This week marks Mental Health Week and there are lots of posts all over Twitter and social media urging people to “Speak Up and #GetLoud” about their experiences with mental health. In fact, BYTE retweeted a message that said exactly that – so I’ve decided to walk the walk and talk the talk about some of my own experiences.
Recently, my mom was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer (spoiler alert: her treatment is almost over and she is tough as nails!). As you can imagine, you’re never prepared to hear something like this. Since her diagnosis in November, life has been different. I normally think of myself as an optimistic, energetic and extroverted person but over the past few months there are times where I haven’t felt like socializing, where I’ve been more tired than I have ever felt before and where I didn’t have the energy to really take care of myself and do the things I love (eat good food, play roller derby and bike to work!) I also found it difficult to tell my friends what was really going on.
Finally, a couple months ago – I told a good friend what I’ve been feeling and going through (Hi Pav!) and she sent me this a couple days later:
It sounds silly but this funny meme was kind of a turning point and I started wondering why is it so hard for us to speak honestly when things aren’t good. I tried to make a commitment to myself to be honest with friends when they ask, “How was your day?” or “How’s it going?” Sometimes things were actually good and I was excited to share but sometimes I was having a bad day and I tried to share those moments too. I was worried I was becoming a party-pooper but the funny thing is, the more I shared about the good, the bad and the ugly with my friends – the more my friends shared it all, uncensored with me. By sharing my own lows, I became a safe person for others to share it all with too.
These honest conversations with friends and loved ones have helped bring me back from some of the reactions I was having to a new “my mom has cancer” reality and while I definitely still feel sad and sometimes need to wallow on the couch, it’s getting easier to have fun, get knocked down and get back up again on the derby track and hang out with people that I love.
We know that sharing with others about your mental health is easier said than done! If sharing with those close to you is too difficult, here are some anonymous phone and online supports that you can access:
Yukon Distress and Support Line: 1-844-533-3030
Kids Help Phone Line: 1-800-668-6868 (they also have online support, just visit kidshelphone.ca)