The Silent Killer
Bell has been one of the few companies to be so public with raising awareness with their campaign and it's one that is near and dear to my heart.
For the majority of my life, I have dealt with mental illness of my own. I've always wanted to blog about it. A few years ago I wanted to get proper treatment and I literally had to go through hell and back just to see a doctor.
I was placed on a fifteen month waiting list to see a psychiatrist. What was I supposed to do for those fifteen months?
Thankfully, someone who knew someone who knew someone knew a psychiatrist in the SOUTHERN USA, and I flew there regularly until I was properly diagnosed and on a medication that would help me. One day I'll write the long version of that story....but I don't want to focus on that today.
I've wanted to write in a different blog for sometime about my experiences living in a first world country while trying to fight to get my mental illness under control....and maybe now is the time to write a new blog.
But for now, I want to talk about what took me to the house of Mr and Mrs Gaulin, parents to Sarah Gaulin, that passed away at the age of 26.
Sarah had a fought against her mental illness and lost her battle. She didn't commit suicide. She died because of her illness.
Five years after her passing, her parents created a charity, the Gaulin Foundation, that provides scholarships to those effected with mental illness.
How did I found out about this charity?
Well, a few months back I decided that it was time to reach out and put some roots here and find something to do. I was frustrated with the lack of friends that I had (and the friends that I did have had little in common with me), so I joined a choir.
A quick audition and voila, here's your sheet music and start practicing.
An announcement was made during break that the charity that would receive the proceeds from our first concert in January would be the Gaulin Foundation.
I had chills. I joined the choir to improve my mental health - that had improved in a HUGE way from a couple of years ago - and here the concert is benefiting a charity that touches the lives of those that are dealing with mental health issues. It had come full circle.
This weekend I was dropping off tickets for the concert in at the Gaulin's house. They invited me in for coffee (and Maggie of course....) and we sat around the table and spoke about the crisis that exists regarding mental illness in Canada, the stigma surrounding it, and what Sarah went through, and what I've been through.
It was a complete honor to sit with them, to listen to their charity's successes, and hear about the beneficiaries of these scholarships.
But it was also very sad. Sad that the Gaulin's lost their daughter, but even more sad that in TEN YEARS, little has changed. When I told them my story of how I tried to get medical help, they nodded their heads along....since they went through the same barricades that I did a few years ago, and continue to face as I want to question the treatment that I'm receiving.
I am but a drop in the ocean, but I want to in my own way, start raising awareness and doing whatever I can do to get it out there, that at least 1 in 5 people have a mental illness. That these are high functioning people, totally normal and sometimes, the person that you least expect it. As sufferers from mental illnesses, society teaches us to hide our battle and to work even harder to over compensate.
This shouldn't be the case.
No one thinks twice about someone with diabetes. Diabetics suffer because their pancreas doesn't function properly. They control their disease with medicine, diet and exercise, and lifestyle. People with a mental illness suffer because their brain chemistry is off. They control their disease with medicine, diet and exercise, and their lifestyle. Both conditions are fatal if left untreated.
I'm not sure what my next step will be, apart from singing at my concert and reflecting on my time spent with the Gaulins, and seeing what I can do....for myself and for others....to help eliminate the stigma of these common diseases, and highlight that our country is in a crisis when it comes to dealing with these diseases.