Tuesday 7 February 2012

"Let's Talk!"

I am a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am an aunt, a cousin and a niece. I am a colleague and a neighbour. I suffer from depression. I am not so different from so many other Canadians who have also waged war against this awful illness.

Wednesday, February 8th is Bell Canada's Let's Talk Day. Bell, along with spokesperson and Olympian Clara Hughes, is dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues in Canada and breaking down the walls of silence. For far too long now depression and anxiety have been topics rarely raised during conversation. When they are discussed, it's usually in whispered tones. Well, I refuse to accept the shame attached. I simply refuse.

After a 20+ year struggle with depression and anxiety to varying degrees, I am a survivor. I didn't give in no matter how tempting. And believe me, it was tempting at times. But I was lucky because I have always had people around me who I could talk to, people who I could share my darkest moments with. Not everyone has this. Some are afraid that if they share their struggles they will be judged and some are afraid that nobody will understand. And you know what? Too often they are right. But until we start speaking openly about mental illness we will never break through the walls of misunderstanding and misinformation. The people who don't ask for help often go untreated or worse, they don't make it at all. Losing a life to depression is unacceptable. We have the resources to treat this illness.

Here are some staggering statistics that illustrate why we have to take action:

* One in five Canadians will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime and one in three will suffer in silence. ~ Mental Health Commission of Canada

* A 2008 poll found that only 50% of Canadians will tell a friend that a family member has a mental illness while 73% would disclose a cancer diagnoses. ~ Canadian Medical Association

* Mental illness is the #1 cause of workplace disability. ~ Government of Canada 2006

* Only 5.5% of our health care dollars in Canada are dedicated to mental illness. ~ Canadian Mental Health Association

* At any given time, almost 3 million Canadians have serious depression. ~ Canadian Mental Health Association

* Every day 500,000 Canadians are absent from work due to a form of mental illness. ~ Government of Canada 2006

So no, I am not so different from many Canadians. But here's where I am different - I refuse to be quiet. On February 8th please join me in starting the conversation. Please re-tweet this post on Twitter, share it on facebook, and forward it via email.

And when you ask someone today how they are, try waiting for the answer and really listening to it. You might make a difference in someone's life.

KB xo

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I'm so proud of you for putting yourself out there. Depression should be as "ok" to talk about as any other physical illness.
    Thanks for being you!


"Eating Disorders: What Are We Truly Hungry For?"

    For two years in my 30's I had an eating disorder: bulimia. It took me ten years to admit that to anyone, even my doctor. I f...