On the way home from work one night, as I do EVERY night, I stopped at my local Tim Hortons.
The woman in the drive-thru took my money, and while handing me my change and coffee, the conversation went something like this:
Tims Chick: Are you EVER cranky?
Me: Blink. Blink. Blink.
Tims Chick: Every night you come through, and you're ALWAYS smiling, happy and nice. I've NEVER seen you cranky!
Me: THANK YOU!!!
It was VERY nice of her to say that. And completely unexpected
If only she knew.
Yes. I am a smiling and happy person.
Most of the time.
And the times I’m not?
I hide it. Usually, very well.
I would never say I ‘suffer’ from depression. Or anxiety for that matter.
But NOBODY has ANY idea, how many times I’ve hidden myself away in my bathroom, and cried.
Long and hard.
When you’re a single parent, there is nobody to talk to at the end of the day.
Nobody to complain or vent to.
Nobody to tell, that something/someone at work pissed you off.
Or that you were almost run off the highway that morning/evening.
Or that you’re just not sure HOW that bill is going to get paid this month.
It’s not like I can talk to my kids about any of this.
These are grown up problems.
So I don’t talk.
Except maybe my mom.
But even she, who has known me longer and better than anyone, doesn’t know everything that ‘bothers’ me.
I don’t tell her.
It’s bad enough I have to worry about stuff. I don’t need my mother worrying about the fact I’m worrying.
Then, there’s my best friend of 20 yrs. The Bestie.
She knows me, in some ways, even better than my mom.
I tell her almost everything.
But, not necessarily about the stuff that makes me cry in my bathroom.
I don’t tell anyone those thoughts.
Those are mine, and mine alone to deal with.
But I’ll be honest.
Having nobody to talk to at the end of the day, for almost ten years, and holding some things in for that long, can sometimes make me a little cranky.
Not really that cheerful, happy person everyone ‘sees’ and thinks I am.
It all takes a toll on the heart.
And sometimes, a good cry is the only thing that will help.
So would talking to ‘someone’, I suppose. But thankfully, I don’t feel I’ve ever reached the point where I would have to seek professional help.
Aside from the cry, having a good heart to heart with my mom, or a good laugh with the Bestie, is usually the only cure and meds I need.
Unfortunately, many people who DO need help, don’t seek it. This is for various reasons, but for many, it’s because of the stigma attached to mental health issues.
They don’t want friends, family and especially employers to know they may have ‘problems’.
This is sad. And so very wrong.
The world is FAR from perfect, and neither are the people living in it! We HAVE to stop trying to appear as though we are!
1 in 5 Canadians will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime.
Do you have five friends?
One of them is suffering right now. Did you know that?
No. Probably not.
Awareness is slowly being raised, and the stigma removed, thanks to brave people like Canadian Olympic champion, Clara Hughes.
But it’s not happening fast enough.
We have an entire generation of people suffering through issues such as depression and anxiety and so many who have gone undiagnosed, because of the fear of ‘coming out’ as possibly having mental health issues.
This stigma HAS to stop!
Because … SURPRISE! … anxiety and depression isn’t only a ‘grownup’ problem.
Our kids, as young as 12 (and I’m sure even younger), are feeling it too, and we now have the stats to prove it!
For the first time, in 2011, one of Canada’s largest school boards surveyed the students on their ‘emotional well-being’.
The results were shocking, and hopefully a wakeup call to society, that our youth are struggling with feelings of worry and anxiety, much more so than anyone ever thought!
These results are VERY scary.
Our kids NEED to be encouraged to TALK, without consequence.
Yesterday, was Bell’s Let’s Talk day, where $0.05 from every text, tweet, Facebook share and long distance call made, would be donated to mental health initiatives.
This is a good thing.
A lot of money and awareness was raised.
$4.8 MILLION to be exact!
But, is it ever enough?
The city where I have lived since 1990, Halifax, Nova Scotia, took the challenge seriously yesterday.
And we broke a world record in the process.
Because of Bell’s Let’s Talk day, over 1000 people gathered in the Halifax Metro Centre, and sent a simultaneous text.
Not only did each of those texts raise $0.05 each for Mental Health, we also broke a Guiness World Record!
Sure, the haters are calling it simply, ‘cheap marketing’ by Bell.
But it got people talking, and raised almost 5 million dollars. Didn’t it?
Yes, here in Halifax, we take our challenges, texts, and metal health seriously!
Now, it’s time the rest of the world does also!
Get talking, People!
Someone’s health and happiness may depend on it.
Maybe, even yours!