When looking back on his childhood and youth, Samuel realizes that there were early signs of a mental health issues. As a child, he experienced negative thoughts, suffered from anxiety, and experienced physical symptoms related to mental illness. If he had access to the knowledge and language and been taught how to treat his mental illness when he was younger, Samuel is sure he would have had a better understanding of what he was going through.
At barely 17, Samuel left a rural area for a large city far from home to attend University and begin his professional career. The pressure was on, from scholarships and academic achievements to engaging in student life and leadership in an entirely new and urban environment.
During much of his early twenties, Samuel was chronically flooded by dark thoughts, hopelessness, and severe anxiety. He felt like an impostor, lost confidence, isolated himself, and began to experience thoughts of suicide. With the help of his family physician and a psychologist, Samuel discovered that he was living with an undiagnosed generalized anxiety disorder, as well as re-occurring depression. Together, they explored and adopted ways for him to better manage his mental illness through medication, daily habits, sleep hygiene and physical activity.
Since beginning to talk about his experiences, Samuel has often heard colleagues, family and friends react by saying “I would have never guessed”. For Samuel, it’s not a guessing game. Mental illness and health affects everyone. No one is immune to illness, whether physical or mental. It’s time for action and time for everyone to have access to the care, services and treatments required to take care of their mental health and substance use needs.