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Season 1 Episode 10 – Rosemary Young

Rosemary Young is a post-secondary student currently volunteering with Anxiety Canada. In this episode, she shares how MindShift CBT, Anxiety Canada’s app for iOS and Android devices based on cognitive behavioural therapy, has helped manage her anxiety.

In her view, “It’s important for us as youth to be educated about the wide range of mental health and anxiety challenges that exist.”

John Bateman (JB): My next guest here is Rosemary Young, who’s an Anxiety Canada youth volunteer. Hi Rosemary, what’s your anxiety story?

Rosemary Young (RY): So I’m 21 now. I’ve had anxiety in different forms throughout most of my life. When I was younger I did have a phobia of dogs. And then, when I was a preteen, I did develop an eating disorder and then, my experiences with anxiety have gone in waves. When I went to university – I’m in fourth year now – I experienced my most difficult time with anxiety. Although I had considered myself an expert on anxiety by that time, I didn’t really recognize what I was going through. When I hit a second year, I got really scared. Basically I experience intrusive thoughts when I get really stressed.  

RY: So that’s on the spectrum of OCD. But I had no idea what that was, and I experienced a lot of anxiety in relation to those thoughts. When I was experiencing that for the first time, I was struggling a lot and didn’t know what to do or how to overcome it cause I hadn’t gone through that type of anxiety before. But I ended up finding lots of support from friends, and psychologist helped me recognize and understand what it was. I now use a CBT to manage it.  

JB: Right. And where did you first learn about CBT as a tool for managing your anxiety?  

RY: I learned about it when I was going through the eating disorder. I remember seeing a psychologist at a clinic. They did CBT with me and they also introduced me to Anxiety Canada’s website, to use as like a supplementary tool.  

JB: Yeah! And do you use MindShift CBT, Anxiety Canada’s app for iOS and Android?

RY: Yeah, I do. I use it once in awhile. I liked the breathing techniques a lot. And I think the component that allows you to go through your thoughts and challenge them and just take time to really think them through is also a really good tool.  

JB: Fantastic! So tell me about your work with Anxiety Canada as a youth volunteer. What’s what’s that entail?  

RY: I just started this summer, so basically, now I’ve overcome a lot of the anxiety that I was just talking about. Being in a much better space. I was looking for an organization to volunteer and have an impact on campus as well. To raise awareness about the different types of anxiety disorders. Because I had heard about Anxiety Canada previously, I looked on their website and they had an opportunity just starting up called the National Youth Committee. They’re developing youth networks across Canada, ambassadors for Anxiety Canada to raise awareness about the different types of anxiety disorders, to connect students and non-students to, different resources. I started as a member on the youth committee,that’s helping build out the national network. 

JB: Right. You might be one of the younger people I’ve spoken to today. How open do you find your peers to be about anxiety and mental health? Is it something people talk about, or are people still pretty quiet? How’s that working?  

RY: That’s a really good question. I think speaking generally anxiety and mental health and depression are talked about pretty regularly. And at least in my peer group. But the thing is specific anxiety disorders and things outside of the normal, heightened stress and what you normally expect of anxiety and depression, they aren’t really talked about. So for example, if someone is going through something that might not fit into what you typically hear in media about depression or anxiety, you wouldn’t know what you’re going, what you were going through because those really aren’t advertised or talked about in a lot of the mental health initiatives you see either on campus, or in youth initiatives. And so I think that’s a really big thing that needs to be more talked about and normalized. I think it’s important for us, like as youth to be really educated about like the wide range of mental health and anxiety challenges that exist.

JB: Yeah. I’ve got a daughter who is 17, and her brother is 14, and they’re both very wired. They both have their devices always. Yours is really the first generation to grow up with these things attached to your person. They are part of who you are. I’m wondering, within that how much do you feel is there a positive effective of that of being able to connect with everybody all the time? Or is there a negative effect when it comes to mental health: cyber bullying, and exclusion, all that kind of thing. 

RY: For me it’s done a bit of both. I’ve seen two sides of it. The really positive side in terms of advocacy, like in the circles that I run in and the people that I follow on my social media. Yet I think there’s a lot of advocates of mental health issues and just in general, people are pretty open, which I think is good because for me and others I know, it helps normalize mental health challenges in the sense that you feel like what you’re going through is relatable. That’s important because then you don’t feel so isolated. But at the same time social media and phones other technology in general, I think can be kind of problematic. Because it’s so hard not to compare yourself to the people that you follow and the people that you’re connected with. Then in terms of comparing your life to theirs, I think that for me at least, that has been the source of anxiety.  

JB: I experienced it too: I’m Facebook generation. I’d see what friends posts and what they’re doing and there’s the negative voice that happens. It’s so quiet within me, but it’s so damaging and I can realize that because I’m older. I can shut that voice down. Do you think kids know that’s happening?  

RY: I’m not sure. I would like to think a lot of people do. I think there needs to be an education piece from either the social media networks themselves or just schools on how social media and other forms of technology can feed into mental health issues. That it’s fun to look at what your peers are doing, but it’s not, everything in social media doesn’t necessarily represent the reality of people. That’s just an important perspective to have.  

JB: Yeah. Do you feel social interactions with your friends over devices are a substitute for real life? Or do you feel like real life interaction is still the way to go?  

RY: I definitely feel like real life interaction is still the way to go. And I like being able to connect with my friends over text and social media because we can support each other even from more far away. But nothing replaces in-person connections.  

JB: Yeah. Rosemary, I really appreciate you calling in. It’s important that your peers understand that there’s resources here, that they’re not alone. So your voice is incredibly important.  

RY: Thanks so much for having me. 

JB: Anytime. Take care, Rosemary. Bye.