Amanda Wilson

Writer and Mental Health Blogger

Three months ago my life changed in the most life-alterting, beautiful way.

While I never imagined I would get to this point in my life; after all the trials and tribulations I faced over the years because of my illness, and then nine months of complications and more trials and tribulations, I was able to welcome a beautiful, handsome, healthy little boy into the world. Despite years and years of doubt of being able to have kids, and the (still) constant fear of passing on my illness to any kids, I am so blessed to have my little beautiful boy in my life. Even twelve weeks later, I still wake up baffled, looking at his cute face, thinking, “How did I get to this point in my life?”

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Ah, Spouses.

Partners. Lovers. Boyfriends. Girlfriends. Soulmates. Better halves. Pain in the necks.

What would we do without them?

When it comes to being in love and being in a loving, committed relationships, things will not always been smooth sailing. Roads will not always be pothole-free. Ships sometimes might take on water (or seasickness may endure, if you’re anything like me). But regardless of these rough roads we sometimes must endure as couples, if you both love each other and are committed to one another, things will always work out in the long run. And in most lucky cases, that big blow out or that troubling time becomes something to laugh at later on, which is typically followed by the dismayed, “What we’re were even fighting about anyway?” question.

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Disclaimer: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the NL 24 Hour Crisis Line at 1-888-737-4668.

I’m not open about my scars.

For as dedicated and vocal I am about battling my mental health issues and reciting the stories of the rough roads I have faced over the last seven years, very rarely do I ever talk about the scars left behind. More often than not, I tend to brush over the aftermath of the wounds my PTSD have left behind, instead focussing on the silver lining of my pain, the positive healing that I have experienced.

While part of me knows this is because the remnants of my scars can be easily overlooked, there are also “scars” that are not as noticeable that would immediately make someone jump to conclusions. There are scars from my illness that didn’t raise red flags to friends and loved ones for years.

And even though my scars are something I tend to cover (both figuratively and literally), it is an aspect of my life that I also had to learn to accept, a dark part of my illness that tend to make many others look the other way.

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To my future husband,

As the days begin to countdown, far too quickly in my opinion, and we rush to finish last-minute wedding plans, making sure all our affairs are in order – gifts bought, cake topper selected, heckling people for late RSVP’s – I can’t help but take a moment to reflect back on how far we have come, of all that we have been through and to be hopeful in all we have yet to see.

And even though we have our ceremony planned and songs picked to walk down the aisle to, there are still some vows that I won’t get the chance to say to you on our wedding day. There are some promises that I don’t have the courage to say out loud to you, in front of all our friends and family. For these vows are too hard, and too deep, for me to recite to you.

But even though I don’t have the strength to say them to you out loud, I still want you to hear them, because I mean every single word; for these vows are as precious to me as the ring you placed on my finger.

With everything that I am, I make these silent vows to you.

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I’m going to take a minute to deviate today to discuss a very important issue that is happening here in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Last week in Springdale, NL, the town council voted “No” against the high school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance society’s petition to paint a rainbow crosswalk in the town. What followed next was a questionable and embarrassing statement from the Mayor, who stated that it would “divide” the town rather than promote inclusion, further stating that by agreeing to paint a crosswalk for the GSA society also meant having to say “Yes” to other groups, like “coloured people” and such.

Of course, anyone with a social media account and access to Facebook completely lost their minds. The comments and shares ranged from people (Canadian icons alike) showing their support to the GSA students, to those who were completely against the crosswalk. As you can imagine, the comments on the issue have been quite “colourful”, and unfortunately, quite ignorant as well.

Because the conversation was not only focussing on the issue of whether or not the council would repeal their vote, but also the issue of how much small towns in Newfoundland are actually supportive of the LGBTQ community.

Following today’s announcement, the council of Springdale stuck to its decision to deny the GSA society its petition for a rainbow crosswalk, and of course, social media platforms are having another field day filled with colourful comments and disheartening slurs.

And through some of the negative and hateful comments I saw floating around, I decided I could no long simply stay “quiet” about the issue.

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I’ve been told my whole life that there are two things you should never talk about openly: religion and politics.

