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.
MY COMEBACK FROM SEVERE SOCIAL ANXIETY
Mental health has always been present in my life. I have family members that suffer from severe depression and bipolar disorder, which unfortunately resulted in a very mental, physical and emotionally abusive environment. It didn’t occur to me until my teen years that I myself was being affected by a number of things occurring in my life. Without realizing, over time I had become very on edge, constantly worried and afraid, in a constant state of “fight or flight,” always waiting for the next thing to blow up.
FROM BAD TO WORSE
I had developed this hatred for myself that I could no longer understand or cope with. I had reached a point where I was drinking as often as I could because the person I was when I was drunk didn’t have all the paranoia and self-hate that the sober me had. I would then consume energy drinks all day to make myself feel energized and happy. I barely ate and when I did it was junk food and garbage. It hadn’t become apparent to me just how bad things had gotten until about 5 years ago.
Unfortunately, along with this came a lot of self-image issues. At one point I literally could not stand to look in the mirror. I was constantly hiding things I thought were wrong with me; things I thought looked bad and things I thought were ugly about myself. Through the process of healing I acknowledge that I had developed a very unhealthy image of myself. I grew very tired of always feeling sick; always feeling drained and exhausted. Just overall tired of the affects everything was having on me. I was starting to realize how draining and exhausting it was dealing with the mental aspects of everything I was going through, and I didn’t want to feel like that anymore.
ON THE UPSWING
My first step was turning to people I trusted to have nothing but my best interest at heart. They had been aware of things in my life for a very long time and were very aware of the battle going on within myself. I chose to leave my home and move in with them to try and fix myself. At the time I spoke very quietly, didn’t make eye contact and really struggled with any interaction at all. I couldn’t order food at a restaurant or even call for delivery and I was struggling with such severe panic attacks that I would be physically ill and stay closed off in my room. With the gentle guidance and patience of my family members I was now living with, I slowly calmed down and was seeing things differently. I was starting to interact more and gain a new and different perspective.
I started to discover that what I had always known as “normal” behaviour from people around me or people that cared for me, wasn’t at all healthy or constructive for positive growth. I wasn’t cured by any means, but I had started to see what I needed more than anything was space from situations and people that triggered these feelings and reactions with myself.
STEP BY STEP
I walked to the store, bought some healthier options for food and went home and prepped some meals for the week. I bought a book that showed at home exercises and I started to do them at home. I picked what section I was going to work on each day and bit-by-bit I started to make new habits. After about four months, maybe even longer, I asked my brother in law to take me to the gym to show me what to do because I was too intimidated to go by myself. I started to go every day and work on myself in all the ways I knew needed some desperate TLC. One day at a time I started to continue to work on myself from the inside out.
It’s been 5 years since the beginning of my journey to a healthier happier me and I still have a long journey ahead of me as most of us do. I don’t think the journey ever really ends as we are always changing, learning and growing.
THE JOURNEY TO #YOURUNIVERSE
My universe didn’t always look the way it does now, I’ve seen the effects of mental illness and experienced my own. The thing is, we all feel alone, but we are all in it together. Whether we have experienced it or have someone close to us that faces mental illness issues, its affected all of our lives in one way or another. Having compassion and understanding, as well as educating myself and seeking help not only for myself, but also in dealing with those close to me that are affected has definitely helped. What often feels like a lonely journey isn’t lonely at all because we are all in it together. Some of us just haven’t seen it yet.
RYU Connector in Ontario
Samantha tries to influence those around her in any way that she can, whether it be in life, fitness, health or other instances. She does this by being raw and real with others about her experiences, as she wants to break the stigma of only showing the highlight reel of life. Her universe is one that has its own mould and she’s learned to unapologetically and ambitiously be more true to herself than ever before and encourages others to do the same.
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.