Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day: the telecom company’s sponsored event geared towards mental health. The topic today is normalizing mental health by talking about it. To me this day is not just for those experiencing mental health issues, but also for those who aren’t experiencing them…right now.
You see, every country and culture in the world has some extent of stigma around the topic of mental health. And, on top of that, there are ethno-cultural norms that are in play; these norms dictate that it is not okay to vocalize or expose internal, personal or familial flaws---to anyone. Not even a diary or a journal. I mean, it’s very okay to vocalize flaws perceived about others, but it’s not okay to “air your dirty laundry.” It is very crucial to portray an image to society of how wonderful your life is, and not mention the dark, the poor, the lacking, the issues one experiences. No, those are meant to be private personal matters. Because “what will other people think.” And that is the basis. There are many who will argue, ‘personal matters are personal matters.’ Ok. Sure. I can respect that. The definition of ‘private’ is a perception. But it is not okay in my perspective to project that on to others. If one has the inclination to share their feelings or even talk about the emotional or psychological issues they face, then that is their prerogative no? Yet there is consistent pressure in many societies and ethnic cultures, including my own, to avoid looking “bad” in front of others. That’s the stickler. The fact that because I’m going through something right now, that is affecting me mentally, and then to talk about it, whether publically, to a friend, or even a spouse - it’s somehow bad. That is the part that needs to change because it is not helping, it is harming.
There are millions of examples from all around the world about what ‘it’ looks like to not talk, not have the opportunity or encouragement to open up, to feel free to voice oneself, and to be authentic and true to ourselves and the way we portray ourselves. I am one of them. Well, I used to be.
I too have suffered depression such that it landed me in the hospital twice when I was teenager. I too have suffered from emotional disorders leading to eating disorders. I too have struggled in relationships due to not being able to communicate my feelings in a healthy way. And the picture internally was not a pretty one. Healing began when I began having constructive internal dialogues, but also through writing, creative expression, and dialogue with others.
I am blessed that I received help in various ways, primarily self-help, but also a sense of community in business, and encouragement from specific family and friends, and later in life, professional help.
But, people very close to me in my life did not make it. And that is why we need to talk. To share.
It is okay to talk about it. I want you to know that.