Out Of The Tunnel

BY BRANDON MINIA

It took a whole lot of willpower to finally muscle my way out of one of the worst episodes I’ve had in almost two years.

I had almost forgotten. You stay well enough for so long that the anxiety doesn’t even feel so bad, even though you know that with anxiety, depression is surely lurking around the corner. And once it comes around and hits you, you turn into a mere shell of yourself.

Since February, my anxiety was hitting almost unprecedented levels considering how well hqdefault.jpgI had been for so long. And with how tense I had been, I knew that the possibility of me slipping down into that rabbit hole was a distinct possibility. It did.

I can’t name exactly what triggered it, mostly because I don’t know what it was. I don’t know if it was a combination of factors, or if it just happened. Or both. With me, as it is with so many others, my depression is hard to pinpoint no matter how mindful I am of my emotional levels.

The depression was beginning to creep in near the end of February. I started becoming more fatigued and my motivation to do work began to dissipate. In the back of my head, I knew of course that the danger of me falling back into that dreaded state was slowly becoming more and more of a possibility as every day passed. Still, I blamed my decreasing energy levels on my anxiety.

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The Road to Resilience

BY AYESHA KHALID

I recently had a chance to view part of a documentary in one of my psychology classes entitled “This Emotional Life,” which originally aired on PBS. The film is a 3 part series that looks at how we can cope with emotional stressors and become more positive and resilient people. The documentary explores the stories of many people who have overcome great challenges in their life, and demonstrates how resilient we are capable of being.

For example, there was the story of Bob who became a prisoner of war after being resilience-cartoonkidnapped and held captive for 8 years in Vietnam. He was put into solitary confinement and faced brutal physical torture. During this time, he would spend hours each day envisioning the house he wanted to live in with his family, designing every last detail in his imagination. He also used a tap code to communicate with other prisoners through walls. Once he was rescued, he reunited with his family and built the house that he had spend all of those hours picturing in his head. He remained optimistic and believed he would prevail, which helped him cope with the isolation and physical pain.

Then there was Mike, who grew up with an alcoholic stepfather. He became involved with dealing and using drugs. After being arrested by police, he later got a job installing furniture, and was working in a doctor’s house when the doctor began to ask Mike about his life. They became friends and the doctor became a mentor to him. Mike is now a thoracic surgeon, and credits mentors in his life for guiding him through the tough times.

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When Home Doesn’t Feel Like Home Anymore

BY ZAKIYA KASSAM

Over the past seven years or so, my definition of “home” has been in shaky limbo between where I grew up and where I live now. I’ve always called both my home, because that just seemed like the diplomatic thing to do. As the cartoon Dragon THow-do-I-protect-my-home-equity_slideshowitem.pngales taught me, two is better than one; so I had deemed myself lucky to be able to call two cities my home – Calgary, where I was born, and Toronto, where I live now.

I’m not sure if this was inevitable, but over the past few years I’ve found myself growing indefinitely estranged from my hometown. This became more glaringly apparent with each visit back to Calgary, where instead of feeling safe and comfortable, like “home” should make you feel, I instead itched to return to my new life in Toronto.

I recently went back to Calgary for a visit, and those five days felt way longer than they should have. Funny enough, I felt as though nothing had changed since I left there, but the uncomfortable lurch in my tummy told me that I no longer felt any sort of pull back to the city I had lived in for the first 18 years of my life.

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Anxiety and Avoidance Behaviours

BY AYESHA KHALID

Despite my struggles with anxiety, I am lucky to have a strong support group around me – people I can reach out to when I am feeling stressed or in pain. I know that this is not always the case for some people who do not have social support and become very isolated; their road to recovery is much more difficult than mine.

But even with this support available, when I am struggling, it can be hard for me to reachf486b16e222ac0aa_dv1080013.preview.jpg out to others. I do not always take help when it is offered. There are a lot of reasons why I hold back. Partially, it is because talking to others means that I have to confront whatever is causing me distress, and I would rather avoid thinking about it. Another reason is because I feel bad for dumping all of my problems onto someone else. I know I shouldn’t feel bad, but I imagine it’s kind of exhausting to listen to someone talk about their problems all the time. I don’t want to be that person who is constantly complaining, so I hold a lot in.

So instead of reaching out if my anxiety/pain is getting worse, my first instinct is to retreat. To run away, to get into bed, to pull the covers over me and block out the rest of the world. A part of me thinks that maybe if I avoid my problems they will disappear, and by the time I get out of bed everything will be okay again.

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Anxiety – The Aftermath

BY BRANDON MINIA

Now that a year has passed since my experience with emotional abuse, I’m still rattled at just how bad the fallout can get. It still feels surreal no matter how long it’s been. And five years down the road, I’ll probably still be thinking the same thing.

My anxiety reached its fever pitch last week, hitting all-time high levels for the first timeimages
in a while. An unanswered text can leave me nervous. An accident that displeased a friend can follow me for a long time. Asking to see a person has never been so frightening.

I know exactly what causes me to experience these spells of anxiety. No one forgets being chastised for asking to hang out when the other person is tired. It’s impossible to forget the feeling of humiliation when someone turns your feelings of anger around so that you look like the bad person, despite the fact that your anger is very well justified. No one forgets being violently pressed into believing that you were overthinking something that you were right about all along about…

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