For as long as I can remember, friends turned to me for advice. They looked at me as the funny upbeat girl who never really let “life” get to her. Majority of the time that is exactly how I felt. I loved smiling and making other around me do the same. I brushed off challenges and faced them with strength and determination to get through.
But, somewhere down the line…I got lost. I tripped into unknown territory. Suddenly those challenges that I got through with ease, felt like a ton of bricks on my chest. For fear of looking weak, I hid my struggles. I tucked them way down deep, so that anyone looking at my face, could not doubt for a second that I was the happy go lucky girl they always knew.
While going through those ups and downs, I didn’t realize exactly what my feelings meant. I knew it was depression and some anxiety, but I thought it was normal. Normal to feel that way and normal to be going through it alone. Was I ever wrong!
When I was faced with one of the most difficult changes in my life, my divorce, is where I noticed just how much my Mental Health was being affected and that I wasn’t really alone. Married for 10 years and then watching it all crumble left me literally gasping for air. I lost weight, started to retreat and overall felt like my world stopped spinning. I felt like I couldn’t complete any tasks, they were far too much for me to wrap my head around. This is where I started to acknowledge my anxiety and watched it creep up in intensity. Raising three young daughters throughout the process was terrifying. I knew they needed me, but I could barely be there for myself. I needed a change. To feel safe, I started reaching out to people who were strangers to me. I felt as though I could be comforted in their presence because they wouldn’t judge me for what was going on. I reached out to a therapist, and from the first day I sat with her, the gates blew right open. She helped give me the education, the tools and the strength to understand what was happening in my body. Those moments where I could not breathe weren’t normal. The times I secluded myself from the outside world, weren’t normal. And the most important part…the times I felt alone…were not normal. She encouraged me to reach out to the ones I loved. Telling them I wasn’t ok did not make me look weak like I thought in my head, it made me look strong to be honest about what I was feeling.
Once I opened up to those around me, the support never stopped. I realized that I do have a loving group of people that are looking out for me. They want me to call them when I feel alone or overwhelmed. They walk with me hand in hand through whatever challenge I may be facing.
I am grateful for the programs within my community that help support this cause. I’ve dipped my toe into just about everything to see what works for me. It’s different for everyone. The most important part is that they are there. So that anyone can do the same. That they can be encouraged and not felt judged while they reach out for help.
It is my passion and determination to give back to this community that opened up to me with loving arms. I will continue to live my life with empathy for all people who may struggle and may need someone in their corner.
Putting a spotlight on this cause is important for all of us, because whether you like it or not, we all struggle with some form of Mental Health at some point in our lives.
Launching the Total Health and Wellness Show alongside my fellow Mental Health advocate Ashley, has given us the platform to give back to our community. In a way that goes beyond how many squats you can do in a row or that you eat all the veggies of the rainbow in a day. Total means just that…everything that equals up to YOUR own health and wellness. That includes your mental state. Working closely with our local branch at the Canadian Mental Health Association gives me great joy. Knowing we are directly impacting our community with programs and awareness lets me know there is hope. Hope that one day when someone puts up a hand for help…there will be no doubt everyone will offer a hand right back. I know when we all work together, we can make this happen.
In June 2018, Nicole and Ashley held the Total Health and Wellness Show in support of CMHA WW. They raised over $900.00 and provided an amazing day for all participants. They have some big plans for their next Wellness Show on November 3rd and are currently accepting applications for their Christmas Wellness Market @benjamintreefarm in Waterloo!! Applications are being accepted until August 31st via firstname.lastname@example.org. They are looking for all businesses involved in Total Health and Wellness, covering THAW’s three pillars • Physical, Mental and Emotional. Follow THAW on Instagram.