Life Since University Started

Hi again :).

Time for another late night post. So, in my last post I talked about what life was like for me during high school and where I believe my mental health journey to have started.

We last left off with me feeling relieved that I got to go away to university. To give you a frame of reference, I got to move out of my house and 2 hours away from my parents. I know this may not seem like a lot compared to others moving from different countries, but at the time, I thought this was the best thing ever to happen to me. And in some ways, I still believe that moving out was the best decision for me, but we will get to that.

I started my first year of uni in September 2017. During this first semester, it was obviously a huge learning curve, but I had a group of friends I studied and hung out with and life was seemingly okay. It was when first midterm marks started to roll in that I once again felt the pressure of my parents. The university plainly tells all students that most of us will see a drop of at least 15-20% in averages from high school to university. However, at first, my parents did not understand this and were disappointed with the 60s and 70s I got which was a vast difference to the 90s in high school.

This time around however, it was easier to ignore their pressure because I was not living with them and I almost never visited home. At the time, my relationship with my parents was so rough that even when I did go home, I always planned out my weekends so that I spent the least amount of time possible at home. As I found out later, this was probably not the smartest thing to do.

Things continued this way well into second semester, but it was in March when things really started to fall apart. My dad was upset that every time I came home, I never spent any time hanging out with him and my mom and barely even talked to them. So, one weekend when I came home, he said I wasn’t allowed to go out. This of course upset me and I ended up just shutting myself away in my room. However, my mom would have none of that and continually pestered me about what was wrong. It was at that point I snapped.

I finally broke down and screamed. I yelled at my parents for suffocating me, for invading my privacy, for being the reason I never came home. That night, crying and yelling on the couch, I finally started to let go of 3 years worth of pent up hurt and anger towards my parents. To say the least, both of them were shocked. While my mom tried to comfort me and listen, my dad did the opposite and lashed out saying I was ungrateful and even stopped talking to me for a while.

The weekend ended and I went back to Waterloo. My dad only speaking a few words to me and mom trying to be overly supportive. I’m not sure exactly what caused what happened next but it was definitely one of my lowest points in life.

Once I got back to Waterloo on Sunday, I thought everything would be fine. I woke up the next morning and didn’t feel like going to class, so I skipped and slept all day. I woke up around 7/8 pm that day, used the bathroom, had a chewy bar and went back to bed. This went on for 2 weeks. Every morning I’d wake up, being unable to muster the energy to move, and then fall back asleep. During these 2 weeks I sleep for 22-23 hours a day, only waking up to use the bathroom and sometimes eat.

Honestly I’m not sure how I survived. I barely remember eating or drinking much water during that time. I had fallen into a deep depression. I couldn’t move, only when I really had to use the bathroom, and then I would come straight back to bed. No one close to me knew what was happening because I made sure to respond to texts so no one would bother me.

However, my Waterloo friends did notice since I did not go to class for 2 full weeks. They tried to ask me what was wrong and I just brushed it off as I needed a break because I was burnt out. I don’t and never will blame them for not trying harder because at the time, I didn’t want that. And I told every lie that I could come up with to make it seem like I was okay. 

I honestly think that if finals season didn’t roll around, I would’ve been in that semi-comatose state for a lot longer. After 2 weeks had passed, I realized that it was the last week of class and if I didn’t get my act together and study, I was going to fail the semester. I really think that this was the only reason I got up and started living again.

I pulled myself up, went to class, studied 24/7 so I didn’t have to think about my life, and passed my courses. I never told anyone about what happened during those two weeks. I knew that I had the signs of depression but I really did not want to admit that to myself at the time. A big reason for this was my parents.

At the time, they had no exposure to people dealing with mental health issues. Multiple times when I had talked to them about suicides that had happened on campus and how sad it was, their response would be “only crazy people do that”. At the time, I was angry and felt like I could never open up to them about what I had been going through so I didn’t.

Summer came and went and everything was still seemingly fine. I hadn’t had another depressive episode and all in all my summer was okay so I thought that I had put everything behind me and I was okay. Boy was I wrong. All I had been doing was letting my feelings build up more.

In Sept 2018, I started my second year of university. And in October I had my second depressive episode. Similar to the first, I barely functioned for 2 weeks. This time around, I stopped trying to fight it after the first few days. I told myself this happened before, that this was what I needed, and that after two weeks I would be fine again and able to finish my semester. So I let it happen, didn’t function for 2 weeks, hid it from everyone, and then continued about my life as if nothing was wrong. However, I was wrong again.

