We’ve come a long way in talking about metal health. Even just a decade ago, talking about depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and many other mental health issues was just not something that was done freely. And because of this, those who were suffering felt one of the worst things you can possibly feel: they felt alone.
It is precisely for this reason that Bell Let’s Talk Day was started: to help end the stigma and let people know that they’re not alone, and to help use social media to raise awareness and to raise money for various mental health causes in Canada. The hockey community in particular has taken to the cause, becoming an annual staple of the sport’s conversational landscape.
But while we have gotten much better at opening up about this health crisis, there is still a prevalent thought that seeking out treatment is only for those experiencing the worst ailments.
Back in August, a series of life events happened all at once that became a lot for me to handle. My grandfather passed away. A personal relationship became significantly strained. Stress and pressure at work took a dramatic turn upwards.
I didn’t break down. I was able to handle all of it, at least to an extent. What did happen was the occasional anxiety attack. Elevated heart rate, the feeling of dehydration, a sense of dread and lack of control, an inability to sit still, and the tendency of my mind to jump to the worst outcomes of the situation I was currently stressing over. These attacks weren’t super common, maybe only 2-3 per month. But it was enough to push me to look into possible help.
Having undergone therapy for moderate clinical depression early in high school, I knew about the benefits. When I realized what was happening to me, I figured I would take advantage of my employer’s health coverage to seek out mental health services.
I was diagnosed with “adjustment disorder”. This is considered a relatively mild mental health issue that is characterized by the physical and mental symptoms I had described earlier brought about by difficulty coping with significant life changes.
Most people I know have experienced this at one point or another. It’s incredibly common. But it’s something that can be treated and should not just be accepted as something to be dealt with on its own, because it can lead to more significant mental health issues.
I saw a therapist from October until December, through being let go from job at the beginning of December. It helped tremendously. If nothing else, my therapist served as an impartial third party that served as a kind ear for me to vent any frustrations and worries I was dealing with.
Many of you who have met me personally know that I can be quite a talker. Talking and the open flow of communication is something that is very comforting to me. Talking, in and of itself, is very therapeutic. Many of you know that I’m a pretty open book about my life. Having the therapist there specifically for that purpose helped ground me and gave me the tools to deal with these significant life adjustments.
I didn’t require any medication or more intensive therapy than that. Just a professional who could help me live day-to-day the best I could, and to give me the strength to handle whatever might come my way.
In addition, I started doing yoga 1-2 times per week. It began as a way to keep in shape and increase my flexibility for hockey. But I was surprised by the tremendous mental health benefits it gave me. As it turns out, having to focus and control your breathing to make your body bend into shapes you didn’t know existed takes a lot of mental focus. Enough to be present in the moment and, at least temporarily, get away from whatever happens to be a stressor at that moment.
At the end of the day, everyone has different ways of dealing with their day-to-day life. What works for me may not work for you. And what works for you may not work for me. The key is recognizing that everyone could benefit from mental health treatment, because we all will run into a situation at some point in our lives that is difficult to deal with.
There are so many amazing therapists out there who can help people like me- those with mild to moderate mental health concerns. And many of them can work with all different kinds of budgets, especially for those who do not have the luxury of health insurance. You can find local therapists and their areas of expertise near you with this great locator from the American Psychological Association.
Just remember, you’re not alone. We’re right here with you. If you need a safe place to talk about anything on your mind, we here at Anaheim Calling are here.
Make sure to use #BellLetsTalk as much as you can today on social media to help the cause. For every time the hashtag is used or retweeted, Bell donates 5¢ towards mental health initiatives. You can also help on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram as well.