I encourage everyone to talk about mental health. Tell your family, your friends, your therapist, your doctor. Tell them exactly how it feels. If they’re really there for you, they’ll listen. If not, it’s good practice for you. They’ll never know you the way you know you if you don’t talk about it. Living with stigma is a lonely gig. Mental health is better. So talk about it.
Thank you doubters and gossipers. You watched me fall and doubted my ability to get back up. Perhaps you talked about me and told people I was crazy. Maybe you think that I should remain silent about my past journeys. I forgive you. Truthfully, I am grateful for your presence in my life. You have taught me that it is okay to be honest and have a strong voice.
I never aspired to be a mental health advocate. I’m an entrepreneur, a business guy, a creative type with an appreciation for the bottom line. If things don’t work, you fix them.
When one of my three beautiful children became sick with a mental illness, our family faced tremendous pain and confusion. Stigma kept our struggle private, fear kept us on heightened alert, and treatment options were hard to navigate. We were now on the front lines of mental illness, and experiencing stigma first hand.
I talk about mental health because stigma prevents too many people from seeking the help or support that they may need. At BC2M, we talk about this 365 days a year. And, each May, we talk about it with a wider audience reached through the increased media attention generated by Mental Health Awareness Month.
Changing the name will not undo years of prejudicial thinking. People living with schizophrenia will still feel the sting of the invisible apartheid. Authorities will still profile us as violent criminals, even when statistics prove otherwise. Society will continue to abandon their own over misunderstandings that have everything to do with the symptoms, and nothing to do with the word attached to the diagnosis.
Acceptance can happen at any time. But, when it doesn’t, it can be painful. Don’t let the ignorance of others impact your life. We all know the power we possess and the empathy of which we are capable. Use that power to focus on improving your own life and then the lives of others. I did, and now my life is good, even wonderful at times.
No one ever asks for mental illness to enter his or her home. I certainly did not ask for the moment that brought PTSD and depression into my spirit when I was younger. So many days when I could barely get out of bed or moments where tears were all that I knew. I remember the day that one of my therapists introduced me to running.
We all know the drill when it comes to anxiety. Our body will shake uncontrollably, our heart will race, our vision will become blurry, and it is all down to that little gem known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.