Melynda lives in Nunavut, a territory that is unfortunately home to the highest suicide rates in the country. Melynda hopes to help bring those statistics down and believes that education and increased awareness of mental health are some of the strategies for achieving that goal. She has decided to speak openly and honestly about her own lived experience.
Her mental health issues began when she was just 10 years old. She would often feel sad, and she was anxious and sometimes depressed. Her condition remained unchanged until she turned 16, when her feelings of sadness reached a critical level and she began having suicidal thoughts. Melynda also struggled with anxiety; her brain was always thinking with never a moment’s respite. She began to feel physical discomfort too, overwhelmed by extreme fatigue and experiencing severe migraines. Since these last two symptoms were of a physical nature, she felt more comfortable talking about them to her parents, who took her to see a doctor. Melynda did not mention her feelings of despair and was treated for her headaches, which also relieved her depression—at least for a while. At the age of 20, however, her emotions hit a low point. Experiencing dark thoughts on a daily basis, she decided that it was time to turn the page. Summoning her courage, she asked for help and was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. By speaking out, she was finally able to acquire the resources she needed to take care of herself and her mental well-being.
By telling her story, Melynda hopes to be part of a broad-based conversation that has a snowball effect on reducing the stigmatization associated with mental illness: the more people talk about their challenges, the less prejudice they face. And the less social stigma there is, the more people will feel comfortable to talk about their issues. The process will take time, but Melynda wants to make the effort for future generations, who deserve to live in a place where mental health can be openly discussed.