We are honoured to share this submission for Mental Health Awareness Week from Kamloops-based nurse Shanoa Enns. On the surface Shanoa had everything – an exciting new career in nursing, a new partner, tons of friends and a loving family. But as her mental health declined, she found herself in a dark place. It was through reaching out that she was able to heal. Now she is committed to helping others reach out too, by sharing her story…
I promised myself during my lowest point last Spring/Summer, that if I got better, I would make sure to share my story. So here it is!
For whatever reason, I have had some degree of anxiety my whole life. Despite my anxiety, most of my life has been very happy and I have been very privileged with supportive and loving family and friends.
Last May, my mental health took a turn for the worst. I was dreading going to work and finding it difficult to care for my patients. Over the course of a month or two, my fear, anger and self-pity spiraled into a deep depression. I was struggling to eat or sleep. Within weeks I had lost almost 30 lbs, and my clothes were hanging off of me. I also no longer enjoyed my usual interests.
I had been calling into work often. I spent a lot of time crying to my husband, my mom, and friends at work, making them promise me that I was going to be okay again.
I felt so ashamed that I was like that. I had a good life. No big trauma. A good job. Great friends, family, and a loving partner. I felt weak and I didn’t know why I couldn’t just ‘snap out of it’. I would think of the people in the world that were starving or dealing with chronic illness, or the death of loved ones, and I felt terrible that I couldn’t bring myself to appreciate how good my life is. It was dark times, with thoughts and feelings I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
I am now doing very well and I have learned so much this past year. It took a lot of effort and patience, counselling, exercise, yoga, medication, meditation, and lots of support from those that love me.
One of the things that helped me most was hearing from others about their own struggles and triumphs with mental illness (thank you so much to those brave souls, you helped me more than you know).
Life gets better and hard times don’t last. Let’s support each other and end the mental health stigma.
May 3 – 9 is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s theme invites us to #GetReal about how we feel. For information on mental health resources in Interior Health visit www.interiorhealth.ca.