Bell Let's Day 2013 - Office
Since it is Bell Let's Talk Day today I thought I'd revisit the subject of mental illness once again. I have been meaning to write this blog for the last few weeks upon hearing some horrible news regarding a 16 year old boy who committed suicide due to depression. It saddened me that he felt that desperate to end his life. He was suffering from depression for quite a while, but feelings were never discussed in his household which kept them bottled.
Having suffered from anxiety, and bouts of depression throughout my life, and diagnosed with ADHD when I was 18, I am no stranger to the world of mental health disorders. There are days when you slap a smile on your face and try to stay positive, but inside you feel empty, dark, and hopeless. Many people walk through life with these mental health disorders trying to look strong so to not expose their perceived dark secret, but in reality they are suffering big time on the inside. I know I have done that numerous times and it is not the way to live. This need to hide feelings and suffer alone is due largely to the unnecessary stigma related to mental illness - that you must be defective in some way, weak and or crazy if you have a mental disorder. In reality it is quite opposite - it takes a large amount of strength and courage to battle through each day with issues you feel are out of your control. It takes a large amount of strength to deal with feelings of being "different" from others, being deemed as having an "illness", feeling unlovable, and or trying to be what is defined as "normal" in societal terms. Portrayals of people with mental illnesses throughout time within different media/creative outlets generally paint pictures of people screaming their heads off, wearing straight jackets at hospital psychiatric wards, talking to themselves incoherently, or even hurting others. These images have created a stereotype regarding people who suffer from mental illnesses, which in turn has caused many people dealing with mental illness to keep their mouths shut so to not endure the judgment and ridicule themselves. Although these types of behaviours do occur with certain mental disorders, there are many high functioning people that you wouldn't guess are even dealing with anything at all. Mental health is not a black or white subject and there is not just one picture to paint.
We should not feel ashamed to talk about our struggles. We should not feel the need to hide a part of ourselves. We should not feel ashamed to seek help for anything - and this goes for anything in life. To feel like you have no where to turn or no one to express your feelings to is a horrible feeling. To not be acknowledged and or feel understood or supported; to be seen as a monster; or to not be taken seriously because someone feels you can just think positively and be done with it (or that you are overreacting and or are oversensitive) - is complete ignorance. It's a lack of education. It's lack of compassion. It's a lack of understanding. It's not always that easy for everyone. Imagine how tough it would be to be trapped in a mind of a schizophrenic, or a severely autistic child? Or have to deal with Bipolar Disorder? People need to walk a mile in someone's shoes before they can judge another. It's an old saying but a true one. Acceptance is key to people feeling safe to come forward and admit needing help. It is not a sign of weakness to seek help. People with any sort of disorder (whether severe or not) should not be the butt of people's jokes - they should be seen as an opportunity to open our hearts and send compassion and understanding even if we don't understand fully. This way of thinking should be applied to all people really - with or without disorders of any kind.
For those that are capable of taking responsibility for their own mental health, there are many great treatments out there - social workers, medication, cognitive behavioural therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, nurses, mental health hospitals - that people can turn to in times of need whether short or long term. We can create our own happiness and take control of your lives and live a more stable life. It takes work and commitment, and there are many challenges to face, but it is worth it in the end.
Here is to even more positive change in years to come regarding stigmas and mental health!!! We are getting there and #BellLetsTalk is just one great step forward to helping create that change. Bell is donating 5 cents for every text, tweet, Facebook post, and or long distance call so join the movement!!
Lovely Lianne XO