World Mental Health Day – October 10th

October 10th was World Mental Health Day – a day to bring awareness to the struggles of those with mental illnesses and a day to talk about initiatives to support the mental health of individuals around the world. I wanted to post something, but I didn’t.

Having mental illness is a little bit like hanging off the edge of a cliff and having to search everyday for a reason to keep holding on.

For the last while the reason has been the promise that we will do everything possible to move into a community where the children and I will have the opportunity for richer social interactions. We’ve chosen a community that fits with out values and we visit every opportunity we get. We walk along the trails. We talk to the townsfolk. We visit the park and the library. It feels like a place to raise a family.

We went to Cape Breton last week – to our old home. It hit me that I would never move back there. That is terrifying. It felt familiar and safe, but it isn’t home anymore. It’s actually a bit of a sad, sad town. There’s a lot of poverty. A lot of pain. A lot of boarded up houses. It hurts my heart to be there and not be able to reach out. It’s a town that needs love – so much love. Love that can breathe life back into places of despair.

With the realization that we weren’t ever going back there came the panic of knowing we would be going somewhere else. We cannot stay where we are forever. We feel confident that we’ve found our forever town. It has everything we could possibly want including a top rated undergrad university specializing in areas where both of our older children excel. There are farmer’s markets and an abundance of the arts and academics that make me feel alive and part of something even if I’m only sitting at a coffee shop listening to those around me. It could be an absolutely amazing move for us.

However, there is fear.

Paralyzing, feels like I can’t breathe, fear. Mental illness is like that. I know that my family will be better off when we move. There will be so many more opportunities for us. My husband will spend significantly less time travelling to work so we will have more time together. The chaos that comes with his arriving home in the evening will be lessened as even 30 minutes makes the difference between a peaceful meal or trying to eat with an overtired melting down four year old. There will be classes for the children. There  will be people to talk to. We’ll finally have community. But mental illness will still be there…..

I won’t feel good enough…..never remotely good enough.

I’ll feel like I am failing my children and wonder everyday if I’m messing them up.

I will be so painfully shy that it hurts. I’ll think that everyone is judging me. I’ll struggle to make eye contact because doing so allows people to see me. I’ll desperately want to be invisible.

I’ll cry. I’ll scream. I’ll want to run away. I’ll look for reasons to hang on.

Mental illness will be waiting there. I could have everything I could possibly want and depression and social phobia would still be there. That’s just the way mental illness is. I’ve spent the majority of my life running. However, it always catches up with me and grabs hold. I’ve made huge strides from my late teens. I’m vocal now and will clearly state what I need without being destructive. I talk. I reach out and I will be okay.

There are many that don’t and are so very alone. Even reaching out doesn’t mean you will get help sometimes. While people want to help, the few services there are have mile long waiting lists (I am sitting on a few). It’s impossible to find a family doctor. Natural remedies can cost  a small fortune. There really isn’t always support in the community because there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. It is kept hush hush. There are whispers of people on “stress leave” or “having a burn out” like it is a weakness and not a sickness. No one really knows what to say.

There’s still work to be done. It’s time to stop running. It’s time for everyone to stop running and time to actually start listening to see where you can make a change and reach out. It’s time for a change and you can be a part of it.

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