Stigma and Awareness, Charity and Corporations

I’m sure you know there is still stigma around the topic of mental illness and mental health. One way to combat this stigma is by raising awareness. Perhaps I’ve just been fortunate, but I’ve found that if I open up the topic – especially if I talk about my own experience with mental illness – people are willing to listen and discuss. I’ve had people divulge their own story and struggle as a result, and I think everybody benefits from that type of sharing.

So, it seems that awareness and discussion can help with the stigma. Which is why I am inclined to cast a favourable eye on Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign.

For those of you who don’t know, Bell is Canada’s largest telecommunications company. Let’s Talk is their campaign to support mental health. On Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates 5 cents for every tweet with their hashtag (#BellLetsTalk), Facebook share of their Let’s Talk image, text and call from phones with their company. They encourage people to spread the word, share their stories, and raise money which goes towards programs and organizations connected to the topic of mental health.

Not everyone is as receptive (telecommunications pun unintended) to Let’s Talk. I’ve heard arguments that the event doesn’t raise much money, or that very little of the money actually goes to support the programs and organizations. This may be true, and it may not be true. I’m not about to go digging around in tax files for the truth. I don’t have the time, energy, or motivation for that. Of course, it’s not very good if that is true, but I’m choosing to focus on the awareness aspect of the campaign.

Truth is, the campaign does raise awareness. We can cue the complaints that it is only for one day of the year. Yes, it is only one day of the year. That’s still a hell of a lot better than no days of the year! We can cue the other complaints that it only does a little good, that only a portion of people open up and share their stories. That’s still a hell of a lot better than no people sharing their stories!

It’s not perfect. It’s not a cure-all for mental illness or the stigma around it. But it’s something. I’m not going to turn my nose up at that.

Disclosure and Disclaimer: I’m not a Bell customer, so they earn nothing from me, even on Let’s Talk Day. My feelings about Bell do not reflect on my opinions about Let’s Talk. This post will not raise any money for the campaign. I’m not in any way affiliated or associated with the campaign. I just wanted to throw my two cents in (and that’s less than their five cents).

If you want to learn more about the Let’s Talk campaign, you can check it out at their website:

Lessons from Supporting a Friend With Depression

I think my experience with depression and anxiety has allowed me to be empathetic and supportive of those who are also dealing with mental illness. I may not always be able to understand what they’re going through, and I certainly can’t cure them (if I could, I would – in a heartbeat), but I can listen to them, and be there for them. Usually.

I have a dear friend with depression and anxiety. He suffers greatly from it. He will be incredibly depressed for incredibly long periods of time. He has attempted suicide more times than I wish to know. He self-harms to the extent that his skin is more a map of misery than a bodily organ. Whether or not he is able to realize it, he is much more than those things. He is witty, and intelligent, and caring, and beautiful, and strong. I can tell him these things and he will not believe me, not really. When he went through a particularly difficult period, I tried to be there for him. Here is what I learnt from it

The first lesson was garnering an outside impression of depression. I don’t truly remember life without depression, so what I’ve known of it has always been my insider’s impression. From the inside, depression is terrible. From the outside, it’s not much better. I’d hear him say “I’m worthless.”,and I’d think “Well, that’s a silly thing to say. It’s clearly untrue.” But it’s not clear to him through the haze of depression. It’s not something that’s clear to me about myself much of the time. I was able to witness the distortions of depression and see them for what they are. It is hard to remember that when you’re depressed, but I think on it when I can. More than anything, I like to think this has helped me to understand what it’s like to be our friends and family members who watch us deal with our depression.

The second lesson was that it can be dangerous for a person with depression to try to support another person with depression. He ask “What’s the point if I’ll be alone?” and I would not be able to answer. It’s a question I ask myself in the depths of depression, and I’ve never found an answer. I could offer him no hope, and I could feel my own slip away. I was being dragged down and before I knew it, my depression rivaled his. I was at a loss. My counselor had to remind me of the importance of boundaries, and that I was not responsible for his well-being. Though I felt bad, I had to withdraw.

I imagine I’m not the only one who has been in that position before. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t support your friends (or family, or peers, etc.). You should, if you are able, because you can understand their plight. Being there can help them feel better, and can help you feel better about yourself. However, it is important to know your limits and to remember them. Hurting yourself will not help them. Yes, they are important, but so are you!

Promo: Strong Links

Strong Links

Strong Links is a brand new charity trying to find its feet. They aim to help educate and support both individuals and communities about depression and mood disorders.

If interested, you can check out and support Strong Links at their:

This is a Depression Blog in 2015 + Reader Polls

I’ve told myself more than once that I will strive to post more often on this blog. Perhaps if I tell you, the reader, I will be more likely to follow through. That’s my blog goal for 2015: more frequent posts! We’ll see how it goes…

Some more plans for the blog:

I’m going to add a page with links to other blogs that I follow and I think others might be interested in checking out.

I’d like to make some design changes, but let’s not hold our breath – my web design skills are nothing to marvel at.

What I’d like your feedback on:

First, I’ve been considering doing either some podcasts/audio blogs or vlogs. I would not be switching formats – most posts would still be written – but I think there is something intimate about such forms of communication. Is this something I should pursue? I will give forewarning that I do not have a radio voice!

Second, I’ve been receiving some requests for me to promote or mention products (books, websites, etc.). I don’t strictly have a problem with promoting something I think has value. There are things which I have promoted or wish to promote without any prompting from the creators. I’m somewhat hesitant to do requested promotions, though. On one hand, I don’t want to inundate you with promotions or advertisements, and I don’t want to blog to become a simple vessel for promotions. On the other hand, if there are products and/or resources which could be useful, I’d hate to pass them by. If I were to do this, I would make it clear that it was a requested promotion (perhaps a small disclaimer at the top of the post), and, when applicable, I would include an honest review of that product. So, give your feedback! If there is a resounding ‘No, no promos!’, then I’m happy to go along with that.

Thanks! Your input means a lot; this blog isn’t just for me!

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