I used to be afraid to talk about my mental illness. I’m not anymore. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve grown stronger as I got older, but I know now that you need to share your story. You need to be able to open up, and let anyone – everyone – know that they’re not alone.
I struggled for years. I caused my family probably a lot of grief when I was younger, because clearly I was a pain in their ass. And it wasn’t on purpose. I just had a lot going on inside of me that kept me afraid, that kept me anxious and unsure. I didn’t want to let go of them, and become an independent person. It was tough. It still can be sometimes. Mental illness really grabs a hold of you. Sometimes it drags you down and keeps you in bed. Keeps you curled up at night, in the morning, any time of day. It keeps you there, and it holds you there, and it doesn’t let go. But it’s not the good kind of hold. It’s the worst kind.
I can still remember the feeling when I was younger. The fear. The anxiety. I can still remember my screaming, my yelling, at my mom because I did not want to go into that school. I did not want to go inside. I did not want her to leave me there. I remember most of it. I spent many years fighting my parents, and being difficult. I remember struggling to get up, to go to school, to do anything. But I also remember the people that helped. The people that stood by me, and held my hand, and got me through it.
I remember my psychologist. I remember my parents helping hand. I remember the teachers that stuck by me, and helped me along the way. And the family and friends that stepped up along the way too. I remember a conversation with my cousin, where he let me know he was struggling too. Conversations with friends that also were going through similar mind sets. It was all of those people that got me to where I am standing today.
I have my ups and my downs. My good days and my bad days. I find the good days outweigh the bad, which is how it should be. Because I have friends and family that hold onto me. The good kind of hold. They know how to help me. How to take a step back when they need to, and how to step forward and snap me out of it. And it’s days like Bell’s Let’s Talk Day that help. Because it helps end the stigma. It helps people open up, and be clear, and be real. It brings people together. It helps show you that you’re not alone. That you’re never going to be alone. No matter how hard the day is. No matter how hard your week is. There is someone who is going through the same thing. And there is someone who is going to help you.
So don’t be afraid to speak up. Because I’m glad I finally did. I’m glad I finally said something, and I found the support I needed. Because I get up every day, and I get my ass out of bed. I don’t let the worst kind of hold keep me down. I grab hold of the good, and I let it bring me through the day. Guide me to where I need to be.
But don’t get me wrong. I have my bad days. But I know that it is okay to have those bad days. Not every day of your life is going to be perfect. And that’s okay. I’ve come to terms with that. I’ve ended my stigma. I know what’s real, and what’s okay. I know who is there for me, and who is not. I know who I can count on, who I can rely on. I know who can get me through those bad days, and who is going to be there to join me during the good.
Bell Let’s Talk has brought me closer to many people throughout the years. And that’s why I’m open and I’m honest. That is why I’m keeping an open line of communication. I’m here. I’m here for you, and for your friend, and for my family, and for all the strangers I have not met. I am here. I am open. The line is clear. Let’s talk.