“Please be buttery beige”

May is Mental Health (Awareness) Month.

The birds start singing in the blackness of 4 o’clock. The sunrise catches in the prisms hanging at different levels in the window, scattering light across the wooden floor.

She wonders what colour today will be. “Please be buttery beige,” she prays. Buttery beige days were neutral. She coped; she controlled.

Bipolar 2 spectrum (long and rapid cycling) with depression predominate. The diagnosis gave her drugs she didn’t like; therapy she did (but could no longer afford).

She is rapid cycling again. Tears. Rage. Binge. Anxiety smothering each feeling with dread. Her mental health colour-coded by emotion. The hidden switch flipped on.

These are scary times. What if she didn’t stop crying? What if antidepressants are always like the sugar placebo pills in drug trials? What if she is too broken to be fixed?

She chants her newest mantra, “Don’t think. Don’t think. Don’t think.” Thinking made her head hurt, opening the door to all her demons. What they whisper at night, she believes by day.

She avoids mirrors. She doesn’t recognized the woman who stares back. Puffy, red-rimmed eyes. Wrinkles. Splotches. Visible scalp as her once thick hair continues to float away from her. Slouching. Hurting. Some days she wants to smash the mirror into shards, but then there would be a hundred reflections.

Left with the “why can’t I,” she remains removed from the main stream. She feels so anxious trying to write a resume. She loses things. She get overwhelmed so easily. She forgets (on purpose?) to make phone calls. She isn’t following her list: walk; journal; do yoga; get out of the apartment. Every day, she says, “tomorrow, I will.” The false optimism that makes her get up everyday.

She wills herself out of bed, heading to the kitchen to make coffee. A routine memorized through years of use that now gets short-circuited.  She forgets to turn on the kettle. She goes back to the same cupboard three times. Each trip forgetting one thing she needs. She forgets she is making coffee. She wonders, “Is this the drugs, the disorder, the loss of brain cells?”

She starts crying while the kettle boils. A brackenish blue-green day with grey spots and blue stripes. Not the day she hoped for. Not the day she needs.

Mental Health America’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Month this year is b4stage4: “to focus on how people can address their mental health early, rather than ‘Stage 4’ when symptoms are more severe, and recovery a longer process.”

Tell your story. If the stigma of mental illness is shattered, then perhaps people will seek treatment or seek it earlier. That really can make a difference to how strong and life-altering symptoms become, and the time it takes to make what was shattered whole again.

Let’s Talk Mental Health on January 28th


Talking means there is no longer silence. Talking means that people might hear the words and pass them along.
Thank you Sunshine and Chaos for bringing this to my attention. I’ll get in touch with my Canadian friends and make sure they talk about it!

Originally posted on sunshine and chaos:

Image via http://www.waypointcentre.ca/news___events/around_waypoint/bell_let_s_talk_day_january_28/

There is never a wrong time to talk about mental health. (Even when you’re doing a post about mental health and trying to not sound like an advertisement for Bell.)

This year in Canada, January 28th is Bell Let’s Talk Day. (Bell is part of BCE Inc. and is Canada’s largest communications company.) Bell Let’s Talk is a multi-year charitable program dedicated to mental health and Bell has committed over $67.5 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations, large and small, from coast to coast to coast.

The 2014 Bell Let’s Talk Day raised $5,472,585.90 more in funding for Canadian mental health, all  from 109,451,718 tweets, texts, calls and shares.

One in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness, yet 2 in 3 of those who struggle will not seek treatment options for fear of judgment or rejection. They may not tell anyone…

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Hope (scratched on the walls of the abyss)

I’ve been in the abyss before. I’ve looked up and seen the swirl of stars. Said, there is still light up there.

I’ve been in the abyss before. I’ve found a ladder, with many rungs. Said, can eventually reach the world again.

I’m in the abyss. I’m afraid to look up in case there are no stars. I am afraid to look at the walls in case there is no ladder.

I sit down and wonder if the abyss is now home.

Hope (scratched on the walls of the abyss)*

John Green
We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken.

Mary Kay Ash
Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.

Maori Proverb
Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

* taken from msn’s wellness feed, December 22, 2014: 16 Quotes of Hope

days of future past towards healing

Originally written for 31 Days of five minute free writes.

As I suggested, there might be some unpublished free writes from towards healing. This one is particularly special and not “on the list” as the topic for the day. It is so eerily true, it was difficult to put down my emotions and describe this younger self in 5 minutes. It’s a post I might expand upon some day.

Days of Future Past: Towards Healing

 I recognized her from a distance. The body posture, head down, obvious to the world around her.

All she knew was her pain as she wrapped her arms around herself.Walking fast, she thought of home. It wasn’t a haven, but it had doors to slam. A stash of pills, then she could pick up her pencil and pen. Draw. Write. The stories that no one would ever see.

I knew her so well because she was me.

I sent her mental messages: “Don’t wait. Get help now. You don’t have to live through those years of pain, loneliness, feeling worthless. Call a teen help-line or crisis center. If there is a level of trust and it feels safe, talk a counselor or teacher at school. But please get help.”

As we passed each other, she looked down, unable to make eye contract. I looked straight at her, smiled, and sent her the message. “You are worth it!”