Hi! My name is Ally, and I am the sum of so many things. I am a passionate writer, dog lover, and tea-drinker. I love being creative and laughing until it hurts, and baking is my absolute favourite form of self-care. You’re definitely more likely to find me in my PJs marathoning Brooklyn 99 than at a bar, on the hunt for a great new matcha, trying to unwind with some yoga or poetry, and making obscure theatre references. These are some of the things that make me, “me”. I am a sister, a daughter, a friend. I also live with mental illness.
I struggle with anxiety in many ways. I live with generalized anxiety and panic disorders, and from these have developed BFRB tendencies (trichotillomania and dermatillomania). I have also struggled with body image and learning to care for and respect myself, and now passionately speak out about these things to help others feel just a little bit less alone. I want to be the person I needed when I was younger. I want to show little girls that all bodies are good bodies, and that you can be curvier and beautiful. I want to show them that a little cellulite never hurt anyone, and that they don’t need to be ashamed of their acne, their frizzy hair, or their crooked smile: all of these things tell their story. I am a mental health writer and speaker, and have written for Wear Your Label (I am one of their Campus Representatives) and The Mighty, as well as on my own mental health blog. I am a Jack Talks speaker, and travel around Nova Scotia to deliver mental health talks at various schools through the amazing organization Jack.org. (Editor's note: I added links to various articles Ally has written. I would highly suggest checking them out, you will not regret!)
If there is something I could say to my younger self, it would be don’t be so hard on yourself. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about, and you are not alone in how you are feeling. You are good enough. You always have been. You are amazing. The world needs you. Your friends need you. My favourite quotation of all time to describe mental health challenges is “Having a mental illness is like fighting a war in which the opponent’s strategy is to convince you that the war isn’t happening.” Dear younger me: the war is happening. It’s okay. People won’t judge you for it; the ones who do weren’t meant to stay in your life anyways, and the ones who stay… oh my goodness, they will change your whole world. You will find trust in yourself again, and make some incredible friends along the way. Your story will bring you close to so many people who will inspire you. You don’t need someone else to light your fire – you’ve had the spark in you all along. Sending all my love to you, my darling. Everything is going to be just fine (and some people do find your awkwardness endearing!) Don’t be ashamed of being vulnerable, or feeling things. You don’t have to be invincible, and anxiety does not define you! To anyone struggling right now: I see you. I hear you. You matter, and are the sum of so many incredible things. Your struggles do not define you, but they can be your sword.
Everyone has a story to share
Read here about others' journeys with mental health and illness and advice they have for those suffering, in recovery, or supporting someone with a similar story.