Warning Signs

Our dear friend Anna Patricia, author of the Daily Insanity blog which discusses her experiences living with mental illness, has shared with us her very personal journey in coming to terms with her mental well-being. Her experiences highlight the importance in being true and honest with how you feel and seeking the help that's right for you.

“When did your depression start?” my psychiatrist asked.

It was perhaps the hardest question she had posed to date.

I stared blankly back at her, feeling uneasy about not knowing the answer.

My mind began to race as I reflected upon the onset of my depression. Memories are always difficult to retrieve and today it can feel even harder to differentiate between our own memories and the digital ones others share with us.

It seemed next to impossible to simply choose a date, time and place. I couldn’t definitively say, “Yes, that’s where it all started for me.” This conversation occurred almost four years ago and on this date in my journal I wrote:

“Depression has dominated my life for so long, it’s impossible to choose one focal start point.”

Yet, her question still lingers with me today. Where did I lose myself? When did I go from being such a happy, energetic child to a sad, anxious perfectionist?

This year, my psychotherapy sessions focus on drawing and reflecting upon old memories and relationships. The goal being to identify why I am the way I am by understanding how my childhood interactions have shaped me into the person I am today. It’s provided me with the time and space to reflect upon the onset of my depression.

I remember first questioning my mental health in a classroom in seventh grade. The guidance counselor walked into the room with a stack of questionnaires. She asked us to answer each question truthfully, further stating that all answers were anonymous.

It’s unfortunate to acknowledge that this was perhaps my very first encounter with the words “mental health” or “mental illness.” Most of the educational sessions we participated in later as high school students focused primarily on addictions, domestic violence, homelessness and sexual health. Regrettably, we were never given the chance to touch upon topics such as depression, anxiety disorders or suicide.

As little 12 year-old me read through the questionnaire, I found myself relating to every question asked.

“Over the past 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following problems?”

If I had answered truthfully, I would have circled “Nearly Every Day” for questions 1 through 8 and “Several Days” for question 9. Yet in that moment, I found myself trying to contradict my very own thoughts.

“It was all in my head. I was happy and healthy. Nothing was wrong with me. My problems were minuscule compared to those of others. I was fortunate for endless opportunities and a loving family. How could I be suffering from depression? I didn’t even know this illness existed, until today.”

The inner turmoil continued as I contemplated how others would react if I answered truthfully.

“What if they don’t believe me. What if they ask why? I don’t know. How will my parents react? What will my classmates think of me?”

I couldn’t bring myself to answer truthfully because I was terrified of what the honesty behind this little questionnaire would bring.

Frantically, I found myself circling all the zeros. As I handed the paper into my guidance counselor, I watched as one of my classmates was escorted out of the classroom. All I remember thinking was “Thank God, that isn’t me.”

Recently, I have focused on embracing the notion, “everything happens for a reason.”

You could say my therapy sessions are working.

For some time, reflecting on my painful past filled me with anger and resentment. My mind constantly shifted towards this negative way of thinking, one that centered upon these never ending thoughts of ‘why me? Yet time has gifted me with a little bit more perspective.  

Reflecting upon this memory, back in my seventh grade classroom, I can’t say I regret hiding my true feelings. I know that my mental health journey has shaped me to become the person I am today. Often, I find myself expressing gratitude for the constant introspection. The gift of self-discovery continually allows me to grow as a human being.

Perhaps some may say this was a missed opportunity. However, I find myself forgoing the never-ending thoughts of “what if?” and instead focusing on what we can learn from this situation.

It’s important to address that sometimes the individual struggling needs to be able to come to terms with their own mental health, in their own time. They need to feel somewhat autonomous in their decision to seek help. We also need to understand that prevention is more than simply requesting the completion of a yearly mental health questionnaire.

We need to educate our youth before we ask them to evaluate their own mental health.

We need to expose them to the various ways mental illness can enter one’s life.

