We all struggle with something. For some, they struggle with their body, for others it can be their relationship status, and there are so many more. For me, as cliche as it sounds, I struggle with letting my defenses down. I keep my walls up in anticipation of an attack. I lay awake at night sometimes, imagining the worst-case scenarios and creating their respective emergency action plans for myself. I want to believe that there is a solution for everything, and that I will have prepared myself enough for those scenarios so that I won’t be faced with too many problems, should they occur. These walls are my second line of defense.

My first and foremost line of defense is not admitting when something has upset me. My version of a poker face or a smile, is what I often greet people with, no matter my current state. On the days where a smile is hard to muster, I hide in the crevices available around the university, tucking myself away from the crowd and attempting to look absorbed in my schoolwork.

It is very easy to lie to yourself when you are isolated. Many negative thoughts can appear in your head, and these thoughts insidiously gain power as they multiply and accumulate. I imagine the leaves which fall in autumn; one or two leaves on the ground may seem harmless, but the decision to leave those alone for a long period of time results in a pile forming, and the job of cleaning it up becomes a more difficult task. You will require the proper tools, such as a wheelbarrow and rake, to aid you. Without these things, the trees will continue to scatter their leaves onto your lawn, easily undoing any progress you may make with your bare hands.

We need others and we need the proper tools to help us. Don’t live in isolation and don’t allow others to settle into isolation as well. It’s okay not to feel okay, but it will be okay in the end if we let others help us, see us at both our highs and lows, and love us.

You have an inherent value which does not change whether you are perfect or broken. I thought that exhibiting a poker face would establish my facade of a stable and “strong” individual, but I realize that I am just as valuable when I show what I originally perceived as signs of weakness.

Prudence is wise because we do have to establish boundaries in order to uphold what we value, however, walls are the extremity of mistrust. We must also learn to trust in what is good. God always reminds us that we are valuable whether we’re perfect or broken, so we don’t have to worry because we’re already so, so loved.

We may have our struggles, but we also have our abilities. We have the ability to reach out to others and pray when we are in need. As well, we have the ability to extend a hand to others when they are facing their own battles. There are many resources available for all of us such as those provided on the Mental Health Commission of Canada website and the 24-hour distress line which is 780-482-435.

I wish you all well in every battle you face.

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