Justine Charles de Leon
Interview with Angelika
Updated: Jun 29, 2021
CW: self-harm, depression, mental illness, suicidal ideation
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we want to help raise the alarm for everyone to know that mental and emotional challenges (especially with youth) are a significant issue. These battles are real, and we want to let those who are experiencing them know that we identify with them and that we are here for them.
The stress from a year of lockdowns and social distancing — lost jobs, broken relationships, bankrupt businesses — has been well-documented in mental health statistics. Polling data from the Mental Health Commission of Canada found that at least 50% of Canadians were dealing with some sort of mental health challenges in the past year.
We want to share a story about a person who has battled mental and emotional struggles. This young person’s journey provides an example of how we can find hope in the midst of hard times. We hope others can find inspiration through this story, so they can continue to shine light on the increasingly important topic of mental health.
Angelika is a 22-year old nursing student from Toronto who moved to Canada two years ago. She had gone through a series of rejections throughout her teenage life. Angelika also had to deal with her parents’ separation, and she felt somewhat responsible for her role in their breakup.
Angelika: “Life before was like trying to fill in a void as I was looking for satisfaction in things and in other people. Instead of doing what I truly wanted, I lived my life according to other people’s opinions. This negativity took a toll on me, especially when I couldn’t reach their expectations anymore. Because of this, I felt like there was no more reason for me to live. I was so lonely despite being surrounded by friends and family that I resulted to cutting and self-harm to numb the emotional and mental pain that I was experiencing. Thoughts of suicide also ran through my mind, but somehow, I managed to hold myself together by pushing through life. This went on for years. My family and my friends would always wonder why I would wear long, baggy clothes on a hot day, and I would always make excuses”.
“I broke loose from the bondage of this mental trauma by building three things in my life during 2019. I built my faith, I built my community, and I developed the courage to share my story in hopes to encourage others who were also struggling with deep emotional pain”.
Establishing and building your faith in God gives you an anchor you can hold on to that is much bigger than the universe and its troubles. Overcoming life’s difficulties is easier when you are in a community where you can ask for help when you are in need. Remind yourself that this can happen to anyone - your father, your classmate, or your best friend. So if you have dealt with physical, emotional, or emotional hurdles - share your story. Reach out by showing positivity and zealousness to others. You don’t need to be at 100% positivity every day, but even in the days when you are feeling 40% or less, keep smiling. We may never know what everybody else is going through, so let us at least make sure to be one of those who keeps spreading light, life and love to others.