And while I have a very liberal-minded attitude and I live more of a spiritual life rather than be devoted to a specific belief system, there is one thing that annoys the hell outta me as someone who lives with a mental health issue. There is one thing that makes me cringe a little on the inside, and that is when I’m told this:

“Thoughts and prayers are going to make [your PTSD] better.”

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There’s an old belief that everyone wears different masks.

If you’re lucky enough to have zero qualms about the skin you live in and are 100% living your best self behind no walls and no masks, then I extend a “Bravo!” to you. Loving and accepting yourself for who you really are must be a freeing experience; to live your life regardless of what other people think and loving all the flaws and quirks that make you, uniquely you.

But for the rest of us who still struggle with appreciating our flaws and being comfortable in our own skin, sometimes we put on masks to present an “ideal” version of ourselves in order to save face (no pun intended). We present these “faces” to the world for many different reasons. To display a sense of confidence, to hide anxieties or worries, to “mask” qualities in ourselves that may seem “undesirable” or “annoying” according to societal standards. Even though we are moving into an age where differences are uniting us and quirkiness is admired, many of us are still too afraid to reveal our real faces, to show our true selves.

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By wearing these masks, we create two different versions of ourselves, two different faces: the ideal person we want to be perceived as and the “real” us who we think doesn’t deserve gratification.

And just as we separate ourselves into who we think we should be and who we really are, my PTSD also presents itself as two faces. Keep Reading!

If you’re a person who changes their outfit five times before heading out the door, raise your hand.

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Now before anyone starts pointing fingers, I’m not judging. I am also picky about the clothes I wear, despite always reverting back to ol’ faithful (a tee-shirt and skinny jeans). As an adult woman, there is nothing wrong with this. Sometimes it depends on the occasion, sometimes it depends on my mood, and sometimes it depends on the weather pouring out of the heavens. (It’s hard to wear skits and dresses in a place where it can get up to -30°C without freezing to death.)

And while I have the potential to throw on five to ten different outfits before heading out the door – ignoring the eye rolls and the endless “You’re beautiful no matter what you wear!” from my fiancé – is not always warranted from being “just picky”. It sometimes stems from something greater, something more profound.

Sometimes my PTSD is the demon lurking in my closet (and in my fashion choices).

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Things have been quiet here on Fighting the Good Fight lately.

For my devoted followers and supporters, I apologize for my absence over this last month, but myself and my family have been dealing with the sudden loss of my uncle. A mere three weeks after learning of his cancer diagnosis, he passed away and my family and I have been reeling ever since. It has been a hard few weeks filled with dread and undescribable sadness until I had to drop everything and run. There was no time to think, just react.

And for my blog followers, I hope you can understand this sudden absence.

This past month for me has been a difficult time, both from listening to the pain and urgency from family members over the phone, to my eventual trip home to attend the wake. I didn’t really begin to process all my own feelings and grief until I on the highway headed back to my own city.

None of us had time to process he was sick, let alone accept the fact that he was gone. Grief affects everyone differently, which was how I found myself staring at a computer for the last three weeks unable to write, words completely failing me. It’s not that I get writer’s block during profound sad periods in my life (because my best work is written during my low moments), but for me, working on my writing projects again meant having to finally accept he was gone, and I just wasn’t ready.

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I love being a mental health advocate.

Putting my own story out there was both the scariest and greatest thing I could have ever done. Opening up about my battle with PTSD and GAD has been both a solace and a therapeutic experience for me.

And while I am proud to stand up and fight for all those out there still suffering in silence, I realize there are days where I need the same support. There are days where I need someone to advocate for me.

I take a great deal of pride in being the first line of defence, someone brave enough to put their own pain in the spotlight to help make a difference, to help someone suffering in silence. It is a heavy burden and the ultimate reward to voice my opinions and to turn my own suffering into something positive. Being this vulnerable (and exposed) while walking this path has been humbling, but there is a price to be paid for putting my pain on display. There are sacrifices to be made in order to help someone else.

But the bigger question is this: Would someone else do it for me? Keep Reading!