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 ❤