Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let's Talk about mental illness

Mental illness is something that people don't want to talk about- not when it comes to themselves. It's something that happens to other people, but not to you, your family or your friends.

If you know me, then you know someone who has been touched by mental illness. I was so overwhelmed after the birth of my darling Austin and with all his weigh gain (or lack thereof) issues, I worried constantly. I second guessed my decisions, my actions and my instincts. I worried when he slept too long and when he didn't sleep long enough. I worried when he didn't eat or poop as often as the books said that he should.

When he was several months old, my anxiety went to a whole other level. I didn't feel like myself, I couldn't sleep and when I did sleep my dreams were very visual and usually involved catastrophe for my son and husband. While I talked to Gordon about all of what was going on in my head, I refused to speak to anyone else for fear that I would be labeled as crazy or that people would think I was a horrible person. I lied to G several times and told him that I had spoken to my doctor when in fact I hadn't.

Finally I did speak to my doctor. I didn't like breaking down into random tears and yelling at my husband for no reason at all. I am very grateful that my doctor listened and immediately helped me turn it all around. My anxiety is finally under control and has been for some time. I am very lucky because while I suffered from PPD I was still able to attach and bond with my son. Some women who suffer PPD are not as lucky.

Today every time you text and/or make a long distance call on the Bell network, BellAliant will donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives in Canada. To date they have committed $50 million over 5 years for toward mental health initiatives. That is an incredible commitment towards something people don't want to talk about.

So today talk. And read the blog post below from my former colleague Karen. You now know someone with mental illness. So now this is personal. Let's talk and support this important initiative.


Let’s Talk


February 9, 2011 by iwkfoundation



Karen Janigan is a senior communications officer with the IWK Foundation

Bell Canada is running an anti-stigma campaign with Olympic medalist Clara Hughes encouraging Canadians to talk about mental health and help eliminate its stigma. She talks about suffering from depression, and I am sure that her openness will guide others who may struggle with depression to get help and share their experience.

The communications giant has also committed $50 million over 5 years for toward mental health initiatives, and declared today (Feb 9) Let`s Talk Day. It will contribute five cents for every text message and long distance calls made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers today to mental health initiatives in Canada, and has provided a Let’s Talk portal at www.bell.ca/letstalk.

I would be surprised if at least one of the next five people you meet has not coped with either depression or its evil twin, anxiety. I am one of them.

In the 80`s I left journalism for a while and took a job as a business manager in a high definition company. I was way over my head! The combination of trying to learn and apply things at the same time, the aftermath of my last journalism job and – when I finally counted — about 15 cups of coffee a day – fuelled anxiety (and my perfectionism) and lead to a full-blown panic attack.

I was walking up crowded Yonge St. in Toronto to meet my new doctor, feeling invisible, sad, anxious and angry. I wanted someone to ask me for money so I could hit them, and I wanted someone to ask what was wrong, so I could break down. I had no idea why I felt so out of whack and strange. But I hated it.

My new doctor (did I mention she was from Halifax) was very perceptive and cancelled the scheduled physical (I was too jumpy to be touched) and talked to me, instead. She explained that it appeared that I was having a panic attack. It took more than that session to learn to get at the root of the anxiety, but it came with therapy. And way less coffee.

At the time, I was incredibly embarrassed about needing help, now I am pretty open about it. I think this openness meant I was able to persuade another who had a panic attack in front of me to seek some help. In turn, he shared his experience with friends and colleagues who seemed to be overwhelmed and angry, lessening the stigma for them to get help.

Talking does break down stigma. We have a long way to go, but at least we are moving in the right direction. So let`s talk.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Lisa,

    Thanks for sharing and I am glad you shared the blog I wrote for the Foundation. It is not easy to open up about these things, but boy is it liberating when you do.

    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Lisa,

    Great blog. So glad you wrote it, and happy that you posted mine with yours. As we both know, hard to take that first step, but so liberating when you do.

    Just think how fantastic you'll deal when your new one is born... :)

    ReplyDelete