Happy Monday!

This week I’d like to focus on my personal experiences with mental health issues, specifically anxiety and depression. Understanding mental health issues is the first step, but understanding can be difficult unless you or someone close to you has gone through it. I would like to share what I have personally experienced so that you may relate.

Many things can contribute to the state of your mental health. Whether it be stress, relationships, financial hardship, health concerns, and others. Anxiety can also appear when everything seems to be just fine.

A few years ago, I was in that place. I felt like I had things under control, was in a healthy relationship, enjoyed my job, had a social life and was taking care of myself physically. While all of this was great, I would still feel dissatisfied.

I would constantly feel like something was wrong or missing and I would feel occasional panic. This would attribute to my move from Vancouver back to La Ronge, and then to Toronto and eventually, Edmonton and back home again. My way of dealing with this empty feeling was moving to a new city to get that fresh start. After more cross-country moving than anyone should ever do, I realized that location was not the issue. These feelings of panic and dissatisfaction would follow me wherever I went.

The nature of my work also somewhat took over my life at that point as well. I did not have a work-life balance while working in a private law firm. As work took over, my personal life took a backseat, as did my friendships, relationships, and self-care.

Before I knew it I would be rushing to get on the train, working a long, busy day and then rushing to get home as soon as I could. I would also isolate myself more and more and come up with excuses to not socialize or even leave the house. It was then I started to feel disconnected and I would feel panic.

Of course, this panic would then affect my everyday work life – so much so that I did not enjoy my job and wanted another change. Before I made changes and sought help, I would feel a general state of panic at any given time of the day. At one point, I was not able to drive on the highway alone for more than 20 minutes in fear that I might have a panic attack.

It is important to recognize these signs of stress and anxiety and be ready to listen or talk about them when they arise. Like me, many people don’t even realize that they are isolating themselves, making excuses and not having a work-life balance. You can never force someone to talk about these issues, but you can be there when they are eventually ready to talk about it. I was fortunate to have a close friend and family members who knew what was going on, and were always there when I needed someone to talk to.

Next week I will dive into some of the coping mechanisms that I used and recommend what worked best for me. Thanks for tuning in and I will catch you next week!