that tracks your mood and leaves you space to explain why you’re feeling a certain way. I put reminders in my phone that go off 3 times a day to remind me to check in with myself and enter my mood into the app. Once my head is a little less empty, I find it a lot easier to handle school.
What does your campus do to help students' mental health?
I go to the counselors on campus and they are fantastic people to talk to about really anything. The doctors at student health on campus are also amazing because THEY GET IT. They don’t just brush you off or suggest uneducated forms of relief. They understand it’s a real illness and they can help you with it. I find this super refreshing because some of the doctors, therapists and psychologists I have talked to have made me feel so stupid for seeking help and it’s great to know that we have amazing people willing to help right on campus. Finally, Disability Services on campus are also amazing. I can not say enough good things about them. Once you are registered with them, they do everything in their power to make sure you can handle university with a mental illness and make sure you can get the accommodations needed to make that happen. Plus, Linda who works at their front desk is literally one of my favourite humans.
Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students?
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!! If you’re tired, sleep. If you seriously can’t handle people that day, don’t go out. If you are sick, do whatever you need to to take care of yourself! Your friends will understand if you can’t come out every weekend with them and if they don’t, they aren’t friends worth having. This is your future you’re working towards, do what you got to do to make it happen in whatever way that means to you.