I had my first full blown panic attack when I was 16 years old. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder. Although I can think of these ages specifically, I have struggled with anxiety my whole life. From stomach aches as a young child—which were diagnosed at the time as “growing pains”—to the constant worry now as an adult, I have good days and some not so good days. I have days where I feel so much emotion to nothing at all. When I was first diagnosed, I was honestly scared and ashamed. My family members and friends did their best to be supportive but even from those closest to me, I felt stigmatized. It was difficult at the time to separate myself from my disorder.
After almost a year of taking Zoloft, I had gained a significant amount of weight. I come from a small town and during this time in university, I did not go home very often. When I did come home for some time in the summer, rumours started swirling around town that my weight gain was due to me being pregnant—a rumour that my own mother had to tell me after being confronted about it in her workplace. I knew the weight gain had been significant and it did not help the terrible depressed feelings I was already experiencing. But after hearing my mom say those words, something inside me snapped.
I posted on Facebook rejecting the pregnancy rumours and opened up about my struggles with anxiety and depression. I realized quickly from many comments and private messages that I was not and am not alone. Many others also live and struggle with mental illness with many afraid to seek help. I now use social media to be a mental health advocate: posting articles about new research and treatment options, sharing problems I had experienced that day, and participating in fundraisers for mental health research and awareness.
Oh, and the food part? Since gaining the weight, I have been trying to get back into shape starting in the kitchen. I love to cook and try new dishes! I will talk about my experiences with various diets in my blog posts but follow along as I share my stories and favourite recipes.