We each have a definition in our minds of what is normal. And if we don’t fit that description, we judge ourselves. But there are so many normals. Each person is different. And when it comes to mental health, we are all on a spectrum. We are one tragedy or trauma away from a breakdown.
But there is still so much stigma attached to mental illness. As American non-fiction writer and mental health advocate Andy Behrman once said, “The guilt I felt for having a mental illness was horrible. I prayed for a broken bone that would heal in six weeks. But that never happened. I was cursed with an illness that nobody could see and nobody knew much about.”
Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada. A day to shine a light on something that affects one in five Canadians… mental illness. As much as we think it is accepted, people are scared that they will lose their job, their spouse, their kids, or their dignity if their “secret” is out. If they are a pilot who is diagnosed with mental illness will they still be allowed to fly a plane? If they are a neurosurgeon will they still be allowed to operate on someone’s brain? If they are a Kindergarten teacher with mental illness, can they still be in charge of a classroom of children? They would be allowed to if they were suffering from diabetes or cancer while being treated. So why is mental illness any different?
We must share our own stories and be a comfortable place for others to share theirs. A broken arm and a broken brain should be treated the same. With tenderness, understanding and acceptance. As Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen once said, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Let’s continue to let the light in and realize all our cracks are beautiful. #BellLetsTalk