The two most powerful words when we are in struggle: “Me Too” – Brene Brown
Every year since I started blogging I have written a special post just for Bell Let’s Talk Day. It is a special day marked by Bell Canada to get the conversations going around mental health. Each time the hashtag #BellLetsTalk gets shared on social media, Bell Canada will donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives. This initiative has raised millions of dollars in the years since it was started. What is more important, it has begun to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. The whole day is filled with stories around mental health and how each of us at one time has struggled with our thoughts.
This was going to be the first year that I was not going to write a special blog post on Bell Let’s Talk Day. Since my post last year I have come a long way with my own issues of mental health. I have never felt better and I owe it all to being able to share my story without fear of judgement. This year though, I felt as though I had nothing more to share. Until last week.
While I have never been diagnosed or have sought treatment for it, I believe that I do have some form of PTSD. Every once in a while I get really bad bouts of depression and anxiety. The more I learn about myself, the more I realize that these episodes are usually triggered by my healing from childhood sexual abuse. My latest trigger came from reading the book “Breaking Away” by Patrick O’Sullivan. It is his memoir about his abusive past at the hands of his father. His story captivated me as we share very similar stories. As I was reading the book I became very enlightened that I was not alone with my healing and that we shared very similar family issues. This book really hit home for me. Unfortunately, as I was reading, I noticed my thought was getting darker, my mind became cloudy and I was heading down the road to having feelings of worthlessness and disgust for myself. I began to slip into my self-deprecating ways.
Thankfully, over the years I have developed a set of tools that will help guide me out of my episodes of self-deprecation. First, I realized that I was not drinking enough water. During my dip, I nabbed myself a headache which is the first sign of dehydration. When we are not hydrated enough, our brains chemistry becomes thrown off and thus our moods become affected. Second, I exercised hard and often. Rigorous exercise has been my biggest medicine in combating my negative emotions. Sweating it out has been my saviour on many a bad day. When I am at my lowest, I force myself to workout even harder than I normally would. Third, I avoid Facebook. One of my biggest weaknesses, when I am in my self-deprecating moods, is that I begin to compare my life with those on my social media streams. I have realized over the years that social media is only good for me when I am feeling my best. I avoid it when I am feeling my worse. I seek human interaction instead of digital distraction and this results in me getting out of my mood more quickly. Finally, I write. Whenever I am consumed by bad thoughts, I write about them. Many times, I share them as I am doing now. Writing has become very relaxing to me and allows me to concentrate on my thoughts instead of my thoughts concentrating on me.
Mental health affects all of us. Some more negatively than others. There is no shame in coming forward with your stories of bad mental health. Just like there is no shame in coming forward with your stories of bad physical health as we are often more likely to do. We are put on this earth to learn from each other and the brain is the most mysterious organ we have. By having open communication about our thoughts (however dark and lonely they may feel) only serves to better understand why we think the way we think. It also reinforces our realization that we are not alone. Sharing leads to caring and caring leads to healing. We all have a share in ending the stigma around mental health, I do hope that you will share your story, it is the easiest way of bringing us all to more peaceful being. Remember, no mental health story is too little or too big, we are all in this together.
I encourage you all to watch the following videos, I have watched them many times as a reminder of how to help others and myself with mental health: