POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 115 Journey to hope: Alicia Raimundo’s story Published on December 4, 2019 Updated on December 8, 2021 Alicia Raimundo is a Kids Help Phone influencer, mental health advocate and video game enthusiast. Here, Alicia shares their journey to hope and the challenges they experienced along the way. Before you start reading, we want to let you know the following story includes serious subject matter - particularly details about suicidal thoughts and actions - that may be upsetting. PART ONE:THE DARK CLOUD ......................... Living inVancouver, British Columbia “I’m originally from Toronto, but I live in Vancouver now. I really like the proximity of having a city next to so much beautiful nature.” Working in mental health “I work in mental health. I help create online programming for young people to get the help they need where they need it.” Describing yourself in one word “I think my one word would be resilient, but I was thinking I could also say quirky or weird…haha.” Stress, pressure and feeling like you don’t fit in “I don’t remember a time where I felt ‘quote unquote’ normal.All of my earliest memories are of me noticing or feeling like I was different and not really knowing why.Trying to figure out how to fit in with other kids caused me a lot of stress when I was young. I also felt a lot of pressure to make good use out of the life that my parents and community were working hard to give me.” Feeling paralyzed “I didn’t feel like I had the energy to do very much with that life.There was a lot of stuff that I wanted to be doing.And I just felt, like, paralyzed to do it. I wanted to be good at school. I wanted to be good at sports. I wanted to exercise and be that perfect, smart, fit child. And I just felt paralyzed to even get out of bed.” The dark cloud “I come from a culture where you don’t talk about feeling sad or anxious. There was no space for that. I remember having this dark cloud of sadness around me - even for happy events - that I didn’t quite understand. I felt the need to hide it because everyone around me was telling me how lucky I was and how good my life was. And it got really hard and heavy to carry.” Talking about mental health “I Googled how I was feeling to try and figure out what this thing was called and how to deal with it. I tried to talk to my dad, who told me to talk to my mom.And when I tried to talk to my mom, she just tried to solve my problem and spit all these answers at me that didn’t fit. I felt like I really wasn’t allowed to talk about mental health.” PARTTWO:THE LAST STRAW.......................... Triggers “And that’s kind of what triggered thoughts of suicide for me. My brain was just giving up on me and that was terrifying. I felt like the world would be better off without me - that I was a burden to everyone. I felt this way for about a year, and then I wanted to try talking to someone else about it. I felt like my parents didn’t know what was happening, but maybe a teacher or somebody else could help me.” Reaching out “When I was in Grade 8, I went to a teacher and asked to talk to her after school. I remember feeling a little bit lighter and more hopeful that day. Even though my parents were easily scared by my problems, I thought a teacher wouldn’t be, because they’ve helped so many other students. I remember walking up behind the teacher as she was saying goodbye to another teacher to come and meet with me.All I heard her say was, ‘I have to go talk to this crazy girl now.’” (continued)