We need to provide them with the knowledge and tools to understand when they might need to ask for help, so they feel comfortable doing so.

A Call to Action - Find the right resource for you:

To read more from Anna, be sure to check out her blog at: http://www.dailyinsanityblog.com/

#BellLetsTalk #PVPLetsTalk

It's amazing to see the growth and support this project has received thus far. Throughout our lives we become busy and forgetful about the importance of our own mental health. It is platforms like #BellLetsTalk that remind us that we are not alone in this battle. Use your voice, it is your greatest tool for overcoming dark times. Today and everyday. #BellLetsTalk #PVPLetsTalk

Starting off 2017 with Gratitude

As the holiday season slows down and we enter a new week in the New Year, it is often a time of deep retrospection and reevaluation for many people. The New Year is often seen as the perfect opportunity to make resolutions and life changes for the upcoming year. This indeed can hold truth, however our close friend, and fellow guest of the PosVibes Project, Kelsie Josephs has put a spin on the typical New Years approach in her article titled '3 Important Things To Remember To Be Grateful For In 2017'. This article is an invaluable reminder of how to use gratitude to embrace a transition into 2017 with a positive and clear mindset.

To check out the article follow this link: http://tcat.tc/2i2cGa2

Reintroducing Joshua Busuttil

We would like to reintroduce one of our featured speaker's, and friend, from The PosVibes Project in 2015. Joshua Busuttil took the stage at our event back in 2015 to perform his second public speech ever, to share some of his personal experiences with his mental health journey. Since then, Joshua's inspirational story has extended it's reach to 30 different event hosted by a multitude of organizations such as BMO, United Way and the Peel Regional Police. 

My name is Joshua Busuttil, and I am Mental Health Advocate, Speaker and Author. In my teenage years, I got diagnosed with severe Tourette Syndrome and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized up of motor and vocal tics. These tics include eye twitching, arm jerking and head bobbing. Vocal tics manifest with the individual shouting inappropriate obscenities such as swearing. OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized with negative unwanted thoughts which cause the sufferer great distress.

In 2005 I was diagnosed with both of these conditions while entering my first year in high school. As a result I endured insurmountable bullying which onset early stages of depression. Through my high school years the tics and anxiety really got the best of me. I felt worthless and ashamed. In addition to to theses trials, I lost two friends in a span of a year which took a huge toll on my mental health. In 2011, I decided to randomly attend a networking event at The Nexus Youth Services centre which coincidentally changed and saved my life. Nexus Youth Services offer resources and support for those suffering from mental health challenges. Nexus offers educational programs and clinical counselling with group sharing and peer support activities that benefited my well being. After I finished my time in counselling I got referred to become a speaker on the United Way Of Peel Speakers Bureau, and I now co facilitate the Art and Fitness group at Nexus.

In 2015 I bumped into an old friend while volunteering at nexus. It was amazing to see my old friend, JJ Harland. I met JJ in back in 2004 when he played hockey with my brother. One of the workers at Nexus told the group of people coming from different agencies to hear my story. When I told my story about overcoming Tourette syndrome, OCD, depression and many unsuccessful times of suicide the after effect resonated with my audience. Everyone told me they were so uplifted while leaving, and that my story had left an impact.

The day after, JJ called me and told me about a mental health awareness event he was organizing called PosVibes Project. It was an event to raise awareness about mental health with donations going towards Nexus Youth Centre. At the first event in 2015, I shared my story to an audience of around 200. The applause I received was overwhelming. I had so many people come up to me and say thank you for your uplifting story. To me showing strength in hard times is worth more than anything. The PosVibes Project was the stepping stone for my speaking. That night was my second speech. I have now spoken at many different companies and events that include Edward Jones, Pepsi, City Of Mississauga, Telus and many more. These past few years have been surreal. 

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The PVP team would like to congratulate Joshua for reaching 30 speeches! We are inspired by your incredible growth as a speaker and person and wish you continued success in your future endeavours.