Reflecting: NYE On My Own Terms

There is so much pressure on New Year’s Eve – it feels like everything I’ve ever done throughout the entire year has all boiled down to this day, December 31st, 2014. And it must be perfect.

I’ve come to realize that I’m not the only one. With that mindset, the holidays inevitably become a great time for reflection. It can seem like you get what you deserve on New Year’s – if you go to an awesome party or get a New Year’s kiss then you must have done something right; if you’re sitting at home, it’s because you made the wrong choices or didn’t try hard enough.

Last year, I didn’t have a lot of friends (not that I have a lot of friends now, but I have a couple more) and none of them chose to spend their night with me. One of them changed his mind a couple of days before because he needed to reflect. See? Not just me. But that just caused me to reflect too, which resulted in me crying in his car about the fact that none of my friends loved me and it’s just not FAIR because I try so hard, and I was just a pathetic loser and why did I even move away from Oakville anyway? Did I really think that would change anything? I felt so stupid for even thinking that anyone would actually want to share New Year’s with me. I spent it alone (technically my parents were there too, since I was at their house, but you know what I mean), and I thought, this is my life now. I was alone for most of the second half of 2013, and I would only continue to be alone in 2014.

Of course, none of that is true – not what I was telling myself, and not the idea that New Year’s Eve somehow represents your entire life that year. It’s just a day like any other. You can’t feel the difference between 11:59 on December 31st and 12:01 on January 1st.

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Broken Hearts and Sweet Hypocrisy

Ok, so remember how I re-discovered all those old poems? And I was all, I hate everything I wrote in high school? Well, it turns out that that is not true, I only hate SOME of what I wrote in high school. This is a collection of poems about “a broken relationship, but more than that, they’re about one broken person and the secrets they kept, and someone who would have given anything to save them” according to the description I wrote on FictionPress. And the reason I don’t hate these particular ones is because they give me SO much insight into what happened back then and what my thought process was like. I think these are illuminating. There were 6 of them but these are the only ones that I think are interesting enough to share. (Note that I said ‘interesting’ and not ‘good’.)

I talk a lot about how tough this whole experience was for me, I did an entire speech on it last year, but no one can say it better than fifteen-year-old me.

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It Gets Dark at 5 Now

It’s still October and relatively nice out – cold, but not so cold that I dread getting out of bed and going outside. I can still wear my nice coat.

But I am filled with dread all the same, because winter is coming. Obviously. Normally I am so excited because of Christmas, and I don’t start to feel the impact until January, but it’s starting early this year. Really early.

That’s because last winter was absolutely brutal for me, to the point where I can count the number of good days I had throughout the entire season on my hands. I was in a depressive episode, although it took me way too long to figure that out. I was constantly tired, and when I try to remember those months the weather is always dark or cloudy, even though I know that’s impossible.

That’s just how things seem to me when it’s cold out. It’s not S.A.D. because I’m perfectly capable of being depressed at any time of the year, it’s just way more likely in the winter.

And now I am constantly tired except in the middle of the night, and that’s only because I get up really late and take naps in the middle of the day. Things are starting to seem pointless because I have nothing to look forward to until April.

I’m terrified of falling again. I’m terrified of even just remaining where I am right now.

My life requires a LOT of energy. I do not have time for naps. I do not have time for sitting on the kitchen floor for 15 minutes because I was opening a drawer to get a pot and then just gave up while I was down there.

I don’t have time to be sad, let alone depressed.

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Until It’s Too Late

On Thanksgiving Day my brother found out that his best friend died, and in a way it was fitting because nothing reminds you of what to be thankful for more than loss.

We don’t know how he died – it could have been suicide, but maybe not. I’m not here to talk about that. What I am here to talk about is paying attention to your life, and to the lives of the people around you.

My brother’s friend died a week before the police broke down the door of his bedroom and found his body. He lives with roommates, who I guess didn’t think to check on him. I can only imagine how they must feel now, knowing that he was there, dead, this entire time as they went about their daily lives mere feet away.

As someone who has contemplated suicide many times, a thought I always had was that if I made that choice, no one would notice for a very long time. I didn’t have a lot of friends and the ones that I did have were pretty absent (and still are for the most part if we’re honest), and I don’t talk to my parents regularly enough for them to worry about me. I attributed all of this to the fact that my life was just awful so that was probably even more reason to do it. That was the depression talking, of course, but I still think about that every now and again, and I still felt like there was no way that that would ever happen to most other people, who are swimming in friends and family and so on.

