Let’s Talk About Mental Health

crowdsWith World Mental Health Day approaching us on October 10th, I thought I would broach a topic that might be a little heavy and most likely not a topic someone would freely talk about over coffee.

I’m awkward. Weird. Strange. Those are some of the words I would use to describe myself. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. I never really felt like I fit in or that people really liked me.

I suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

Not very many people feel comfortable talking about mental health. But, there are numerous people out there who suffer from some form of anxiety or depression and to varying degrees. It’s a real thing and I feel more attention should be given to the subject.

So what’s SAD you might be asking yourself. In the simplest form: it’s the fear of social situations. The dread of being embarrassed, criticized or rejected in a social surrounding. So what makes this different from any normal apprehension of a social situation? secrets - Sept 20-2013Well, someone who has SAD can, and will, go to great lengths to avoid putting themselves in a position where they feel they will be judged. Basically, the essence of any form of social anxiety is an unreasonable expectation of negative evaluation by others.

I decided it was time for me to get some help after I had moved back to my hometown of Winnipeg after being away for 8 years. I found myself worrying about every little thing. ‘I’ve been away so long, my old friends won’t want to hang out with me’, ‘I’m never going to find a job here’, ‘I’m not going to fit in’. So, I took it upon myself to start some therapy sessions to work thought my unreasonable thought patterns I was having.

My sessions were great! I was able to talk through my feelings and recognize things that I could start doing to get myself better! One of the best things I learned to do (and one of the most common treatments for anxiety disorders) was to employ the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of treatment that helps you understand the thoughts and feelings that influence certain types of behaviors. Which is why I feel comfortable talking about this with all of you. I’ve come a long way where the fear of being judged or embarrassed about my anxiety disorder has diminished quite a bit.

Anxiety of any form can affect your quality of life and have a serious impact on both your personal and professional life. Here are some common signs to look for if you think you might have an anxiety disorder:

  • Excessive worrying
  • Sleep problems
  • Irrational fears
  • Muscle tension
  • Chronic indigestion
  • Stage fright
  • Self-consciousness
  • Panic attacks
  • Perfectionism
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Self-doubt
    *Source: health.com

So, here’s the part where I say: I’m not a doctor nor am I a medical professional of any kind. If you think that you could be suffering from a form of anxiety or depression, I urge you to contact your doctor. With my personal experience, it took me a little bit to realize and actually pin point what I was going through. So don’t be discouraged if a form of treatment doesn’t work right away. It can take months to find something that works for you. The most important thing is that you are getting the help you need and it will get better. I applaud you.

JenniferElson– Jen Elson
Business – Marketing (Co-op) ‘10

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