I chose to post (*pasted below) last year on Bell Let's Talk day (very last minute– always a bad way for me to do things 🙂) because my experiences seemed to be seeping out amongst friends anyways. Mental illness is unfortunately very very easy to hide and keep to yourself, but it got to the point after my Fall hospitalization, where people seemed to know. I didn't know who knew, or how much they knew, and that mattered to me. Last year, I used Let's Talk as an "excuse" to explain things in my own words. I was at a point where I was very ready for external support--the kind only friends can give --the kind of smiles, hugs and laughs. But I never really let it happen. What happened when I made my private life, public, was to me what seemed like avoidance. I had so so carefully weighed out it’s heavy substance. Measured every millimetre of tonal change, but I just hadn't been quite ready to let my words loose. I took it all down (unfortunately not "back") very quickly. I ended up feeling a bit like my life was half public, and half completely locked away as guarded, unspoken secrets. It takes a huge amount of courage to be revealing about what you consider to be your worst side. Please, If you learn something new about a friend today, probably a hug is a good way to go. Being forthcoming means they're probably ready for you to show them you'll be there when they need it most. I still think caring about caring is the most important thing. After all, the words that most needed to be heard, I wrote before any of this, in 2015. I never ever would have had the courage to share them. Being open about struggling seemed absolutely impossible, something I'd never ever dare to even think about doing. You really never can tell what someone is going through, so, universal kindness, always 😌💗
*What I posted on BLT 2016:
#BellLetsTalk (and not just on that 1 day a year!) because caring about caring is an important thing
Though it's a lot easier to share happy stories– especially because making other people happy is pretty much my favourite thing!!!- I had to learn that sharing hard times is really worth it as well. It's a crucial step towards developing stronger friendships and stability.
A lot of people have posted that mental health has the exact same importance as physical health and we should feel we can talk about both issues with equal openness. But I fully understand how hard it can be to put this truthful statement into practice.
I wasn't brave enough to admit I needed help coping through everyday situations until I had to confront a very out of the ordinary, and visible problem. While ptsd and panic were being addressed, depression and anxiety were also identified. It also became clear that their early onset (from when I was maybe 8 or 9), was connected to a communication barrier I didn't know I had. After a series of testing, a non-verbal learning disability (NVLD) was identified. As far as I can understand it, nvld means my brain goes at entirely different speeds at once, all the time. So I get kinda confused, all the time :-) It has to do with how much my brain interprets incoming information, and how much it can hold and output in a timely manner.
Although I now had professionals trying to help, I didn't find it made any difference, and during times I couldn't handle the panic and doubt, I've had several inpatient hospital stays. Those stays helped me cope for the time being, but gave no lasting ease. What's been most helpful, is being lucky enough to have an amazing(!!!) new friend who has shown me that stability begins from being open with those you trust. Nvld is just a little bit of a difference in how I interpret and communicate, but it's made me realize how crucial it is to be able to have the bravery and skills required to keep talking through rough times.
I was lucky enough to meet this friend because she'd openly shared how she'd dealt through hard times. It let me know I might be able to say something to her. Because of her kindness and honesty she's made many more people other than just me stronger and happier--and that's probably the best thing one can hope to do for others, ever.
I'm putting this out there hoping that the many who keep quiet see that talking about the hard stuff isn't as awful as it seems from inside your head, it's a step towards finally seeing the future with a long-term perspective again.