Wednesday, 19 September 2012

"Lean on Me"

"Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on"
Lean on Me ~ Bill Withers 

We all need someone at times in this life. We can't walk alone. You can try but sometimes a friend can make all the difference. Sometimes just knowing that you are not alone in your fight, whatever fight that might be, is all the comfort and strength that you need.

I have found a lot of comfort in sharing my story. It's allowed me to connect with others who have also experienced depression and mental illness. And that's really comforting, especially when you feel so very alone.

One of my new friends is Sara, a true kindred spirit. I "met" Sara on Twitter where I discovered her wonderful blog, Saratonin. She is a community correspondent with Partners for Mental Health and, guess what, so am I as of today! Because I think it's so important that we stand together in raising our voices, I have asked her to share a small piece of her story with you here.


Hi everyone!

I'm Sara and I blog over at Saratonin.

Thank you to Kristin for asking me to guest post over here today! I love Kristin's blog and think she's doing some pretty awesome stuff here.

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what it is I should write about here. I have just finished writing two other guest posts for other awesome mental health blogs and I feel like if I write my mental health story one more time, it's going to be so stale.

So instead I've decided to go another route.

Yes, I struggle with mental illness. Depression to be exact.

While I could sit here and write out my mental health story once again, I'm going to tell you about my decision to be OPEN about my mental illness - but if you want to read more about my history with mental illness, you can do that here.

If you've read my story, you'd know that I had a breakdown in March 2012.

At that point in time, I really didn't expect to survive through the summer. I knew that I needed to do something drastic and quickly; there was a part of me, deep down, that wanted to survive. If not for me, for family and friends.

I started treatment (medication and therapy) right away and was put on short-term disability leave.

As I sat at home day in and out, I couldn't shake this feeling that I could be doing more.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the classmate of mine who had committed suicide in 2009. I kept thinking how lucky I was to have felt ready to get the help I needed. For whatever reason, that friend didn't feel like he could get the help - or maybe he didn't think he deserved it…whatever the reason, he didn't get it.

I'm sure there are lots of people out there. People who are afraid to seek help because they are afraid of being judged, afraid of losing their job, afraid of losing their friends, etc. I used to be one of them. Maybe you're one of them.

I started wishing I would have made more of an effort to be his friend because maybe he could have confided in me that night - or what have you. I know I can't assume all that responsibility, but it definitely bothered me.

Then it hit me.

Maybe by sharing my story, someone suffering depression might realize that just because they are depressed doesn't mean there is something wrong with them, and more importantly - to show them that recovery was possible.

I was 24 years old and had a full-time career job and suffering from depression. For the most part, I'm "normal."

And so, Saratonin was born.

I remember telling my best friend that if I could inspire ONE person to start talking about their mental illness, or to seek help, then I would be happy.

Within five hours of launching the site, I received my first email thanking me for sharing my story and it inspired them to be open about their anxiety disorder with family and friends who didn't even know.

Since that day, I have received hundreds of emails. Varying from people telling me about how they can relate to what I recently blogged about, telling me I have inspired them to seek help, or what have you.

Besides potentially saving lives, I think that by sharing our mental health stories, we can also affect change in how our government (in Canada at least) funds and handles the issue of mental health.

I know for me personally, the poor mental health systems here in New Brunswick are a big part of my mental health story. Waiting lists, costs, etc.

My mental illness doesn't define who I am. It's merely a part of my story. And I'm going to share my story with anyone who will listen :)

Thanks for listening!

xo Sara

Thanks for sharing your voice, Sara!

KB xo

P.S. For more information about Partners for Mental Health you can follow them on Twitter: @PartnersforMH or www.partnersformh.ca

4 comments:

  1. many thanks to sara. I will post this on the bathroom mirror. My mental illness doesn't define who I am. It's merely a part of my story.

    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's right - it does not define Sara, me or you.

    ReplyDelete

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