Let’s Talk Again

I’ve wrote on this day the last couple years and every year I look back at what I wrote and realize I’ve learned more about mental illnesses in that time but I want to reiterate some of what I have said because it is important and does apply, but with some tweaking.

Mental illness doesn’t affect a specific type of person. It can affect anyone. Anyone can suffer from it. And it SUCKS.

The stigma around it makes people feel they need to suffer in silence. The stigma causes fear and embarrassment for getting help. Fear no one will believe them. Fear no one will care. Embarrassed to be looked at as weak. Looked at differently. Like a sub-species.

Sometimes, those who aren’t suffering from mental illness don’t understand it or what to do to help, so they just avoid it. Or pretend they don’t notice signs.

This just enforces the stigma and the vicious circle of ridiculousness it encompasses.

Want to support someone suffering from a mental illness? Just be there. Don’t ask them about it. If they want to talk about it, they will. Making them talk about it will just further drive them into the hole they’re in and further away from getting help.

Just. Be. There. For. Them.

If someone confides in you about their mental illness, and you do want to help, don’t guess. Ask them. Ask them what you can do to help. If they even want your help. Sometimes all they need is a listening ear. Some silent company. Whatever it is, having them tell you is better than you guessing and forcing what you think would be helpful, which can be more harmful than helpful. This goes for discussing their mental illness(es) in general. Wait for them to start the conversation. Wait for them to come to you and reassure them it is safe to talk to you about their mental health.

For those suffering from mental illness, it can be very hard to seek help. Climbing Mount Everest with one arm and no legs hard. If someone has confided in you about their mental illness that is already a HUGE step for them. It can take years before they seek help. It took me years and I still have problems acknowledging my mental illnesses, let alone getting treatment for them.

It’s not always because they don’t know where to find it. But because the stigma also includes “getting help” = “I am weak” and an ego develops around it. “I should be able to deal with this myself.” (this was me for a LONG time)

Sometimes you just can’t.

Getting help doesn’t mean that you’re admitting defeat to the mental illness. It just means you need reinforcements to help bring it down. Strength in numbers.

And if you’re lucky enough to have people in your life who will listen and be there for you no matter what, hold onto them.

I know it’s difficult because you’ll want to push them away because you feel like your mental illness is a burden on them and/or that they see you differently, but fight with all your might not to. Please.

Sometimes, they can make all the difference.

All of this is WAY easier said than done, I know. But it’s not impossible, even though it feels that way a lot of the time.

It won’t ever go away completely. But it can get better. It has to get worse before it gets better. But it can get better. Please don’t be afraid. There are people out there that won’t judge or fear you for your mental illness. There are resources available to help.

The whole judging people with mental illnesses as weak and different is so silly. They are sick not weak. It is a mental ILLNESS.

Stop the stigma.

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There is no off-switch. Damn.

Obsessing over things I wish I wasn’t obsessing over because my feelings are overpowering my brain and making little petty things seem like a tsunami.

I give myself deadlines to cut it out and as soon as I do that something happens that makes me think I was ridiculous to have such deadlines in the first place.

I know what I should do but there’s always a little bit of hope I have difficulty letting go of and it doesn’t help that just when I feel myself giving up I get pushed back into it and I’m playing again.

I’m so sick of playing games. But I keep playing because I think maybe it’ll be different. But it never really is. The game is always the same just the rules are re-worded to make me think it’s different.

I know how to finish the game, my brain just doesn’t want to accept it. Accept that the game can be over. And I just want it to stop.

But it won’t stop. There is no off-switch for the mind. I can distract it a little but it’s always holding onto the ball. It won’t let the ball go. And it’s not like time is running out, either. It’s the dying seconds of the game but the end never comes. Like on an infinite downward slope. The limit doesn’t exist.

So I’m left, on edge, in a constant state of anxiety and impatience with bouts of relief from distraction. What am I waiting for? Why am I waiting? I’m waiting for the hope to kick in and become reality. But it never does. But I still wait. And I get anxious. And it consumes me so much I’m faced with an overwhelming unbreakable inner turmoil I can’t escape.

All over a petty thing. Why?

Deep Breaths

Lying on the floor with my legs bent up over the bed like I’ve fallen off it. Eyes closed. Deep breaths.

Count to 3.

1… 2… 3… exhale.

With my anxiety getting worse, for some reason, the last few days I have this feeling of a hovering panic attack. The feeling comes anywhere, anytime. So I can’t calm myself down by lying on the floor by my bed. I have to imagine myself doing so, closing my eyes, taking deep breaths.

I don’t know why I keep having these feelings, but all day for the last few days I just feel… anxious. Edgy. Like my adrenalin is up high like I’m about to start a race. But there is no race. There is no activity at all. Just my everyday life. I can’t get up and start my own race because of my responsibilities (work). So I say to myself, “go on a run when you get home from work” …but by the time I get home I just want to lie on my floor with my legs bent up over the bed like I’ve fallen off it. Eyes closed. Deep breaths. Counting to 3.

In writing the words I feel myself calming and breathing deeply, counting to 3. And for a brief moment, I’m calm. But once I stop focusing on my breathing, I feel uneasy again. On edge. Like someone is about to jump up and scare me. Anxious. Waiting for something. I don’t know what it is or where it is or how to stop this feeling. I just feel… anxious. And I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because of my PTSD and the fact that I went to the place of the trauma yesterday and knew I was supposed to go there from last week so it built up and then got worse after actually going there yesterday. God I hate that place. I try to create new memories there but the old ones still haunt me. Maybe that’s what I’m anxious about. I’m waiting for the old memories to expose themselves to the world where everyone can see them and they won’t be secret anymore. I’m afraid that people will see these old memories and the wounds they caused me will open me up into a vulnerable state, fresh for killing. And what will die will be my spirit, buried in these old memories.

