Damn You Stigma

In case you are out of the loop, I am currently at the hospital. Been here for almost two weeks now

But not just any hospital.

I’m at the 4 North Mental Health Unit of The Ottawa Hospital, General Campus.

Yes, that’s right. I am in a physch ward.

Now, there was a time when I would rather have died than let people know I had a mental illness. THAT’S THE STIGMA.

I would have not voluntarily gone to a hospital to admit myself . THAT’S THE STIGMA.

If hospitalized, I would have lied about the cause of my hospitalization. THAT’S THE STIGMA.

Well, I know better now. I know there is no shame in having a mental illness. I know that admitting my mental illness(es) sometimes get out of control is a brave thing. I know that reaching out for support when I need it, is not only good great but that is actually the RIGHT thing to do.

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Because there was a time when I would have rather die than admit I had a mental illness.

Because I’ve had people telling me I was lazy because I couldn’t get out of bed on a bad day.

Because unfortunately, we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast. But if you tell people you’re depressed, everyone runs the other way. That’s the stigma.

Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic

TEDxKids@Ambleside - Photo by Josh Hemond - Ke...

TEDxKids@Ambleside – Photo by Josh Hemond – Kevin Breel (7) (Photo credit: JoshRHemond)

Mental Illness: An Excuse for Bad Behaviour?

This is alarming. And angering.  And saddening.

Stats taken from Canadian Medical Association, 8th Annual National Report Card on Health Care, August 2008

As you know (well, at least I hope that you know) this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week for us Canucks.

I know I’ve been rather quiet this week. Work is been kinda insane so I feel bad for not starting more conversations here but I sure have on Facebook (by the way, for those of you who follow me there, I’d appreciate your input).

And I found this statistic very appalling.

To learn that almost half of Canadians think that I may be using my mental illness to excuse any kind of bad behaviour is overwhelming.  Do they think that if I (anyone) call in sick because an anxiety attack the real reason is because I went clubbing last night, got hammered and now I’m hung over? Do they think that if I can’t keep an appointment is because I am a juvenile brat who doesn’t care about other people’s time?

What on earth are they thinking?

This is my plea to all of you who have to struggle with mental illness: Be vocal about it. Start conversations. Write about your experiences. Support your local groups.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and let’s show them what living with a mental illness really is about!

Let’s fight the stigma!

I am wearing my MIAW wristband. Are you?

This year, I’m prepared

For Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), that is.

Last year, it took me by surprise.

But this year, I ordered the materials last month and I got them yesterday.  Posters, brochures, bookmarks and wristbands.

I have them on display at the studio now.  Some of my fellow team members work in the health field so they took a bunch of them to display at their workplaces too. Continue reading

A success story

Those of us who struggle with Mental Illness know how difficult it is to even get out of bed sometimes.  We treasure the little victories, as well as the big ones.

Even simple things like showering sometimes become a huge task.  Feeding ourselves.  Getting groceries.  Finishing school.  Landing a job.  Keeping a job.  That’s just a small sample of things that most people take for granted but that requires a major effort from our part.  Effort that let us both physically and emotionally exhausted.

It is easy for us to become discouraged.  To lose hope.  To not see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But every now and then -and more and more as time goes by, we read about stories like this.

Neil Marshall was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 21.   He had to drop out of a computer science degree at the University of Waterloo.  Now at 33,  he just defended his Master’s thesis in Mathematical education at Brock University. Continue reading