A Mental Health Story in the Spirit of #BellLetsTalk

by Josephine on January 31, 2018, no comments

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay on “the sunny side,” as I like to call it, for most of my life, despite coming from a broken home (abuse, neglect, divorce – we’ve got it all!) I also have a long family history of mental health struggles and depression. My teen years were tumultuous; I left home for the first time at 16, moved around a lot, didn’t graduate on time, felt super isolated and alone and worthless. I found a safe space in a relationship, got married young and had some great years. But then we split up and I had to start over again at 29. But even through all that, I was never pushed to my mental and emotional limits like I was last year, right around this time.

I was taking on too much, and too many things I didn’t want to be doing because living in Toronto isn’t cheap and freelance creatives we live in constant fear about being able to make rent. I was working too much, not getting enough sleep, and having an unhealthy relationship with social media that I’d never had in all my years of participating in online communities. I’d flip through my feed and constantly feel like I was never doing enough, not far along enough in my career. One night I was DJing at a club I didn’t particularly enjoy playing at but would do it for a paycheque. I had already played for five hours at a retail store that day and I was tired. The manager was known to be a micromanager type who, if the DJ played one song he didn’t like, would have something to say about it. I ended up having a panic attack, right there, and had to leave. Luckily there was another DJ who could take over or I don’t know what I would have done.

I wandered outside and felt so out of my mind, I didn’t even know where I was or what street I was on. I couldn’t even remember what I had done that day and my paranoia was through the roof. My boyfriend picked me up and I was beside myself. I was crying and I kept asking him if I was going crazy. He did all the right things in that moment. He never once said “you’re wrong” or “don’t worry” or “this will pass” or anything dismissive. He remained calm somehow even though I was in the midst of a breakdown and assured me that I wasn’t crazy and that I had so many people who loved me and one of them was right there with me. I was able to sleep that night and the very next day I had to DJ at the mall again. My boyfriend wanted to make sure I felt supported, so he came and hung out in the mall the entire day, for five hours, in case I felt like I couldn’t continue and he would be there to take over or figure things out. I still felt slightly numb and out of it but I made it through the day (thanks to his support and love! thank you babe!)

I deleted social media for two weeks, canceled any appointments I didn’t have to go to, ate healthy food, drank lots of water, went to yoga and went to float. After a few days I started feeling like myself again. The one big takeaway from that experience is that it scared me. I realized I had neglected myself in trying to keep up with everything around me, and in doing so I had actually amplified the pressure on myself, as well as invented additional pressures and expectations that probably only existed in my head. It was downright terrifying to realize that I’d been through so much in my life but it was ultimately ME who had driven myself to the brink. It made me realize that we only have one brain, one heart and one body; the world can be a cruel place so we need to be kind to ourselves first and foremost.

People often have kind words for me about what I’ve achieved in my career thus far and I’m so grateful for all the opportunities and support. I’m hoping that by sharing this, someone might read it and know that even the people who seem like they have it all together often don’t. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with talking about your feelings, and there’s nothing wrong with needing help or support. I truly think that talking about these issues openly is a huge step. Let a family member or trusted friend know what you are going through so that you can turn to them for support in your moments of need, the way I did. That way they can also help you decide if you maybe just need a break, or if you need to speak to a professional or a doctor.

If anyone needs to talk, I’m here <3

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