Looking at her life from the outside, no one would have suspected how Emma Smit-Geraghty was feeling when she was a student at Sheridan College. The talented young woman had left Truro for Ontario to study musical theatre, which she was passionate about, but she wasn’t feeling the joy she’d expected.
“I was feeling anxious and afraid, and I had the sense I might be going insane,” she said.
“It’s hard to say when it started, but it coincided with big changes, going from Truro to a place where I was surrounded by strangers, and on a very different schedule. During my second semester of my second year, I had 80 hours of classes a week.”
She also had requirements to fulfill in order to keep her scholarship.
“There were a couple of classes where I had the maximum number of absences I could have without failing, and that was because I couldn’t get out of bed,” she recalled. “My whole world view was coloured by anxiety.”
She saw a doctor and counsellor at the college and talked to mental health professionals when she was home for the summer. She was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.
Supportive roommate and friends, as well as expressing emotions through voice and performance classes, helped Smit-Geraghty as she completed the musical theatre program and then a medical office administration program at the NSCC.
“I think the biggest thing was graduating and rearranging my schedule,” she said. “I got a job with Shakespeare by the Sea, with comfortable, consistent hours.
“In a lot of ways, I’m really lucky. I’m not on medication anymore. It’s manageable now
I have rough days, but I have management techniques and my workplaces, FYI Doctors and Cobequid Dance Academy, are very supportive of mental health.”
Smit-Geraghty also coaches students in voice and performance and performs in local music and theatre shows.
Singer Catherine MacLellan will be the second speaker at the 10th Women and Wellness event.
Women & Wellness:
Date: Thursday, Jan. 24
Time: Doors open at 6:15 p.m. for complimentary hors d’oeuvres and mingling, with presentations beginning at 7 p.m.
Where: In the AV room of the Cobequid Educational Centre
What is involves: Speakers sharing their mental wellness stories, chocolate and d hors d’oeuvres, and door prizes
Cost: The event is free, but people are asked, if able, to make a donation to CMHA: Colchester East Hants Branch
Invitations: Invitations are available at the CMHA office, 574 Prince Street.
For more information: Call the Colchester East Hants Branch of the CMHA at 902-895-4211