Role Models: Laura


What is a Role Model? Not too long ago, we decided that it wasn't enough to cast fashion models based on comp cards and height. We wanted to showcase the stories of real people, who are brave enough to wear their label. Laura is one of those Role Models. Here's her story:


Just three years ago I never would have imagined I’d ever be writing about my experience living with mental illness.

Even though I was living and struggling with it every single day, I barely even knew what mental illness was. Growing up in a rural town in Nova Scotia made it extremely difficult to get the support I needed. Learning about mental health was not a part of the school curriculum, and professional help took upwards of six months to access.

Right before I started my final year of high school, I was diagnosed with panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I didn’t even know what panic disorder was, and I was being forced to live with it. I was terrified. During my worst, I would have multiple panic attacks every day. I would black out, become extremely nauseated and dizzy, and it would feel like the heart was going to beat right out of my chest. The thought of people caring about me or paying attention to me caused me anxiety, and it seemed impossible to maintain my social life. I was embarrassed of my mental illness, and I would do almost anything to hide it. The things that normally brought joy and pleasure to my life no longer did, and my bed soon became the only place I felt comfortable. A few months later, I was diagnosed with depression. I blamed myself for my feelings, and I was convinced I was nothing but a burden on my friends and family. I felt different and alone.

But I wasn’t different at all, nor was I alone. With ongoing support from my sister, my mother, and my counsellors, I realized I was just one in five people that struggle with mental illness. All kinds of people were struggling with similar issues, but I never knew because mental health is simply not something that’s comfortable to talk about. That needs to change. I am where I am today because of the conversations I had with people who were able to relate to me. That’s why Wear Your Label is such an awesome initiative- it strikes up important conversations between people that hold a similar passion: changing the way society views mental health.

Let’s unleash the noise about mental health, because nobody should ever have to suffer in silence.

 

Today, my mental illnesses still impact my daily life, but I am learning how to live with them and how to properly take care of my mental health. I still have days where I can’t seem to leave my bed, and days that I get anxious just by sitting in class. However, I now accept that it’s okay to not be okay. I am studying Psychology and Health Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS. I am a residence assistant, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. I am a proud mental health advocate and I hope to increase the availability of professional help in rural areas, as well as increase awareness of mental health among children.

 

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go, they merely determine where you start,” – Nido Qubein

- Laura, @lauralowe18

Photography by Tim Lingley

22 comments

  • Meliisa Langille

    Laura I am so proud of the woman you have become. I’ve had the opportunity to share so many special memories with you and your family. Reaching out is so important and opening up to people about your story will give the guidance to inspire others to come forward. You are as beautiful on the inside as on the out. Love you

  • Wylie White

    You are very courageous to admit to the world that you have mental health issues. The only way to help, is to bring things like this out in the open. I am very proud to know you.

  • Carol White

    I was really pleased to see your story. Mental illness really does need to be acknowledged and talked about more openly. You are a very brave young woman and I am proud of you and to know you, Carol

  • Deb

    Dear. Laura, thank you for your courage. You have gone from hiding to leading, and inspiring others, at such a young age. So many people suffer in silence. You are a beautiful and important young woman. Keep up the great work!

  • Judie

    Laura, your story brought tears to my eyes. What an inspiration you are to all of us – young and old.
    You truly are a proud mental health advocate and I can see nothing but success for you on the horizon.
    There are so many young children out there who need your wisdom and encouragement.
    All the best and God Bless. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Iva

    Laura, I could not be prouder of you, you tell it like it really is and you inspire so many who are still suffering in silence.
    These are important issues and they need to be addressed by more people, including the media, any way to get this out in the open so more people will be able to get the help they need. This is a good beginning so keep up the good work. You go girl !! BEST OF LUCK WITH YOUR STUDIES AND HAVE A GREAT SUMMER.!!

  • jessie

    Thank you laura for sharing your story keep inspiring people with your story and get it out there:):):)

  • Krista

    Thanks for sharing your story, Laura. Proud of you! You are a great role model and inpiration to other young people! It is a shame that there is still such a stigma attached to mental health issues but the more we talk about them the easier it will be to break that stigma. If we are not affected ourselves by mental health issues, then we most likely have a family member or a friend dealing with them. Let`s keep making our voices heard!

  • Lisa

    Laura, what a very moving story from someone so young. You are wise beyond your years. As a young girl I dealt with a father that had mental illness and back then it was not talked about or dealt with properly. Sharing your story so openly is all part of living with mental illness . I myself have struggled with it this past year, the feelings of hopelessness and being afraid to be judged of because of not knowing what is happening to you. I really appreciate all that you are doing in bringing this awareness out of the dark and into the light!!

  • Miss Bonny

    I’m very proud of you. I have watched you grow into a beautiful young lady . Good luck with your studies and look after YOU

Leave a comment