This month, RYU is raising awareness in support of making mental health care a reality around the world. Through the #RYUOneMoreRep movement, our aim is to demystify the stigma and elevate the conversation surrounding mental health. Throughout the month of November, we’ll be sharing personal stories from individuals within our community to keep the discussion going.  

EVEN ROCKS CRUMBLE

CARLOS SALAS

For some reason, people are very comfortable around me. I’m not sure why, but people feel like they can open up to me, tell me their secrets and value the advice I give them. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m naturally compassionate and I give out those vibes. Whatever the reason is, it’s fair to say that people trust me.

Before moving to Canada 10 years ago, I had never been exposed to mental health issues. Depression and anxiety were just normal words used to describe a single feeling, experience or reaction. It wasn’t until my late teens and after a couple of years living in Canada that these words took on a different meaning.

REALNESS AND UNDERSTANDING

I’ve had people very close to me who have experienced depression and are bi-polar who seek solace from me. It wasn’t until I was getting constant phone calls at 2:00am with cracked voices and sobs that I realized how much power these words have. Instead of a single feeling, it was now a complete life that these words were taking control of. When someone tells you straight to your face that they don’t want to live anymore because a feeling is eating them from the inside, life feels pretty dark. Being exposed to this in such a real way is how I started to understand it. With no knowledge, no previous experiences and no idea how to deal with the situation, I was all of a sudden chosen as a person’s rock. I was there for them to let things out, vent and feel better.

AN OVERWHELMING SIGN

I can’t remember what happened, I can’t remember what sparked it and I can’t even remember what was going through my mind. The weeks prior to my first breakdown were pretty stressful to say the least. It wasn’t the stress that had me worried, it was my thoughts around that feeling that made me feel uneasy. I had no control over my thoughts and that was a new experience for me. I’ve always been mentally strong, but during this period I felt deflated, defeated and sick. The things in my head made no sense and took me on a downward spiral. All I remember was sitting at my kitchen table trying to eat, but not being able to move at all. I was in tears, gasping for air and had no clue why. I wasn’t alone, but I felt like I was completely abandoned. My mind went blank and all I could feel were my attempts to breathe.

Luckily, I came back to reality quickly and it felt like a sudden rush of relief. I immediately started to analyze what just happened as my mind was trying to make sense it all. Was it a panic attack? Was it an anxiety episode? I felt like a giant was grabbing my body and squeezing it. In previous experiences like this, I could always control what was going on. Even though I felt the weight of it, I’d always be able to come out of it. This time was different. It was a sign. A sign that something was wrong and I needed to fix it.

PLAYING CATCH UP

Why do some people feel this way? Why do we hear about it so often? Why did I personally have to go through experiences like this? These are questions I constantly think about and unfortunately don’t have answers to. I do think that the direction society is being led right now has played a big part. In a world that constantly demands work, effectiveness and productivity, it’s easy to see why so many of us feel like we’re falling behind. Every day a new trend, a new device, a new app or a new system is introduced. We are constantly bombarded with information that pulls us in infinite directions.

THE DIGITAL AGE

The rise of social media and the comparisons, constant distractions and feedback loop that it brings with it can be extremely distracting. Everything is happening in hyper-speed online, so we’re now conditioned to want the same in real life. Having the mindset that our worth is calculated with how many likes, comments and followers we acquire on social media seems to be the norm. The constant flow of information, demands and distractions are creating a society that thrives on superficial importance and not real impact. No wonder we’re feeling stressed and anxious more often.

LESS SCREEN TIME, MORE REAL TIME

Social media is a powerful tool, but we can’t let it rule us. Nowadays, our phones can monitor how much time we spend on them, even drilling in to which apps we use most. Especially during this time of year, it’s so important to be aware of how much energy you’re dedicating to your digital life. Balance is key, so don’t be afraid to say no, turn your phone on airplane mode and dedicate time to relax and recharge.

Carlos Salas

Community Creator in Ontario

A calisthenics trainer and innovator, Carlos embraces every aspect of the fitness journey – through the challenges and feelings of strength. He loves to not only better himself, but help others crush a goal. Carlos believes that respect starts from within and is earned through hard work and your attitude towards yourself, others and life.

The goal of the #RYUOneMoreRep initiative is to elevate the conversation, raise awareness of the issues and demystify the stigma surrounding mental health. How are we as a collective going to do this? We’re glad you asked. 

Throughout the month of November, we’ll be tallying up your reps – every swing helps! There is strength in numbers and we’re counting on you and the rest of our community to come together for this great cause.

OnecMore Rep 2018 CMHA Donate

One More Rep 2018 MHA Donate