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.

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Celebrating Remembrance Day As An Anabaptist

WARNING: The views expressed in this blog post, may be controversial.

A Pacifist Celebrating Those Who Fight in Wars?

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day (Photo credit: belkin59)

As an Anabaptist, I am a pacifist. Pacifism is defined differently by many people. In the past year or so, I’ve struggled with defining exactly what it means for me. The World English Dictionary defines pacifism as “the belief that violence of any kind is unjustifiable and that one should not participate in war.” I don’t agree with war of any kind. I never have.

So it leaves me in a little bit of a predicament in celebrating a day celebrated here in Canada called “Remembrance Day.” This day is celebrated every year on November 11th. It is a day where we are supposed to remember those who have fought in wars. As someone who doesn’t support war, I don’t know what to do with this day.

Are We Really Free?

A peace symbol, originally designed by the Bri...

A peace symbol, originally designed by the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament movement (CND). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I’ve started talking about not knowing what to do with Remembrance Day with my brothers, they make the comment that war is the reason we’re a free country. But I’ve started wondering, are we really “free?” And what do we gain from this so-called freedom?

A little over a week ago, my aunt passed away from her fourth bout of cancer and it has caused me once again to think of life in view of eternity. I feel like this “freedom” we are supposed to have is more just freedom to be more immoral. We aren’t really free from the threat of being bombed.  We do seem to be free to flaunt our sexuality, though, with what sells and what is rampant in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

In the past while, I’ve really doubted that we are free to believe what we want. One specific example is in regards to homosexuality. I don’t agree with homosexuality and I feel like I’m not allowed to have that opinion. Someone will probably call me homophobic just because I think homosexuality is a sin even though I’m not scared of it. Am I “free” to have this opinion? It depends on what your definition of “free” is.

In some ways, I think North America is worse off in view of eternity than a lot of other countries. In some countries that aren’t considered “free” according to North American standards, true Christianity is rising while true Christianity is declining rapidly in North America.

Remembering Those Who “Fought” For My Faith

Zürich-Schipfe quarter : Memorial plate for th...

Zürich-Schipfe quarter : Memorial plate for the Anabaptists, murdered in early 16th century by the Zürich city government: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All this thought about what I believe and wondering about whether we are actually free, has muddied the waters even more for me about what to do with Remembrance Day. So this year, I plan to celebrate it a little differently. I plan to remember those who “fought” for what I believe. (I use “fought” in quotations because they never used violence, although they were persecuted.)

During the Reformation, the Protestants split from the Catholics, which a lot of people know if they’ve heard about the Reformation. However, fewer people know about the Anabaptists who also rose up during this time. They initially were with the Protestants but felt the Protestants didn’t go far enough in their reformation of Christianity and split from them and became their own faction.

The Anabaptists were persecuted because they opposed the church which was together with the state. They were tortured, drowned, burned at the stake, had their tongues ripped out, etc. Despite all this persecution, they never resisted or fought back with violence. The church and state tried to snuff out the Anabaptist belief but they didn’t succeed and the persecution fueled the spread of it.

Spread of the Anabaptists 1525-1550

Spread of the Anabaptists 1525-1550 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These Anabaptists are my forefathers and my ancestors. They endured a lot for what they believed and play a huge part in me believing what I do today. They have influenced my life immensely even though this happened over 400 years ago. This Remembrance Day, I plan to remember these forefathers that suffered for their faith and have played a huge part in my faith.

Book Giveaway – Love Unrealized

I am running a book giveaway on Goodreads.com. Unfortunately, because of shipping costs, the entries are limited to residents of Canada. I would love to have it open to residents of more countries but due to shipping costs, I am unable to do so. However, you may still buy the book on Amazon.

The giveaway only runs until August 21, 2013 so enter if you wish to win a FREE copy of my book Love Unrealized. You do have to be a member of Goodreads to enter but it is free to sign up for Goodreads if you wish to do so.

One of my friends, who bought the book from me, said the following of Love Unrealized.

“It beautifully portrayed God’s love for us, regardless of what we feel. And Christ’s love and sacrifice.”

If you want, you can read the first chapter of the book here.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Love Unrealized by Angela Suzanne

Love Unrealized

by Angela Suzanne

Giveaway ends August 21, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win