Today in Canada, it’s Bell Let’s Talk, a mental health awareness day where we take to social media and show our support for those who suffer from various mental health issues. It’s a way of starting that conversation. As you all may or may not be aware, I suffer from general anxiety disorder and depression, it’s been the case for most of my life. I remember being very young when I first started to feel the feelings that I do. It was a time where I had no idea what was happening, I was confused, scared, and thought there was something wrong with me. As I grew into a teenager, the feelings and thoughts I was having intensified and got worst. It was hard, it was even harder trying to mask it from everyone, something I know now in this stage of my life I shouldn’t have done. Although, I am still guilty of it from time to time.
Over the years I have found ways to cope with it, live with it and do my best to fight it, but there are still days that it wins. Physical activity and my writing are two huge examples of how I push back. But you know, it never truly goes away and I have to do my best to keep moving forward. For me, it seems when I feel as if I am gaining ground, there are life events that tear down the foundations that I have created. It’s to a point sometimes where I need to start all over again. I have lost my uncle to suicide, lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s and my pop well, from just being old really. My mother has been battling MS for years now and I have found myself estranged from my daughter which takes pieces from me every day and haunts my dreams at night, but I carry on. I am also a victim of sexual abuse which has taken volumes and volumes of my soul, but again, I carry on. Now, present day, with the help from family, friends and the many medical professionals I’ve met on my journey, I can finally say that “we” carry on.
Look, my point here is not to make anyone upset or for anyone to feel sorry for me, I’m doing OK, if there is one thing I have learned about myself, it’s that I am a strong person and I also have a great support system. Though there are so many that don’t have the resources that I do, and there are those that are not OK. That’s when a day like today can have a huge impact on a persons life and where my point of this post comes in. I love the idea of using social platforms to get people talking, get the word out, although when we speak of these sensitive topics, we also need people to listen, not to reply, but to understand. Sometimes it’s that easy. There’s no point to put up posters, roll advertisement after advertisement and give you little stickers that say you care when there is no one there to listen. No, you have to prove to those in need that their voice is being heard, that you will pick them up when they slip and catch them when they fall. Show them that they matter, we all matter.
So, if you can relate to my entry here today, reach out and have a chat. Talk and listen, be there and ask the same from them. Let’s not just wave a flag when a fellow man or woman goes down and continue on and not help. Just remember, it takes two to have a conversation, many to fight a battle, and all of us to win the war, and it’s all in the name of good mental health.