'I wasn't a bad kid'

I didn't get along with the majority of my teachers. I wouldn't listen in class and spent the majority of my school days doing nothing. The friends I did have would come and go as I was either quick to get angry or shutdown. For a few years this was what my life was like. It wasn't long before I was labelled a ‘bad kid’ and often punished.  When I entered high school I hid a lot of my emotions and learned to ‘act’ my way through the school years. 

What no one saw was the reasons I was ‘acting out’.  I was feeling depressed and anxious and even began practising self-harm.  I felt isolated and this was a way for me to deal with the feeling that my emotions were overwhelming me.  This was my cry for help. 

I finally got some answers about what was happening with me when I attended a TAMI summit and heard a story about self-harm and suicidal ideation.  It was the first time that I had heard someone talk about things I was feeling and that were bothering me.

Thankfully I reached out and got care first as an outpatient at Ontario Shores and then in hospital when I needed it.

Even though I had the help I needed as a teenager, once I started college I faced new difficulties that made it very difficult to get through school. I had so much anxiety even with taking public transit to get there that it became much easier to just not go.

Throughout that time I began to share my story and that helped.  I too became a TAMI speaker and started blogging online.  I am now very outspoken about mental illness and advocate for myself and others.

I also now know that the stressors in my life, like my parents’ divorce or cultural differences were triggers of my mental illness thought to be Borderline Personality.

Though still working on a diagnosis, I work on my depression and anxiety daily. 

Having stable housing, transportation and a job as a college graduate are huge milestones.  I am happy with the progress I have made and recognize that it is important to try even when I have bad days.

I am still faced with new challenges daily.

As a child and youth worker I now have a direct opportunity to help others and share what I have learned. This work has been very helpful to me on my own recovery journey. 

My relationship with my family is something that I continue to work on.  They often do not understand what I am experiencing because of their religious and cultural beliefs. It is not where I want it to be but I know that with hard work and persistence I will continue to grow.

Every day I am grateful that I really wasn’t just a bad kid.  I live with mental illness and there is help available to me as I continue to make a difference to others.