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Chris Mei's Story

I was always a nervous child.  I bit my nails, had nightmares and many anxiety-riddled sleepless nights.  I drove my parents crazy with what I called an "overactive conscience."  I would tell them of the nightmarish things I was thinking or afraid of.  It was particularly bad in the summer.  It got easier in my 20s and 30s but still moments of unease would surface. Back then, I was too busy exploring life that I guess I forgot.  Five years ago, an incident prompted the first suggestion by a doctor that I need anti-anxiety medication and so it began.

I had never needed this before, so I will get past this and get off these. Two years ago it all went dark.  I thought I knew what I was doing but what happened was a complete implosion of my consciousness.  I took days off work, returned for a short while, struggled and then freaked my brother out on the phone so much that he called my doctor and I was that night in hospital. Psych ward at the old Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital.  Eight days and nights.  The doctor switched my medication to one that specializes in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  And there it was; general anxiety was what I felt and could sense; the hidden nightmare is what's called "Purely Cognitive O.C.D." or "Pure-O." Horrific intrusive thoughts and cognitive repetition until everything feels "right." The world and all that it possesses, including ME, is part of my living nightmare when untreated and at its worst.  So I went inward and lived outside myself while I worked with my doctor and my cognitive-behavioural therapist to discover who I was in the first place so I could "accept it.” You see, that's what I learned from them; we don't "beat" mental health, it isn't an enemy, we must accept and adapt.

I see things now in terms of Yin and Yang where I stay focused on the "middle road." Mental health is a part of life as a human and it can break or become infected just like other injuries and illnesses.  People take pride in the "broken arm" but hide "broken emotions." We tell work when we have the flu but not when we have a "dark day." I was fortunate that my company takes this issue VERY seriously and I was supported to the highest level.  I want this NOT to be the exception but the accepted norm for all.

Chris Mei
National Weather Host at The Weather Network and CBC News Network

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