In November 2018, my best friends (who all went to different universities than me) and I all met up for a weekend of fun and partying. This was definitely not one of my finest moments, but I got black out drunk. It is the only time it has ever happened to me and to this day I still only have flashes of memory of the night.

Turns out, once we got home from the club, I broke down. I cried and sobbed and begged my friends not to make me go back to Waterloo, to go home. I told them I hated my life so much, that I just didn’t want to be here anymore, that I didn’t know how long I could continue like this.

Being my friends for 10 years, this obviously concerned them. They sat me down the next morning and said listen, we don’t know what exactly has been going on, but you need to get help and talk to someone. As much as they wanted to help me, they knew they weren’t equipped to do it alone. They gave me an ultimatum and said if I didn’t tell my family (at the time my cousins were my biggest support system) within the week, then they would do it.

I’m not saying this is the answer to helping everyone, but it worked on me because honestly I did want help, and I did want to get better. The next night, I told my cousin everything, about the depressive episodes, the anxiety and the thoughts about self harm and suicide. She immediately told my parents, knowing that this wasn’t something we could solve alone.

The next day, my parents texted me that they were at my front door here to see me. We had a long discussion and this is when things started to get better. I could see that as I talked about what I was going through, that they didn’t understand. They were brought up in very conservative households and are immigrants. Mental health was a whole new topic that they didn’t understand and were not informed about. But, I could see they were trying.

They took me to my family doctor and when he diagnosed me depression and anxiety, they sat and listened to all he was saying. When he suggested I start taking SSRI’s, I could see that this not what they wanted but they still wanted what was best for me so they agreed.

It was from here on out that our relationship started mending and we are where we are today. Them accepting my mental health did not happen overnight. Sure they tried to be supportive, but I could tell they were uncomfortable with the topic for a long time. Although it bothered me a little, I was happy and relieved that they were trying to help me get better.

Months passed and I started going to therapy. I really do value therapy and think it is a very helpful tool if the person them self wants to get better.

Lets rewind a bit. In March 2018, before my first depressive episode, my cousins could tell that something was wrong but they could not get me to open up. So to try and help this, they asked if I would see an on campus counsellor. I agreed and went to one session, however at the time, I did not want to get better because I told myself I was fine and that they were just over reacting. Obviously, because of this mindset, that session did not help much at all.

Back to Spring 2019. I started going to therapy about 1-2 times a week, and went for about 6 months. For me, it was a world of help. It was through therapy that I realized just how far back everything started, but also where I realized just how far I had come. It not only helped me come to terms with what I was going through, it helped me fully forgive my parents and move past all the hurt and resentment I carried towards them.

My parents and I are now closer than we have ever been. I talk to them about almost everything in my life (of course some things your parents just don’t need to know haha) and they are very open and accepting towards my mental health journey. As soon as they realized this was something serious, they read every article and book they could find about mental health and depression in particular. I was so thankful for this because never in a million years did I think my conservative parents would be accepting of all that I was going through and it really meant everything to me.

I have now been on SSRI’s for a little over a year. Although I have come a long way in my mental health, it has not been without its ups and downs. Mental health is one of the hardest things I have had to fight for in my life but it’s worth it because I want to be happy.

I think that is at the crux of it all – you have to want to get better, want to be happy. For whatever the reason may be, you have to want it before you can truly start to take the steps to get better.

Do I think that I am 100% better? Definitely not. Do I think that I am on the right path? Definitely. Even though I still have days where I really struggle to get out of bed or to do my homework or to do anything, I am happy with where I am in life. I am happy and proud of the progress I’ve made and thankful that I’ve been surrounded by love and support from those around me.

I know that we all have those points of things just feeling absolutely hopeless, where we just want to give up, but you have to think, is this all I want, where I just want to stop? Or do I want to one day be in a better place? Although others will be there to support you, no one can fight your battles. You have to do that yourself, and if and when you do, the progress you make is so worth it. At least that’s what I believe.

Anyways, I think I have rambled on in this post for long enough. I know I didn’t get into too much detail about my highs and lows after starting my SSRI’s and actually accepting my illness but I will get to all that in future posts. For now, I just want to show everyone that this is my mental health journey so far and that if you thought you’re the only one going through certain things, that you’re not.

I kind of suck at ending these things haha. But yeah. I’ll try and have the next post up soon. Don’t even know if anyone is reading this but it’s a good goal for myself lol. Also I apologize for all grammar mistakes, I’m trying me best :).

