I had lunch with a good friend today, the other co-founder of Road Warriors, Shannon (check out our website here: https://battlewithin.ca/).
During our conversation we talked about the stigma still associated around mental health, and speaking out about our struggles. It still makes people uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say, or how to act around us when we’re in a bad place.
Here’s the thing. Without other people sharing their stories, their feelings, and their innermost demons, I would have not found the courage to speak out myself.
Hearing that other people were in the same struggle as me, was a comfort. Knowing that I was not alone was a really big deal.
Becoming “comfortable” with acknowledging my feelings has not been easy. Being okay with NOT being okay is a struggle. As Shannon pointed out today, if people know you’re not well, they want to make you well right then and there. It’s not as simple as that for people with mental illness. Sometimes we ruminate on something for weeks (sometimes months). It’s the nature of the beast.
I know that sharing my struggles does make people feel uncomfortable, but I feel uncomfortable feeling the way I do. Bottling that up just makes things worse later on. It’s like trying to hold in vomit. It needs to come out and I am not going to stop it.
Education is key. First hand recounts are key. If you know/love someone with mental illness, try to find resources online for caretakers/family. Reach out to your local mental health associations.
Making mental health/mental illness part of normal conversation is something I will always continue to work towards.
Staying silent…not going to happen.