Did you know that 20% of Canadians will suffer personally from Mental Illness in their lifetime? The statistics are that high.
Today is Bell Let’s Talk day, and it’s inspired me to share a bit of my own story with you all. Today, for every text message on the Bell network, 5 cents will be donated to Mental Health supports- and for every social media tweet and post as well, using #BellLetsTalk as a hashtag.
So, let’s talk.
Depression and Suicide
Mental Illness has affected me personally for most of my life. I am a survivor of sexual abuse, and sexual assault, which of course has impacted my life in such a way that Mental Health is a struggle. I became very depressed in my teens. So much so, that I actually tried to take my own life when I was 19.
I know what it feels like, to be so down that you really don’t see a way out. To feel like the world would be better off without you. To wonder if it’s even possible for you to ever get passed this feeling, and to reach true peace and happiness.
It has taken many years of therapy and self help for me to reach the stage that I’m at. I can comfortably say that I have recovered from my depression and suicidal thoughts. I no longer believe that the world should be without me, or that I cannot achieve happiness. But it wasn’t easy, and I could not have done it without the support of my family and friends.
So many long hours were spent chatting with people from all around the world, who were dealing with the same issues I was. For me, the internet was a massive resource for relief. Something about talking to a stranger made it easier to spill my guts- to release everything I had buried down so deeply. I found it even more therapeutic than my Counselor, who I saw for a few years.
I began writing online. I started a Livejournal and wrote about everything, dark and light, that I was feeling. I began writing Poetry and Short Stories on deviantArt; I started sketching, and recording myself singing songs that I had written. More ideas and resources appeared with each of my conversations- the women and men whom I was talking with were giving me great suggestions of various tools to overcome. I was finding myself, one byte of data at a time.
After I had my second child, I experienced Post Partum Anxiety. It reached the point where I couldn’t drive when my children were in the car. Especially during winter. The thoughts of us getting into an accident were so strong and so repetitive that I had to stop driving altogether. My husband would drive us everywhere, and even then I’d sit in the passenger seat with my eyes clamped shut and tears streaming down my face. I felt like I was crazy. It was humiliating, but my husband would just reach over and put his hand on mine. He’d tell me I was okay and that I should just talk about what I was feeling. So I did, and it really helped. He would calmly listen and remind me that everything was fine and we were all safe.
Even before children, and now past the post partum hormones, social anxiety has always been a problem whenever I’m out and about. I typically cope quite well, except when I have to be out of my home and around other people for several days in a row or if the event is particularly engaged and boisterous. Afterwards, I have to shut myself in my home for a few days to “recover.” The reality of that is embarassing for me, and I don’t like to tell people about it. I’m sure my friends and family just think I’m being rude, but the truth is, it’s really hard for me to feel like myself and to feel safe or secure when I’m out socializing. My past trauma is always there under the surface and it’s really hard to trust people.
As an introvert, the internet is a fairly comfortable place for me. I can satisfy my social needs in safety and without being overwhelmed. But I have to remember that the people in the real world are worth interacting with too- and that’s why days like Let’s Talk are so important.
If you or someone you know are experiencing Depression or Anxiety or any other form of mental illness, please know that you are not alone. That there are resources and methods to help you overcome. And today, reach out and talk to people in person and online about Mental Health. Be open.