Let’s Talk About Mental Health

I’ve been a worrier since I can remember. In fact, I’m known as the “stressed out one” among my friends. It’s not always easy to spot. When people first meet me and find out I’m an anxious person, they’re often surprised. Most people wonder what anxiety is and often say “just stop being anxious” but let me tell you, it’s not that easy.

For those who may not understand anxiety, let’s break it down. I never stop worrying, no matter how big or small, I will find a way to think about it in a million different ways. My thought processes can lead me into a never ending spiral down where I am facing a battle in my own head. Outrageous, right? I know. But in those moments I can’t stop it. It’s exhausting. You know right before you do a presentation and everything in your body starts to race, your heart pumps faster, you may feel numb, you may begin to sweat…this is your sympathetic nervous system which prepares your body for fear, and that’s how anxiety feels all of the time.

Why does this happen? It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain among neurotransmitters, so it’s nothing you have done “wrong”, you honestly can’t help it. But you can help by the way you look at it. Whether you are the person facing anxiety or the person trying to help your friend get through it, what you do and say matters. First off, we often feel alone with battling our own brains because we feel that no one understands it. But how we choose to look at these hardships is what prepares us to get through it. You are not defined by a mental illness. Facing it head-on and figuring out the best way to cope with it is what matters. Understanding your anxiety is key to dealing with it. Some of us have triggers, while for others it may be constant.

If someone you know is struggling from anxiety or a mental illness, the most important thing you can do is remind him or her that they are not alone. Trust me, someone you know on campus could be experiencing anxiety and you might not even know it. People with a mental illness may feel alone even if they are surrounded in a room full of people. Remember that they are more than just their anxiety, no one likes to be defined by one attribute of themselves; don’t forget to appreciate the individual behind the anxiety. They appreciate you sticking by them. Support them as much as you can and let them know that you are always there. Trust me: that goes such a long way.

Join in, if you haven’t already, and start the conversation about mental illness. It will be one more conversation that supports someone suffering. It’s something that our generation needs to accept because no one can fully be “cured” from anxiety and other mental illnesses, it’s something that we need to accept and learn to deal with. Nipissing University will have your back if you need support. There are a variety of different services that WILL help you during hard times. The Office of Student Development and Services has supports for those who may need it so never be afraid to reach out. We also have an organization called ‘Jack.org’ which has joined the conversation in talking about mental health and hosts a variety of events throughout the year to support students.

Without the hard times, you wouldn’t appreciate the good ones. It’s accepting the fact that there will be bad days but also remembering there will be good ones, too. Remember, even on the hardest days, it will get better. You are strong and can overcome an obstacle that you may be facing. You are unique, a fighter, and capable of achieving anything. Remember, hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny. I ask you to think of something right now that you are thankful for. It could be chatting with your roommate this morning, the coffee you got before class, the puppy you will see when you head home. It’s so easy to lose sight of these little things when we are anxious and have had a bad day. The next time you have a rough day, try to think of the little things that bring joy to your life. Positivity can override negative thoughts and you deserve to enjoy the love and happiness in the world and limit the bad days. Have a good attitude and take care of yourself. Remember, you’ve made it through 100% of your worst days, keep going!

Keep that beautiful smile shining,

– Jaana