Let’s Talk (And Not Use the “S” Word)

Today is #BellLetsTalk day, where each year on January 28th Bell donates 5c for every tweet/text/whatever while using their network to support mental health initiatives. While I have no issue with the overall concept (get free advertising for your brand and do some good in the process), the utter crap that has filled up my Twitter and Facebook feed because of this day has caused me to post this.

Bell-Lets-Talk_full
So in advance, I apologize. But here it is.

I don’t like this day. I never have. You understand that when a survivor of major mental health issues can say they don’t appreciate a day that is designed to make money to help them in case they ever relapse, they are pretty serious about it. It’s not that I don’t want mental health to be funded better in ALL provinces across the country. It’s not even that I think people should have to work harder to achieve results (because even though I did it the hard way, I can understand that for some people that will never work). It’s actually, ironically, how Bell has chosen to spread the word.

Their campaign is called Let’s Talk. You know the one thing that they won’t donate money for? Actual voice-to-voice phone calls.

None of this other crap is “talking”.

I don’t talk to you when I tweet. I carefully decide what I’m going to say before I put my name on something public.

I don’t talk to you when I text. I can craft very uplifting sentences even when I’m sobbing.

I don’t even have to use my own words when I share a Facebook photo. I can just press a button and be done with it.

NONE OF THIS IS ACTUALLY TALKING, PEOPLE.

The key component of my therapy was actual, honest-to-goodness talking. I met with five different psychiatrists/psychologists for hours on end each week and TALKED ABOUT WHAT WAS BOTHERING ME. I’d like to point out that I am now completely drug-free and able to manage my PTSD on my own with the coping mechanisms that these sessions gave me.

Again, I recognize that it takes a long time in this country to see someone qualified that is also funded by our health care, and that people don’t often have the money to spend on private sessions. I certainly didn’t. But I’ll tell you something else: the most qualified people are the people who love you. Currently in Alberta there is an 8-10 month waiting list to be seen by someone working in a Community Mental Health Clinic, and even when you get in to see them there is a learning curve, as many of the employed counsellors have more experience with addictions than with other illnesses. That doesn’t give anyone permission to just give up trying. But do yourself a favour and unplug from the Internet for a while, because you will either self-diagnose (a terrible habit of people in this country) or you will lose what little of yourself you have left reading about “the stigma” of mental health and get so depressed that something terrible will happen.

HERE’S MY POINT: There is no “stigma” about mental health if you are talking to someone who cares. You know who created the “stigma”? People talking about mental health on the Internet. That’s it. The “stigma” only exists in the media and on the World Wide Web. NOWHERE ELSE.

To pass me on the street, you would never know I hate cars. To talk to me at a party, you’d never guess that the loud noise was putting me on edge. And even if you did say, “Hey, you look uncomfortable”, you know what I’d say? “Yeah, the noise gets to me some times.” Done and done. No stigma here.

If you need help, reach out. Friends, family, your neighbour… whomever. But do it in person. Because we are all people, and when we finally unplug and remember that, the stigma will truly die.

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