But I can’t let that happen. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want what happened to me to bury me and consume me into an inescapable darkness. Maybe that’s what I’m afraid of, too. That everyone seeing these old memories will cause them to consume me and I won’t be able to escape them ever again. That I won’t be able to breathe.

But that’s irrational. Other people need to know so they can help me. Keeping it in is what makes it consume me. Makes it define me. Suffocates me. I’m not strong enough to break free and I need others to help me. The idea that others knowing will open me up into a vulnerable state, vulnerable to the pending inescapable darkness that is the past is just my fear. Fear of what will actually happen. I am fearing the worst. When in reality, what will happen won’t be the worst. I’ve already reached out and already have hands to help dig me out of the little shadow of darkness I’m in. To give me room to lie down on the floor with my legs up closing my eyes taking deep breaths. Counting to 3. More people would just mean more help and less darkness. Less chance of falling into the inescapable darkness.

Why can’t I see that?

Let’s Talk: Stop The Stigma

I think Bell Let’s Talk Day should be more often than once a year. If not Bell Let’s Talk, similar initiatives.

Mental illness affects people year round. It doesn’t affect a specific type of person. It can affect anyone. Anyone can suffer from it.

The stigma around it makes people feel they need to suffer in silence. The stigma causes fear and embarrassment for getting help. Fear no one will believe them. Fear no one will care. Embarrassed to be looked at as weak. Looked at differently. Incomplete.

It can be a big pride pill to swallow to even admit suffering from a mental illness. It can take years. It took me years. The stigma of mental illness as a weakness is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Even with lots of support it’s difficult. But it’s not impossible.

If you know someone or even suspect someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, let them know you are there for support. They probably won’t want to talk right away, but knowing that someone is there for when they’re ready to talk is huge. The support you can provide someone suffering from mental illness helps more than you know. Even if it’s just a listening ear.

Don’t make them talk about it, though. Forcing them to talk about it could just push them further away from getting help. Just. Be. There. For. Them.

For those suffering from mental illness, it can be very hard to seek help. Climbing Mount Everest with one arm and no legs hard. If someone has confided in you about their mental illness, that is already a HUGE step for them. It can take years before they seek help, let alone confide in someone about it. It took me years. It shouldn’t have.

It’s not always because one doesn’t know where to find help. But because the stigma also includes “getting help” = “I am weak” and an ego develops around it. “I should be able to deal with this myself.”

Sometimes, you just can’t.

Getting help doesn’t mean that you’re admitting defeat to the mental illness. It just means you need reinforcements to help bring it down. Strength in numbers, like an army, or whatever that cliche is.

And if you’re lucky enough to have friends who will listen and be there for you no matter what, hold onto them.

I know it’s difficult because you’ll want to push them away because you feel like your mental illness is a burden on them and/or that they see you differently, but fight with all your might not to. Please.

Sometimes, they can make all the difference. They did for me.

All of this is WAY easier said than done, I know. But it’s not impossible, even though it feels that way a lot of the time.

It won’t ever go away completely. But it can get better. It has to get worse before it gets better. But it can get better. Please don’t be afraid. There are people who won’t judge or fear you for your mental illness. There are resources available to help.

The whole judging people with mental illnesses as weak and different is ridiculous. They are sick not weak. It is mental ILLNESS. People aren’t afraid to get help when they have bodily health issues and they shouldn’t be afraid to get help when they have mental health issues.

Stop the stigma.

Contact information and other helpful links for Mental Health:

Bell Let’s Talk
National Institute of Mental Health
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

RW tribute: Stop The Stigma

When I read today that Robin Williams passed away I immediately felt shock. Like someone in my family died. A roll of all his movies I’ve ever watched played in my head. As though his death signalled the end of all of them. A part of my childhood has died. And it hurts. It really hurts.

It also amazes me how much of an effect he had on my life. The laughs. The tears. The memories of watching his movies with my family. It’s amazing how a complete stranger was made so real through film alone. I think that speaks to how great of an actor he really was. He had a rare talent. Or maybe that he wasn’t really acting at all. Just being himself.

Someone tweeted that they felt like they just lost their favourite uncle. I couldn’t have said it better myself. That is exactly how it feels. Like I just lost my favourite uncle. And for what?

Depression.

It just goes to show you how someone so great and that appears to Have It All can be suffering so much.

The stigma of it being ‘taboo’ to discuss let alone acknowledge is incredibly damaging and can lead to tragedy.

RIP RW.

Let’s Talk

I think Bell Let’s Talk Day should be more often than once a year. If not Bell Let’s Talk, similar initiatives.

Mental illness affects people year round. Those that try to hide it do so out of fear and embarrassment. It can be hard for someone with mental illness to seek help because they see seeking help as defeat, as weakness.

It can be a big pride pill to swallow to even admit suffering from a mental illness. It can take years. It took me years. The stigma of mental illness as a weakness is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Even with lots of support it’s difficult. But it’s not impossible.

If you know someone or even suspect someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, encourage them to seek help. At the very least let them know you are there for support. They probably won’t want to talk right away, but knowing that someone is there for when they’re ready to talk is huge. The support you can provide someone suffering from mental illness helps more than you know. Even if it’s just a listening ear.

If you yourself are suffering from mental illness don’t be afraid to seek help. There are resources available. Mental illness shouldn’t control your life. You should control your life. It’s MUCH easier said than done but it can be done. It’s a scary and very difficult thing to admit to having and seek help for mental illness, but there is support and help available. You’re not alone.

Let’s work to erase the stigma around mental illness. Not just today, but year round.

Contact information and other helpful links for Mental Health:

Bell Let’s Talk
National Institute of Mental Health