Tell us a bit about yourself!
AL: Hey! My name is Aryn and I am a 21 year old Concurrent Education student at Queen’s University! Education is something that I am so passionate about because I like to think of life as a constant learning experience that allows for continual progress and growth. Other than that, I am also a huge fan of outdoor adventures, cuddling dogs, drinking coffee, and giving hugs.
Why is ending the stigma important to you?
AL: Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness is so important to me because going through mental illness is a really scary process even when you are supported. I can not imagine how terrifying it would be if you had to go through it alone. I can personally say that getting help for my anxiety through both counselling and medication was the best thing that could have happened to me, and the negative stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental illness stop so many people from doing the same. Ending the stigma is so important because reaching out for help is one of the bravest things you can do when you are struggling, and everyone should know that. All individuals should be able to feel empowered by their strength, not rejected because of their struggle
What do you do when you are faced with a challenge/struggle?
AL: When I am faced with a challenge or a struggle I always take a step back for 24 hours. Whether the 24 hours are used to chat with friends and family, think to myself, go to the gym or anything else, I always allow myself time away from the situation. This allows me to process information, think more clearly, get support from loved ones, and then face the challenge confidently and head on!
If you could describe your mental health journey is one word, what would it be and why?
AL: The word I would use to describe my mental health story would have to be the latin word “excelsior”. (Fun Fact: I actually got this word tattooed on my foot when I was 18 it means so much to me). The word excelsior means “ever upward” and is something that I try to remember when life seems to be moving backwards. This is important to me because bad days WILL happen. Whenever I feel really anxious or am having a bad mental health day I remember this and think of all of the progress I have made and all that I have to look forward to. It reminds me that my mental health story is not stagnant, but always changing. There is always progress and growth to be had, and I always have the ability to move forward in a positive direction.
What is your favourite thing about yourself?
AL: My favourite thing about myself would have to be my ability to listen. This is a skill that I am really proud of having because it allows me to connect with and understand so many diverse individuals with unique and different backgrounds. This is something I think is really special because it allows me to engage in a a variety of different dialogues that reflect not only my story, but the stories of others as well!
Photos by Paul Barber