Bell Lets Talk Day 2019

As Bell Let’s Talk day ends and all the Instagram stories begin to fade, I wanted to share why I care so much about today and what we need to do next.

I have had multiple encounters in my life with mental health. It has been with me for my entire life and has shaped who I am today. From what I can remember, it started when I was 8 years old where I ran away from home in the middle of the night. I ran away because I thought no one loved me. I ran away at the age of 8 because I thought no one cared. I ran away because I hated who myself and couldn’t imagine what happiness was.

It never got better, family started arguing and school brought about endless hours of pain and loneliness. I first tried to take my own life at 11. Very few people know about this, in fact, my family does not even know about it. Instead, I bury the fact that I am depressed deep inside me and hope to god that the feeling will go away someday.

It didn’t, it never does. It grows stronger and louder until I found an outlet. I talked about it with a friend. I shared my story, cried and broke down. I didn’t need to be strong anymore. I didn’t need to put on a mask to hide my feelings and pretend I was strong. No. I didn’t need to do any of that anymore. I was open and vulnerable. Yet, I left that conversation the strongest I have ever felt and ready to take on new challenges and discover the riches of life.

In my current role at school, I am an advocate for mental health. Throughout my entire life, I have pondered the question as to why people don’t open up. Why didn’t I reach out for help? Its because of the stigma around it. I never wanted anyone to see me as anything other than what I portrayed myself to be, a happy, fun, cheerful guy who makes cheeky jokes and was scared of anyone seeing myself otherwise.

I have found that opening up to people and sharing these stories brings me relief, but the person I am sharing with grief. I watch as they try and console me and share advice with me most of which I ignore. When someone opened up to me, I didn’t know what to do until I found this article on how to help a grieving friend.

Please watch the video or read the article. It really has changed my life.

My promise to you is this: weather it is tomorrow, 5 years or 15 years down the line. I promise to always be open to a conversation and lend an open ear. I promise to always reach out and have that conversation with you and to walk with you through your journey.

As Bell Lets Talk 2019 comes to an end, the blue toques are retired in the closet, the silicone bracelets get lost in the hustle of life, we must not only actively continue the conversation, but educate people on how to help others. We must continue the conversation. I urge you to reach out to your loved ones and have that awkward conversation. It may be awkward, but it might save a life.

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