Anxiety+Mental Health in the age of #BellLetsTalk

HelloHalima

I wrote this poem a couple years ago when I felt consumed by anxiety/depression. For me, it wasn’t about the quality of the poem but the outlet it provided me to feel calm again. An anxiety attack makes you feel out of control, elevates the beating of your heart- to create intense palpitations, makes you feel like you can’t breathe- preys on the deepest darkest thoughts you have and brings them to life. Although most of the sentiments in the poem below still ring true in my life, I feel better when I am able to cultivate work that communicates exactly how I am feeling. For Bell Let’s Talk this year, I wanted to post it as a reminder that it will always be apart of me but doesn’t have to consume me the way that it once did. While Bell Let’s Talk is a commercial- way for industries to feel like they are apart of the mental health initiatives, it is an amazing way for the conversation to begin for people who are not apart of it as of it. If you feel lost, hopeless, anxious, empty, low- try to talk to someone! As terrible advice as that might sound, sometimes getting it out and out from your head into words will alleviate some of the pressures that you feel. I know it does for me. Write it down- if you don’t want to talk to anyone- writing down how you feel is so incredibly cathartic. Therapy also is a really great tool to use, I used to shy away from the idea of telling a stranger all your problems- I used to think- why would they even care? That’s weird! The stigma is something that I once fed into- but I’ve since found it to be the best way to bring myself out of days of complete despair and get myself back to feeling like myself again. According to CAMH, 1 in 5 Canadians are struggling with mental illnesses right now, by the age of 40, 50% of us will have experienced it first hand. With statistics like that- it is heartbreaking for places and people to still value the idea of physical pain as more important than that of mental health. It is as debilitating, confusing and detrimental to our health as well.

There are immediate resources (listed below) if you need help, would like someone to talk too or want to understand mental health further:

1. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has a 24/7 Psychiatric Emergency Department at 250 College Street location.

2.Toronto Distress Centres (416) 408-4357 or 408-HELP

3.Assaulted Women’s Helpline 416-863-0511, Toll-free: 1-866-863-0511

4.Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868

Live Chat: https://kidshelpphone.ca

5. WHAT’S UP! Walk In Clinic: http://www.whatsupwalkin.ca/service-providers/

@ashsgreen

an anxious soliloquy:

Anxiety won’t let me rest

Palpitations and waves of arithmetic sensations fill my chest,

It doesn’t change when I turn over in my bed,

scattered thoughts echoing in my brain, making me feel “insane”,

Chest feeling heavy, brain feeling dizzy,

It’s 4:11 am and I’m feeling weary…

Anxiety knows no time,

Responsibilities and duties do not matter when anxiety’s around,

I wonder if it will always be this way

Or whether it will consume me,

Because right now it feels like my anxiety is winning

And I’m always losing,

The worst part is when my depression comes out to play,

Anxiety’s first cousin- twice removed on any given day

It makes me feel hopeless, like this world wasn’t meant for me,

hopelessly searching for a remedy,

Therapy helps- sometimes at least

But when they team up- it feels like an all out war against me,

I try to explain how I feel to my loved ones,

Some tell me to pray, others gently tell me “get over it”,

It’s hard to explain how you are feeling when people do not understand you-

Comprehension completely removed,

It’s not their fault, I think to myself,

Maybe it’s me- maybe I just need help.

I know now that that’s not true,

Not everyone is meant to help you,

My anxiety will always be apart of me- but at least now I’ve found coping mechanisms that work for me,

Setting aside time for me- removing people from my life that always belittle and doubt me,

Writing out my feelings is a huge win for me,

Makes me remember what I am feeling so I can better deal with it,

Verbalizing your stresses and pains are cathartic and soothing

It’s unfathomable to think,

That physical health is valued and understood more than mental health

But as long as I keep vocalizing my truth, I’ll always be fine.

what are you afraid of?

HelloHalima

636037141990688898-1508755838_leaving-your-fears-insecurities-behind

Fear. It manifests itself into the aversions you have, the ghosts that you are afraid of and of course- through the dark and immense wonders of the world that we are taught as children: the concepts of life and death. As a child, I possessed three fears: 1. swallowing my gum and it becoming etched and stuck in my stomach for 7 years (what kind of myth/fear was this? sounds like it was perpetuated by elementary and middle schoolers and parents to convince you that chewing gum was not beneficial for your teeth) , 2. falling and scraping my knees (did this from my bike once and had to get multiple stitches and have to deal with a lifelong scar that is a constant reminder of the hill I should not have rode down) and 3. disappointing people. It was as if these fears were heightened as an adult, perhaps not the first two but more so- the last. The fear of disappointment becoming an anchor on my heart every time I contemplated making major decisions that could potentially alter the course of my life- especially when you feel like the decision you are making is in your own best interest but is met with a lack of enthusiasm from the rest of the people in your life. But how do we move past this?

