"For some of us, 105km is the easy part"
Ride Don’t Hide
My Story About My Mental Health
I would like to share with everyone that I have been suffering from a mental illness. I have struggled with anxiety throughout most of my life while also experiencing depression from time to time. The anxiety did not have a significant impact on my life when I was younger. Although I am not the type of person to go out meeting people and try new experiences, I still was able to function normally and do the things I wanted. Mostly, I did not even realize what was happening to me, that I was experience the symptoms of anxiety. I always thought it was because I am an introvert. I was always very shy and did not talk much. I did not get along with people very easily and the friends I did have did not stay around for very long.
As I got older, I wanted to break free from this bubble I felt trapped in. At this point I still did not know I had anxiety. I just knew I wanted to be someone more than this person that was afraid. Afraid of meeting new people, afraid of going to new places, afraid of trying new things and experiencing the things everyone else did. I started paying more attention to the rest of the world than what I had in my bubble. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to get outside and experience all those things.
Somehow, I was able to do it. I was able to break free of all my anxiety and tell myself that I could experience new things. I made new friends that helped pave the way for this new life I wanted for myself. I was able to try so many new things I would have never been able to previously. I was not afraid to jump onto doing something without thinking too much about it. My anxiety did not prevent me from breaking free. I said “YES” to anything and everything. I learned a lot about myself during this time, but it did not last long.
During university I was trying to manage a lot of depression. The best way I could think of coping with it was to bury myself with school work. I put all my energy and effort into school not thinking about my personal life. At least for the first few years it was not as bad because I still was able to see friends while at school.
When I started working, I think this is when my anxiety started to become really severe. I started seeing myself be trapped by that bubble again. I started becoming afraid of simple things I was able to do before. I was becoming afraid to go out and socialize with friends, going for dinner, and playing board games became a worry rather than being fun. This is when I started learning more about myself and realizing what was happening to me was anxiety. But again, I did not think too much of it because I thought it was just who I was.
The anxiety took over and I started obsessing and worrying over every detail if I had to go out. From, where are we going, how do we get there, where do we park, who else is going to be there, what are we going to do there become the norm. The endless rabbit hole of negative thoughts began to consume my mind, this would happen every single time I had to think about going out.
For those who have known me for a long time, playing badminton was always something I used to do regularly when I was younger. Now it felt so foreign to me and every time someone asked me, I became afraid to do so. I would experience feelings of shame and embarrassment because I did not think I was good enough to play. This is what anxiety does to me. It’s not just worrying about things. It creates this false sense of inability. I’ve played badminton hundreds of times and yet I was no longer able to do so because of my anxiety.
Driving became a difficult challenge as well. I started to become afraid of driving. Especially during the winter time with all the snow and ice. Everyday going to work I would worry. I wanted to avoid the traffic. I could not deal with driving when there was so many cars around. I started going to work earlier in the morning. At first it was maybe 30 mins earlier, then an hour. Eventually, I started going to work 3 hours earlier than I was scheduled to start. I would also obsess about trying to leave work early so I could beat the rush hour home. I also would not go anywhere after work, whether it was to be social or run errands. I tried to avoid all driving outside of going to work to the weekends where there was less traffic.
During winter was the worst. I was afraid of driving in the snow and ice and I started getting obsessed about the weather. At one point I would be at work constantly checking the weather ever 15 mins hoping something changes. In my mind I know the weather is not going to change that fast, but I just could not control the anxiety. There were some days where it would be a winter storm and I would just stay home and work. I just could not bring myself to driving to work. The thought of it was just too overwhelming and I would just start to panic.
Even though I know I had anxiety and that it was restricting me from doing the things I wanted or needed to do, I did not really know what was happening to me. I got so used to the fact it was happening because it was happening so often that I thought it was just who I was. I did not fully understand what was happening to me, what I was experiencing when I had anxiety, and I especially did not understand how it was impacting my life and those around me.
Suffering in Silence
The worst part is nobody else knew as well. I was not able to talk about it. I was too afraid to talk to my family or friends. My anxiety prevented me from expressing myself and talking about what was happening to me. I couldn’t ask for help either. The thought of talking to a complete stranger was overwhelming just to think about. I suffered for so long. I suffered in silence because my anxiety prevented me from being able to talk about it.
Over two months ago I was finally able to seek help. I started going to therapy which has helped me understand more about my anxiety. I learned how what is happening to my when I experience anxiety, different ways I can manage and control the anxiety, or to disrupt the anxiety. I am making good progress and I am able to function normally in society once again.
To all those friends who always invite me to do social things and that I never come. You probably always wondered why I never came and where I have been these past years. Please know it was never because I don’t want to spend time with you or value your friendship. I just couldn’t do it because of my anxiety.
I’m tired of hiding. I am tired of my anxiety dictating my life. I want everyone to understand and be aware. No more being afraid of talking about it. I want to live my life the way I want and I want everyone around me to know about it.
Why I Ride
A couple months ago I told some friends about my anxiety, and they were very supportive as I expected them to be. But what surprised me most was one of my friends also suffers from a mental illness very similar to what I experience. He told me about what happens to him and what he experiences. The best part about telling my friends wasn’t that they were supportive. It was that because I made myself vulnerable and shared something I was never able to do before, that gave someone else a bit of courage to share as well. Knowing someone else out there, that was a friend, understand what I was experiencing and was able to relate to all the struggles I had was very comforting. This is why I am sharing today.
1 in 5 will have a mental illness this year in Canada. I have 96 friends on my Facebook. Statistically, that means 19 people on my friends list will experience a mental illness this year. Whether it’s depression, anxiety or any other mental illness it affects us all. 1 in 2 people know a family friend who has a mental illness. So even if you don’t, let’s spread the word to let those who do know that we are there for them.
I want to spread the awareness so that those who also suffer in silence know that you are not alone. I am here if anyone needs to talk. For those who are unfamiliar with mental illnesses, I encourage you to educate yourself, pass on facts, positive attitudes, challenge myths and stereotypes, avoid using labels so we can end the stigma around mental health. I am sure some of you have seen my posts relating to mental health this past couple months. I encourage you to go back and read them if you haven’t and share them with friends and family.
I want to share with everyone that I am doing an awareness ride on June 23. “Ride Don’t Hide” is nation wide fundraising bike ride to bring awareness about mental health into the open and support CMHA’s mental health programs. You can support me by donating to my ride or sharing this post with your friends and family. I will be doing the 105km ride, which is not an easy ride.
“For some of us, 105km is the easy part”
I am doing this ride for anyone who also suffers in silence. For anyone who doesn’t a voice for their mental illness, I will be that voice for you! I want to spread awareness that mental illnesses are all around us and that you are not alone. Let’s bring mental health out into the open and end the stigma!
If you would like to support me, you can donate through the link in the bio! No dollar amount is too small to help as my goal is to fundraise $1000 for my ride! Or feel free to share the post to help bring awareness to mental health!