Let’s Talk

So today is Bell Let’s Talk day.  What is that, you ask? It is a day dedicated to talking about mental health and attempting to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.  It is, I believe, in its fifth year this year.  For every tweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell donates 5¢ to mental health initiatives.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, the whole point of Bell Let’s Talk day is not just the tweeting to raise money.  It’s also about people talking about their own mental health issues.  So I’m going to talk about my own.  It is far from easy to do.

I spent a fair amount of my youth and adulthood fighting and struggling with depression.  I used to think it was situational – with my disability, the bullying I received, who wouldn’t be depressed right?  But it never really went away.  Sure there were happy times in my life, plenty of them! There were months upon months were I wasn’t depressed at all.  But it would always come back.

Then, in my twenties, I developed anxiety.  I would get nervous and worried about everything.  It was torture.  One day in the shower I broke down crying because I had to mail in a health claim form and the simple act of mailing it seemed too hard to bear.  That’s when I knew I had to do something about it.

It turns out that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, as well as depression.  I am on three different medications to deal with it.  Yes, three.  I hesitated to put that in writing, but the point of this exercise is about reducing stigma and not being ashamed. So there it is.  I’ve also seen a counsellor for extended periods of time.  Once, years ago when I first went on medication, and another 8 months over 2014-2015.  Both methods of treatment have been invaluable to me.

The thing that’s the toughest is getting people to understand how hard it is.  That some days just getting out of bed is an accomplishment, other days you congratulate yourself if you shower.  Meeting new people and experiencing new places is a test of your fortitude, because while you know you’ll likely end up enjoying yourself, those first agonizing minutes are the worst.  There are times where I literally didn’t leave the house for days.

It’s not 100% All Better Now.  I still struggle.  But I manage my mental health issues much better than I used to, and I’m proud of that.

Feeling Good

[Image created by   lekkyjustdoit and distrubuted by freedigitalphotos.net]

 

A friend of mine asked a question recently, about when was the last time we genuinely felt good about ourselves.  There were a variety of answers, some good, some sad, but what struck me the most was my ability to say “almost all of the time” and have it be true.

That was not always the case.  When I was younger I lived through years of bullying that really had an impact on my self-esteem.  I was geeky and shy and had Cerebral Palsy, all things that made me an easy target for that kind of thing.  I used to really think there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have many friends.

This even persisted into my 20s and affected my dating life and other relationships.  I would punish myself for things that went wrong, even if they weren’t my fault.  I would try to stand up for myself and find that I had no one who had my back.  It was really, really tough.

I’m not sure when everything changed.  It must have happened slowly.  Maybe it’s because I’m now in my 30s and no longer care to spend the energy berating myself.  Maybe it’s because I came to realize that even when I make mistakes, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad *person*.

Ultimately, for me, what it comes down to is: am I going to care about X Thing on my deathbed? I doubt I’ll care about sleeping all day yesterday.  But I might care that I was slightly overweight, which is why I’m trying to change that. But even then, being overweight doesn’t make me a bad person.

Thus, I feel good about myself the vast majority of the time.  Do I have flaws? Oh hell yes! But dwelling on them doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s all about perspective, and for me, what I’m going to regret at the end of my days.  I want a short list.

Hopefully no list.