I recently spoke with someome whose mental health issues had changed that individual’s life in a profound and deeply disturbing way, and my heart hurt for all he had suffered. His mental health deteriorated at a time when there was little understanding of the complexity of mental illness and even less sympathy and support.
I know of others whose more recent downward spiral is equally heartbreaking and hurtful. That black hole of despair is deep. It swallows you whole and the support is never wide enough, the life-lines never long enough.
I am glad to see that change is happening. But I am uncertain of the path the pendulum takes and who is struck down in its journey across time. We cannot cherrypick whose mental health concerns we are sympathetic to, but I fear I am guilty of just that. And sadly, I believe this to be because of the uncertainty we have about the legitimacy and validity of those who cry for help. There are far too many who cite poor mental health to excuse themselves from facing the normal healthy expectations that life naturally places upon us.
Living fully requires us to face obstacles, challenges, rejection, disappointment, sadness. Life also gifts us with triumph, joy, success, love, and plain old lucky breaks. I believe it is normal to experience anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, periods of self doubt, insecurity, intense fear and sadness. Not all the time, no; but sometimes, yes. Is this poor mental health, or is it part of living a full and normal life? I can only speak for myself, but I can’t imagine ever reaching this age without having experienced it all, the good and the not so!
Once again this past week, Bell Let’s Talk lit up social media. Bell’s goal is to promote awareness and action with strategy built on four key pillars: Fighting the stigma, improving access to care, supporting research and leading by example in workplace mental health. How can one not support such an agenda? I look forward to time when everyone who needs to talk will find a friend who will listen, a professional who will help. I also look forward to a time when we again learn and access those coping skills that make life’s journey a road trip to be eagerly anticipated and not a minefield that must be gingerly and fearfully navigated.
Thinking of you tonight.