Karen Thompson Walker has an incredible TEDTalk about Fear, about how fear and storytelling are intertwined and contain the same components that live within our minds. She speaks about the fables that surround fear and how its misconception has flouted our minds into believing its debilitating nature. But what if it isn’t? What if fear can be used as a mechanism to imagine the unimaginable, to move the mountains that stand in our way, to conquer the plights that we deem difficult and to finally- dream the type of dreams that can turn into stories. Walker uses this ideology in her TedTalk by equating fear into storytelling and using it to further our understanding.

“What if instead of calling them fears, we called them stories? Because that’s really what fear is, if you think about it. It’s a kind of unintentional storytelling that we all born knowing how to do. And fears and storytelling have the same components. They  have the same architecture. Like all stories fears have characters. In our fears, the characters are us….”  -Karen Thompson Walker

So if storytelling and fears have the same genetic makeup, why is it hard for us to see this as something positive and move past it by a means of conquering what ails us? Why is it hard for us to move past our fears? Especially when the elements of storytelling allow you to rewrite what the problems in the plot are and reimagine what present outcome you are apart of? Maybe Karen Thompson Walker was onto something. If the elements of fear are components of storytelling- How can we indeed move past this? What are YOU afraid of?

Picture it, your fear I mean, envision it in your mind. Is it preventing you from seeking the realities that you dream of? Is your fear tangible? Something existent in this world and as a result- grabs a hold of your every thought and breath? Envision it so you are able to say it out loud. One of own my biggest fears involves not being good enough at what I seek out to accomplish in this world. This coupled with my anxiety, my fear allows me to participate in self-sabotaging behaviour where I squander my opportunities in fear of ruining them with anything short of perfection. So much so that whenever I see any sort of success, the saboteur in me wants to come out in full force.

By saying this out loud- in the form of this blog, to my loved ones, I am able to rewrite the rules to my fear and as a result, I am able to work on conquering this fear. Once you are able to do so, you will find yourself weight-less, like the weights that were on your shoulders have been relieved and the fears that kept you up at night are on the road to no longer being apart of your life. The manifestations of fear gone, the narrative you are apart of, rewritten. I found that when I hold my fears in, keep them to myself- the progression of ridding myself of this pain and turmoil that comes alongside these fears grows and worsens over time.

By speaking your truths out loud and in technicolour, you will be able to take charge of what you are afraid of and in turn break the manifestations of fear.

Update: Writers Block

HelloHalima, Written Pieces

 

Writers block

 

I was talking to someone from school recently and she asked me “Halima, why don’t you post more frequently? I don’t get it, you have all this time and yet your blog remains dormant and all you do is watch netflix everyday, are you lazy…” While this is partially true, what I did not like was the polarizing attitude she had and the lack of understanding she possessed about writers block. Some say that writers block is a myth, just an imaginary and psychological barrier in your mind that you create when you want to avoid fear of being judged or justify not writing. To these people I say, to hell with you!

When you suffer from writers block, you feel the bubbling of the words at the tip of your tongue, the words and the intent are there but suddenly vanish as you are unable to retrieve them back again. It feels horrible, kind of like a sneeze that does not really come out but you are left with a strange sensation and a weird expression on your face. Recently, I have found myself at a loss for words but not really? I do not know how to explain it, if you have ever suffered from it then you know about what I am speaking about, the halting sensation you feel, the panic when the words do not feel or flow the same way on paper than how they did in your mind, the frustration of not communicating how you feel properly. I write and write and write but sometimes I do not feel like what I am writing is at the caliber that it is usually at. I am stuck like a piece of fresh gum at the bottom of my shoe, it is a annoying reoccurrence in my life.

Charles Bukowski once said “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all” hence this post but what I still do not understand is the way in which people just think they know you. It is infuriating!!! The idea that someone can just speak about your intentions, your thoughts, your ideologies and just misconstrue them in a way that no longer contains the essence of you. It is like they project their own expectations, ideas and thoughts onto you and think that because of this, you are similar to them? No way. I found this quote that really helped me get out of my rut:

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” -Hilary Mantel

And patient is what I’ll be.