Let’s Talk – End the Stigma of Mental Illness

bell_lavieThe stigma of mental illness still exists today. Most people suffer in silence because of it and this stigma needs to be fought. Here in Canada, the company Bell hosts a day they call, Let’s Talk. This year it is held on Tuesday, January 28. On this day, they donate money mental health research and organizations that work to help those with mental illnesses. This day is meant to raise awareness of mental health issues. They want to end the stigma of mental illness that is still rampant today.

I have experience with mental illness. I have family members who suffer from depression and schizophrenia. I have an anxiety disorder as well as have suffered with depression. I know the stigma attached to these illnesses and it took me a long time to get past my fear of the stigma to sharing my issues with people.

Below are some facts from the Bell Let’s Talk website.

27% of Canadians are fearful of being around people who suffer from serious mental illness. – Canadian Medical Association

Mental health problems and illnesses also account for more than $6 billion in lost productivity costs due to absenteeism and presenteeism. – The Mental Health Commission of Canada

2 in 3 people suffer in silence fearing judgment and rejection. – Canadian Medical Association

I would be included in this stat. I used to suffer in silence because I feared judgment and rejection. I started struggling with depression when I was ten years old and feared how people would judge me if they found out all the thoughts that ran through my head and that I was depressed. It took me until the age of nineteen before I started telling people about my depression.

Adults with severe mental health problems and illnesses die up to 25 years earlier than adults in the general population. – Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

Less than 4% of medical research funding goes to mental illness research. – Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health

Only 49% of Canadians said they would socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness. – Canadian Medical Association

I find this fact ridiculous. No wonder people suffer in silence and fear judgment and rejection. If you heard friends saying that they wouldn’t socialize with people because they were depressed or had some other form of mental illness, would you want to tell people you had this illness. No. Why is having a severe mental illness seen differently than having a severe physical illness?

Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities. – CMHA

It helped me tremendously when I finally reached out for help with my depression. I saw a mental health worker and just talking with her about my struggles helped. She also helped me realize that I had an anxiety disorder which played a huge part in my depression. Getting help and just talking about issues such as depression helps.

Every day, 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a form of mental illness. – Mental Health Commission of Canada

Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year-olds and 16% among 25-44 year-olds. – CMHA

I could have been one of these statistics. I guess I still could but it’s not as likely as it was a few years ago. When I was depressed, I was suicidal. I hoped and prayed that I would die. I would think of ways I could end my life. At the worst of my depression. I would imagine myself taking a knife and piercing my heart with it. I would imagine suffocating myself. I would think how many pills I would have to take to end my life. I even considered driving off a bridge and even researched suicide methods. You may never know if someone is considering suicide.

1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life. – Canadian Institute of Health Research

At this very moment, some 3 million Canadians are suffering from depression. – CMHA

Two-thirds of homeless people using urban shelters suffer from some form of mental illness. – Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health

In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them. – CMHA

Mood and anxiety disorders impact an estimated 22% of the Canadians population. – CMHA

Most people don’t realize how much mental illness controls your life. My anxiety disorder has controlled my life and in the last while I’ve tried to take it back.

People with mental illness want to be seen as normal even when they don’t feel normal. Help end the stigma on mental illness so more people feel free to talk about it and seek help.

Below is a video of a young woman sharing her story with mental illness. If you want to watch more, there are more videos on the Bell Let’s Talk website.

LungLeavin’ Day – Removing Our Fears

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Recently, I was contacted by a man named Cameron Von St. James. He shared with me the story of his wife’s cancer and how they created a day to celebrate it. Eight years ago, his wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer caused only by asbestos exposure. She had a surgery to remove her left lung, which was a risky procedure but it saved her life.

In the email I received from this man, he wrote;

My wife’s chronic illness taught us the importance of acknowledging and overcoming our fears, something that prevent us all from living life to the fullest.

This February 2nd is the 8th anniversary of his wife, Heather’s surgery and they coined this day as LungLeavin’ Day. Of this day, Cameron said;

The purpose of LungLeavin’ Day is to encourage and empower others battling their own illnesses and daily challenges to face their fears! On this day we celebrate for those who are no longer with us, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, we celebrate life! Each year, friends and family gather at our house around a bonfire where we write our fears on a plate and smash them into the fire to represent conquering our fears.

This year, they have created an interactive page which tell the story of the day and people can do their own smashing of their fears. You can visit the site at www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday.

I think this is a wonderful idea and I plan to take part in it. Sure, writing our fears on plates and smashing them in a fire will not remove all of our fears but it is symbolic and sometimes doing something like this reminds us to not let our fears control us. Our fears try to prevent us from living life to the fullest and we need to acknowledge our fears but not let them control us.

I know I have many fears and I think this would be a good exercise for me but also for others. I’ll be participating. Who will join me in smashing our fears?

Which Book Description?

Readers, I need your help! I’ve been working on my book description and I have two so far. I want to know what you think of them. Which description would sooner make you want to read a book? Also if you have any other comments about them, please comment below. Any comments are welcomed.

Book Description #1

Johnny Cardinal grows up detesting white people. They condemn him because of his skin color. He succumbs to the circumstances he has no control over and becomes what they thought he was. His only regret – the disappointment in his mother’s eyes and missing his siblings’ lives.

Eric Thompson grows affluent but desires the love his parents fail to give him. He makes mistakes trying to get it and entraps himself with his mistakes. His lackluster marriage is on the brink of death and it’s all his fault.

Both men need to be set free from the bitterness and guilt that entangles them but are too stubborn to see it for themselves. They are both about to make grave mistakes. Can they get over their prejudices to help each other and finally be set free?

Book Description #2

Johnny Cardinal grows up with hard times but changes his life and starts on the path to success. His brother is shot in a drug deal gone wrong. He grows up without a father and is the man of the house. Living in the inner-city of Winnipeg doesn’t give him many options to succeed and he starts taking drugs while in junior high.

Eric Thompson grows up with everything but is on the path to destruction. His lackluster marriage is falling apart of his own doing. His son, born out-of-wedlock, is questioning his love for him just like he used to do for his own parents.

Their lives entwine when one man’s survival becomes another man’s charity case. But who is the one needing the charity?

Manuscript Complete! Any Critics?

I am happy to announce that I have finally finished my first draft of my manuscript! 🙂

These past few weeks I’ve been on break from college for the holidays and I took the time to work on my book which I started a little over a year ago. I would spend most of my mornings and a lot of my afternoons working on it. I made it my goal to finish the first draft before I had to go back to college for the second semester. I made that goal by a few days as I go back on Monday.

Yesterday was the first day of 2014 and I spent a good portion of it finishing up my first draft. Because I have problems sleeping, I still woke up at 8:30 a.m. despite going to bed at 3:00 a.m. I took that time in the morning to write and took a few breaks. I took a longer break for lunch and at that point, I think I was still 2,000 words short of my word count goal for the book. I’ve found mornings are my most productive so I figured it would probably end up being today when I would finish the book. After lunch I wrote and wrote and wrote. I spent all afternoon writing with a few breaks in between and I was able to finish the manuscript.

Now comes the hardest part. At least for me. Editing. I dislike editing and always have. I will push through it but doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I would love to have more sets of eyes look at my manuscript. If anyone is willing to critique my novel, contact me via email, Facebook, Twitter or commentating on this post. I would appreciate it, greatly.