Stories

  • Blayre

    I was in dialectical behavioural therapy for 15 months.  I was very open in the program when we would have group therapy and things like that.  I was always very talkative, very willing to share, very open, so they asked me to speak about it with incoming patients.  They would have groups, and I would go in and I would speak to these incoming patients.  Through that I became comfortable, and then when I started school at York University, I became even more comfortable speaking out about mental health and reaching out to people I thought were suffering or dealing with some stuff.  Even people who had family members who I thought were having some issues.  It was just a slow progression of me speaking to tiny groups, and the groups just kind of got bigger and bigger.  I think the biggest group I’ve spoken to is 75 people.  

    I wanted to be involved in the project because I think it’s important to speak about it. I think a lot of people out there are suffering in silence, and they’re suffering alone, and I think it’s important to talk about it, and keep talking about it, over and over again until it becomes commonplace for people to openly discuss and share their experiences with mental health.  I think that the only way we’re going to move forward as a society in the way that we look at mental health is to have open, honest dialogue about it, and to continue keeping the conversation going.

    To my younger self I would say: it’s going to be okay. There’s lots of treatment options for you, and you’re going to be lucky enough to get on a really good medication that’s going to help you with some stuff.  You live in a place in the world where you’re lucky enough to have access to really good mental health care - take advantage of it.  Don’t be afraid. Just continue to be open and honest, that’s what I would say to myself.  

    *Blayre highly recommended St. Joseph’s Hospital’s mental health services which you can connect to here.

  • Sabrina

    It’s like, you’re ‘crazy’ if you’re depressed or bipolar or something, so people shy away from talking about it.  People don’t express themselves as they should, and they keep it in.  It’s inside, and you can’t control it.  

    You could be the richest person.  You could be married to your dream person, you could have your dream job and still feel sad inside.  It’s not something you can just brush off and I just think it needs more attention, especially in my parents’ generation.  They need to really realize that it’s not something you can just get over.

    People need to talk about their feelings more.  I think that’s one of the biggest problems.  People don’t talk about it, they just shut down.

    I feel like I can talk about it more now.  When I was younger my Mom would say ‘Oh Sabrina, it’s nothing.  You’re in high school, what’s there to be sad about?’.  She didn’t realize what was going on in my head or what I was feeling inside.  I think it’s like that with a lot of teenagers.  I think their parents don’t understand that they need to talk to someone.  I have my best friend and we talk about everything.  Before that we didn’t have anyone.  It really helped.  We’re really close, it’s cute.  I have someone I can talk to.

  • Mychael 

    “I think mental health is something that affects everyone, but it really hits home for me now.   I recently lost a niece that suffered from mental illness and it’s something that has really affected my family. Since her passing my eyes have been opened up a lot more.  I have really seen how severe mental health experiences can be.  You really never know what a person is going through in any given day.

    It’s definitely a conversation I have more openly now.  I’m no longer shy to talk about mental health issues because I think people should be more aware, and you never know what kind of difference you can make in someone’s day.

    People just need to know.”

  • Emily 

    I think it’s important to be in a project like this because it increases a dialogue between people.

    I think that we are realizing that depression and anxiety take many different forms. I’ve never really identified with people who talk about mental health, and it’s important to realize that other people like me, who are outgoing and confident, struggle just as much as I do.  It reminds me that we all struggle in some way.

    Everyone says ‘you’re not alone’, but when you realize that there are people there to help you and understand what you’re going through, I think that’s the reason to get involved. 

    You just never know what someone’s looking at.  I think that’s the big thing, identifying with other people.

  • Clare

    “I’ve questioned my own mental health, especially given the issues in my own family, so I thinks it’s very important to be aware of your mental health.  You have to be aware of what your triggers are so you can be aware if they send you into places that may not be healthy.

    We have to be honest and upfront so we can remove the taboo.

    All people want the same things.  We all want to be loved and we all need to be nourished, so why is someone who has schizophrenia different from me?

    I think we need to be honest, work together and heal each other.

    Whether it’s us personally or someone we know or love, mental health affects all of us.  It absolutely affects all of us.”

  • Derek

    Mental health is important because being healthy is important.  I feel like there’s a stigma around mental health which people need to get over; this project is a good way to start that type of movement.  

    I’ve had my own experiences with mental health through the type of work I’ve been doing for a long time with The Remix Project, with friends and family that I’ve known for a very long time and grown up with.  There are also certain things I’ve dealt with in my own life, things everyone has to deal with and battle through.  It can be challenging to understand why you feel a certain way, why you think a certain way or to just really get to know yourself.

    I think being healthy is a combination of a lot of things.  Being around the right people, people that are healthy for you and want you to make good decisions and support you in whatever decisions you want to make.  I think it’s about taking care of yourself, having an open mind when it comes to learning and not falling into the stigma where you just become ignorant to things.  It’s very important for everyone to educate themselves on how to be healthy holistically and know that it’s not a corny subject or a scary subject.  It’s something that’s important for everyone.  

  • Khalid

    I think stigma prevents the rehabilitation process. People believe they can’t come out if they’re dealing with it and their families might not even know. They can’t reach out to people and they can’t get help.

    Most people within my Somalian community have dealt with civil war and have seen a lot of blood shed.  Once they moved here to Canada those images haunted them.  A lot of people are dealing with it and you might not even know.  I think it’s important that you talk about it.  Start within your community, make a start there and then start affecting national politics. The more we let them know the issue is important to us, the more we will see changes made.

    As young Africans we could really help to start a grassroots campaign or do whatever we can do.  The more we talk about it the more it changes.

  • Duane 

    Mental health is a real issue that I feel is more abundant now than it was when I was growing up.  I work with youth from the ages of 12 to 19 and we see it throughout each and every day.  It’s woven into most of what these kids are going through and what they’re doing.

    I find that retreating when you are going through things is one of the worst things that anyone can do and having community is the biggest step in terms of feeling whole.  Community is where you can feel safe and talk about what’s going on. 

    I think it’s a big step even for my own life.  Having people to share with and be free to be open with.  I think that’s a large part of feeling good about yourself and moving forward.

  • John

    Mental health started being important to me when I realized I had a problem.  I denied it for a long time and just kind of brushed it off thinking I could just handle it myself.  When it started to tear my life apart, like literally rip it in half, that’s when I decided I needed to get help and that I couldn’t do it myself.

    When it really affected me I realized I was kind of becoming a ticking time bomb in my own life.  I realized that I could have done something and I didn’t.  I had to fix that and I did.  I did a lot of therapy.  I saw doctors.  I spent a lot of time with professional help.  It always felt like I was giving up.  I felt defeated and it sucked, but it’s not a bad thing to get help.  It took me a long time to figure that out, but it’s not a bad thing at all.

  • Nicole

    “I think being a mental health advocate just means you’re a human advocate.  You’re an advocate for the human experience.  It’s an expression of love and acceptance.    

    I think we need to address our traumas.  Our trauma’s from birth and sometimes before.  We need the right support and we need a safe space to do that.  We need to be supported and forgiven.  We need to forgive ourselves and we need to address the traumas, because they don’t go away.”  

  • Dorothy

    “As Sue said, it’s a generational thing, but I think that we’re more aware of our mental health now. 

    I’ve been through the generations with my mother, including myself, where it hasn’t really been recognized as such.  I think it’s absolutely marvellous now that people are doing things for it.”