MacKenzie's Mental Health Journey

Editor's note: Thank you MacKenzie for sharing your self-reflective journey of self-acceptance and self-care. 


Hi! I have always wanted to do something like this but I never really knew what I would say. I guess I'll start off by briefly introducing myself.

My name is Mackenzie. I am a 21-year-old student in the Nursing program at the University of Calgary. I was born in Fort McMurray, six minutes after my twin sister. I don't eat meat, and I love every gender. If somebody asked me to list some of the things I love, I would say baths, dogs, coffee, wine, and reading. Aside from all of these things (and more!) that make me the person that I am, I also struggle with mental illness.

I have always been the type of person who concedes. I once told someone that I would rather "lose the fight and not the person." I would repeat this like a mantra and cling to it as a reason  not to leave abusive situations. For me, it was worse to "give up" and not try than to protect myself and leave. I always apologized for things that were not my fault. To this day, I continue to apologize for them.

I garnered the reputation of being a pushover, and this allowed people to take advantage of me, especially since I always saw their great qualities. I thought this was my strength (in some twisted way, maybe it is): the ability to feel so fiercely and love so fully that it shattered me. When medical professionals speculated that a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder might be appropriate (among diagnoses of anxiety, depression, ADHD, an eating disorder, and a history of self-harm), it felt so right. However, it also tore me apart.

My intense, powerful, extreme, and beautifully destructive emotional reactions were a disorder. Everything I thought I knew about myself was wrong.

In hindsight, it makes perfect sense. My intense fear of abandonment enveloped me to the point where I apologized, whether or not I should have. I forgot about myself and what I needed in order to please other people. It's hard having this as a part of me. I've invalidated and suppressed my own feelings to accommodate others for so long. It's almost as if I don't know who I am without that.

So what is the moral of the story? This is me at this point. I am learning to be gentle with myself. As well, I am learning not to be sorry about being a person who exists for themselves.

Why is it important for you to share your story and experiences with mental health and illness?
I think there is braveness and courage in being radically vulnerable. In sharing my own story and vulnerability, I hope it gives people who may not have said anything before, the chance to speak out. There is strength in a community; given the knowledge that one isn't alone makes it much easier to find the help one needs.

- MacKenzie
Calgary, AB, CA

More about MacKenzie:


I am in my 4th year of nursing, intending to focus on mental health. In my free time, I enjoys taking baths, reading books, cross-stitching and embroidery, and recently took upon learning yoga as a means of physical activity. My dog, Pancake is my pride and joy!

I am passionate about mental health, and aim to reduce stigma by showing the “real” unedited side of it. I make sense of my life experiences by photo-journaling my journey on my personal Instagram. The following is a photo from a stay I recently had at Rockyview for preventative measures. I really love it because it's a hospital room, which for-the-most part is super boring, but the curtains were rainbow and made me feel so lucky and hopeful!

Would you like to share your story? Click "Share Your Story" below to submit your story: 

Do you need support?
If you in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else phone 911. For other support please call:
Distress Centre Calgary - (403) 266 HELP (4357)
The Support Network Distress Line - (780) 482 - HELP (4357) 
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