Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day: a day I have previously shared details about my life and my struggles in hope that others will no longer feel alone in the way they feel.
If you read my New Year’s post, you may have seen that I have been posting less about my mental health due to an uncomfortable conversation I had a few months ago. While I so desperately want to go into detail about what that conversation looked like, I feel like I can’t. The conversation, while well-intentioned, left me feeling ashamed of having poor mental health despite my desperate efforts to not let it affect my work ethic or my interactions with others. I had never felt that way before.
Seemingly, despite our efforts to break down the walls of stigma, stigma still exists. People don’t want us talking about our mental health or want to be associated with people who do. As I was told, “perhaps the world isn’t quite ready for this.” And you know what? Perhaps they’re not. But how do we expect things to change if we aren’t actively trying to change it?
Someone I know had said to me shortly after the vague conversation (which I continue to refer to but won’t talk) that perhaps people don’t want any potential for violent outbursts to occur. This to me states that people still equate mental illness with violence. Guess what? That’s a myth. Here’s an article from CMHA Durham: https://cmhadurham.ca/finding-help/the-myth-of-violence-and-mental-illness/ . I had said to that person that it was a myth. They had said to me, “well, maybe people don’t know that” to which I shouted “BECAUSE WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT.”
We can get so caught up in how we appear to others. Heaven forbid we show a glimpse of the negative aspects of being human. Social media fosters a platform to be “perfect.” Like hey, check out my perfect life on instagram. Let me use this snapchat filter to hide the dark bags under my eyes. We are humans sharing human experiences. Yet the idea of how we appear to others is more important than caring about other’s experiences. Saying things like “how are you?” can go a long way, but only if it’s genuine. Check up on your friends, family, and coworkers.
I feel like we have come a long way in mental health advocacy. We have. We need to keep going as there is far more work to do.
For now, I continue to feel like my voice has been suppressed and I am picking myself up piece by piece. But I carry on – I continue to keep fighting the good fight. Without talking about these things, there cannot be further understanding. Stigma fighters, continue the conversation by using #BellLetsTalk on your social media posts today.