Tomorrow is Bell Let’s Talk Day. When it comes to mental health, there is definitely much more education about it than there was thirty years ago. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to break down the stigma. That is why I would like to talk about it today.
In my view, I feel like some of the stigma comes from the fact that people get scared of those who have a mental illness. Throughout my life, I have met people who shun others that are mentally unstable, as if that equates to them being horrible liars and/or monsters who should be punished and locked away from the world. But the truth is, even though some of those mentally unstable individuals have recurring, violent thoughts, many of them are not psychopaths with violent intentions. In fact, a lot of those individuals are ashamed of themselves for thinking such things, to the point where they feel humiliated in front of other people. This causes them to become cold and distant to society, which leads to them isolating themselves from the world. This isolation can be physical, in which they just stay in their homes and not go outside, or mental, in which they go outside, but their minds have been completely detached from the rest of their bodies. As a result, they go through the motions of life, but inside, they are dead and frozen in a coma devoid of feelings. Activities that they once enjoyed may no longer bring them pleasure. But worst of all, they may feel like they are incapable of caring for the people that they love, which leads to them questioning why their love appears to be gone and why they are now cold, unfeeling individuals that cannot care for others.
Therefore, I challenge you to be compassionate to those individuals who are deeply suffering from mental illnesses. If someone you know says he or she is fine, but you notice that this person has been absent a lot from school, work, or social gatherings, or if they seem withdrawn and distant from other people, that could be a sign that that person is suffering from a mental illness. This person may also be irritable and constantly tired, because the illness takes their energy away or makes them unable to sleep well. If you notice individuals with these symptoms, do not be afraid to reach out to them, because those individuals need love and caring. They do not want to be isolated in shame away from the world; they just want someone to show them that they love them and that their struggles are understood. Most of all, tell them that they are good people who deserve to be loved, because often, individuals with these illnesses do not feel that they are worthy of love. Let them know that they matter to this world, and that there is someone in their lives who cares for them.
And now, since this is my music page, I would like to share a song with you. This is called, “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy”, and it is by Leonard Cohen. Cohen wrote this song about a real woman who was deeply depressed. Sadly, she took her own life. For me, this song paints a truly moving and accurate picture of someone who is suffering from depression, loneliness, and/or isolation. Give it a listen, before you go.