Normally I draw a pretty substantial line between "personal" and "business" in my life, but there are times when the two blend into each other. Today is one of those days! It's Bell's Let's Talk day, which is a day entirely dedicated to the ongoing conversation about mental health. It's about breaking down walls, and taking away the stigma from these very serious, but invisible, diseases. It's one of my favourite days of the year, because mental health is a very important topic in my life.
My journey through mental illness has been long, and at times both scary and frustrating. I have had multiple diagnoses over the years, and it took almost two years to find the right mix of medications for me. I've struggled through deep depressions, destructive manic episodes, and days where I'd have a panic attack every hour. I've taken myself off of my medication (because I was "fine"), and I've used self-harm as a means of both punishment and escape. I have been very lucky to have an incredible network of support around me throughout my journey, even if I haven't always been entirely forthcoming with them about my struggles.
I'm not afraid to stand up and tell the world that I have OCD, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and clinical insomnia. I'm not afraid to share my struggles with the world, even when they are used against me in order for people to further their own agendas. I'm not afraid of the deep and personal conversations that occur when someone approaches me about mental illness. I am not ashamed of my diagnoses, or my regime of medication. I hope that my openness will encourage others to speak about their experiences, and allow others to understand that they aren't alone in what they are feeling.
Lets keep the dialogue going, even after Let's Talk day is over. Let's continue to share our experiences, fears, doubts, and successes with each other, even when we don't have billboards telling us it's ok to talk about it. One day, we will live in a world where mental health is treated no differently than diabetes or heart disease. So start the conversation, and be part of the revolution.
I have a mental illness. And that's ok.