A few days have passed since the Bell Let’s Talk day. It was quite refreshing to see the response that it received. The concern I always have with these types of promotion about an issue is I often wonder about the day after, the week after, or the months to come. We are reminded to talk, we are enthused and engaged over the reminder but then we have a tendency to move on. I don’t mean to be critical but rather challenge us all to remember in the days to come.
After my post on thursday I received a note from someone whose partner has dealt with depression for years, stuck in a place that was obviously dark and lonely. In his words, “after 4-5 years, many psychiatrists/ psychologists, numerous medication attempts, (my wife) finally was able to break out of her cocoon that held her captive”. That reiterates the difficulties and frustrations many experience when they do seek help. The good news is that there is help, there is hope, and there is relief.
He also mentioned something else which has troubled me for some time. In his words “I find that people that have never struggled with or lived with someone struggling with depression/anxiety, find it almost impossible to identify with those dealing with it. Many think you can just snap out of it or just decide not be depressed”. Those words really resonate with me. In spite of my own experiences, being aware of the debilitating effect mental illness can have, and having been frustrated with some people’s response, I suspect I have been guilty of that as well, thinking that a person showing signs of depression should just move on.
Further to that is the fact that many try to hide their mental health issues. I am reminded of an interview I did numerous years ago when I first “came out of the closet” regarding my own mental health challenges. The reporter wrote to the effect that outwardly I had shown every sign of being a success yet inwardly I had been drowning in a black hole. We tend to cover up for various reasons. The stigma, the response we get from some, and the fact that we wish things could be different. Maybe, just maybe, if I act like nothing is wrong then nothing is wrong. And sometimes it is simply easier to pretend everything is okay rather than to explain why we are not okay.
So all of us need to continue with the Let’s Talk challenge. For those not living with mental health illness be ever mindful of those that are. Be ready to engage in conversations. Do what you can to listen and support. Don’t be judgemental but rather show curiosity, a curiosity that shows support through the questions you may have. Engage in a conversation that helps the other in their journey to recovery. Not just for the few days around January 25th, but for the entire year to come.
For those that are on the journey seek out your support system. Be willing to talk. Be willing to share. And don’t give up when the person you talk to is not able to understand. The more we talk, the more others will understand. The more we talk the more we will find ourselves being able to seek help, to move towards recovery, to move towards discovery. A discovery of life that takes us beyond the hopelessness and darkness that mental illness brings. And most of all be patient. It takes time to find the best way to heal. Be patient knowing there is hope, there is relief, and there is healing. Make it a good one.
“People don’t always need advice. Sometimes all they really need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a heart to understand them.” unknown