As a part of our ‘My Mental Health Story’ series featuring the inspiring and impactful stories of our community members, we chatted with Sylvia Kathirkamanathan (she/her) to discuss his mental health story.
Check it out below!
Thank you to Sylvia for participating in the interview and sharing your story!
#1 Who are you? What do you stand for? What’s your story?
“Hello! My name is Sylvia and I am a Community Development Committee Member and volunteer for Step Above Stigma. I am currently in my first year of the Master of Public Service program at the University of Waterloo after completing my Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences at Queen’s University.
A core value that I have carried through my journey regarding mental health and stand for has been compassion; you have to have a level of compassion for yourself as you would give to others in your place when dealing with mental health in order to find an internal balance.
It is quite difficult at times to reflect on yourself and feel that sense of empathy, especially in a world where we are very hard on ourselves to be the societal version of perfect. My mental health journey is heavily school related as I am sure many can relate to, and thanks to dedicated time and resources to taking care of myself, I am able to acknowledge those highs and lows as well as feel confident in next steps.”
#2 What was your lowest point in your mental health journey?
“It is difficult to pinpoint when the lowest point of my mental health journey is as it is something that fluctuates, but I will say that getting used to university life from high school was a struggle mentally. At that age, it is difficult to take on such new responsibilities and independence in a new setting far from what you were accustomed to, and that definitely takes a mental toll.”
#3 How did you get through that?
“Having a strong support system, whether that be friends, family, or others, was so important during these times. Having people to talk to, relate to, and just be there for you lifts a good portion of that mental weight off your shoulders.”
#4 What has changed in your life since you’ve been on this journey?
“I think one thing that has changed for me is my self-awareness and being in tune with my mental health. I am able to recognize lows and highs and identify what I can do next to make these periods better – that can include reaching out to others, contacting mental health help resources, or just finding something that brings you comfort and helps to grow.”
#5 Do you have any advice for others who are on their own mental health journey?
“I would say that it is a long road with many twists and turns, but it is yours to travel through and make your own and there is no shame in getting help on the way. Also, remember to be kind to yourself – something that helps me is to remember to show the same kindness and compassion you would to, for example, your best friend if they were in your position to yourself in times of need.”
#6 What do you wish people understood about what it’s like to struggle with mental health?
“I wish more people understood how individualized these journeys are. Mental health resources are not all-encompassing – what works for some may not work for others and that is totally okay. It is about finding what works for you best and sticking to it.”