Let’s Talk – Mental Illness

In honour of #BellLetsTalk today, I thought I would share a quick blog post with some thoughts on mental illness. The images I’ve included in this post were chosen because they depict mental illnesses that either I’ve personally struggled with or that people I know and care about have struggled with. The sketches were done by an artist named Shawn Cross. I first came across them last year and was very moved. He does an excellent job of depicting experiences which are very difficult to describe in words. You can view the original post here.

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To all of you reading this who currently have, or have ever had, a mental illness, you are not alone. Please don’t ever feel ashamed for your illness. You are not your illness. It is not your identity. It is not your fault, you did not cause it, and you did not ask for it. It is simply a sickness of the brain which needs treatment just as any sickness of the body does. But please, do not keep it in the darkness. You cannot heal, cannot improve, cannot regain peace, if you don’t first acknowledge that there’s something wrong, and seek help. Illness should never be shameful.

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For those who do not have personal experience with mental illness, please don’t jump to conclusions and don’t ever let your first assumption be that a person is making up an illness to get attention, or for some other reason. For those who truly suffer from these illnesses, I assure you, we do not want them.

It is high time we, as a society, take this seriously. Change starts with individuals. Each one of us has the power to create this positive change through the way we love and act with others in our own lives. Next time you hear that a co-worker or acquaintance has gone on “stress” leave, do not role your eyes and assume they’re being dramatic or just want time off. Many mental illness are silent and invisible. We have no idea what someone else might be suffering, and it is not ok to assume that just because we haven’t seen any evidence of illness does not mean it isn’t there. We must work to be compassionate, and give the benefit of the doubt. Please try your best to truly listen if someone opens up to you about their pain or struggles, regardless of your own feelings about it. It takes courage, especially initially, to share with even one other person one’s mental sufferings. They can be confusing, terrifying, and isolating.

There is hope, there is freedom, there is treatment for these illnesses. Again, you are not alone. No man is an island. We need compassion, open-mindedness, and understanding, but most of all, we need each other. Together, we can stop the stigma. #BellLetsTalk

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