I recently heard somewhere that the conversation surrounding mental health is "like a pot brimming beneath the surface of public consciousness". Well, this is in an effort to remove the lid.
I started having depressive thoughts when I was sixteen. I had just immigrated to Canada and I just hated my life. I felt alone, I felt ugly, I felt useless...worthless. My self-esteem was non-existent. In a desperate cry for attention I tried to kill myself. I ended up in the hospital and had to have my stomach pumped. I thank my lucky stars that I wasn't successful. I know now that I really didn't want to die but at the time, I felt there was no way out. After that, I sought professional help for the first time. And I've sought professional help as recently as last year.
Now that I have a family of my own, I am no longer living for myself. I do not ever want to feel like...dying is the only solution. I do not want to ever feel like leaving my beautiful children without a mother is the only way out. Which is why I have taken the steps, albeit sometimes with a bit of prodding, to seek the help I know I need.
I, too, was...and to be completely honest, still am ashamed to talk about my struggle with anxiety and depression. Even as I type these words, I wonder if I'll actually post this. Will it change people's perception of me? Will it taint people's perception of me? Maybe it will. But if my doing this resonates with anyone, or encourages anyone to seek help - whether just speaking to a friend or loved one or professional - then it will be well worth the unease of sharing such a personal story.
On the heels of public figure's suicide and the revelation that she chose not to seek treatment for her bipolar disorder in fear of tarnishing her brand, the importance of making mental health a priority has never been more pressing. It is unfortunate that it takes such a tragic event to bring the issue of mental health to the forefront. And let's be honest, there are millions of regular people, just like you and me, who commit suicide every year because, like me, they felt there is no way out. People who have been ostracized , simply for being unwell. We have a serious epidemic and it will only get worse if we leave things as they are. If we don't take the lid off the pot.
This is not an issue for the poor, or the homeless, or rich people who don't know what to do with their money. This is not an issue for adults. More than ever, children are struggling with mental health. The truth is, everyone has been affected in some way. Which is why I think we should all champion this cause. Reach out to the people in your circles. Talk about your own experiences. Let’s end the stigma. If we aren't ashamed of saying we have the flu, or diabetes or asthma...we shouldn't be ashamed to talk about mental health. Because mental health is health.
Don't suffer in silence.