100% of Canadians need to take care of the same thing…it doesn’t matter how old we are, our race, or our gender. We all need to take care of our mental health. This is what allows everyone to live life to their fullest, so why do we often neglect it? Mistreat it? Or even struggle to understand it? I don’t have those answers, but I do have my own story…actually it’s my part in a family story and it’s something that is always talked about in our house, but it’s important to distinguish the difference first between mental health and mental illness. Of course, mental illness does affect your mental health, but everyone and I mean EVERYONE needs to take better care of their mental health.
My Dad is amazing. He is always there and always has been. He’s the guy so many people lean on and he was 1/2 the reason why I have the work ethic I do today. I thought that work ethic and drive pushed him over the edge…at least that’s what we were told when we were too young to understand how mental illness and depression can be debilitating. We thought Dad was in the hospital for a break….end of discussion. As a child I never knew what depression was or that my Dad battled against it. He was always and still always is a shining light in my life.
Depression became a common term in our house when my sister and best friend found herself in the same fight against her own mind when she was in high school. An imbalance that caused her to loose herself. At this point, as a family we talked. My parents were open and I assumed everyone’s house was the same. I now know that this open approach wasn’t the norm. However, I will admit I didn’t get it. It’s hard to admit now, but I just wanted to say get up, shake it off…get moving. All of these are wrong. All of these can do more damage than help. It’s awful to say out loud the terrible approach I took, but I didn’t get it and I never will. My sister didn’t need someone pushing her…she needed someone to say they loved her and someone who was there to just listen. She needed support and years later I hope I do that a bit better. I’m telling you this because I firmly believe the family around those with depression can play a huge role. We can help and we can allow a safe place for them to stand up, share their story, and support their truth.
I’d like to say I’m older and wiser and just know these things, but it was years of doing it wrong and I’m not sure I always get it right now. People in our city are inspiring though. Blake Loates works tirelessly with We All Believe in You to guide and support anyone who needs it. She is a stand out in the fight to not just talk about Mental Illness and Health, but do actionable things to battle back. By sharing her own struggles she’s inspiring so many more to stand up proudly.
Today, my sister is a confident, successful and beautiful person. She is the best Aunt in the whole world and has shown me what true compassion and patience look like. Hers and my Dad’s effort to combat depression are the driving forces in my push to nurture mental health in myself, my family and my community.
The Canadian Mental Health Association says there are six features of good mental health and we should all take note:
1- a sense of self
2- a sense of purpose
3- a sense of belonging
4- a sense of contribution
5- a sense of enjoyment
6- a sense of resilience
Let’s all #getloud this week.
For more information on We All Believe in You visit: http://www.weallbelieveinyou.com/
For more information on Mental Health week and #getloud visit: https://cmha.ca/news/mental-health-week-is-here