Understand Us, the mental health initiative has started a campaign trend called Share Your Recipe as well as Vulnerable Is Beautiful. Ending the stigma against mental health is life changing, literally. After spending almost 27 years of my life with undiagnosed depression and anxiety, the battle wasn’t always easy, but I was always learning and sometimes barely surviving. Here’s my vulnerability.. I mean recipe.

I cry. I’m an emotional person and I cry. I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad and I cry a lot when I’m overwhelmed. I never used to allow myself to cry.  I used to think that crying was a form of weakness and I couldn’t bare exposing that side of me. But I’ve embraced it and I’m not ashamed of it – it’s who I am and it helps cleanse my mind. It’s a wonderful release for me. Being vulnerable is hard, writing this is hard, and if you know me then you know that right now I’m barely keeping the tears from falling.

I turn to my friends for support. Literally, they are my rocks. If I can’t get up they sit down beside me. If my anxiety is so high that I can’t get out of my car to walk into the crowded grocery store. Understanding how someone feels during an anxiety episode is tough, and some people can’t seem to wrap their heads around the struggle of living with a mental illness. I thank my friends constantly for being my support all of these years.

I have a quote from a friend that I enjoy sharing as much as possible. She said to me:

Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than letting yourself be truly affected by things”

I’ve struggled with fitting into society. I’m not the perfect mother, daughter, friend, girlfriend that Pinterest tells me I’m supposed to be. There are so many social pressures to the best, and if you’re not, you’re failing. I know that when I go home today I have dishes that I didn’t do this morning. My floors needed to be washed yesterday and I won’t even get started on the laundry situation. But instead of burying myself in the daily stresses that will be there again tomorrow, I’m treating myself to a yoga class. I haven’t done this in months, and some people will frown that I’m taking my child to my parents so I can indulge in 2 hours of ME. I’ve been in my own head a lot lately, and yoga is my escape, my way of finding my centre and balance so that when I wake up tomorrow I can  be the best mom, daughter, girlfriend that I can be.

My yoga instructor Colin Hall, from Bodhi Tree Yoga in Regina, quoted this in his most recent blog:

“Now the mind. Oh my goodness. A frienemy? If I can be very honest sometimes my mind spins stories that do not seem so friendly. There are voices in my mind that tell me I am not good enough. There are voices that say “Nobody reads this stuff… you should just give up.” Do you have similar voices? Practice friendliness with those voices”

This resonates with me more than I think he knows.

The main ingredients in my recipe that I’d like to share with others who struggle, who are too hard on themselves, and who are exhausted of the social pressure to have to be perfect are:

  1. Remember to slow down
  2. Accept things as they are
  3. Be mindful.
  4. Take time for yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s survival.

And never be afraid to ask for help. We all need help sometimes.

xoxo J