Mario Garon: What Mental Health Means to Me
"Mental health to me means to be comfortable with who you are. It means to control your expectations, and just be well, accept who you are."
I had generalized anxiety disorder since I was a teenager. I struggled with self-worth a lot. I thought that it was my job to prove to people that I am good enough. I have a disability, and some people tend to be prejudiced against this. It was already difficult for me to be “normal.” I always had to prove that I was up to the task, whether it was friends, classmates or teachers. I was always successful in class, but I didn’t have as many friends as other children. I felt that this was my fault. The truth is that when you’re young, bullying happens all the time. No matter what, they will find a way to get at you if you’re a little bit different. I understand now that it wasn’t my fault—but at the time I thought that I could fix it if I played the game right. It turns out that you can’t please people who aren’t ready to accept you. This is a lesson that took me a while to learn. I realized that there are people who will appreciate me for who I am. Accepting the limitations, I had was part of the journey. How I got there, was seeing a psychiatrist, and I still see a professional.
Now, I have met people some wonderful people, and friends. I get red flags earlier now, and I don’t go against the tide. If I see a red flag, I try to remove myself from the situation. I realize that when I persist, I hurt myself rather than become a better person. When I’m hurt, I hurt other people around. This is a vicious circle. When I put things in perspective and take care of myself, I can be a better friend and be more productive. That’s what mental health is about.