For the last eight years on January 31st, Bell Let’s Talk Day has opened up the conversation of mental health. It was an initiative to remove the stigma around mental illness.
In my culture and community, mental illness is still a taboo. We don’t openly speak about depression or mental health issues; you’d be quickly labeled as mental or retarded (for a lack of better word). Which is why the Bell Let’s Talk Day is so important for me.
It’s no secret that I’ve battle with depression and mental instability over the years. Anyone that’s read my blog or knows me personally knows what I’ve gone through and how I’ve struggled to overcome my depression. So for me a day to openly admit and discuss how mental illness affects my life is a day I can’t take for granted.
Mental illness is not a bad thing. Each one of us faces some sort of mental illness throughout our lives. It is now time we speak about it openly and stop hiding behind the masks that everything is okay and that if we speak about our mental struggles people will label or judge us.
Today, let’s check in with our loved ones and open up the conversation for mental health. Every text, tweet or social media conversation with hashtag #BellLetsTalk 5 cents will be donated towards mental health initiatives. Open up the conversation and do your part to make sure you and your loved ones have the support they need when they are struggling.
A recent article on the Huffington Post website, “Suicide Isn’t A Product Of Not Trying” has left me thinking about my own experience with depression and attempted suicide. The author, Shannon Fisher talks about her own experience and the recent death of comedian and actor, Robin Williams. She talks about everything she’s done to stay alive and not give up. She talks about how people who dealing with depression try very hard to get help and exhaust those resources before it’s just too overwhelming and suicide is the only option remaining.
I’ve been there. I’ve battled depression for as many years as I can remember. I’ve attempted suicide so many times, I’ve lost count. But the will to live always came out greater than my need to die. I am a survivor. Life hasn’t been perfect or close to it. But I’m still alive. I’m still here!
Those dark thoughts that take over your mind, your heart, your very being are excruciatingly difficult to overcome. Yes, there are many support units set up around you; your family, your friends, your teachers, your counselors, psychiatrists, suicide hotlines, etc., etc., etc. The list just goes on. But what you are battling within you, NO ONE can experience. No one can understand. Sometimes, even you, yourself have trouble understanding.
I went through this for many, many years. It took me a long time to “get over it”, as some people may say. It took everything in my being to become the person I am today and even now, I have days when depression engulfs me and makes me cry. But those suicidal thoughts, they don’t arise. Something has changed. I have changed. I have taken charge of the person I am and want to be. I won’t let my demons take that away from me. It took me very long to get here. But I’m here and nothing anyone says or does can change that.
So what changed? How did I “get over it”? Where have I hidden those suicidal thoughts? Deep. Very, very deep. So deep that there is no way of them resurfacing. EVER.
When life handed me every misery I could imagine, just when I thought I had enough; I was dealt another bad card. Another blow to the wounds that hadn’t even begun healing. At one point though, you get to a point where you call it quits. You’ve had enough. And then when you’re standing on the ledge of a bridge, contemplating whether jumping is easier or just saying, “fuck it” to everything that put you on that bridge, you realize that saying, “fuck it”, starting anew, turning around and leaving everything behind will be harder than jumping. It’ll be the hardest thing you ever did in your life, walking away from that bridge. But you do. Because something inside of you says, I want to live. I WANT TO LIVE!
That’s the moment depression fucks off. That’s the moment everything causing you depression, fucks off. That’s the moment suicide is no longer an option. SURVIVAL is your only path.
You walk away from everything that makes you, you. You walk away from every human-being you’ve ever know. You just walk away. It takes a lot of balls and courage to do it and you’ll be alone for a very long time after that. But you have yourself. And you are enough to banish those demons. You are enough to make things right for you. You don’t need anyone else. Nothing else matters.
For me, I found myself. I found my desire to live. I was stubborn. But I wasn’t going to give up. No.
For others, like dear Robin Williams, he didn’t get there. He didn’t find himself. What he was battling, what or who those demons were, no one will ever know. But had he only looked deep within him and walked away from it all, maybe, he would still be here today. Maybe he did find himself, maybe he did walk away, there are so many maybes to consider. What worked for me, I don’t know if it would work for others. All of our demons are different. All I know is that it takes a lot of being to pull out of it and push it away.
To my beloved readers: if you’re depressed and you’re battling your demons, get all the support that is available. But know that the biggest and greatest of all supports available is within you. You need to find that stubborn desire to live. And every time you find it, keep it atop and cherish it. You’ll fall a million times before you rise, but you will rise. There is always a morning to every night; whether yours comes immediately or not, it will come. So, promise me you’ll dig deep within you before calling it quits.