I was 27 when I was first diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. I had suffered for years but like so many individuals, I was ashamed so I struggled on my own. It took a lot of guts to realize I needed to open up to the people who cared about me, who could help me: my friends, my family and medical professionals. Throughout my recovery, I was lucky to have a solid support system around me.
I was once the person everyone would go to for help. I was always there for my friends. Then, suddenly I wasn’t. It was a struggle to get out of bed.
The small things meant the most and they helped me heal. My sister would leave a coffee outside my bedroom door before she left for work to make me get up, she would leave me notes to help me through the day, my mom would bring me meals constantly because the thought of cooking seemed too much, and my dad would pick me up just to go for a drive or take me for coffee. Things like getting up, showering, writing in my journal, meditating, going for a small walk around the block (I literally was so fatigued I couldn't make it longer than 10 minutes) and daily naps became my full-time job. I went from being a bubbly, outgoing hard worker, to having to slow way way down. I felt like I got knocked on my ass.
When I was 28, I was just excited to be here, because there was a time during the previous year when I honestly thought I wouldn’t. I wanted to celebrate. With the help of my friends and family, we did 28 Random Acts of Kindness. We put lottery tickets on cars, money in vending machines, fresh flowers on old gravestones, dog toys to shelters and bought people meals and groceries. It felt amazing.
When I started Pay It Forward Gear in 2015, I was chasing that amazing feeling that comes from giving back. Ultimately, giving back and making other people happy - made me happy. I wanted to join forces with a cause I believed in, erasing the stigma around mental illness. Today, 10% of all our proceeds go to mindcheck.ca, which provides support resources to teens and young adults. We also give back to various charities in the lower mainland.
At 30, I'd be lying if I said I no longer struggle. I do. There are days when I just can’t seem to get up and get moving. There are days where I have flash backs to the lows. I work on that. I have a killer support team, the most amazing friends I could have, and a family that always has my back. I have coaching sessions with my life coach every few months to keep me on track. I have found what works for me, and what doesn't. I have notes around my house to remind me of what I’ve accomplished and to show me that I always have a choice. My choice is to stand up to the stigma, my choice is to get up on the days that I struggle and reach out for support from my loved ones, my choice is to be here!
I couldn’t have created Pay It Forward Gear without the continued support and encouragement from my family and friends. We’re a brand that is fun, bold and committed to helping others. So please, join us!