I am actually enjoying my life now. This change took a long time, many many years from when I was initially suicidal. I had to learn how to rest, when to sleep; I had to learn when to take my medication so my days would be full of activity, not sleepiness. I had to learn to really talk to my doctor so he could help me. I had to learn to not be embarrassed by my limitations.
All six Canadian NHL teams – Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks – during this month will be hosting a mental health awareness day and game. “Hockey Talks” encourages the conversation about mental health.
When mental illness is a part of the picture it takes more effort than some people are willing to give, but I’ve seen it work. I know couples where one partner or the other manages a difficult diagnosis and they both live through the facets of that illness together with strength and grace. They might even throw in a bubble bath or two.
As a society, we need to accept this reality and begin putting the money toward mandatory training programs strictly taught by qualified mental health professionals. With mandatory programs, we could potentially see a decrease in deaths and an increase in communication between people. Communication is crucial and with it, we can begin breaking down the barrier of stigma associated with mental illness.
Allies have a habit of showing up at precisely the moment one needs them. The key to noticing support is being open to the possibility that it exists. This challenges the self-stigma many of us find ourselves caught up in, unwittingly or through influence. So we set aside our preconceptions and learn to trust, even when it seems impossible.
Schizophrenia has taken me to places which, thankfully, few will ever have to know. I tell my story that others might be encouraged to share their own. And somehow, in a way I don’t yet fully understand, I find myself thankful for the loneliness which teaches me daily the values of humanity and love.