Today is #BellLetsTalk day, a day set out by Bell Canada to not only raise funds for mental health initiatives, but to get the dialog open about the stigma that still surrounds mental illness. Since 2010, Bell Canada along with the help from millions of people around the world has raised over $100 million by sharing the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on Twitter and other social networks. What is most important on this day are the countless stories of survival and stories of those who still suffer from mental health issues that are shared on this day.
Last year, I had shared my story about how my past had affected my mental state and how I had felt that I could simply “deal with” my struggles on my own. Without being specific at the time, I had shared that my issues had stemmed from childhood trauma. At the time I didn’t feel comfortable sharing the very real story about my past. But thanks to the support I had received by sharing my story last year, I was eventually able to open up more about my past and the fact that I was sexually abused as a child by someone very close.
I had hid my secret for over 20 years and it consumed me so much that I had become an anxiety and guilt ridden wreck. I couldn’t control my bad thoughts no matter how hard I tried, eventually my sick mind extended to my outside self. I had become erratic with my moods, I had become overly self conscience, anxiety moved in and never moved out… eventually I could not sleep at night. Even after my revelation of my past to my closest family and friends, perfectionism crept in and anxiety still had it’s vice on me. There were days where I had lost hope of ever being “normal” again, always believing I would forever be broken. Then the guilt. That guilt of feeling like I was at fault for my handling of the situation, the guilt of knowing I was mentally sick and lashing out at those who loved me. I had some very dark days, some days I just wanted to escape by any means necessary; there were times I had even contemplated ending it all. Thankfully, my support system stuck by me and gave me a reason to live; to hang on for tomorrow. I had learned what real unconditional love meant.
Those who stuck by my side as I transitioned from a victim of sexual abuse to a survivor are the reason I am still here. At times I was a horrible and selfish friend and husband, I had very erratic behaviors, mood swings and very high ups followed by very low downs. They gave me second, third, fourth and sometime even more chances. They showed me that I could trust people again. They gave me their time so that I could take my time to rebuild myself to where I am today. Like a car battery gone dead, those heroes of my life gave me the boost to get going again, now it is up to me to keep driving.
So please, if someone in your life is suffering, even if you don’t know from what; stick by them. Give them your time and patience. I know it is hard to do. If they continually reject your invitations, continue to invite them out. If they uncharacteristically cry over the slightest thing or are easily angered, continue to listen to them. If they continually do erratic things that simply make no sense to you, continue to learn and understand them. It’s a hard thing to do, but it can literally mean the difference between life and death. Throughout my challenging times, I was still very much aware of who loved me. It was the only thing I had and I am so glad they never gave up on me.
PLEASE! Don’t give up on us! We will get there; together.
P.S – For more information on #BellLetsTalk day click here