Student @ Davis
Approximately a year and a half prior to my symptoms worsening, I went through a traumatic experience. The experience made me extremely hyper aware of everything and extremely cautious of certain activities. Due to the traumatic experience, having too much alcohol in my system is what triggers my anxiety and causes me to have panic attacks.
I started experiencing symptoms of depression when I was around 12 or 13 years old. It was situational depression, only ever coming up at/around my birthday and would then go away a week or so after. It wasn’t until fall 2015 that I experienced it and it didn’t go away after the usual week or so after my birthday. I thought it was normal because at the time I was coming to the decision to drop out of university and going to college, so I just assumed that the general lack of interest in my schooling was the reasoning behind it. I felt empty, almost like I had a pit in my stomach. I had no motivation to do anything that had previously interested me. I started to then also work myself up about the smallest things, such as why others were not picking up on my change in behaviour. I was emotional all the time with constant mood swings, which had little to no reasoning behind them.
It was a very lonesome experience. It was also extremely difficult and tiring to try and fake being interested in things that I wasn’t anymore. My daily routine was honestly not much. I woke up, laid in bed, contemplated going to class then made up a reason as to why I shouldn’t go. It often varied from the course wouldn’t transfer so what’s the point, or I can just download the slides and catch up on the material in a few hours. I would then snack on my stash of sugary junk cereal I had kept in arm’s length of my bed so I didn’t have to leave my room, which is really the only thing I would eat all day. I wouldn’t do much in that time, mostly just lay in bed due to the lack of energy I had. When my then boyfriend (who I hadn’t told about my depression/anxiety) asked what I was doing I would lie to him and say I was watching Netflix with roommates. If I had work that evening I would get out of bed and get ready for work. I would work for 4-6 hours and then come home and go to bed.
With school, because none of my credits transferred over to my program at Sheridan, I stopped going to classes or doing assignments because the marks didn’t matter. My family was a safe haven, time spent at home with my family were the best because I could just be myself and feel at ease. The year previous to this I was extremely involved in my college’s student life and specifically athletics. That year, I went to little to no events, and if I did it was not an enjoyable experience. I immersed myself into my job, taking 15-20 hours per week, because that was an opportunity to get myself out of the environment I was in.
My worst memory was realizing that the people I was surrounding myself with were not cluing in to my change in behaviour and reaching out to help. My best memory was the day I told my parents what I was experiencing and that they were supportive and concerned for my well-being. The biggest challenge I faced was having moved to a new city, with no one I knew right at the beginning of my recovery process.
However, if I were to go back in time and give myself advice, I would tell myself that I am not abnormal for feeling the way I did, this affects many more people than I would’ve originally assumed.
I need to keep myself busy so I don’t fall back into old habits. I wake up usually between 6 and 7:15, depending on what campus I am travelling to. I have breakfast and/or coffee with my parents. I then travel to work, work for 8 or so hours. I always make sure I am eating healthy food and at least 2-3 meals per day. Once work is done, I get home, have dinner (most often with my parents), and debrief them about my day. I go to yoga 3 times a week so sometimes that gets mixed into the plans. As if working full time wasn’t enough, I also volunteer 2 days a week at Humber River Hospital.
Something that helped me at first was those adult colouring books. They sound childish, but it gave me something to do at night before bed so I could unwind and reflect on my day, while still doing something productive. I went to therapy for a few months. The therapy was a huge help, as was removing myself from the toxic environment I was in.
If other people were experiencing something similar, I would tell them that there is no ‘silver bullet’ to getting yourself out. What worked for me may or may not work for them. Just keep trying new things until you find the right combination of things to help you.
I am grateful for all the opportunities, both positive and negative, I have experienced because they have shaped me into the person I am and will continue to shape me into the person I will be in the future.