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"My anxiety was unfocused and unpredictable, which made it all the more alarming."
"My anxiety was unfocused and unpredictable, which made it all the more alarming."

"My anxiety was unfocused and unpredictable, which made it all the more alarming."

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Toronto City Councillor, Joe Cressy on his mental health struggles.

To someone on the outside, Cressy might have seemed to have it all together. In 2014, he held his dream job as the youngest person on Toronto City Council. However, there were events in his personal life that were taking a toll on his mental health. Cressy was going through a divorce and would try to suppress his emotions.

"I wore my job like a suit of armour—nothing would interrupt my ambition. I wasn’t okay, but I couldn’t admit it, let alone explain it.”

The more Cressy put his emotions aside, the worse his physical symptoms of anxiety became. Eventually, his sweating, shaking and heart palpitations turned into intense chest pain. Cressy was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance because he thought he was having a heart attack. After many physical tests, Cressy realized the problem wasn’t his body, but his mind.

The City Councillor was lucky to get the help he needed through tools including medication, talk therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, and daily exercise. He learned the importance of slowing down, listening to his emotions, and letting go of control.

As youth, it is easy to get caught up in the rush of life to stop and think about your mental health. There are so many factors that can impact our mental health – our genetics, individual environment, culture and society/structures. Cressy reminds us that as much as we try, nothing can shield us from our mental health struggles. In the end, Cressy realized that the best way to manage mental health is to reach out to resources around you for support when you need it.

"I've realized that life is not a race. That winning the next council vote, public policy debate, even the next election are important, but only if I take care of myself.”