The mental health stigma

Hey everyone, So, as today is Bell Let’s Talk Day (http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/) I wanted to write a blog on mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it. My first question is why. Why is there such a stigma surrounding mental health? … Continue reading

Farewell, 2016

Hello everyone! This is my last blog of 2016! I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. I’ve been hearing people say that this has been the worst year ever, but I don’t see it like that. Sure, … Continue reading

Job Interview Stress&Moebius

As most of my Facebook friends you know from my earlier post, I had a job interview this morning. It was for a social media coodinator/editorial position with a publishing company here in Calgary. I was super nervous about it … Continue reading

Awareness&Self Acceptance; Why these words are important to me and my journey

As someone living with a rare neurological condition, I know how important awareness is. I’ve been witness to the inquisitive stares. I have heard the comments. I have even fallen victim to the bullies of the world and been asked … Continue reading

Memories & Sorrow

On Saturday, November 12, 2016 the world lost a truly beautiful soul. My granny passed away at the age of 93. I was incredibly blessed to have such a close relationship with my granny for all of my 25 years. … Continue reading

The power of good people

Hey everyone, Don’t worry, this blog isn’t about the election, although I could write a few words about that. I will just keep my Canadian comments to myself! Unless you’re on my Facebook, then you just have to deal with … Continue reading

Mental illness doesn’t make you crazy

Hey everyone, It has been months since I last posted a blog and for that I am disappointed in myself. I got the inspiration for this post from a friends’ Facebook post the other night. It was basically about not … Continue reading

Sleepless Nights, Slightly Better Days

So, I have this new thing where I can’t sleep at night. Yeah, it’s great. I’m just a university student. Why would I need sleep? I’m awake till 2 in the morning and then wake up for an hour and then get like, another hour or two of sleep. This has been the trend for the last week or so. It is really starting to get to me and I am feeling the effects of the lack of sleep. Ugh. I just want a good nights sleep!

What better to do when there’s nothing else to do than blog? I feel like I need to be blogging a lot more. It’s a way to get my thoughts and feelings out and it is so incredibly therapeutic.

Big news first: I am going to be featured in Chatelaine magazine! If you’re Canadian, you’ll have heard of it. If you’re not Canadian, Chatelaine is a women’s magazine that is published in both English and French and is a nationwide magazine. They are featuring my story about living life with Moebius syndrome. I am super excited to see the article! I had a photo shoot this morning for the magazine, and it was amazing. I felt like a famous model. My best friend, who is a hairstylist, came to do my hair for the photos and it looked fantastic. I am so excited to see the photos and the article when it is published!

Another cool thing that is happening is that I got a message on Facebook a few months ago from a girl in the journalism program at the college that I went to. She had heard about my story and wanted to know if she could do a documentary about Moebius and how it affects me for one of her courses. I obviously said yes! What a fantastic opportunity and great tool to raise awareness! i’ve met with her a few times now and she is such a lovely person to not only work with but to just hang out with. I love people that don’t judge me or treat me different upon first meeting me, and she didn’t. So, on Sunday, we went out to where I board my pony Snapple so she could film some video footage for the documentary. It was such a fun day. I got to spend it with my pony and two amazing friends. I am really lucky to have the people in my life that I do. I don’t know where I would be without my lovely friends who have never given up on me and support me no matter what. When I think that I can’t go on, they are there to tell me that I can and for that I am grateful.

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I know I mentioned this in my last post, but I am continuing to see a psychiatrist at the university. Honestly, two years ago, I would not have been able to admit that to anyone nor would I even probably be seeing him. There is still a stigma connected to mental health and while I can say that I don’t understand why, that also makes me a hypocrite. Even saying the word psychiatrist is taboo to most people, myself included. A lot of people don’t want to admit it. I don’t fully understand why it is such a taboo topic but mental health is so incredibly important, we need to bring it to the forefront. People need to know that there is NO shame in seeking help. I couldn’t do that for the longest time because of the stigma that continues to surround mental health but I finally did. I could not be happier with that decision. I am not going to lie, I have seen some pretty shitty psychiatrists. Maybe they weren’t actually shitty but I just did not get along with them and I find that chemistry is so important with therapists, psychiatrists included. If you don’t get along with someone or don’t like their vibe, you’re not going to feel comfortable talking to them. I am so incredibly lucky that the psychiatrist at the university is freaking amazing. So personable, relatable and laid back, which is honestly what I need if I am going to spill my deepest, darkest secrets to someone. I never feel judged by him, ever, even though I feel completely nuts when I tell him some of the stuff that I tell him. It’s such a relief to have someone to tell these things to, because some of the things I have said to him, I have never told anyone else. Why? Because of the stigma. I felt crazy, and honestly still do at times. I am in a constant battle with myself, day in and day out. Literally. It’s like my brain is against me. This is why I participated in the Canadian Mental Health Association’s #NowImStronger campaign, which is meant to bring mental health to the forefront of everyone’s minds and to let people know that there is no shame in talking about it. Mental health is just as, if not more, important than physical health and it is time to start openly discussing it. Everyone needs to know that if they need to seek help, there is absolutely no shame in that. I can’t stress that enough. It might take a few tries, but you will eventually find a therapist that you will connect with and who will help you immensely. I don’t know where I would be without the support of my psychiatrist and I hope he knows what a fabulously amazing person he is. I feel like I’m gushing a bit here but for real, he has changed my life and my outlook on life. I still struggle daily but just the fact that I know he’s there and knows what’s going on is a huge relief for me. How do you thank someone for giving you your life back? I feel like this is what he has done for me, despite some of the struggles that I continue to have. I’m so grateful to have someone like him in my life, i honestly can’t stress that enough. My point here is that if you need help, please seek it. Don’t ever be ashamed.

