I took part in Bell Let’s Talk day. I love the idea of generating awareness and raising funds to support those affected my mental illness. I hope those funds go towards what Bell says they’ll go towards – the 48 pages of organizations involved in mental health research, outreach and support.
So, here we are. The day after Bell Let’s Talk day. The day after the day when my newsfeed is populated by stories from my family, friends, co-workers and community members about their struggles with mental illness. Stories about how the illness(es) manifested in their life, how they fought, how they overcame or how they’re striving to gain strength, charisma and confidence while being ravaged by an invisible nemesis. Stories about the difficulties they’ve experienced with the mental health care system. Stories about highs, lows, joy and suffering,
Did you read them? Did you hear their words? Were you moved?
Here we are, the day after Bell Let’s Talk day and my newsfeed has become shockingly quiet. Yesterday, aspiration for a better world spread across my computer screen like wildfire - today there’s stillness. And it’s this stillness that worries me. It’s this stillness that convinces me we’ve still got a long, long road to walk. A road that is absolutely walkable, just long.
I read those stories yesterday; I honestly tried to read as many of them as I could, because I think it’s important to understand how serious the issue of mental illness has become. And the only way to understand how serious it is, an epidemic of this magnitude, is to appreciate how many people came forward declaring their experiences with mental illness.
What the fuck are we doing to ourselves? After reading all those stories that is the question I’m left with. It becomes so obvious and undeniable that we are in a period of mental chaos. Yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel that more of us deal with mental illness than not. We’re an ill society. We are watching ourselves destroy ourselves. And by this I mean we support a world of conflicted intention, first leading to mental illness, then supporting mental illness, then not supporting those with mental illness. We create an environment that nurtures the growth of mental illness, then we shush the mention of mental illness giving consent for those who are sick to become sicker, and then we are inaccessible, unavailable, unaffordable or absent, which again perpetuates illness.
Yesterday was Bell Let’s Talk day and I’m happy to see that we’re trying. We’re trying to make the world more open, more understanding, more willing to accept that this issue is present and that we need to start fixing it. I’m happy to see people sharing their stories. I’m overjoyed to see the world becoming a place where people feel safe and secure to share. This is a step in the right direction.
I am thinking of you - each and every one of you who has felt the pillaging effects of mental illness first hand. Those left without choice because they are sick. Those forced to spend hours a day vomiting into a toilet, cutting their skin, chasing pills with alcohol, confined to the house for days, to be the ping pong ball between polar opposite feelings and thoughts. I am thinking of you. And, I am thinking of you - each and every one of you who has watched a loved one suffer the harsh reality of what it means to live with mental illness. Watched a loved one drift further and further and further away unsure of how to bring them back or if they can be brought back.
I am thinking of you. Please, think of them too.
And then, do something about it. On Bell Let’s Talk day tell your story, share the posts, send the text messages – support. And then, fucking act. Today, the day after Bell Let’s Talk day don’t let the fire die. Don’t let that portal of compassion close, only to reopen next January. Your daughter won’t start eating because it’s January 26th, your brother won’t stop drinking because it’s January 26th, your neighbor won’t get out of bed because it’s January 26th, your best friend won’t seek treatment because it’s January 26th.
When will they do these things?
They’ll do them when they’re ready and they’ll become ready when one of two things happens; they feel safe and comfortable exposing themselves leading to help or they hit rock bottom. It’s an unfortunate reality that the second does happen, and sometimes it takes being knocked down to stand back up. But the former? We - ALL of us - can help those people starting right now. We can help them to feel safe and comfortable exposing themselves so they can move towards recovery.
Self-love. Self-fucking-love! Learn to love yourself, all of you! Protect your mental health by nourishing your mind, your body and your spirit. And then love others. Love all others. Even if you hate them, love them. We all got to where we are by being exposed to experiences, feelings, thoughts and behaviors so make those experiences, feelings, thoughts and behaviors LOVE. Communicate. Tell your story. And then listen to the stories of others. Talk about it, talk about ALL of it. Let’s slow down and give each other the gift of time.
Now I’m crying. It happens sometimes when I write about topics super close to my heart.
Don’t give up. Keep striving to thrive. Because you can and you will if you don’t give up. And because we now live in an all-loving world, asking for help isn’t scary. It’s what we do. And we do it because we’re met with kindness, compassion and a genuine desire to see each other be healthy and happy.
This world is real. And we can start manifesting it right now.
Bell Let’s Talk day was a testimony to the possibility of this world being closer than we realize. It’s within reach. We have it in us to be more open, to be more understanding, to be more loving. We have it in us to support each other through the highs and lows. We have it in us to make mental illness just another illness that is deserving of society's healing touch.
So, don’t stop talking. On January 26th keep the conversation going. Cling to compassion and move the world to be better. Make vulnerability a strength so we can all feel safe reaching out when we need to. Move, breathe and be love.
Some of you know me, some of you have never met me. Some of you know my story, others don’t. But if you’re reading this, we’re connected and I’m thinking of you. If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a friend to drink tea with, I’m here. On Bell Let’s Talk day, on January 26th and on every day to follow, I’m here for you.
Keep sharing. Keep talking. Keep the fire lit. We’re making the world a more loving place. And love is the most healing thing of all.
I don’t always recognize what’s happening inside.
Often, until it’s too late.
Until I’m so confused I’m shaky.
Wondering how on earth I can make sense of the here and now.
Wishing I could intervene.
Hoping for an opportunity.
Attempting to infuse myself with strength.
And then I crack.
The vase that is my mortal being cracks and dissipates into a million pieces.
They lay there scattered on the floor.
Each piece taking on a different shape, a different feeling.
Their jaggedness reflecting the sharp reality of what is.
I, what’s left of me, stares at the pieces perplexingly.
Knowing that in order to exist I have to put the pieces back together.
In a way that is able to withstand the pressures of this life.
I’ve put the pieces back together before.
Only, I didn’t create a structure capable of tolerating this world.
In the long term at least.
I put the pieces back in a way that made sense at the time.
I was unknowing.
But life is full of change. And my pieced together vase didn’t adapt fruitfully.
How many times have I attempted to put the pieces back together?
I don’t know.
And yet here I stand staring at the fragments of my body and mind.
Recognizing that I need a new approach.
Acknowledging the beauty of a mosaic that can be created from the jagged pieces of my being.
Choosing to slow down.
And become aware.
Aware of clues that teach me how to put the pieces back together.
So my vase is steady, yet flexible.
Strong, yet soft.
Firm, yet understanding.
Safeguarded, yet vulnerable.
The honest learnings and raw reflections of my practice and my life. Unedited.