Sunday 27 May 2018

Why Mental Health Week is Every Week

I Support Mental Health Awareness & Say No to Mental Health Stigma - & Support those Who’s Going Through, &/Or Have Gone Through Any Type/Level Of Mental Illness(s) 

The second week of May each year is recognized as Mental Health Week in Canada. It's an opportunity for mental health organizations such as the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to create discussion and raise awareness about the importance of mental health.

It's also a great opportunity for employers to host lunch & learns on the topic and share information about their employee and family assistance providers. This is something that I do as part of my work as the Manager of Diversity & Inclusion at my organization.

In general, it's a chance to shine a light on a topic that, although more and more of us are talking about, still remains largely misunderstood.

This year I missed it.

Or, rather, I experienced it in an altogether different way.

The first five months of this year were difficult for me: Balancing stress in my life, coupled with the loss of a treasured friend to cancer, threw my mood disorder into a tailspin. I tried to catch my breath but after weeks of struggling I finally recognized it for what it was: a small relapse of my depression.

Living with a chronic illness can be incredibly tiring. When I found myself sitting in my doctor's office once again, as I have so many times over the course of two decades, I started to cry. How did I end up here again? That's what I wondered.

And then, almost as quickly as that feeling of self-pity came, it left me. Because I know the how and why: I have a chronic illness. It is something that I will live with for the rest of my life. After allowing myself a little bit of sadness and frustration I decided to brush myself off and do what I needed to do to make it through this one. I have managed to move through numerous depressive episodes and anxiety attacks in the past - all of them, actually. So that's a pretty good track record.

And I did - I made it. Two and a half weeks away from work and then I was back.

My resiliency is a strong muscle. I have been forced to build it after so many years of chronic depression. The key to resiliency, in my opinion, is being able to put things into perspective. I can't change the fact that mental illness is the 'thing' that I have been given to deal with in this life - everyone has something. But I can choose to be optimistic and do what needs to be done.

So how did I spend that time away from work? Walks in nature, quiet time, a low sugar diet, plenty of sleep, a small adjustment to my medication, and time with people who I love.

I also spent time considering and reaffirming what is really important to me when it comes to how I want to live my life. Losing a friend who is the same age as you tends to make you pause and take stock. It certainly did for me.

The big thing that kept coming back up to the surface through that reflection was my commitment to mental health advocacy.  I am not going to stop talking about this. Not until the stigma and shame associated with mental disorders is gone. And not until we no longer need a special week.

For me, and for the 450 million people worldwide who have a mental illness, it is not just Mental Health Week for one week in May. It's mental health week every week.


  1. Thanks, once again, for sharing your story. I am glad to hear you are feeling better. Sorry to hear about your friend. It certainly does put a new light on things. I always think that the best way I can honour those people in my life is to live the best way I can.

    1. Hi Danielle! I absolutely agree - living our best, most authentic life is the most important thing and certainly a way to honor those who are nothing with us in body.


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