Stories

  • Sue

    “I believe in supporting anyone who is willing to become a mental health advocate because it is a valid illness that isn’t recognized in society, and it has all sorts of labels and stigmas around it because people don’t understand it because you can’t see it.

    It is more the norm than what our true definition of normal is.  So, given the fact that it’s a generational thing for our family - I see it in my kids, see it in myself, see it in my mom, see it in granny - it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  It’s out there in everyday life, it’s just that our society has decided to make it shameful.”

     

  • Mathew

    “There is definitely a real stigma associated with mental health.  I think that mental health is almost viewed as something than can never be ‘fixed’ and that is permanent once you come out as having a problem.  

    It’s almost like there is no turning back.  

    Like, if you get into a horrible car accident and you loose a leg or something, it’s a bit different.  I feel like physical injuries  are just viewed a lot lighter.  Mental health consumes your whole self.  You can’t escape the word 'crazy’.”

    *Mathew is a writer/director/actor who recently created the award winning Teenagers Web Series which features story lines that focus on issues affecting young people, including mental health.

  • Bryan

    “When your mental clock seems to tick a bit off-time and off-sync with most people, it’s easy to feel isolated and crazy and out of place. If you can understand that your train of thought can run parallel to anyone else’s you can make it through just the same.

    It may take longer and the terrain may be tougher but it is always possible.

    The importance of being an advocate for mental health is proving that while the road is long, it is present and we’re not alone or crazy. Giving up on ourselves is giving up on the path to greater possibility. For everyone. So I tell my story as a reminder, both to others and myself, that life is worth living if you keep going.

    You just need to keep going.”

  • Camila

    I’ve had to face mental health issues my whole life.   My father suffers, and so does my mother, and in my earlier stages of going through group homes it was hard not to feel crazy.  

    For me, the process of feeling ‘normal’ meant dealing with my fears, and my uncertainty about life.  I approached it by looking at what it meant to heal.  That was a big question.  I approached it with reiki, mantras, and a strong love for self.

    Has it all gone away?  I don’t really think so, I just think I’ve learned to deal with things better.  I feel my ups and downs, and then I look around me, and I realize the whole world is sick.  We’re going through a hard time in civilization, and there is a lot of things that trigger it.  

    I just came back from Brazil, and there’s a lot of corruption and sadness there.  People don’t have a voice.  People don’t know what they need, or that things are going to be okay.  I think that if I’d had more of that growing up, it would have affirmed my belonging without any titles. I hate labels.  I think they just stop people from feeling a sense of freedom, from expressing themselves, and from feeling safe.”  

  • Karen

    “I don’t want people to be afraid of mental issues, and I want to encourage people to talk about them, because when you’re dealing with things on your own it’s so hard.  We do better when we work together with people, and get support from other people, as opposed to trying to figure it all out on our own.  That can make you feel more crazy.

    There is so much shame attached to it, and I think that is really sad.  It’s not something people choose.  People don’t choose to be schizophrenic, or have an eating disorder, or be a drug addict, or any of that.  I think the more we talk about it, and the more stories we hear about different types of mental issues, the more we can try to better understand each other.

    I’ve written a graphic novel, illustrated by my sister in law.  One of the main reasons why I wrote this novel (the first of three parts) is in my adolescents, I had many thoughts of killing my parents. I never talked about it until 8 years later, in an inpatient program for anorexia. It was there that I was also diagnosed with OCD. I had no idea OCD could be expressed in this way. I feel strongly that if people had talked more, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so crazy and scared for those 8 years.  It is my hope that through this book, and projects like this, people will be more inclined to get help.  I am also a psychotherapist… even amongst professionals, people need to talk more!!!”

  • Niki

    “I think it’s really important not to be afraid, and to realize that there is strength in asking for help. Even though it may take a lot of people encouraging you, or hitting that rock bottom place, there is strength in asking for help. 

    I’m still working on it.  It’s kind of a theme for me right now, being vulnerable, because to me that has been a really negative thing, and it doesn’t have to be.  I’m still exploring it and I’m still on that journey.

    I don’t know if I’m there yet, but I’m trying.”

  • David

    “I started talking about my mental illness in 1965; I’ve spoken at so many “mental illness awareness” events that I’ve lost track of how many.  Increasingly, I’ve become skeptical about whether personal stories actually increase awareness; and if they do increase awareness, what are we being made aware of?

    I’m afraid that the individual stories obscure the intersectionalities of gender, race, colonialism, class, sexual orientation.  I can talk about my mental illness(es) – like lots of people I know, I have more than one diagnosis – but because I am a white, able-bodied, straight, middle class male, my story will fail utterly at increasing awareness about the mental illness of a person who has survived a residential school.

    One of my students took a look at the personal stories on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s website.  She described the story tellers as “mental health Stepford Wives”.   Pretty apt, if you ask me.”

  • Phoebe 

    “I suffer from depression (dysthymia), borderline personality disorder, and OCD. I went undiagnosed for years, not realizing that life could be better than that. I’d just accepted that this was how everyone experienced life. I feel like mental health is the last taboo, and many people including myself, go through the experience without the support from family because of the stigma or lack of understanding relating to it.

    If you have OCD, it’s maddening because you’re stuck in this cycle that makes no sense.  You’re there fixing stuff, or doing the same ritual for hours, and you’re not deriving pleasure from it, so it’s almost insulting that people can say, “oh, I totally understand, I have OCD too!” 

    I think a lot of the frustration is just that people don’t understand.  They don’t know the definitions of common mental health terms that are thrown around like depression, and OCD.  What is portrayed in the mainstream media and hollywood is not accurate.  It’s a joke really.”

     

  • Trish

    “I think we need to be talking about mental health, and I think it’s sometimes hard as a person who has been in it, to put it out there into the world.  You feel like you’re putting yourself at risk, and there is stigma attached to it, particularly in today’s world of social media. 

    Once it’s out there everybody knows, and there’s no taking it back, and people judge.  People are still judging. 

    I love Clara’s Big Ride, I think that’s amazing.  I’ve been really supportive of that online, and I think people become aware of personal connections through those kinds of things, and projects like this.

    If I was to give any advice? Find somebody to talk to.”

     

  • Mychol 

    “When my son Donovan invited me to make a contribution to this project I thought it was important to do, because I really believe that mental health condition is not the problem, the stigma associated with mental health issues is the problem.  

    We don’t have enough support at all levels of government and throughout the healthcare system because of the stigma that society lays at your doorstep.  

    I think the best challenge for me, was trying to do my research and find resources.  I found that there just wasn’t a lot out there for me as the parent of an adult child with mental health issues.  It’s very frustrating."