Let’s TALK.

Tomorrow is Bell Let’s Talk Day; a day where we shine a light on and open up a dialogue about mental health issues while donating to a cause that affects more of us than we may even realize or want to admit.

As a woman in long term recovery from alcohol addiction, I have found myself pondering the chicken-and-egg conundrum–the one where I try to figure out whether the depression fueled my drinking or whether the drinking caused my pain.

I’ve experienced anxiety; mild at times, where I just can’t stop fidgeting or when I bite my lip or where I replay a scenario a million times over in my head. And I’ve struggled socially–even though I present as an extrovert–where the only thing that made me feel like I could function “normally” was a glass–or three–of wine.

So I drank.

And I found myself unable to stop once I started.

My depression and anxiety manifested as addiction. And my addiction fueled more anxiety and darker thoughts.

I am not alone.

Genetics plays a role in developing mental illness, and I watched my father backslide, going from being a man full of confidence and “joie de vivre” to being someone racked with suicidal thoughts and feelings of despair.

On more than one occasion, he told me he was a “pain to the world.”

This man who I looked up to and respected and loved and adored–this man who gave me life– felt that he had no use here–not to himself, not to his family, and not to his community.

He felt like a drain.

A drag.

A PAIN.

And while learning this truth crushed me, if I am being honest, I’ve felt like a pain at times, too. On more than one occasion, I felt like my life had no meaning and that things would just be easier for everyone if I wasn’t around.

My father sought treatment in the form of medication. I went another way and rid my body and brain of alcohol while building a recovery toolbox that included nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, yoga, meditation and a team of practitioners (like physiotherapsts, massage therapists, acupuncturists, mediums, intuitives and other health coaches) who supported me on my quest to live well.

But shame kept me stuck for longer than I should have allowed. I was embarrassed of who I was– and what I was– and it meant that instead of getting the help I needed, I fought harder than I had to. Luckily, so far I have won my battle with addiction, but what a better experience I could have had if only I’d been able to talk about it sooner! Of all of the things I’ve done to improve my health over the years, nothing compares to the healing I’ve experienced through simply sharing my story. Because our secrets keep us sick.

So, let’s TALK!

Let’s blow the lid off mental health issues and combat the stigma and shame by sharing our stories.

If this post can help even ONE person know that they are not alone, then my time has been spent wisely. Please reach out to me or someone you trust or to a therapist or counselling service like this online one, BetterHelp, if you are struggling.

Because you are most certainly NOT alone.

According to the Canadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH),

  • In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures.
  • Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
  • About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).

How common is it?

  • By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
  • Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
  • Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
  • Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
  • The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.

What causes it?

  • A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors causes mental illnesses.
  • Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.
  • Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
  • Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.

Let’s  read that last one again…

Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.

When we are struggling mentally, we can tend to believe that the way we feel is the way we feel and that we will always feel that way or that no one can understand what we are feeling or that things can’t or won’t get better. But this simply isn’t true. There are countless stories of people who have overcome mental illness and gone on to lead happy and rewarding lives.

Don’t let shame and stigma hold you back the way it did me.

We need to know what’s going on right in front of us if we are ever going to create lasting change. We simply must treat our mental health with the same respect (or more!) as our physical health; because our mental health starts in the BRAIN—which is a PART of our body–and yet, we often want to treat the brain and the body as unrelated entities.

We are uncomfortable talking about mental health issues and yet the research shows that it is the stigma that keeps us stuck in our patterns and holds us back from experiencing the fullness of life and the wholeness of ourselves.

So, let’s heed Howie Mandel’s advice and let’s talk. NOW. Because talking is such a BIG part of the answer!

If you–or someone you love–is dealing with a mental health issue, please don’t wait to get help. It doesn’t get better on its own and WE don’t get better on our own. We need others to support our recovery.

Help is just a conversation or a click or a call away and there is no need to suffer in silence.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

 

 

P.S. Perhaps you'd like a positive intention around your mental and physical health to arrive in your inbox daily. I launched my 14 Days of Wellness by email, so please sign up over on the right by simply entering your name and email address to begin receiving the messages today. It's free, with no diets, products, challenges or catches...just a chance to remember how amazing your brain--and body is--for 14 days.

P.P.S. Speaking of health, on April 21 & 22, 2018, Roger and I, along with our team, are hosting The Healthy Brain and Body Show for a second year. We are so excited to bring this show back even bigger and better! We would love to see you there as an attendee, where we have so much we want to share with you. We can't wait to explore, connect, learn and shop at the show WITH you! Please say hello if you come. Roger and I will both be there the entire weekend. It would be a thrill to meet you. 🙂

And if you--or someone you know--might be interested in being an Exhibitor with us, feel free to send them here where they can view/download the Exhibitor/Sponsor Package. Note that we have SOLD OUT of Sponsorship spots and we are over 75% sold out of booths!

We can't WAIT to serve you, so remember to save the date! 

P.P.P.S. Let’s be friends! I’d love to connect on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. Plus, as a thank you for joining, you will receive my 14 Days of Wellness. http://sarahtalksfood.com/

 

 

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