But it does, doesn’t it? More than we like to admit. Our culture is so hands-off. We feel like we’re bothering people and being pushy or nosy if we ask questions. We think that they’ll come to us if they need something. We don’t say things that we should say because we assume that they already know. I do it too. Sometimes for those reasons but more because I assume that they don’t care about me, and since they don’t get involved in my life they certainly won’t want me getting involved in theirs.

Sometimes it’s big, serious things like mental illness, but sometimes it’s little things like relationship drama or a tough job search or even a particularly trying school assignment. Asking all of your friends, “Hey, are you okay? No seriously, ARE YOU OKAY?!” every other day is probably not going to be helpful, but showing interest in the smaller aspects of their lives can be. If you don’t show that you care on a ‘normal’ day, how will they know that they can turn to you when the shit hits the fan (which it inevitably always does for everyone at some point)? I can’t tell you how much it would mean to me for people to just check on me every couple of weeks, like, “Hey, how are you? What’s new?” instead of having to seek them out when I want to tell them something.

Don’t just wait for people to come to you. We are all full of various insecurities that stop us from seeking out love and attention. Go to them. Even if you don’t feel like they’ll reciprocate – maybe one day they will. Be hands-on. BE touchy-feely. Say how you really feel and often, even if all you’re met with is silence.

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Please Support the Oolagen Charity Ball presented by Active Minds at UofT!

I am the president of a student group at my university called Active Minds at UofT, and we raise awareness for mental health issues.

This year, we are planning our biggest event yet. We want to host a benefit in support of an organization called Oolagen. Oolagen runs a walk-in clinic in downtown Toronto where youth & their families can receive FREE counseling. If any of you are in any way involved in the mental health community, you’ll know how rare that is.

We need to raise money both for Oolagen and in order to be able to host the benefit in the first place. Our university provides very little funding to its student groups so we’re turning to the public for help.

We created an Indiegogo campaign which is live now, where you can get more info, purchase tickets, and donate to the cause. Please check it out at the link below!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/oolagen-charity-ball-presented-by-active-minds/x/8030954

If you can’t afford to donate, it also helps if you share the link and explain to your followers what the cause is and why it matters.

Thank you so much ❤

-Chelsea

This is Me

You may remember the video I shared a few weeks back from Healthy Minds Canada about Cynthia Foster, who recovered from bulimia. Although we released that video first, I was actually the first video subject.

This video was shot way back in January. It was ready a long time ago, but after filming Cynthia, we realized that we wanted the videos to look a little different. We wanted to make them more personal, with photos and videos, and we wanted to add facts and information so that people learned more. We wanted to make them longer so we could tell a more complete story.

And the first cut of my video just wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. The story I want to tell is less about the way that I am, and more about WHY I am the way that I am. Oftentimes, people don’t talk about the “why”, and that is especially the case when it comes to bullying – it’s dismissed as a typical childhood phase, something everyone goes through, something that usually doesn’t have a long lasting impact. It’s all over when you graduate.

But that’s not true, and that’s why I am the way that I am. So we recut the footage that we had in order to tell that story, and this is the result of that. Because it was filmed so long ago it’s not perfect, and I would probably say different things now, but I still stand behind the core messages of the video – mainly, that before dismissing a person, you should always ask why. Find out what’s bothering them, step into their shoes for a bit, even if perhaps they aren’t behaving perfectly at the moment. Most people are inherently good, so ask why and try to find that.

I had a great time editing it but now that it’s been released, I have a hard time sharing it. I don’t know why really, I’ve said most if not all of this stuff in writing before. But it’s just different somehow in video form. More personal. The pictures and video from when I was a kid and in high school – even the ones that seem normal, I can see the story behind them, and I feel like now everyone else can see that too, even though that’s probably ridiculous.

I could just not share it, but that would defeat the purpose of all the hard work that we put into it, so here it is – my hope is not that you will understand ME better but that this example might help you to understand others in your own lives better.

I hope you enjoy the video and please share it if you think it might help others. ❤

Watch the Video Here

“Swiss Cheese Memory” from Healthy Minds Canada

Hey there! The non-profit organization I’ve been interning for, Healthy Minds Canada, is starting a new video series that I’m so proud to be a part of. This series has been one of my major projects over the summer and I am very happy to finally be able to showcase it. I conducted the interview and was part of the entire editing process.

I wanted to share this video with you because these videos showcase each individual’s mental health experience in such a thoughtful way. I thought that Cynthia’s story was so interesting – I didn’t know much about bulimia other than how it’s been portrayed in the media. I think that it’s inspiring for people who can relate but also for people who can’t. When you get to know people, you learn that the driving forces for people with mental illness are the same as everyone else’s – to be loved, to be successful, to be accepted.

I hope that you enjoy it, and please share if you love it!