Wednesday, 29 May 2013

"Tomorrow"

“Tomorrow will be better.”
“But what if it’s not?” I asked.
“Then you say it again tomorrow. Because it might be. You never know, right? At some point, tomorrow will be better.”
 
~ Morgan Matson, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
 
It seems to be tomorrow already. Funny how it can sneak up on you. Time flies and all that. In truth, it took about a month of darkness to get to tomorrow, to get to the light.
 
Yes, I am "back" -  I feel like me again. What a wonderful feeling to do normal, mundane, everyday things like go to work, walk down a sidewalk, and have conversation with people that doesn't centre around how I am feeling. Phew! Who knew boring could be so wonderful.
 
My biggest lesson after all these years fighting my nemesis is this: things always get better. Sometimes it takes longer than other times. Sometimes there is more pain. Sometimes hope seems to be more fleeting. But the end result is that I always seem to find my way back. The gift in having gone through more than one major depressive episode in my life (did I really just use the word 'gift'?!), is that I have proven myself stronger and more resilient than I ever knew.
 
If I could boil it down to one message to share with anyone fighting this dark battle it would be this: never give up hope. Never.
 
But I didn't do this alone, not this time and not any of the times before. I had support, love, and understanding from many areas of my life: family, medical professionals, friends, and my employers. As the saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child." It also takes a village to support a person afflicted with mental illness.
 
I became affiliated with Partners for Mental Health, a Canadian not for profit organization, about a year ago. I had been searching for a mental health organization to volunteer with for awhile and they fit the bill in terms of what I was looking for. In addition to the wonderful feeling that I get from helping them raise awareness of our joint cause, I have been able to connect with a community of like-minded volunteers also working with PFMH. I have been able to expand my village, so to speak. I have a new family who support me in my struggles and who I can also support. It's wonderful!
 
I can't emphasize enough how important a sense of community is for those suffering from mental illness. A classic hallmark of depression is the fact that it's a disease that encourages isolation and withdrawal from relationships. The very thing that you need, ironically, almost feels like it's out of reach. Becoming part of a community that understands your symptoms and the challenges that they bring can play a huge role in your recovery. We all want to feel understood, don't we?
 
Another organization that does a fabulous job of creating community, and has done for the past 35 years in Vancouver, is the Kettle Society. Now, how I am only learning about this wonderful organization I don't know. But today I was invited to attend the Making a Difference luncheon, billed as a "friend-raiser", at the Four Seasons Hotel. The company that I work for is a supporter of the Kettle Society, I am very proud to say, and had a table at the event.
 
As part of the event we listened as people read excerpts from a book called Hidden Lives - Coming out of Mental Illness. Touching and inspiring stories that illustrate why we need to bring the topic of mental illness out of the shadows.
 
One of the speakers was Lenore Rowntree, an editor of the book. She said that the title was inspired by the story of Harvey Milk, the openly gay politician in San Francisco at a time when those who lived their lives openly as gay people were marginalised and discriminated against. Rowntree compared the fight against the stigma of mental illness with that of the fight for gay rights 30 years ago (and still today, to an extent).
 
I couldn't agree more with her comparison. This is a civil rights issue. There are far too many of us who are still in the closet on this topic. Why is it still shameful to say that you have been diagnosed with depression or schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? Why is that? I hope for more people to open the door and step out. I think when you do that, you are a step closer to the light and finding a community of support.
 
I also understand why people choose to stay firmly behind the door and in that dark closet. Although we are making headway in reducing misunderstanding and discrimination, it still happens. I have experienced it and I know too many others who have also.
 
But that is why organizations such as Partners for Mental Health and the Kettle Society are so important. They, along with many other "villages" across Canada, are creating a sense of community and spreading the word that tomorrow will come. It will come and things will be better again. So don't give up. Never give up!
 
KB xo

P.S. Thank you very much to Ken who gave up his ticket to this event for me!
 


4 comments:

  1. Great blog once again. I so know what you mean when you say "it feels so good to be normal" If nothing else it makes you appreciate the small things. I am glad to hear that you are are at the end of the tunnel basking in the light. You are so right about how its important to have support through and for mental illness. The more we talk, the more people can understand. I am giving a presentation to a group of grade 11/12 high school students tomorrow afternoon and your blog reminds me to reiterate to them why we need to have open dialogue.1 in 4 youths will have a mental illness,only 1 of every 4 of those will get treatment, if this was cancer and we said, only 1 out of every 4 will get treatment then there would be a societal outrage!
    Keep up the good work. I received the book Hidden Lives - Coming out of Mental Illness.from a friend last year. Once again, glad to hear you are doing better, and keep up the good work and once again I will share your blog.
    Welcome Back
    cheers and be well

    Suzy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments, Suzy. Hope your presentation went great!

      Delete
  2. We had a presentation at my job yesterday about the work that is being done in Francophone schools in Calgary and soon to be in all of Alberta. The presenter said her biggest challenge when talking to students is that the terms "mental health" and "mental illness" still cause a reaction. She says a HUGE part of their work is to break down the fear around those terms. Then they can make progress on other things. The more I learn, the more I realize there are a lot of "allies" out there in this process. I also am gay, so the comparison really strikes home with me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Danielle,
    The topic of words & terminology is an interesting one, isn't it? I guess this is a great example of why we need to explain what mental illness is - so that the term doesn't seem so scary. Thanks again for your comments!
    KB

    ReplyDelete

She Seemed Happy

She seemed happy. He was so successful. He had it all - love, money and fame. The last time that I spoke to her she was making plans. The...