“My name is Neida Mercedes Santini, I’m 47 years old, I’m originally from Venezuela and I live in Ottawa, Canada. I live with anxiety and sometimes it’s so focused that I could call it health anxiety, fear of diseases, and germs. I experienced depression at some points of my life but I have not been symptomatic enough for medical professionals to say that I live with it. I tend to agree with their assessment.
2011 was the year of my diagnosis but in all honesty now I know that I lived with anxiety since I was a little girl. I used to self-diagnose myself as the symptoms appeared and I couldn’t explain them. Doctors always told me my health was fine but I had diagnosed myself with vertigo, hypoglycemia (low sugar), and you name it. In addition to my ‘conditions’ I took pride in calling myself a perfectionist, and a germophobe. Believe me the life of someone who thinks they are perfect can get beyond stressful!
My whole life fell apart in 2011. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I had very little knowledge about mental illnesses and the little I knew was for the most part misinformation, myths and stereotypes.
My recovery process included one year of therapy with a psychologist, medication supervised by a psychiatrist and the development of a new relationship with God. I also counted with the support of my husband and my children who knew I was sick but didn’t understand the complexities of my illness. I just wanted my life back and to get actively involved in the raising of my children.
I also did Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This was quite the challenge. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and realize that being a perfectionist is not a good thing, neither is being a germophobe. My spiritual strength helped me discover that I am not alone, I trust that God is always with me. This combination of science and spiritual strength has kept me in recovery for seven years. It’s true that anxiety has been a big challenge in my life, but it’s also true that it made me a kinder, less judgemental and manipulative person, I know I’m still a work in progress.
I’m now sharing my experience to help others cope and recover. I’ve become a mental health advocate, a crisis responder, and I’m back to enjoying being a mom, a wife, a friend, and a Zumba participant. I hope I can use the darkest days of my life to bring light to others. Follow me for inspiration, support or to join me in future conversations about mental health awareness. We can end the stigma together!”