October 22, 2021


As I slowly woke up, I assumed it was early, because my alarm had not gone off. I rolled over to check my phone – a normal ritual every morning, and my eyes grew wide as I read the time. It was 9:40 and I had a 15-minute drive ahead of me. It was my first couple of months away from home, and I had never been late to church before. I jumped out of bed, threw on the first outfit I saw in my closet and rushed out the door. Driving faster than I should of, I made it to the community centre where the congregation met every Sunday morning only five minutes late.

I quickly shuffled into the main gym, scanning the room for the family I often sat with.

My eyes made it across the room without a familiar face. I scanned again, slowly walking toward the usual row where they sat, and nothing, not even their youngest son’s hockey jacket, or the mom’s iconic coffee mug on a chair in the row ahead. I slowly sat down, the only person in my row.

I could feel people’s glares.

“Maybe they are just running late,” I thought to myself, pulling out my phone.

After a quick texting conversation I had an answer. They weren’t coming and now I was alone.

The singing portion quickly finished, the congregation sat and the pastor started to speak. I still felt like people in the rows behind me were watching my every move. My hands grew sweaty and the pastor sounded like a parent from Charlie Brown. Even as a child, sitting through a service never felt as long as this.

A prayer finished off the morning and I got out of my seat and into the car faster than I had done earlier that morning. But I didn’t move. I sat in my car and processed the last hour and a half.

This was more than stress. This was the icing on the cake after weeks of being embarrassed because of other people’s actions, sleepless nights and unexplainable times were I just felt off and slept most of the day. For most of my life I would freak out over nothing, clean to keep calm and try to have everything under control at all times, even on my days off.

Anxiety, depression and high levels of stress flooded my head without warning. I had moved an hour and a half drive away from home. I was now in control of my own life and instead of that bringing freedom and excitement it left me with weeks of counselling, telling a stranger my feelings.

And doing what I do best, I researched like crazy to fully understand. But the more I read, the more it seemed like the world just thought I was too stressed.

The Internet made me think I was telling myself a lie, that I was one of those people who said they were anxious but was just worried.

We are now a part of a society where “everyone has anxiety.” Some people believe mental disorders are used as an excuse while others believe there is a quick fix.

My anxiety comes from years of bullying and hiding my emotions and I can tell you that it is not as simple as telling me to push through it. Sometimes I assume people are talking about me, at other times I assume I will fail and no matter what I do I think to myself, there is someone way better than me so why should I even bother.

I came to that realization two years ago, and I still don’t know 100 per cent why I am like that.

There are people within Conestoga’s walls who suffer from crippling depression and are told to just wake up and get out of bed.

The next time you feel sad and say you’re depressed, think of the number of people you have seen in your day and remember that eight per cent of adults will experience a major depression in their lives.

Anxiety is not just being stressed over a late paper. Depression is more than being sad that your crush didn’t text back. It is real. I am more than just stressed out, and taking a day off will not fix that.

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