Life can be a joyous, exciting, spine-tingling, and breath taking. Watching the colours of a morning sunrise, experiencing a fresh dusting of snow, breathing in the fresh air just before a spring rain. It’s filled with happiness, peace, and bliss. But with the greatness of life, also comes the sadness, the despair, the struggles and the hardships. Life is a word, both positive and negative, filled with so much meaning and emotion that it’s hard for us to comprehend. The important point for us all to realize is that life is different for everyone, and where some may find bliss others find sorrow.
Today is Bell Let’s Talk day and I encourage EVERYONE to view life through another set of lens, if not today but every day. Show compassion to those fighting a hidden battle, whether it be depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar… the list goes on and on. Try to understand why your friend canceled last minute when she promised she would come over, try to understand why the man down the street opens his door day after day but never leaves the front steps. Imagine what it would be like to wake up day after day unsure whether you can swing your feet over the edge of the bed, or if opening an eye is all strength you can muster for the day. Recognize that mental illness isn’t as visible as we’d all think it to be. Your sister, your father, your friend, your teammate, the banker, the vet, the CEO, the girl walking down the street to school. At first glance, you see what’s on the outside, the smiles and colour but strip away the layers, settle down into a few pillows with a warm cup of tea and I’m sure they could tell you a different story, a story that could shake your world to its core.
I have read some truly touching and inspiring messages here on Facebook. To all those who posted, those battling mental illness, those who go out of their way to help others and to those friends, family members and strangers who don’t personally experience but will help shoulder the pressures that mental illness can bring YOU ARE AMAZING. Not only can mental illness be one of the hardest things to live with but the simple act of talking about it can sometimes seem impossible. The pressure that is felt because you don’t know what others may think, how people will react, or if they may look at you differently is sometimes unbearable and unimaginable. It’s only within the last couple of years that I have started to take my own emotional and mental health as serious as I have my physical. For too long I brushed aside the idea that I could think any differently, or that I could actually be happy. Looking back on my rough years, I can remember the many days when getting out of bed seemed impossible, when staying inside alone seemed like the only answer, and when the world was just so heavy that I could hardly breathe. It seemed like I would never make it to see the person that I am today.
I’m proud to say that I’m a fighter, and I refuse to let any illness beat me. I’m happy to say that through physical activity, support from those who love me, hours spent looking deep within and outside help I have found my place, and can now work towards helping others live the life they’ve always wanted. I’m excited that I now feel like the badass, fighter of a woman that I often presented to the world (even if years ago it was just a mask). That mask is now gone and the outside reflects the inside!
I look forward to the day when the stigma behind mental health issues is dissolved. In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness, do your part to end the stigma.