Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. One year ago, I wrote a post about mental health. Specifically, I talked about where the stigma comes from and how important it is to be compassionate to those who are suffering from mental illness. When I wrote that post, I had no idea that two months later, the pandemic would force us into lockdown and change lives forever, with more and more people experiencing loneliness, isolation, depression, and other forms of mental health.
Being in quarantine has given me the chance to reflect on life from an outsider’s point of view. Over the past year, I thought about how many people are spending their days looking out of their windows and watching life go on outside. But due to the pandemic, they are not able to take part in life. And then, I started to think about how many people suffer from mental illness behind closed doors. Those doors may be physical, in that those people lock themselves up, or metaphorical, in that sufferers go through life with invisible barriers around them, never feeling like they can participate in life like everyone else. But behind either type of door, they scream and cry in silence. They suffer alone, feeling that no one is on their side or that no one understands their struggles. And all too often, others only find about their struggles when it’s too late. That is usually when the sufferers have reached their breaking point. For me though, the saddest part is that when we hear mental health stories that end in tragedy, the usual reaction from people is, “Oh, that’s so sad. She was so pretty” or “That person had so much potential. It’s too bad it had to end in suicide.” People say those things, but they never truly know what those people were going through. Some never even take the time to understand the struggles that those people were facing.
Today, let’s change that. Reach out to someone that you have not seen or spoken to in a while, because you may never know what that person is going through behind closed doors. I can say now that that person will be so grateful and happy that you reached out, especially in times like these. Let those people know that you are thinking of them and that you care about their wellbeing. But most of all, let them know that you are on their side and that they are not alone in their struggles, because they have at least one person in their lives to turn to for love and support. If you can make at least one other person feel loved and valued, then that makes all the difference in the world.
And now for today’s song. My choice today is “The Lady of Shalott”. In this song, the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson has been beautifully set to music and performed by Canadian Celtic artist Loreena McKennitt. While the poem can be interpreted in many different ways, for me, it is an emotional and realistic picture of a woman suffering from loneliness and isolation and her struggle to break free, only to have the man who finds her at the end say, “She has a lovely face…”. I listened to this song a lot while in lockdown. Eventually, it became the inspiration for this post, especially when I started thinking about how many “Ladies of Shalott” must be out there right now, cut off from the world and going through their own personal struggles behind “four gray walls”. I hope you enjoy the song.