Bell Let’s Talk Day
Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, the Bell company’s attempt at raising awareness and money for mental health.
While some may see it as a shameless publicity stunt— and regardless if it is— I strongly believe that it is a great opportunity to bring to light something that is not often on our minds.
Well, the event is meant to raise money— by donating five cents for every text, phone call and tweet send today using #BellLet’sTalk— and awareness, as people are encouraged to chat more on this day. So let’s talk about something that in reality affects us all very deeply.
Mental health is a bit of a hard subject for me. Important, but definitely hard. I lost my mother to a fight against depression. In November 2013 she took her life at the age of 54. She was truly a lover of life, and it just goes to show how much depression strips you until there is nothing left.
Let me provide you with a metaphor, and I sincerely do not mean to offend anyone who may be losing a dear one to cancer right now. Lately I’ve begun to think of my mother’s decline in mental health as a form of cancer, which none but those close to her could see.
As the youngest child and as a result of my parent’s divorce I lived alone with my mom for the last few years of her life, and so I can tell you what a depressive fall looks like. I also know to an extent what it feels like, but that’s another story.
There were some good days, where that colourful personality of hers which attracted everyone to her like flies to a light would shine through, but there were also many bad days of no sleep, migraines, no motivation, and lots of desperation. Gradually, I saw the real Kathy Lawson less and less, and I did not even know it then. I did not know the warning signs. I wish I did, because then she might have gotten help and would still be here.
Eventually she was nothing but a shell of her old self. Here, a painful excerpt from my mother’s goodbye note, just to give some insight into what depression is like, if you’ve never had exposure to it:
I can’t live this torturous existence. Some sleep; no sleep; this drug; those drugs. Some life; half a life; little life. Some reprieve and then back to the same. Everyone says keep trying, keep believing; do this; do that. In the end, very little changes. Life is getting smaller, my children are being driven further away. I have very little to offer them— the little I did have it getting less and less.
It’s been 24 years of this. I have tried; I have willed. I can’t do it anymore. It’s just too much, too long
Just stop for a minute, and think about that last part. Do you dare to call someone who struggles with depression weak or selfish? I can barely fathom the courage of my mom, putting aside her insomnia and depression for so long, so that she could do an exceptional job of raising me and my three brothers.
Mental health is a real thing, and it impacts everyone. It is just as real as physical diseases, causing sickness and sometimes death, like in my mom’s case.
Your story could easily become frighteningly similar to mine, and you might never see it coming. I never thought my Mom would be gone before I even turned 19. For the sake of yourself and your loved ones, do not underestimate the gruesome nature of mental diseases, and inform yourself on the warning signs of someone considering suicide. There is help out there. If you get an infection you go to the doctor and get on medication to treat the infection, so that it does not get out of control and you lose limbs, or get blood poisoning. It’s the same thing with mental issues.
This is for you Mom, in the hope that even our memory of you can have as strong of an impact as your living self.