Faces of Mental Health - Andrea's Story
Mental illness is not anonymous. Those who struggle have names and faces, lives and families, passions and challenges. To help break the stigma, the Outrun the Stigma Edmonton planning committee reached out to the University of Alberta community to share stories on mental health.
Hear their stories and their experiences.
Trigger warning for discussion of overdose.
I have PTSD. I’ve grappled with it for over seven years, and it was only last September that I began seeking help for it. I had a lot of shame and guilt to work through. The difference between how I was before prolonged exposure therapy and after is night and day, but it hasn’t solved my problems.
My last relapse was in May. A friend of mine OD’d early in the month and I found myself going down the rabbit hole. I stopped sleeping; stopped working out except for one event I had committed to; stopped eating consistently; started to isolate myself. My nightmares and anxiety came back in a big, big way. On the surface things were going incredibly well for me and I was happy, but truthfully I was a mess and I couldn’t fathom asking for help after all the work I had already done. Talking about my mental state with anyone felt like a failure, so I threw myself into other peoples’ problems or withdrew entirely to avoid it.
It took me some time to come out of that place. I had to deal with loss on a couple of levels over the summer, and it was all hard in different ways. I’m fortunate enough that I had friends reach out to me in spite of my pushing them away, that I was able to go back to therapy, and that I found physical activities like obstacle course races that engaged my body and grounded me through the mental war I was waging. All of that helped me claw my way out.
I went to visit my friend’s grave the other day, and while that was sad and I still mourn him, it’s not crushing me anymore. My next goal is to try to mend some friendships that I hurt while I was hurting.
You don’t solve PTSD. It never goes away. You don’t turn the trauma into some beautiful, magical memory that never affects you again. You will always carry it with you in some fashion. But if you have the courage to seek help you never, ever have to carry it alone.
Want to join the Faces of Mental Health campaign?
We would like to thank the brave individuals featured in this campaign for their openness and resiliency in the face of struggle. Thank you for opening up and sharing your stories!
Do you need support?
If you in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else phone 911. For other support please call:
Calgary: Distress Centre Calgary - (403) 266 HELP (4357)
Edmonton: The Support Network Distress Line - (780) 482 - HELP (4357)
Are you somewhere else in Canada? Find a crisis line near you.
International? Find a crisis line near you.
To chat with someone live online go to 7cups.com.