The Not So Silent Struggle

I wasn’t going to write anything about today.  I usually say something as a means to help support mental health initiatives and to be a voice when so many feel shame and the need to be silenced.  But, honestly, today I feel shame and the need to be silent.  I feel nervous.  I feel like I could be doing more damage to myself than I want to.  It’s hard to be vulnerable and candid when everything around you seem to be crumbling.  I just want to pretend like it doesn’t exist.  I want to go on as if it’s business as usual and that I am not feeling the way that I am.  But if there is anything that I am it’s outspoken, and somehow, I just have to say something.  Someone out there might feel the exact same way.  And when you know what it feels like to have people not understand you, this could be a glimmer of hope for someone.  So, I continue.  I talk.  Because I have to.

Like many people in this current political climate (Yes, ‘Merica I am looking at you), but also in Saskatchewan, I am feeling a sense of dread and nervousness.  And yes, I know he is not my president.  I don’t live there.  But, of course it impacts us.  I can’t get away from it.  Just like I can’t get away from the billion-dollar deficit our province is in and what that might mean.  The what ifs in both scenarios riddle me with fear.  I am shaken.  I feel like I have no control over my own life.  I am irritable and frustrated and anxious.  Oh, so anxious.   And I have felt this way before.  I don’t do well with anxiety.  I am visibly sad and worried.  Telling me to “get over it” or quit thinking about it does not work.  Telling me to get control over myself is insulting.  Things take time.  If there is one thing I know about depression is you cannot just “be happy”.  I have to work to be happy and right now it feels like more work than normal.

You see, I am not a naturally happy person.  Oh, I may appear that way.  But that’s just because I am funny and high functioning.  I make people laugh and go to work every day and take care of my kids and “appear” happy.  But I have to work for it.  Sometimes harder than others.  Sure, medication helps (who are we kidding it is my lifeline), but in times of great stress or change it is not enough.  Right now, it isn’t enough.  I have to really focus on how to take care of myself, which isn’t easy with a husband and 2 little kids to take of.  I can’t roll with the punches right now.  I can’t muster the “don’t worry about things you can’t control” attitude right now.  I want to.  Very badly, but again it is not that simple.  I wish it was.

Times like now it is glaringly obvious to me the differences between me and others who don’t deal with depression or anxiety.  This can be a very hard thing for others to understand.  Hence the stigma.  It exists for a reason.  It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I realized that not everyone feels the way I do at some point.  I thought everyone understood how depression or anxiety feels because certainly everyone has been sad before?  People can’t be happy all the time, right?  And of course, everyone feels sadness.  But not everyone feels sadness the way that I do.  Not everyone struggles to see even the slightest of light in dark days.  Not everyone walks around consumed with anxious thoughts that never go away.  Not everyone understands how crippling it can be to be trapped in their own head with no way to get out.

BellLet’sTalk day exists to facilitate the conversation.  Mental illness will affect 1 in 5 people in their lifetime.  If you have never personally experienced it, chances are you know someone who has.  You know me.  I struggle with mental illness.  When I said earlier that I didn’t want to do more damage to myself, I meant it.  I have been on the receiving end of people who did not understand and certainly didn’t want to.  Trust me when I tell you that if I could feel happy and not have to work for it so hard, I would.  But that is not my reality.  I have to work at it.  Every day.  I have to show up and work it out.  Publicly putting my feelings out there is not easy.  I write funny pieces on purpose.  That is my release.  That is something to help me cope.  But I also know that things won’t change without people putting themselves out there to do it.  I passionately believe that people need to be supported and if someone tells you that they are struggling, believe them.  There are no hidden motives there.  And there doesn’t need to be a reason.  I don’t have anxiety and depression because I experienced some type of trauma.  It is a part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me and it never will.  I have to show up and deal with it for my family, and for myself.  Today I want you to reach out to someone. Tell someone you are happy they are in your life.  Tell someone that you hear them when they tell you something personal.  Tell someone that they are loved and supported.  That is the way to move things forward.  Talk.  People will listen.  Promise me that you will keep the conversation going.  #sicknotweak #endthestigma #BellLet’sTalk

Much love,

Carmen