Your regularly scheduled happy-go-lucky posts on this blog will resume shortly. However, in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week** in Canada coming up (October 4th-10th), and also in honour of today being my first day as someone with a prescription for a medication to treat a mental illness, I am writing a post on this blog that is very near and dear to my heart.
Let me start by giving you a bit of background. I have suffered, undiagnosed, from various bouts of severe depression and several forms of anxiety, for most of my adolescent and adult life. There could be a number of hypothetical reasons for this: My parents divorced when I was young, I was bullied in middle school, I went through a long-distance relationship which terminated in a very messy and public breakup, or maybe I just had a hormonal/genetic tendency towards these traits. Sure, these may have all been contributing factors to my disease[s], but I’m more concerned with, and want to explain why I was too afraid to seek help until very recently.
I wanted to write this piece in order to be a voice for people all around the world like me, who suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness. We don’t exactly have people dumping buckets of freezing cold ice water over their heads in our honour. We are probably some of the least likely people in the world to be vocal about our needs, because we don’t want anyone to know just how terrible we feel. We feel like we are expected to put on a brave face and go about our business like everything is normal, when really, it’s so completely not.
I see a lot of articles, stories, and other pieces of writing by folks who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, sought treatment, and are now leading successful, fulfilling lives, or have come so far from when they first began their battle. It’s rare that I see one written from the perspective of someone like me, who is still attempting to navigate the dark tunnel, or cave, or forest, or gross sewer system (choose whichever metaphor you prefer and use it in proper places throughout the rest of this article) that is a mental illness in the dark, or with a flashlight that keeps going out intermittently. And there’s probably a simple explanation for that…