I have always viewed myself as a strong person. I was the one that people came to when they sought advice, when they needed a shoulder to cry on, and when they cried for help. I took pride in my “role,” it was something that was in my nature (and something that I am pursuing in post-secondary). But, what happens when the person who does the consoling needs help? That was a question I became faced with very quickly.
We should share our stories and let our voices be heard. We need to show people that mental illness is not just black & white; that there is an entire plethora of emotions that people deal with. We need to show people that mental illness is NOT a sign of weakness or invalidity. Most importantly, we need for people to understand that this illness isn’t born out of ignorance or a crave for attention– but that it’s very, very real.
Everything in life takes work. Degrees, relationships, careers etc. I look at mental health in the same manner. For some people it takes work to feel happy, content. There are good professionals out there. They can help. And for anyone who is feeling alone- You Are Not. To all of those who struggle, I have faith in you. Keep going.
My Super Hero has been a person who has learned of my struggles with mental illness, but has not let that knowledge taint the way that she sees me. This Super Hero has penetrated my deep seeded stigma and through unwavering support, belief, and love and has slowly helped me to begin to tear through the devastating chains that mental illness stigma can unfortunately bring. Because of my Super Hero, I have been able to slowly be more comfortable in sharing my story with trusted people.
Jolene Cannady is a survivor of severe depression and PTSD. Her spare time is spent hanging out with her husband and two children, working as a registered nurse, going to school to become a nurse practitioner, running, writing, and speaking about her journey to help end stigma.