“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
When I found about the opportunity to write for this blog, it couldn’t have come at a better time. As someone who is fairly shy when speaking to people, writing has always been an outlet that has felt like a safe avenue for me to express my thoughts and feelings. But I always wrote for myself; sharing my personal experiences with the public would be like inviting strangers to read my diary.
After spending most of my life keeping my opinions to myself, thinking that they had no value and that no one really cared what I had to say, I had to make a decision. Like Alice in Wonderland, I had reached a fork in the road. Do I ignore this opportunity, continue on with my life, and play it safe? Or do I take a deep breath and take a risk?
I came to the conclusion that this would not only be a great way for me to express myself, but it was also an opportunity for me to connect with others who may be going through similar struggles in their life.
I think it would be good to start out with some info about myself. I am 23 years old and am entering my fifth year at the University of Toronto. I am majoring in Psychology, and completing a double minor in Cinema Studies and Sociology. I also happen to suffer from anxiety and depression, both of which I was diagnosed with at the age of 15. I have been through a lot physically and emotionally, and am at a stage where I have taken my health care into my own hands (mostly because navigating the mental health care system has been kind of a nightmare…that will probably be a future post). I have let my mental health issues rule my life for a long time, and have used them as an excuse to avoid doing things that intimidate me.
But I am at a point in my life where I am tired of running away from problems. Sure, in the short term that was helpful – I could avoid what was scary to me and reduce my anxiety in the moment. But that is only a temporary solution. For those of you with anxiety know, avoidance only builds further anxiety over time and it gets harder and harder to face obstacles with confidence. At some point, you have to take the plunge.
This blog is really a step for me to face my problems, talk about them, and hopefully hear from others who are experiencing similar things so we can all feel a little less alone in the world. I am partly excited yet completely terrified to share such personal stories with the public, but I am ready to do it.
So, like Alice, I don’t really know what exactly I want or what I expect to come out of this blog. As the Cheshire Cat said, it doesn’t really matter what path I take. If I try something new and it works out, that’s great. And if it doesn’t? That’s okay too. The important thing is to try even without a plan. Which is hard for someone like me who likes to plan out everything and know exactly what my next steps are. But if I never even take that first step, how will I know what I really want?
For anyone going through similar struggles with mental health, know that your situation can improve even when it seems like it never will. Compared to a year ago, I am doing much better mentally and physically, and it was connecting with others that really made the difference. For those of you who may not share the same experiences with me, I hope this is a chance for you to learn a bit more about mental health issues. I hope I can foster a positive environment where, despite the challenges I have been through, I can share my story and instill hope in others.
Until next time,
– Ayesha K.
Ayesha is a fourth year student at the University of Toronto, majoring in Psychology and completing a double minor in Cinema Studies and Sociology. She enjoys watercolor painting, fantasy fiction, and crime dramas. She was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression and Social Anxiety.