With lots of love,

Your mental healh Mathie ❤

My High School Life

Hello :).

Although I probably won’t be posting as frequently in the future, I just wanted to give people a little insight as to what they might be reading about here.

I think I’ll start off by kind of just going through a general ish overview of my mental health journey thus far. I’m still trying to decide how to layout the whole blog and how each post should be structured, but I think its easiest if I start with my journey and how I dealt with it and then move onto other things.

First, I’m going to talk about my life before University and then in my next post will talk about life after University had started. Before we start though, I’d like to say that although my parents and I did have a rough patch, we have worked through it the past couple of years and are probably closer than ever right now. You’ll see how this comes to be in my next post.

Anyways, throughout high school, I always had really bad anxiety, especially in Grades 11 and 12. There were numerous times I broke down in the school bathroom that no one, not even my closest friends, knew about. I think that at the time, I had the strictest parents in my friend group and we all knew it.

When I think back on it, in Grade 11-12, my parents almost never gave me a break. Even in the summer when I was supposed to take some time to relax, I would be given sets of math questions, have to go to piano theory lessons and study for the SATs. I know this may sound like just a normal workload to some, but to me, with all the pressure they put on me to be perfect, coupled with the fact I had absolutely no privacy, it was like a prison.

Let’s rewind a little and talk about the issues of no privacy. I think that in most child/parent relationships, there comes a time when you start to pull away from your parents and want to be your own person. You start hiding things, arguing what they say, really just trying to show that hey, I am my own person and this is who I am. I think that for a lot of us, high school is a time where we are trying to break out a little and see who we are. We have new friends, we start to see the real world around us and we have to start thinking about what we’re going to do with our future. Through all this, our parents are there to guide us, but there is a difference between guiding and controlling. And this is where my parents got it wrong.

I think that the turning point in my relationship with my parents happened in Grade 10. I was grounded for two weeks (phone and laptop taken away) for being caught staying up until 3am texting my friends, which included a boy. My parents are very conservative and this was as huge no even though we weren’t dating or doing anything. I was obviously upset about being grounded but in the grand scheme of things, this upset me way less than what happened next.

Once they took my phone, they read through all the texts I had ever sent that guy. On top of that, they tried to text him pretending to be me as well as text my friends pretending to be me to see if they could get more information. I had told everyone I normally text that I did not have my phone anymore, the next day at school, so no one responded, but I was in shock and so upset because they tried this numerous times even though they never got a response.

Two weeks later, I got my phone and laptop back and I thought that  that would be the end. However, after that, every night after my parents thought I had fallen asleep, they would come into my room and take my phone. At this point they had made me give them the password to my phone and fb account. And every night they would check who I talked to, and I assume read some messages, as they would leave conversations open (that I hadn’t left open) which I saw the next morning when they put the phone back in my room before I woke up.

To add to this, they also had my iPhone messages upload directly to their computer and read them almost everyday, if not everyday. Which I know because they confronted me many times on things I had texted to other people and wouldn’t even try to hide the fact they had been snooping.

This went on for almost 2 years. I had no privacy and no one to talk to. I couldn’t text my friends, I was let to go hangout with them maybe once a month and at this point my parents were my number one enemies and I could barely stand being home. I think it was after this had been going on for a few months when I started to become very anxious. I hated being home, I felt like anything I did, my parents would know and I would get in trouble and I was just generally not happy.

It got to the point where I joined any club I could, so that I could spend more time at school and not go home. During that time, staying at school with my friends, was probably one of my biggest escapes. When I got home, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV or play games or use my phone (because they would’ve seen anything I had done) on weekdays so I shut myself in my room doing homework and then reading books as my other escape.

Books was one of the biggest parts of my life before university. I almost was always reading some book or another. For me, reading was an acceptable pass-time to my parents so I took full advantage of it. When I read, I wasn’t myself anymore or living my life, I was living in the world of the book right next to the characters I was reading about. It made me forget, even just for a little, about the pressures and reality of my own life.

There were so many times in Grades 10-12 where I used to breakdown and cry in the shower. It was honestly the only place I had for myself. I remember I used to always wait for my parents to be home from work before I showered, because that meant that I had to spend less time with them. It was also during this time that I used to take at least 30 mins showers where I could just be by myself to think or cry.

It was during this time that I needed someone the most I think. I felt so trapped. Sure I would tell my friends some of what was happening when we were at school, but for the most part I held everything in. I had so many pent up feelings of anger, betrayal and sadness and looking back I can see how much I hated my life at the time.

