Just a little post today, being that I’ve spoken some about mental health here and will likely blog about it again, since it’s Bell Let’s Talk day. Bell is one of our major telephone/internet/media corporations here, and while I doubt that they are perfect as a company and employer, I do appreciate what they’ve started with this movement.
I’ve had depression and anxiety as long as I can remember. I am old enough that I can tell you with personally lived certainty that until very recently, it was not something you talked about. At all. Even with doctors, because they assumed (especially when I was a kid, but even as an adult) that you just needed to get out more, exercise, act happy and you’ll be happy. And if you did talk about it, you were ‘crazy’. There was something wrong with you.
And well, yes, there is something wrong with me. The same way a diabetic has something wrong with them, or somebody that has the flu has something wrong with them. I love the analogy of, if you wouldn’t tell somebody to just stop having the flu, you shouldn’t tell someone to just stop having depression. It’s the same thing, I have the same level of control over my depression as my coworker has over the cold she has right now.
But that analogy has only come to light in the last few years, and I feel like the Bell Let’s Talk campaign has a lot to do with that. It was not commonplace to speak about before. It didn’t get the media attention it does now. It just got swept under the rug. And that was dangerous.
I also think the rise of the internet, and places like Livejournal that were the precursor to these things called blogs now, had a huge hand in bringing these issues to light as well. I know that was the first place I was able to openly speak about mental health issues, albeit in a much more dramatic, stream of consciousness way than I ever would here. (I was also 23, what can I say?) And there, I found other people who understood. Other people who had panic attacks, other people who had days where they couldn’t get out of bed because they just couldn’t face their own lives today. I also found a way to connect with people far and near, really get to know each other, and have a network of people to remind me to hold on when I couldn’t remind myself.
I’ve been struggling lately. The spectre of my old job remains, making me second guess everyone at work some days, wondering if they really are what they seem. I love this job, love where I work. Today is a great example. This morning, I thought my boss was unhappy with me and the job that I am doing here; I thought she was tearing me apart at a meeting this morning and spent all day panicking thinking, she’s gonna fire me. I screwed up again. My old bosses were right. Then tonight, we suddenly discovered a major issue. Not our fault, our client forgot to do something, but it became our problem real quick. And these had been my clients from start to finish. I was thinking, that’s it. I’m fired.
My colleague and I ran straight to her and told her the problem. I explained I had tried to remind them to do the thing, but nobody did the thing. I suggested a solution, and both my boss and my colleague jumped right into action doing exactly what I suggested, and we made it work. It was actually kind of comical, and we all laughed and joked around while fixing this major, major problem.
My boss sent me a text later saying she was “so thankful for both of us.” She said we were awesome. She’s super happy with how I handled it. Everything’s fine.
But depression and anxiety tell you it’s not fine.
I’ve been struggling with the pay cut, struggling with some issues between my husband and I that have been ongoing and weren’t as bad before, when I made more money and didn’t have the mental and emotional capacity to try and tackle anything other than my work issues. I’ve struggled with what happened in my family last year, which is also kind of mental health related, and with some things that happened to me because of it. I haven’t felt in a happy, blog-about-tours mood (although that’s coming back now; I have one ready for this weekend!). There were nights, late last fall, where I was driving up and down the highway near my house trying hard to find it within me not to drive straight off the side of it. Yes, I know. That’s bad. As bad as it gets.
Because of the pay cut, I cut back on my therapy appointments. I’m good at hiding it, I’m good at pushing through. But the other day I was talking about someone I know who is denying treatment, and said, out loud, not noticing the irony: “It doesn’t go away on it’s own. You might get through it for a month or two, or even a year, but it will always come back, and without treatment, you’ll never know how to get through it and it just gets more dangerous.”
I made an appointment with my therapist shortly after saying that. Duh.
What am I getting at here? I don’t know. I don’t know if it matters to be honest. My point, if I have one, is that I can talk about it. I can just talk about it for the sake of talking about it.
The stigma isn’t gone. I don’t know what it will take to make it go away completely. But people are talking. The more people talk, the more people open up, the more other people who have held back will start talking. People will feel less alone, and will develop the kind of network I did: people to help them hold on when they can’t do it by themselves anymore. And maybe people will be talking about other people, like me, and realize that they also need to take their own advice.
So whatever Bell may be as a corporation, one thing is for sure: they’ve got people talking. And talking is totally invaluable.
Talking saves lives.