Life @ U of T

Introduction

Mental Health: How I Took Back Control

Mental Health: How I Took Back Control

I waited for people to accept me just the way I was when I didn’t even accept myself.

The blog post below is derived from my own personal lived experience with mental health and wellbeing. Mental health is highly individualistic in that barriers and circumstances play an active role into shaping the journey.

I’ve always experienced anxiety for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until I was almost thirteen that it started to take a toll on me. After a series of assessments, I had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Unlike a physical injury, a linear recovery didn’t happen for my mental health. For a long time, I didn’t improve in managing my mental health, even after knowing what I had.

For years, I continued to face the same problems with friendships and relationships, in school and in the workplace; all the inherent challenges with anxiety always existed, only in different forms. I wondered why this continued to happen regardless of how many times I met new people, how many times I changed my environment, how many times I’ve turned a new leaf in my life. After quite some time, it finally hit me.

From when I was thirteen, I had been constantly telling myself: I have anxiety. “People don’t understand my anxiety”. “I can’t do this because of anxiety”. “I ignore my friends and not tell them why because of anxiety”. I’ve used my condition countless times to justify my behaviour, my reasons to be right, and to detract the problem of the situation. I spent so much time feeling that no one understood me when I probably didn’t even take the chance to understand others.

I let anxiety define who I was. For so long, I thought my anxiety was the one thing I had when it was only dragging me down with it. In those years after my diagnosis there were experiences I could have tried, but I had believed that this condition bounded me and what I was capable of. By university, life was giving me a hard time, more than ever, and I could no longer get by justifying my behaviour with my anxiety card. When I reflected on my obstacles – the same ones running in vicious cycles, I had finally realized that I was responsible for my anxiety, not the other way around. My anxiety did not make me inherently in the right, it didn’t justify my mistakes or actions, and mostly importantly, it didn’t give me the right to disrespect others.

When I started taking control of my anxiety and mental health, I really saw the difference in how I was as a person; it allowed me to have compassion and an open mind towards others, my all-or-nothing mentality was diminishing into a more balanced perspective. I finally realized that the world was not against me; rather for a long time, I was against it. It’s been complicated for me to see the line between being in tune with my emotions, recognizing the anxiety and using anxiety to justify my actions and not growing from experience. What’s helped me to see this line more clearly is understanding what I did in a situation, seeing if my mental health was a possible factor but ultimately taking accountability for my actions, learning from them and always striving to improve.

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