Tuesday, January 28, 2014

End The Stigma

In Canada, today is known as Bell Let's Talk Day. For those who don't know what this is, it's a conversation about mental health that is stimulated by social media. For every tweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, for every Facebook share of their post, and for every Bell customer that sends a text today or makes a call, Bell will donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives. Do I even need to state how much I support this?




I've previously discussed my issues with mental illness on the blog. I'm open and honest about my depression and anxiety because I'm not ashamed. How is it my fault that my brain can't function properly? How are my misfiring synapses something I can control willingly without help or medication? I can't. Just like a schizophrenic can't control their symptoms or someone with bipolar can't help their mood swings. Something is chemically or physically wrong with our brains. Just as much as you can't control your heart attack or your arthritis or any disease that affects any part of your body. Your mind is part of your body and deserves to be treated with as much care. 

Did you know that less than 4% of medical research funding goes to mental illness research? 

Did you know that 22% of Canadians are impacted by mood and anxiety disorders? That's almost 1/5 of the population. I'm not exactly a rare case. 

Did you know that 27% of Canadians are fearful of being around someone suffering from serious mental illness? Fearful. 

Did you know that right now almost 3 million Canadians are suffering from depression? Can you guess how many of them don't seek help because of the stigma surrounding it? Can you guess how many will spiral into such a deep darkness that they may not be able to come out for lack of support and help? 2/3 of people with mental illness suffer in silence for fear of rejection and judgement. But did you know that once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people affected? 

It took me years to seek help for my issues because I didn't want to be labeled as crazy. I didn't want to be a statistic. I didn't want people to look at me differently. I didn't want to be different. Not getting help cost me relationships. It cost me friendships. It cost me opportunities. And it could have cost me my life.  

Getting help was the best choice I've ever made. But that wasn't the only reason I was able to start fighting back. I have an amazing support system. I'm lucky that my friends are among the 49% of people willing to hang around someone suffering from a mental illness. That's less than half the population who are willing to stick around. My friends and family are the reason I'm still here. Not my medication, not my therapy, and not my doctor. Without my support system I would never have had the courage to face my disease. I would not be where I am today. And not everyone is that lucky. 

So take part in the conversation. Visit the website. Start a dialogue on twitter. Talk to someone in your life who may need you right this very moment. END THE STIGMA.

8 comments

  1. You're right, I do look at your differently now and you are different. You're brave and awesome. The end.

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  2. epic fail on my part because I WORK AT BELL and didn't know it was today. for some reason, i thought it was later this week.

    epic fail as a blogger because i have also suffered from mental illness and i should have written a post about it and linked it to this amazing thing but instead, i posted some stupid bullshit about why i suck at being a girl when it should have been why i suck at life for forgetting about this! LOL

    that said, i fully support #belletstalk. since i found out that they have been diverting more support towards mental health, it makes me love this company even more.

    putting the word out there is such an incredible thing to do, melissa. i love this post so hard.

    kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  3. I retweeted #BellLetsTalk first thing this morning.

    Only 4% of funding goes to mental illness research? That's really sad. There are way too many people out there who suffer from it. There's also WAY too many people who suffer from mental illness and can't admit that they do! When they act inappropriately, they don't realise they're doing anything wrong. I wish there was a way to get people like that the help they need.

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  4. I, too, suffer from anxiety and depression. I've been tweeting and retweeting #BellLetsTalk all day. Thanks so much for opening up about your issues and for posting this today. :)

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  5. % of medical research funding goes to mental illness research --this stat blows my mind.

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  6. You rock. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  7. Yep, I love you. Times a billion and 12. You're an amazing person.

    Always here for your and your wack ass dreams.

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  8. You're so brave, keep up the dream!

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