It’s February 12. Let’s talk.
Today, Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives across Canada for every:
- Text message sent*
- Long distance call made*
- Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
- Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image
* By a Bell or Bell Aliant customer.
So how exactly did Bell’s Let’s Talk Day come about? It was an initiative that was started in 2010 when the company announced that it would be contributing $50 million over the next 5 years to support mental health initiatives in Canada. There are four areas of focus for this initiative and include:
- workplace mental health
- community care and access
Recognizing that simply talking makes a significant impact in breaking down the barriers to mental health, the campaign encourages people to “start the conversation” about mental health and engage in dialogue with friends, family and co-workers.
Last year during Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, I was just getting ready to return to work after a 2 month sick leave period for depression. I thought that the campaign was a great way to just let it all loose, and announce to friends and family (who weren’t in the loop) why exactly I was on leave. I decided to make a post on my Facebook Page and link it to the Let’s Talk Campaign website. I shared my story about my battle with depression and was very open and honnest about it. Many people later commented to me saying how brave I was to just put it all out there on Facebook … for everyone to see.
To me, it didn’t seem like an act of bravery. In fact, it seemed to be quite the opposite in my head. I had been so secretive of my battle with the disease for so long that I was tired of keeping it a secret anymore. To announce it to everyone, was like a release. It was a weight that I no longer had to carry. Energy that would no longer be lost.
I know what it feels like to be depressed. I once heard the expression “Depression Lies” … and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve had several battles with depression throughout my life and each time I was in denial of how big the situation really was. I wasn’t ready to accept it. I wasn’t ready to deal with it. … So I tried to suppress it as much as I could in an attempt to hide it from family and friends. In high school my depression convinced me that I didn’t fit in, that everyone was laughing at me behind my back and that I couldn’t trust anyone. It was this paranoia that convinced me that I wasn’t, nor ever would be, accepted. I felt so lonely during those years …. and in hindsight, I only had my depression to blame. If I had the courage back then to work through my paranoias, perhaps I’d have a happier outlook on those years.
In University, these negative thoughts started to go away as I met new friends through my degree. It was like a fresh start. But this only lasted a few years before the negative self talk and paranoia started to bubble up again. But this time, my depression started to lie to me in different ways. It realized that telling me that I would never fit in was no longer applicable as I had clearly integrated myself into a tight-knit social circle as I went through my degree. This time my depression was more clever. It started attacking me with the idea that I was no longer an intelligent person. These paranoias started getting worse over time and soon it started to affect my study habits and my grades. By the end of my degree I was an emotional wreck on the inside and was regularly breaking down behind shut doors. I was so careful to keep this battle a secret that none of my closest friends had any idea. Nor did my family. It was a heavy burden to carry.
When I started my full time job following graduation, I was convinced that I obviously must have just “lucked” into my position. I was convinced that people were talking about me behind my back. I was convinced that the water-cooler conversations were about how everything that I was doing was wrong and how worthless my work was. I was so paranoid, in fact, that there were certain co-workers who I would actively avoid passing in the corridor because just the mere sight of them would switch on, with full force, the negative self-talk that I just wished would go away. If this meant taking the long way to get to the meeting room to do it, or prolonging going to their floor until I knew they were in the middle of a meeting, that’s what I would do.
This paranoia was getting so much worse that I started to notice a trend of mini-meltdowns that would begin in the Fall and end around the end of January. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve locked myself in my office, and just cried from merely being overwhelmed by all the negative emotion. And the worst part was that my employer had only good things to say about my work. Never had anyone complained about my work and many saw me as a great resource to our team. But my depression wouldn’t let me hear this. My depression would filter this information and irrationally convince me that my superiors were just being polite.
So I can totally agree with the statement: depression lies.
Eventually, I had the biggest meltdown of all time and as a result, I gave in as I accepted that my doctor was writing me off of work for an extended period. You can read about the particular events that finally pushed me over the edge and inevitably led to my big breakdown in my post entitled “How Our Wedding Indirectly Inspired Food Allergies Etcetera“, as well as the actual positives that I took away from the whole experience.
I am sharing my story in hopes that people understand that depression does lie, and to reassure that it feels fantastic to let go of all the heaviness. I hope that if you are going through something even remotely similar that you can find someone to talk about it with. A family member, a friend, or simply an acquaintance. The biggest thing that I realized when I accepted and started opening up about my depression is that everyone can relate. Nearly everyone who I’ve spoken with has mentioned some point in their lives that they’ve had a bout of depression …. some to the point where it required medication. In other cases, they’ve mentioned that they have had a close family member or friend battle it. But you’ll never find those connections if you don’t talk.
So what are you waiting for, Canada? Let’s talk and shrink the stigma associated with mental illness! 😀