Thursday, January 26, 2017

yesterday, we talked, but today, we still need to.

in 2008, i walked into a psych ward. i had to. my mind was going crazy and wouldn't shut off, so out of desperation, i walked into the hospital in edmonton, spent every ounce of energy i had left checking off boxes and filling out piles of paperwork, and sat there, alone, for hours, wondering what 'help' was going to look like.

what seemed like hours later, my name was called. i followed a lady down a long, bright hall to a room where two counselors sat across from me. i remember feeling such a sense of relief when i entered that room; i was finally getting the help i needed.

only, i never did.

the senior counselor, who sat in that room and stared at me, laughed at me and told me that i wasn't depressed, i was 'just unemployed'. so off i went an hour later, without any help, and still just as 'unemployed'.

somehow, i made it through. unfortunately, not all do.

i found a really great counselor out west, who helped me process everything i was feeling and assured me that i was 'normal'. thankfully, i had benefits to cover the costs. some don't.

i moved back home shortly after, but my depression followed. at times, it was circumstantial - other times, it wasn't - but both carried the same weight; both felt like a dark, suffocating cloud.

i tried the med route, and the counselor route again, but i couldn't seem to get the right fit with either. so i battled it alone. the truth is, a lot of people battle it alone.

after losing my dad in 2011, i put myself on a six month waiting list with an organization that offered free counseling because i couldn't afford to pay for it. waiting felt like forever, yet at the same time, gave me a reason to hang on. it didn't take me long to realize, however, that the man i was assigned to wasn't qualified to help me process my grief - something he willingly admitted after our first session - so again, i was left to battle my depression alone.

but somehow, i made it 'through'. again.

i gave counseling another chance a few years later, only to have one counselor, during my first session, tell me that the reason i wasn't in a committed relationship [which is not why i went to see him] is because i'm a lesbian [which i'm not], and the next one didn't know how to handle a client who didn't 'fit in a box', and i certainly didn't fit in his box.

and so i was forced to take ahold of my own life, something that unfortunately not everyone with a mental illness is able to do.

over time, i was able to come up with some tools to conquer my mental illness. there are days even now where i battle it, especially since my mother passed away, but thanks to these tools [a better diet, getting fresh air, doing things that occupy my brain and make me feel alive, finding a good counselor etc], my bouts of depression are less frequent and less intense these days.

but i remember them as if they were yesterday, which is why days like yesterday hit close to home for me.

thanks to bell's generous initiative, all of the their customers who sent texts yesterday, and all of YOU who included the hashtag #BellLetsTalk throughout social media, a grand total of $6,585,250.50 was raised for mental health funding - which is absolutely incredible - but let's not stop there.

while education and awareness play a vital role in any healing process, action is what paves the way for change.

education leads to understanding.
understanding --> compassion,
compassion --> action [or compACTION as i like to call it]
and action, change.

so ... let's be people who act! let's keep the conversation going. reach out to someone you know who is struggling. accompany a friend to the doctor's office. connect them to a much needed resource. help them search for a counselor, or better yet, help them pay for one if you're able to. [someone did that for me once, and i'll never forget it].

while ultimately it's up to the one struggling to get help [no one can help someone if they don't want it], we can all play a part.

moved about the stories you heard yesterday? let that which moved [and moves] your heart activate your hands.

bell, let's act.

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