It’s okay. Okay, well it’s not okay that you are feeling this way. But, you are not a freak or a weirdo or insane. And you are not alone.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians have experienced a mental illness. By the age of 40, 1 in 2 have experienced a mental illness. Let that sink in. There are approximately 36.29 million people who live in Canada. That is a LOT of people who have struggled with mental illness.
And yet for some reason there is still a stigma around it. People who experience it feel shame and guilt, as if there is something to be embarrassed about. Let me tell you – Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Depression, ADD, Anxiety, Post Partum Depression etc etc etc etc….NONE of them are something to be ashamed of.
Stigma prevents people suffering from mental health issues from getting the help they need. And stops them from talking to those around them. This breaks my heart. When someone has cancer or diabetes or MS, their close family and friends are aware and provide support. Shame and guilt are likely not participants. My hope is that one day we can talk about mental illness like we talk about physical illness, without embarrassment.
It took me many years to finally speak publicly about my mental illness. I was horrified at the thought of telling anyone other than my parents. I felt shame. What would people think of me? Would they judge me? Will they treat me differently? Will they think I’m a freak?
When I finally did start speaking about it (telling friends and family, through my blog, at conferences), I felt a release. I felt empowered. At that point it didn’t matter if anyone judged me. And it still doesn’t. The people who love and care about me have embraced who I am, mental illness or not. Have I had people judge me? Very few, but yep. Oh well. Those people don’t matter.
Depression happens. Anxiety Happens. Post Partum Depression happens. Mental Illness happens. And it sucks. But there are a lot of us in this together. Never forget that.