In the scheme of things, I think that books was one of my healthier coping mechanisms. Sure it didn’t help me face my problems head on, but it helped me relax and for a time eased the ball of tightness I was always feeling in my chest.

I think that my healthiest coping mechanism to this day is talking to my friends and/or family. Even in high school, while I did feel trapped because I was a minor and had to obey my parents rules, talking to my friends and joining clubs really helped me. I think if it weren’t for them, I definitely would have started self harming earlier (see my next post for more on this) or gone down a much darker path.

For me, talking to others provides me a feeling of relief. Although the idea of it at first is terrifying, because I feel like others will judge me, after I open up, I can feel my anxiety lessen greatly. Humans aren’t meant to be alone, and opening up to others and feeling supported, does so much more good than I ever could have imagined.

I know that a lot of people are not as fortunate as I am to have a great support system which is why I want to say that if you ever need to talk to anyone, please do not hesitate to reach out, whether it be through the comments or through email.

At the end of Grade 12, I decided that I was going to pursue a Math degree at the University of Waterloo. My friends, cousins and I used to joke that this was finally my way to get out of the prison I had felt like I had been living in. And, in a way it was because I could finally live without my parents breathing down my neck every second. But at the same time, it wasn’t everything I had hoped for.

I don’t want to make each of these too long for now so I’ll stop there. In my next post I’ll talk about my mental health since university has started and then we’ll see where we should go from there :).

With lots of love,

Your Mental Health Mathie ❤

About My Blog – The Inspiration

Hi there!

Although I would like to keep my identity anonymous (at least for now), I don’t want to keep my life and experiences a secret.

The inspiration for this blog came to me one night after I spent about an hour crying over school work, friends, family, and really any situation my brain could think of. I laid in my dark bedroom staring at the ceiling thinking I couldn’t be the only one who broke down like this, had these feelings, or wanted to hide from the world but also wanted to talk to someone and not feel like a burden.

I want to write and create this blog for me as much as I want to write it in hopes that others that are experiencing similar things can see they are not alone. While many mental health resources exist, I find that many of them seem too informational or too positive (which I’m not saying is a bad thing). When I’m in the middle of a depressive episode and I see a post or a picture telling me how great life is and how everything will be fine, all I think is that whoever wrote it should fuck right off (pardon the language). I’m sure that there are people out there who appreciate those posts or informational sites, but for those who would like the perspective of someone going through similar things to them, then I guess this is something they can try and read as well.

In no capacity whatsoever am I a licensed therapist or counsellor. And if I ask my best friends I’m sure they would say to ignore 90% of things I say, (kidding maybe….) but I feel like when I was at my worst, if I read something like what I hope this blog to be, then it would’ve helped me, even if it was just a little.

With all that being said, let me introduce myself a little bit :). I am a  Mathematics student at the University of Waterloo. I love all things math, Netflix, Disney+, true crime (including fake crime tv lol), baking and especially chocolate. I have a sister, two loving parents, cousins and friends who make up my irreplaceable support system.

A little more than a year ago (November 2018), I was officially diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. A few months after that (January 2019), I started taking SSRI’s, a common form of antidepressants, and a couple months after that (March 2019) I started going to quite a few therapy sessions. Personally, I would say that I have had anxiety, at least in a minor form for about 3-4 years and depression for about a year before I went to the doctor.

It took a long time, but I have come to terms with my mental health and worked hard to improve it even through the many set backs. I won’t lie and say it’s easy or that I’m cured or that I’m doing amazing. But I have gotten to the point where I am happy with my life and happy with the progress I have made thus far even though I know there’s still quite a ways to go.

I hope that if anyone who happens to read this blog and think it could be helpful to them or someone they know, sees that whatever they’re going through is normal and that they are not the only one experiencing it. The comment section is always available for anyone to ask questions anonymously about anything they’d like and definitely not limited to just mental health.

Another reason why I decided to keep my identity anonymous for now is so that people feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. There is a lot of power behind anonymity and I want others to be able to come and share their thoughts, feelings and experiences knowing that no one in their real life will judge them or know unless they want them to.

I’m just another person that life threw some curveballs at and even if this blog can help one person out there it will have been worth it (sorry for the quite sappy ending there).

I’d just like to end off this opening post by saying that even if you feel alone right now, you don’t have to be. If you ever need to talk, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email at mhmathie@gmail.com :).

With lots of love,

Your Mental Health Mathie ❤