Not too long ago a friend of mine is doing a project to give to Jared Padalecki in April, she asked us for our story, simply, our life with our mental illness, how Jared himself has helped, and how our family (AKF- Always Keep Fighting) has helped us. I gave her my story after having a few people read it to see if it was good. I got a lot of good responses on it so I decided to post it on my blog for others to see. Hopefully it can help someone, maybe they will reach out or maybe no one will read it so it will be put into cyber-internet for no one to see.. Either way, here it goes.
I’ve been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and most recently PTSD.
In March,2010 I was currently working at a call center for Philips Products. I loved my job and looked forward to going each day. A few weeks before April I started having nightmares, they were when I was travelling to work by city transit, which is what I always did so it was nothing foreign to me. In my nightmare when the bus was travelling over the Reversing Falls Bridge the bus would go off the road towards the cliff and we would go over, I’d wake up then. I should have taken it as a warning but I didn’t think much of it.
About a week after the dreams started when I started taking the bus I would get really nervous and my hands would be sweaty. Once I did the transfer to the other bus that went towards my work it was a few short minutes than I would be fine, after work taking the bus was fine, I was having no issues.
Usually around that time of year work was really slow so we were allowed to call in before shift to see if they needed us, if not we were allowed the day off without pay. I was hoping to get this day off because my mother and I were supposed to go to the mall where I transferred buses so I could pick something out for a dress I was going to be wearing to a graduation of a friend. To my luck, it wasn’t busy and was able to have the day off.
My mother and I took the bus to the mall, the same bus I took to go to work before transferring, around the same time on the bus my hands got sweaty and I tried to focus on something else. It always worked in the past, but it didn’t feel right this time. The feeling which I now know as anxiety went away and we arrived at the mall. When we got the mall I started feeling the anxiety again and told my mom I needed to use the bathroom. I raced towards the bathroom and went into the stall. I sat down and tried to will the feeling to go away but it just got worse. I was getting sweatier, my vision didn’t feel right, like I couldn’t focus on anything, my stomach was doing flips, my heart felt like it was going to burst from my chest. My mother at this time came in to see what was taking so long, I felt embarrassed because there was other ladies in the stalls and I could only yell out that I would be another minute. When I finally thought, I could get this under control and everything in my body calmed down I came out and told my mom what had happened. We walked up the hall towards a store and it all rushed back into my body and I started freaking out, I told my mom that I was going to go outside for a smoke, she was preoccupied and I don’t think she really heard me. I ran outside tears streaming down my eyes, my body shaking, and all the other things I felt in the stall were happening. I remember the time, it was shortly after 12pm because my dad was on lunch at work. I called him and told him what was happening, he stayed on the phone with me listening to me and trying to keep me calm. He told me to call a cab and go back to my moms. After he let me go I remember seeing a construction worker watching me and thinking if something happens he will see. I called the cab and it arrived within minutes. I didn’t even think about my mom. I was running towards to the cab to jump in and mom yelling out my name running after me. She got into the cab and she was clearly upset with me, I told the cab driver where to go. In 10 minutes, we were home. I paid and ran into the apartment. My mom yelled and she didn’t understand what was going on, I tried to explain but she didn’t understand. I felt very sick to my stomach. Every day after that for a week I called in sick because I was scared to leave the house. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. After 2 weeks my father came by and told me we were going to see my doctor. I was clearly not doing well and he needed to know what was wrong. The 20 minute drive felt like forever and I was constantly drinking water because it felt like that was the only thing I could do to keep calm. My doctor diagnosed me with severe anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I was given medication and a follow up with a doctors note stating I was off of work for four months on medical leave.
Ultimately, I was also diagnosed with agoraphobia, I lost my job in November,2010 because I was hardly able to stay at work long enough without having another attack.
They were constantly changing my medication and I was seeing a mental health worker. I was put on medical leave until further notice.
I suffered with it in silence for years because neither my parents or friends understood what I was going through. One day while just browsing Facebook for Supernatural related things I came across a group called AKF Always Keep Fighting. I requested to join, and immediately found what I needed, a FAMILY. Hundreds of other people who were going through what I was. I found a place where I felt I belong. I was never turned away or felt unwanted. I knew Jared Padalecki suffered from a mental illness but I never knew he had shirts/sweaters/tanks through a website that helped. I missed the first one, and everyone after that I had gotten a hoodie from his campaigns. I even got one from Jim Beaver’s campaign that had said “Family don’t end in blood.” All these sweaters were very important to me and I learned more about TWLOHA. Jared became more than just actor, he became some one I could relate to because he never hid his mental illness. It was something everyone in our SPN family could relate to and become apart of. Those hoodies meant the world to me, knowing I was apart of a fandom, a family, a collective support group.
Over the years from 2010 I was able to do more things but still suffer, I went to see a therapist and through a lot of hard work I had repressed memories from when I was child. I had always suffered from mental illness, I remember having panic attacks as a child and anxiety. It was a breakthrough but also a set back because I my brain had supressed memories and now they were haunting me.
In November 2015, I moved from Saint John, NB to Fort McMurray, AB, in May 2016 there was a wildfire that reached the town. I moved back home and seen someone and learned I had PTSD. I had lost everything in the fire. All my hoodies from the campaigns, things I can’t replace from family that is now gone.
My SPN family rushed to my side and people donated money to me to help me get back on my feet. I was overwhelmed with support from people all over the world. Even though I was going through a devastating time there was my family, supporting me, pushing me through.
I couldn’t be more thankful to Jared, to my SPN family, the people I became close to over the years. The people who no matter what I share everything with and help. To these people, they have changed my life for the better, even when I feel like I can’t go on. I think of these people who help me push forward. I hope to meet Jared one day and be able to thank him in person for what he was done for me even though he doesn’t know. My story is far from over and I’m still trying to cope with everything but I’ve learned to be more open about my illness, I speak about it with people who are just learning about it. I lost all my friends when mine became too much and no one wanted to deal with me. I’ve learned it’s ok to have set backs, it’s ok to need help. It’s to Always Keep Fighting.