January 27 is Bell Let's Talk Day. Every day should be a Let's Talk Day. Or at least a Let's Be Open-Minded Day. Being a horror writer has been a blessing for me. It kept me sane, grounded and allowed me to disappear within a world I had control over, where no one could touch me and I was safe. It is that same refuge for me today. I am one of the lucky ones. That does not mean my life is easy or that every day is a picnic. Dealing with a brain injury that caused brain damage juxtaposed with depression, compound complex PTSD and auto-immune diseases has been...interesting. And that's okay. It just means I get to read the same book 12 times and still be surprised.
In the horror community, there are many of us that struggle with depression, severe, crippling, clinical depression. There are others that battle BiPolar issues, PTSD, mental illness brought on by chronic illness and pain and sometimes, all of the above. Some of us give up. Some turn to drugs or alcohol. Others sabotage themselves so they can beat themselves up and say, "See, I told you you were a loser."
Mental illness is just as debilitating and just as challenging as living with Crohn's, diabetes, or Downs Syndrome. Sometimes even more so. But, unfortunately there is a stigma to mental illness.
Mental illness means you are weak, pathetic, stupid, lazy or violent. Mental illness makes you less than a person and more of an object of scorn. People who commit suicide are selfish. Cops or soldiers with PTSD are not to be trusted.
Isn't it incredible that you can break your leg and people will support you, open doors for you, run errands for you, but break your mind, and your world empties of people you thought loved and cared for you.
How many times have you heard, "Snap out of it; get some exercise; quit feeling sorry for yourself; if you really wanted to (______) you would, you're just lazy"?
We would never dream of saying these things to an Autistic, blind or deaf person, but feel it is justified in attacking the mentally ill. I often wondered why. Is it something they think is contagious? Does it make them feel superior that they have never suffered from a 'weak mind'? Or is it coming from a place of anger where they feel the person struggling with this is seeking attention?
So, on this mental illness let's talk and be friends day, I say share embrace your pain, accept your darkness, live in the moment. If you feel like crap, accept it. Think about it mindfully for five minutes. Really feel what it is like to be you, instead of trying to smile and put up with it. And then, after five minutes of examining your emotions, tell yourself, "I accept this about me and I am still a good person. I will do everything I can, regardless of my demons because I get to win."
Wash, Rinse, Repeat.