Today is Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Day, a day for people to talk about mental illnesses and the stigmas that surround them. Since this is kind of the purpose of this blog, I’m going to talk about MY mental illness. Sometimes people ask me questions, and I can’t seem to find the words to give an answer. Here goes nothing.

I suffer from depression and anxiety. It likely began when I was a child, shunned by classmates, told I wasn’t liked by anyone, that I wasn’t good enough to hang out with certain people, not pretty enough to date, not thin enough for this, too nerdy for that. I was an outcast. There are only so many times people can treat you poorly before you begin to believe that’s just how it’s meant to be. This continued through grade school and high school, and I finally left that place, and I will never ever live there again. It caused me too much pain. I have forgiven most of the people who hurt me, but I cannot forget. My brain won’t let me. And maybe I don’t want to. It’s kind of made me who I am, and whether that’s a good thing or not, it’s all I know.

Once I went to university, everything began to change. For a time, I was happy-ish. I could be myself, or what I thought was myself. I said the right things, I did the right things, I studied what I thought I was supposed to study. I even met a boy. That pseudo-happiness wasn’t meant to be. I was overwhelmed, lost, and I didn’t know what to do. I left school, I ended my relationship (when I found out he’d been cheating on me several times over), and I felt like I was a ship listing aimless out to sea. I moved out west, I came back. I moved to Halifax. I was told that what I was feeling was “just a case of the blues” and “it’ll pass”. All I can say to that is, if a doctor tells you that, promptly leave that doctor’s office and get a second opinion. And a third opinion.

I can honestly say the first time I knew true happiness was when I met Chad. For anyone who doesn’t believe in live at first sight, let me tell you that it happened to us. From day one, he was supportive and loving and nonjudgmental and gentle. And patient. Can’t forget patient. I knew the unconditional love of my parents, but to know the unconditional love of someone who isn’t in your family tree is the most amazing feeling in the world. Once we started dating, I felt like I didn’t have to be lonely anymore, that I would always have someone there to hold me when the days just got too rough.

On April 11, 2014, I got a phone call that would change my life. My dad called me at the crack of dawn and told me that my mother was in the hospital. I didn’t hear anything after that because I was immediately pulling on clothes and out the door, driving for nearly 4 hours to be with her. She’d found a lump on the back of her right leg, and it had been mashing her sciatic nerve. It turned out to be an abscess, surrounded by necrotic tissue. She needed more care, so she was airlifted to Halifax to the QEII Health Sciences Center. She beat me to Halifax by about 3 hours (I drove back, freaking out the whole drive). She went in for surgery after surgery, debridement after debridement, and after two weeks of up and down and up and down, my mother has a stroke on the operating table and fell into a coma from which she never regained consciousness. On April 26, 2014, I lost the most important person in my universe. They turned off the machines, and I help my mother in my arms as they took out her breathing tube, and she took her last breath. My father, my boyfriend and my best friend were there with me as my world fell apart. There’s really no coming back from something like that.

So today, 9 months later, I have not been coping very well. Everyone has triggers, this was mine. I haven’t been right since that day, since before then really, but that was the straw that broke this camel’s psyche. I have had thoughts of suicide, and those thoughts keep sneaking back into my head, and they scare me. They scare me because of how easy it seems. “If I just step out into the street…” or “if I take this whole bottle of pills”. I don’t like that. This scares me. It’s a constant fight with myself not to injure my body just to take focus away from how fucked up my brain feels. But I don’t. At least not yet. I think of Chad and how much it would hurt him if I hurt myself.

I’m not okay. And it’s okay that I’m not okay. If we can talk about it, we can end the stigma surrounding mental illness. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject. If you know someone who is suffering from a mental illness, reach out to them. Letting them know that they are not alone, that means more than I can describe with words.

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