I’ve been asked a few times how, besides the obvious physical recovery, jaw surgery has/will affect me. So in honour of Bell Let’s Talk Day, I decided write this up quickly.

Anyone who knows me well (or maybe even not-so-well) knows that I have struggled with anxiety disorders since the 10th grade (I was diagnosed in 2015 with obsessive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder). Both became more challenging after an incident a bit over a year ago. These two illnesses have wreaked havoc on my brain some days, but there’s been days on which I feel “normal”. Battling with your brain most certainly is not fun, but in the past couple years I have drastically improved my coping methods and I am currently in my best shape ever, both physically and mentally… I would like to say I am “cured” of my mental illness, but I don’t think I am. I have however gone from a “10” on the anxious scale to about a “2”. I have become more involved with physical activity, which gives me an outlet for all my extra energy and obsessing (which used to and on occasion still does keep me up all night), I have dedicated time to reading anxiety self-help books (sounds cheesy but there are some great ones), I have dedicated time to myself to think and relax, I have found great joy in school and working towards my future career, I found an effective medication, and I have a wonderful support system of family, friends, my pets (they rock so much) and colleagues. I still have bad days, and I still see my anxiety creeping through into each and every day, but there has been tremendous progress and that’s what I hold onto to get me through each day, whether that day is a good day or a bad day.

Back to the jaw surgery now… give an obsessive/anxious person a big surgery and you’ve got a little problem. I have spent countless hours doing nothing except obsessing over every little detail of this upcoming event. I know I am doing it, and doing it much too often, so I try to control the obsessing and worrying, sometimes with success and sometimes not. Now that is is getting closer (and I am pretty sure I have worried myself dry until the morning of surgery) I am trying to look at the positive side of things: the results, the support system I have, and how this means I will have my braces off in the near(ish) future. Unfortunately I have had to go through withdrawing from my medication because I can’t talk it during recovery, and that was hard. It’s a relatively mild medication but the effects of withdrawal on my brain were very, very noticeable. But now that the worst of withdrawal is over, I’m focussing most of my energy on coping by other methods and staying positive about the experience.

Mental health is important and just like how jaw surgery will affect my physical health, my mental health will be impacted. There is a stigma around mental health that I am not okay with. No one would look at me as weak if my physical shape is affected by jaw surgery and its recovery, nor should anyone look at me as weak if my mental health is affected by the same situation.

So today, let’s talk about mental health.