That’s what’s been going on lately. Just university stuff, and my awareness campaign for Moebius which continues with the article that will be in Chatelaine! I could not be more happy or excited.

To my friends and everyone who has supported me along the way, thank you. I would not be here without you. I would not be the person that I am. I’m proud to be on this mission to raise awareness of Moebius and that will never change.

Find your passion, have goals and never lose sight of who you are and who you can be.

Breaking the stigma

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Hey everyone.

I hesitated writing this because it’s a personal thing, but I think that the message is SO important and if I can help others by telling my story, that is what this blog is all about. I made a vow to be transparent and open when I started writing this blog so I will continue to endeavour to do so.

As some people know, I wrote an article for the Canadian Mental Health Association for their 60 Conversation in 60 Days, #NowImStronger campaign. This campaign really endeavours to raise awareness of mental health and get people talking about it. Many people suffer in silence because of the stigma attached to mental health and I really want to help break that stigma. There is NO shame in seeking help, which is something I have recently learned.

I started seeing a psychiatrist at the University. Originally, I went because I was referred to him. I didn’t want to at first, because I didn’t want to admit that I was seeing a psychiatrist. I didn’t want to admit to myself that maybe I did need help. I know the stigma; you feel embarrassed that you are seeking mental health treatment and you feel crazy. At least I did. Though, when I think about it, I’m not sure why I felt that way. I’m not sure why there is such an overt stigma surrounding mental health and seeking help. If I had cancer, I wouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed to seek treatment. It’s the same with any other physical ailment; people generally aren’t embarrassed to seek help if it’s a part of their body that needs treatment. Well, the brain IS a part of your body. It is an organ, just like any other, and sometimes, it is sick and needs treatment. I have been struggling more than anyone knows for the past few months, and I wasn’t able to tell anyone because I felt crazy, and that no one would understand. My psychiatrist knows this now and he was really thankful that I divulged to him what I was going through.

Even if you aren’t comfortable with talking face to face about your troubles, (I am absolutely NOT comfortable doing this) there are so many different ways to communicate with your therapist. What I did was I wrote a note saying everything that I needed to say that I couldn’t say to his face. At our first appointment, I didn’t divulge much but I wrote him a note afterward and dropped it off for him. At our next appointment, he was stunned and he had no idea that things were so bad and he was happy that he had the information that he needs to help me.

I won’t go into the details of my diagnosis, as that is private and I want to keep it that way but I am so incredibly glad that I did go to that initial appointment because my psychiatrist is freaking amazing. We spent the last like, 10 minutes of my appointment yesterday talking about Dr. Phil and My 600 Pound Life which, admittedly is my favourite show at the moment, He doesn’t judge me, even when I do feel completely nuts and I know that I can tell him anything which, believe me, is extremely gratifying. To be able to get something off your chest that you’ve been carrying alone for so long is almost freeing. I still struggle but I am so, so glad that I have him to go to.

My message is that there is absolutely no shame in seeking help or treatment. Your mental health is just as, if not more, important than your physical health. We need to break down this stigma surrounding mental health and let people know that it’s absolutely okay to talk in the open about it. If we start the conversation, people will continue talking and that is the best way to break the stigma.

Continue talking about it, and never feel shame in seeking help. It will change your life for the better.

That awkward silence

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It has to be one of the worst things about having Moebius syndrome; when you’re talking to someone and experience the dreaded awkward silence, the one where you know that the person has not understood what you just said.

I am currently sitting at Starbucks on the university campus, and my intention was to do homework but then this happened so I decided to blog instead. Hashtag priorities.

It’s not a huge deal. I walked up to the cashier/barista, ordered my standard grande non-fat iced white mocha and then it happened. The awkward silence. And then the standard, “I’m sorry, what was that?” So I repeated it, heat rising in my body, knowing that he hadn’t understood and worrying, like I always do, what if he doesn’t understand the next time I say it? He then got closer, “oh an iced mocha?” Close enough. Then, as he’s writing on the cup, I say, that’s a white mocha, right? And he got it.

This time, it wasn’t so bad. He was nice about it and got my order after a couple of tries, and then when I was paying he apologized, which most people don’t do.

I think those with Moebius (and others with speech issues) might be the only ones who truly understand what it is like to not be understood and to endure that awkward silence. It doesn’t sound like a huge deal, I know, but it can be humiliating.

This is actually ironic, but I was going through my Facebook wall this morning and came across a post I made in like, March of 2015. I basically laid out a question to my friends with Moebius and asked if scientists found a way to repair our cranial nerves, for all intents and purposes curing Moebius syndrome, would they want that? Would they take the treatment, even if it was experimental?

Back then, I said I wouldn’t. I’ve never known a life without Moebius, I never have known what it’s like to communicate without barriers. I like who I am, I like the person that I am because of Moebius so I wouldn’t change it. After instances like what just happened at Starbucks, I find myself rethinking that statement. Yes, I believe that Moebius has made me a better, more tolerant and inclusive person but it sure does make life difficult sometimes. If I could make life just a little easier, would I? I don’t know the answer, I guess I will have to wait until the time comes. The facial paralysis isn’t an issue, I can live with it but it would be nice to have clear speech and not worry about being understood. I don’t think it’s something that the average person can fully sympathize with because it’s one of those things that you could never know what it’s like until you have to deal with it.

I’m not ashamed of having Moebius, not in the least but again, it does make life pretty difficult sometimes. I think I have learned to adjust the best way that I know how and I am sure I will continue to learn over my lifetime.

I am curious to know what others think. If you could change/improve your disability, would you?

Let me know via the comments!