I’m stepping up to defeat mental illness!
The CAMH One Brave Night for Mental Health challenge is a Canada-wide challenge to inspire hope for Canadians living with mental illness.
I took the #OneBraveNight challenge because I want to inspire hope for people living with mental illness now – and to defeat mental illness. By making a donation to my One Brave Night, you are helping CAMH improve access to care, conduct research to find better treatments, and build more spaces for healing.
This is our chance to step up! Please donate generously and help me reach my fundraising goal.
Here is a VERY brief version of my story and why I have decided to participate in this fundraiser. The complexities of mental illness (especially in marriage and parenting) are hard to convey. We live in a society that craves punishment and instills fear in those who want to seek help for thoughts and behaviour they cannot control. The condemnation of our most vulnerable is apparent in message boards accross the internet; the comment sections on social media are a place of judgement and harsh words spoken of our fellow humans. I too have been the judge and jury. And I've been the victim and the target. We all need to actually change our views on mental illness if we're going to heal the world. We need to understand that we are all touched by it and if we could just offer safety to those who need it in the beginning, we might just weed out future addicts and criminals by helping them before it becomes a crime. I have literally felt that the world would be better off without me. I still feel that way a lot. I feel that if anyone knew that I've thought about killing myself and taking my family with me to "spare" them - that they would want me punished- take my kids away- my husband would leave me- and the list of worries goes on and on. Women who kill their babies from severe Post-partum depression are called monsters and people say they should rot in Hell. But I witness those women and feel their immense pain. They were probably too scared to tell anyone for fear of reprimand rather than help. We live in a society where we sue and charge rather than heal the hurt. We love the clean mental health stories. The ones where the person cries all the time and can’t get out of bed then they take a pill or do some therapy and it’s all better. Or better yet, when there’s a REASON - abuse, bad family, etc. Well let me tell you. I wish my mental illness were that “easy”. (I am NOT diminishing others stories. I’m saying that those are the ones that get kudos- rightfully so) For the ones with the seedy illnesses. For the ones who suffer from addiction and live on the streets. For the ones who fail more than succeed in overcoming their struggles."Let's talk day" is a day that reminds us (or makes us feel) like we STILL don’t fit in and STILL aren’t good enough. My mental illness is anything but a powerful story of perseverance. At the darkest I know people would agree I’m better off not here. If they knew the truth about how I feel inside. I try and hide it. I medicate by trying to reach others. My medicine is trying to make sure everyone likes me. Which sucks because I also can’t keep my big mouth shut. I’ve medicated by trying to prove my worth too. I wore the “I work 3 jobs” badge for far too long. I thought working hard somehow made me important and worthwhile. All I was doing was hiding. I was hiding from family and friends and taking all that anger and resentment out on my kids and husband. I burnt out. I was hiding from deeper problems and dissatisfaction. I used to describe myself as “hardworking” like that was a personality trait. NO. It is a lifestyle choice. Bragging about how much I worked felt like an accomplishment. What I do is not my worth. I also lived in denial that I am not the stay at home mom type. All of this felt like failure and I walked away. I walked away from it all for myself and my kids and my husband. I had help and support. Others aren’t so blessed. I feel so much. All of the time. Mostly anger. Frustration. Bitterness. Pettiness. Jealousy. Judgemental. Hurt. Dissatisfied. Worthless. Judged. Helpless. Resentful. Insecure. When I see people cutting up the homeless on the internet or the paper I know I’m just one more breakdown away from that. I’m only one bad choice away from “those people”. People I love and respect talk about them like they’re worthless. Society says that criminals “should rot in jail or die”. People say it EVERY DAY. I am those people. I am ONE bad choice away from THOSE people. Not everyone suffering mental health problems lays in bed all day and feels sad. Some of us are angry. Some of us have dark thoughts and when we can’t turn them off? We’d rather die. We want to be good people. Most people don’t know this; only close people whom it directly affected but I had a breakdown last year in the spring. I was admitted into a program at CMH called “day hospital”. I would not have survived without help (the hospitals and my family) It took 5 weeks to get in. That was 5 weeks I sat home alone worrying to be alone, afraid what I might do. People calling every couple of hours to check on me. Our system needs help. Recently I've been looking for a psychologist to do my follow-up I was supposed to maintain after the program. I spent an entire morning calling everyone in town. They're full. I can go on a waitlist. They don't do the type of therapy I need. They want 145$/ session... we have 300$ in benefits for the year... THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS... it's a joke. I can see a social worker in my doctors office for free... the same group who called family and childrens services on me 7 years ago for a recount of a fight I wasn't even involved in where a child was present. NO TRUST. Our system needs the funding to operate properly or people are stuck without resources. The program at the hospital was awesome and I learned a lot about myself. The problem is following through. Daily mindfulness is easier said then done (especially with 3 kids). Just when I think I’ve hit my low it gets lower. Just when I think I’ve overcome it, I’ve gone back in a landslide of epic proportions. My mental illness holds me back from pursuing opportunities- I’m so afraid I’ll fail or I won’t be able to complete something like school because I’ll go through another tough time. My mental illness makes me wish I wasn’t a wife or a mother. It makes me seem selfish and lazy. It confuses me and makes me unable to trust myself or others. It makes me a really good actor. I’m sorry if this honesty makes you question our relationship. That’s why it’s so hard to talk about. That’s why putting this out there today is raw and vulnerable for me. But if I’ve learned ONE thing about myself this past year it’s that I HAVE to be authentic. I have to be ME at all costs. Whether I lose family or friends over it. I cannot hide from myself anymore. I’ve learned I’m kind of a bitch. I feel all the feels. I’m not very maternal or nurturing. I don’t like to be told “no” which is why I have a hard time saying it to others. I also feel judged all the time because I judge too much. I’ve left 2 churches this year because they said something I didn’t like. I am me. I’m always going to be me. I don’t always like me either, but I’m trying.