Finding Support Through My Family and Friends

Sam Pirillo Trent U
Finding Support Through My Family and Friends
If I can offer one piece of advice, it would be to find a support system or to BE that support system. Whether it be family, friends, or even someone through mental health services, there is someone out there who will be there for you. The truth is you are not alone.

This is Sam's Story.

My name is Sam. I volunteered with Cam's Kids for almost a year, was a team lead at TrentU, and now work for Cam's Kids!

While working for Cam's Kids, I have had the honour of getting to know some of our amazing ambassadors and their stories. Seeing how many people want to come together to help others feel supported and less alone is inspirational. Because of you all, I wanted to share my story, too. It has shaped me into who I am today and plays a large part in why I chose this as my career.

My journey with mental health started earlier than 2018, but I pinpoint this as the year that things began to go downhill for me. When University started, I moved to Peterborough, away from my friends and family who I relied on. Within my first few days there, I can remember calling my mom and telling her that I needed to come home because I was feeling very sick. I had no interest in getting to know people in my residence or adjusting to the new lifestyle I would be living. I went home and stayed until classes began.

When I returned, I pushed myself for the first few weeks. I did my best to be social, meet new people, and attend every class, but this didn't last long.

It started with waking up and feeling both sad and nervous. I was able to push through it some days but noticed that I was beginning to struggle. I went to class less, was sleeping more, was extremely emotional, and often felt anxious for no reason.

After a few months, my mental health had gotten so bad that I wasn't being social. For me, having to be social was awful. My heart would race, I would sweat excessively, and my stomach would turn to the point that it made me feel sick. I overanalyzed each conversation I had. Suddenly, l found that all I did was lay in bed all day feeling so defeated. I had no motivation and would sleep all day, cry randomly, and count down the days until I could go home and be with my family again. I also basically stopped going to school altogether. Why? Because the thought of having to get on the bus and pull the cord at my stop once I got to school terrified me.

If I had a test or an assignment, I would do the trek to campus to avoid going on that bus, no matter the weather. Every time I left my house, I felt as though I was on high alert. Everything made me feel anxious. I didn't want to talk to anyone, and school was becoming more than I could handle. My anxiety had gotten so bad that it was interfering with my everyday life. 

My struggles continued. But thankfully, my parents knew I was struggling. My family has always had very open conversations about mental health. They checked in with me every day and would often Facetime me. My mom spent many hours with me on the phone, letting me express my feelings and comforting me. Every time I needed her, she was there, and whenever i visited home, her and my dad would do their best to offer me support. 

My mom has always been my best friend, but I don't think I will ever be able to express how much her support meant to me and how much she helped improve my life. The same goes for my dad. He was always super great at helping me vocalize and work through exactly what I was feeling, which is something I needed support with. My dad was also great at making me laugh and bringing a smile back onto my face, he just always knew how to. It might seem like something so little, but it meant to much to me becuase he understood what I needed in that moment. 

My mom was the one who made the push for me to go and get help. It was Valentine's Day of 2019. She told me that we were going to the doctor to talk about what was going on with my mental health. I remember being both scared and, honestly, even a little upset with her, but that was because I knew the conversation was going to be hard. I think it can be difficult sometimes to admit that you might need help, but mom knew it was for the best and that I needed support at that moment. 

The visit to the doctor was very emotional. My mom did most of the talking while I just sat there crying, but I left the doctors feeling so thankful. That visit changed everything for me. I was now on medication that would help with both anxiety and depression. It was scary, and I knew that it was going to take some time to help if it ever did.

To this day, I am so thankful that my parents helped me to take these steps and for their continuous support. I dont know what would have happened if they weren't there. I am forever thankful for them because their support helped to change my life. 

Over the next few months, I started to feel better, think more clearly, and get some of my motivation back. I even took the bus. I used to think this was silly to celebrate, but the truth is, it's not. That's the thing about anxiety and mental health. It can make even the easiest tasks feel like the most difficult or scariest thing in the world. 


I also let my roommate in on what was going on. She became my main support system at school. This girl, whom I hardly knew, was now watching over me. She pushed me to go to school, to talk about my feelings, and she did it without judgment. She helped me regain my confidence and always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. She spent many nights being there for me. I don't know if she will ever understand how much her support meant to me and how much she helped me. 

Just last month, after nearly five years, I took the step to get off my medication. I felt as though I was in a good enough place that I could do it, which I thought I would never be able to do. My mind is clear. I feel happy, and I feel supported. I found ways to cope with my anxiety.

If I can offer one piece of advice, it would be to find a support system or to BE that support system. Whether it be family, friends, or even someone through mental health services, there is someone out there who will be there for you. The truth is you are not alone. If you are on the opposite end of this, be gentle with the people in your life. We all struggle with our mental health at one point or another. It's okay to set boundaries, but remember to be kind, and if you can, offer support if someone needs it.

Powered by Innovasium