#BellLetsTalk and My Mental Health

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November 20, 2017 was the first time I publicly talked about my struggles with anxiety and about my mental health. It’s something I’ve struggled with since as long as I can remember, as far back as 11 years old. It’s a crippling, overwhelming and fearful feeling that can get me so worked up that I’m actually violently ill, for absolutely no reason. I don’t think the worst is going to happen, I have this feeling in my chest and body of being anxious for no reason. You know when someone scares the shit out of you, and your heart rate goes up and your adrenaline is high; I have that feeling all day, every day.

When I first talked about my struggles openly, people seemed shocked. I assume it’s because I’m what most people would call confident, and what some may say, borderline cocky. And I’m OK with that, because it’s what I put forward as a one of personality traits. But it just goes to show you never know what someone else is going through.

My anxiety has affected my entire life; school tests, homework, hockey games, meeting new people, going on a date, public speaking, or going into new situations use to make me so anxious, I would get physically ill. I can remember feeling this way up until 20 years old or so, when this was only one time in my life where I don’t remember being anxious; but that was because I was either drunk, or stuffing my face with food to cope with the feeling. I also smoked about a pack and a half a day of cigarettes, which I’m sure was just another crutch for this. These are obviously not the way to deal with stress and anxiety, and along with these terrible habits, I started getting severe migraines and feelings of minor depression, which I didn’t have before. I may not have been anxious anymore, but life wasn’t any better.

This was me, at the young age of 22 years old. I know I look happy in these picture, but I was far from it, even though I didn’t know the difference at the time. Actually, it’s was only recently that I figured out why or how I put on 100+ pounds after high school.

Even though I still suffer from anxiety today, I haven’t felt any depressions in over 14 years and for the most part, I can handle and treat my anxiety on a daily basis. I do feel extremely anxious most of the time, and for the most part I just try and function through my day with it, but I’ve recently been introduced to CBD Oil to help me try and treat it and I’m still trying to figure out if it’s working or not, but for me, the best way I try to deal with my anxiety is by working out 4-6 times a week, and making sure I eat good clean food. Another big thing for me is to try to stay away from foods that cause inflammation (for me that’s wheat, dairy, eggs, rice almonds, and anything processed). There are new studies that show that inflammation in the body and gut raises anxiety, so that’s why having a good diet really helps me a lot. Exercise helps me cope with anxiety by releasing hormones into the body to make me feel happy, plus lifting heavy shit just makes me feel strong, which helps with self confidence. Exercise has always been my favourite way to deal with any of my issues, and now that I’m learning more about how my diet can affect my anxiety (good and bad), I’m focusing more on that as well.

Globally, the rate of suicide is alarmingly high, particularly in men. Personally, I’ve never had suicidal thoughts, but too many men out there are ‘toughing it out’, and keeping their feelings to themselves, and struggling in silence. I know there are great movements like “Bell Let’s Talk” and “Movember Foundation Canada” that talk about mental health issues, but there still needs to be more open communication about the issues that people have and face every day. I still feel anxious almost every day, but it’s much better and under a bit of control when I’m physically healthy versus when I’m not. Your physical health affects your mental health, and my goal over the next little while is to make sure that people know about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle for your mental health.

If you struggle, talk to someone. If that person doesn’t listen, talk to someone else. Find someone who cares enough to listen. That person is always out there. You just need to trust that someone will help you. I cannot express enough how much talking helps! I wouldn’t be where I am today without finally getting help and talking about it.

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