Mental health challenges touch each and every one of us. It may be you personally, or someone you love, but it’s there. Silent. Full of shame. Full of fear. Recently, someone I love very much opened the dialogue to discuss their mental health challenges and I am in awe of their courage. I’ve been privy to several friends working through very difficult medical ailments and have experienced depression first hand. Prior to having back surgery in 2009, I isolated myself from my community, my friends and spent too much time with a poor excuse for a boyfriend. I stopped sleeping, was in constant pain and fought to get through my work day without crying. Let me tell you, lack of sleep makes you insane! Doesn’t matter who you are! I couldn’t control what was happening to my body, I had no idea if I would be able to dance again and was terribly scared. I reached out for help. With the support of my GP, I worked with an incredible Psychotherapist. For the record, I love therapy. I think we all should be in therapy! I learned so much about myself and my coping mechanisms with my therapist. She helped me understand why I felt the way I felt and how to manage it for the long term. I remember when I told someone I was seeing a therapist and they told me I was “not a person who went to therapy”. It felt like a slap in the face. It made me wonder, what type of people do go to therapy?
This was on such a small scale and yet I feel for those who think there is a major social stigma on our collective and personal mental health. Therefore, I ask all of us, let’s make mental health and wellbeing a topic of dinner conversation with those we love. Let’s support each other to find the systems we need to acknowledge, heal and grow. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto had a wonderful campaign all about the stigma and social perceptions around mental health issues. I include one of their ads here. For those working through their our mental health struggles, my love, respect and energy to you. You’re very brave, whether or not you feel that way some days.