It’s here! It’s here!
It’s official launch day for #SickNotWeak!
And I am full of overwhelming excitement and joy! Because today just isn’t about how important changing the face of mental illness is, it’s also a personal time for reflection for myself, to look back at all I have gone through, all the battles I fought, and to see how far I have come.
Four years ago if you would have told me that I would be openly talking about my illness and openly supporting initiatives that are working to break down barriers for people with mental illness, I would have laughed.
And would have become so nervous about the thought of admitting about my struggles, that I likely would have broken down into a full blown panic attack.
A few days ago I had a panic attack for the first time in two months. It woke me up from my sleep and I had that impending sense of doom looming over me, my chest tight with pain. Since I wasn’t completely struggling to breathe, I made the choice to not take my pills. I thought, “Let’s see if I can control this on my own.”
So I sat up in bed, used my visualization skills and focused on controlling my breathing. And sure enough, about fifteen minutes later I was back to a relatively calm state. Of course, this wasn’t easy, and I was mentally exhausted the rest of the day, because that’s what panic attacks do, they both physically and mentally drain me.
But a few hours later I reflected back on it and all I could think was, “Wow.” Four years ago it probably would have taken me three pills to calm me, and in extreme circumstances, likely would have sent me to the emergency room. But I didn’t. I was consciously able to claim my panic attack and say, “Not today Anxiety. You don’t get to win today.”
And it didn’t. Sure the mental exhaustion took it’s toll, but it was just another battle wound.
For the first time in a long time, I won against my illness.
I’m sure if you look at my mental tally board, my scoreboard would look very uneven, but today, living the life I’m living now, I realize this is just small potatoes.
I am truly grateful that I decided not to end my life at thirteen years old. I am truly lucky to have such a great team of doctors and counsellors helping me with my daily struggles. And finally, I am truly blessed to have such an amazing family and the best friends a girl could have, because without them I would never be where I am today. And I don’t want to think about the “what if” because the alternative is to horrifying to accept now.
It is amazing to me how far I have come. Because I get to spend every day talking about something I love; I get to share my story and maybe, just maybe, convince one person that their illness won’t win in the end. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to convince one person that they matter.
Because they do.
So now I get to spend another day shamelessly blowing up my Facebook page and Twitter feed and Instagram account. I get to promote an initiative that is so close to my heart that it has become my second home. I get to talk to talk and back it up, because I matter, and I’ll keep doing what I do until you realize that you matter too!
Because that’s the important thing to realize when you start to create something amazing; when you create a community that is accepting of everyone, regardless of whatever they are going through, you are impacting and changing the lives of those around you.
Even reaching out to just that one lonely person changes the world.
And besides, how many people can say that they have Michael Landsberg’s number in their iPhone? Not many, but this girl sure can!
Because he told me my story matters! That I matter.
While I can’t say I have ever met Michael in person, I know him and the wonderful team I am working with at #SickNotWeak is there for me 24/7. Much like we’ll be there for you 24/7. Whatever you are going through, there is a home at SickNotWeak, and I’ll be glad to call you family.
Because even this small city girl from Newfoundland, a place that many people haven’t even heard of, has found people that have accepted me, have helped me, and are encouraging me all the way through my fight.
And I make no apologizes if my stories or post annoy you. Because if you are annoying about someone working to make a difference then you truly haven’t understood the importance of it yet.
So, head on over to http://www.sicknotweak.com and check out the wonderful work we are trying to accomplish. Become an ambassador, voulenteer, become a Team Moderator and host chat groups with people struggling. Just do the work. Put in the time. Help us fight our battle to break down barriers for people living with mental health issues. People like me. Maybe even people like you.
And as always,
Fight the good fight!