For the love of ALL THINGS HOLY, can we please end the stigma surrounding mental health?! Can we stop adding fuel to this fire?
There is good reason behind my break between posts. I was unexpectedly rushed home to Winnipeg for a week due to a family emergency. It was not for a reason you may think – not a physical injury or a death in the family – it was a mental health emergency. HELLO! THIS IS A VERY SIGNIFICANT EMERGENCY.
My best friend (my Dad), who I’ve recently blogged about as being HUMAN, just like ME or YOU, was admitted to Selkirk Mental Health Centre a couple weeks ago. Much like when you break a bone and have to go to the hospital – when your mind is broken, you need to get it checked out, diagnosed, mended, repaired, rejuvenated.
He hadn’t been to a doctor in over ten years (ugggh, DAD!!), and whatever chemical imbalance was going on in his head had gone untreated. Can you imagine a broken bone going untreated for 10+ years?! His ‘broken bone’ was officially diagnosed as Bipolar 1. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. He hit a manic breaking point (a surprise to all of us) and was admitted.
Oooh, what a lucky man he was…
It was a rough week in Winnipeg, it was a surreal week but above all, it was an eye-opening week. For the first time in my life, we were talking about my Dad’s health. We were talking about his buried struggle. … and we are now in the process of repairing. And at the same time, we are all learning.
4 Things I’ve Learned About Mental Health:
1. Mental illness is often misunderstood, misdiagnosed and ignored. The illness is dismissed and labeled as that person ‘just being sad’ or ‘just being anxious’. It is often more serious and concerning. Mental illness – whether it be bi-polar, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety – should not swept under the rug. It’ll heat up, it’ll bubble and it will boil over.
2. People aren’t getting lobotomies anymore. … So can we stop treating people like they are? Can we stop hush-hushing those who are undergoing treatment, getting help, admitting they have an illness? This is not the early 1900s. We are way more advanced than this ridiculous stigma. (Or at least we should be.) We live in an age of extreme stimulation and excessive information and uninvited stress – in fact I would be surprised (and a little worried) if you were trouble-free.
3. Mental Health Centres should not be considered ‘loony bins’. They are stepping-stones. They provide you with the proper tools, medicines, and counsel to get through your crisis and to continue to live your habitual life. I visited the Centre numerous times on this trip and for hours at a time – I met some really unforgettable people with really fascinating stories. WE ALL HAVE OUR SHIT WE NEED TO DEAL WITH.
4. You are not alone. And you are not wrong. If you feel like something isn’t right, if you feel like something isn’t meshing correctly in your brain – there’s a possibility something isn’t. You know best what is going on in your own skull, in your own skin. Talk to a friend. Talk to a doctor. Read up on it. Vent your feelings and frustrations. You can’t afford it? Check out some alternatives at this link.
I hope you find a leaning post and I hope you are a leaning post to whoever requires you to be one.
My Dad is the most important person in my life and to know that he finally feels a sense of relief makes me so grateful. He has stood by my side my entire life and here I am to stand by his. We are all human, we all have imperfections and flaws – but those imperfections and flaws are what make us who we are and keep life interesting and colourful and challenging. When we’re made to feel ashamed of those flaws – that’s when it’s society we should feel ashamed of.
My Grandpa used to sing a song to us when we were little and it couldn’t be more fitting:
I wouldn’t change you if I could
I love you as you are
You’re all that I would wish for
If I wished upon a star
An angel sent from heaven
You’re everything that’s good
You’re perfect just the way you are
I wouldn’t change you if I could.
PS – All the thanks and love for friends and family for their support over this last while. If I could only be half as awesome as you guys have been, I’d be SET.
PPS – Did I mention I love my Dad? He’s the bravest soldier I know.