Here in Canada , it is Bell Let’s Talk Day, an initiative to spread awareness about mental health issues in hopes of
- Fighting stigma
- Improving access to care
- Supporting world-class research
- Leading by example in workplace mental health
Whether you personally are one in five individuals who are diagnosed with a mental illness, or have indirectly experienced its effects through a family member, friend or colleague- you know that mental health is a serious matter. Unfortunately, society has not always seen it as such. For years , it has been one of the most taboo subjects and its severity has often been discredited.
I’ve been debating all day on how I wanted to go about writing this post , as mental health is probably one of the topics dearest to my heart. I was originally going to sit here and just spew out a bunch of facts and ways in which we can all help to support such an important cause. But then I thought to myself, how hypocritical of me would that be ? To sit here and preach the importance of ending stigma and talking about our experiences , when I hadn’t had the courage myself to open up about my own experiences ? When I had , for the most part of my life , advocated for “stopping the stigma”while at the same time feeding right into its mouth by not speaking up. Out of fear. Out of embarrassment. Out of shame.
How funny is it that we, as a population , have created a society in which people are embarrassed to talk about one of the most heart wrenching human conditions out there ?
Today, I say enough is enough. No more being ashamed of who we are, or who our loved ones may be. No more feeling as though we have to keep mental health issues on the down low. No more being quick to judge.
I’m taking a stand for every single person who has had their lives turned upside down by mental health issues. I’m speaking up for those who have been silenced all their lives. I’m starting one of the most important conversations we can ever have, in hopes that at least one of you, get inspired to start talking too.
At the age of 6, I learned what a psychotic episode looks like. I witnessed first hand how quickly this illness which I could not understand had managed to transform someone who I love into someone plagued with a burst of utterr despair and anger. I learned what pain looked like. I learned what it meant to struggle. But, there was nothing I could do.
At the age of 8 , I learned that society did not accept everyone. I was told that people who I viewed as nothing less than my equals, we’re somehow “different” or “inferior” in the eyes of others. I found out the world was more cruel than I could have ever imagined. I saw what it looked like to have your humanity concealed-to be forced into living a lie. I learned that some people were to scared to even leave their homes , out of shame. But , there was nothing I could do.
At the age of 12, I learned what depression looks like. I learned how it had the power to render a person hopeless, unmotivated, lonely and empty. I learned that the world we lived in didn’t understand it. I found out that people ” were over exaggerating”. That people were “lazy, worthless bums” that needed to get a life. I didn’t agree. But, there was nothing I could do.
At the age of 13, I learned what it felt like to go to sleep in fear that someone whom you love may not be there the next morning. To cry yourself asleep day in and day out. I learned how utterly frustrating it is to reassure people that they have a reason for living. A purpose.I found out that sometimes, this wasn’t enough. But, there was nothing I could do.
At the age of 16, I woke up. I learned what hope felt like. I realized that there WAS something I could do- something we could all do. I decided, from then on, that I was going to dedicate my life to building a reality in which people with mental illness were not made to be afraid of themselves, their conditions or their lives. To creating a safe and encompassing place that welcomes everyone with open arms and gives people the help they deserve. A world that understands the importance of mental illness- one that acknowledges its existence-and aims to help people feel better instead of putting them down.
I ask that each and every one of you play an active role in starting the conversations that matter.That you render yourselves available to be an open ear to those who need to talk. That you understand that you are not alone. That you have hope that things will get better. #LetsTalkEveryday