Happy New Year and a message from the Editor In Chief

I grew up with obsessive, unwanted and intrusive thoughts. To counteract these unwanted thoughts and images that flashed through my brain at lightning pace, I developed certain compulsions that “helped” me cope. Repetitive sentences that I forced myself to say in my mind over and over again, certain facial ticks that I could only stop once it felt right, and constantly carrying around an overwhelming sense of guilt that I was some sort of terrible human who should be locked away.

I battle OCD and for the most part I WIN! My OCD is mainly obsessional based and is often referred to as Pure O. Growing up, I knew there was something going on. It wasn’t until I spent a summer on the internet taking every mental health quiz possible that I stumbled upon OCD. I had never scored so high on a test in my life. The relief that there was a reason for my thoughts was momentary, as in true obsessive compulsive form, I told myself that this was a good excuse but that I was truly just a terrible person.

It wasn’t until I was 19 that I finally cracked and went to see my doctor. She confirmed that I was showing signs of anxiety and OCD but that she thought I would be just fine so long as I continued to be open, honest and educated about my struggles. She now refers to me as one of her most educated anxiety patients and smiles at how easily I can share my deepest fears, which a lot of people are too ashamed and afraid to do.

Being educated is a powerful tool. Understanding that I have OCD and that it makes me think things that I don’t want to gives me the power I need to push it aside and even appreciate it to a certain extent. Having anxiety has made me a better and stronger person. When I am down, I am down. I feel pain deeply, heavily and passionately, but when I am happy, I am over the moon and trembling with excitement.

I created the mental health issue because I want to open the conversation and change the way we think about mental illness. This issue is filled with personal stories, struggles and different organizations in the Hamilton area that are here to help those in need. I want readers to be educated when it comes to mental health and I want people to feel comfortable talking about their struggles. I want to fight for mental health to be recognized and not to be stigmatized. I want next year’s editorial to be easier to write and not leave me fearing judgmental reactions.

So here is to urbanicity’s first annual Mental Health Issue. Please fill out the blank space on the front cover and share your Mental Health story on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using #urbanicityMentalHealth.

Just another anxious human,
Just another anxious human,
Just another,

Andrea Fernandes