January 31: #BellLetsTalk.
Today, January 31st, Bell launches their Let’s Talk Campaign, encouraging people of all ages & from all walks of life to open up about mental health & to share their stories in order to help raise awareness.
Until a couple years ago, I falsely believed that health was defined purely by my appearance, the way I felt physically, nutrition & exercise. It’s only once I suffered from a mental illness that I learned that my physical health meant nothing if my mental health was unstable. Physical & mental health go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. Ever heard of the mind-body connection? It’s not a cliché. Yes, maintaining a healthy body is a crucial aspect of life, but truth be told, the only way to effectively do that is to maintain a healthy mind.
Mental health refers to how people think, feel & act in response to life’s situations. It affects how they handle stress, anxiety, relationships & make choices & decisions. It influences the way they see themselves, their lives & is the foundation for their perspective on life itself. You can be the most physically fit person in a room, you can eat all the organic produce in the world, take the most natural supplements & use the cleanest skincare products on the market, but all of that means nothing if you feel lost, confused, anxious, stressed, depressed, lonely & in distress.
The acknowledgement & acceptance that your mental health is at risk or isn’t where it needs to be & in response, the will to take matters into your own hands, to talk about it, face it, take care of yourself, learn to cope with it & HEAL yourself doesn’t make you weak, vulnerable or less worthy. It makes you strong for recognizing that in order to maximize the potential to lead & live your best & most productive life, YOU. NEED. HELP. Whether it be help from a family member, a friend, a therapist, a stranger, help from yourself doesn’t matter; what matters is that you seek it & that you TALK ABOUT IT.
When I suffered from anorexia, despite the fact that it was offered to me countless times daily by my family members & friends, it took me MONTHS to accept that I needed help. I’ve always been the girl who was able to do everything on my own & who never relied on anyone. I was the oldest sibling. The girl who always got straight A’s & who felt like a failure if she got anything less than 100. The girl who stayed strong for everyone else, who never cried or admitted she was hurting & who always found her way out of any situation. The girl who embodied what looked like perfection, but wasn’t. The girl who was never sick enough not to show up at work or school & who did whatever she had to do to excel, succeed & overcome any challenge or obstacle that was thrown her way.
You can imagine that accepting that I was too sick to work, hurting so much that all I could do was cry, that I couldn’t make it out of my ED alone, that I wasn’t perfect & that I was slowly falling apart, that I had fallen deeper than I knew in ED’s trap & that I wasn’t mentally stable, that for once, I couldn’t do it all on my own & that I needed the help of a professional to save my life was the HARDEST THING IN THE WORLD.
But, I reached a point in my life where I realized that the failure to accept all of these things meant that my days were numbered. In harsher words, it meant I was going to die.
That’s the thing about mental illness. You can’t always see it, which makes it hard to recognize how life-threatening & yes, even fatal, it can be. But the suffering is so painful & so detrimental not only on the mind but also on the body that the transition from it being a slip-up, a rough patch, a fork in the road to it being a genuine mental illness more powerful than one can control happens so quickly that you barely have time to realize before it’s too late.
So today, I encourage you to TALK ABOUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.
If you have a story, DON’T BE ASHAMED OF IT, SHARE IT.
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing it with the world, share it with those closest to you.
If you think you need help to fix it, SEEK IT.
You are more than your mental illness. Don’t let it define you. Don’t let it stop you from living your best life.
And most importantly, DON’T LET IT KILL YOU.
Rise above it. You’re worth it.