Knowing it's important to seek help doesn't do all that much good if getting help is out of your grasp.
We continue to be bombarded with graphically depicted messages that either romanticize suicide in terms of simplistic Romeo and Juliet dreck, or unfairly portray those in the midst of a mental illness crisis as "mad." We start believing falsehoods that keep perpetuating negative stereotypes and stigma.
Each one of our stories is important. When we find the courage to have real conversations about our inner worlds, we have the potential of helping another through their struggles. When we reveal our humanity and imperfections, it connects us to one another and create an opening for meaningful, authentic conversations about how we are doing. To have them know and understand they are not alone. I am a mother of four, a wife, an Olympic athlete, a writer, a speaker, a changemaker. I am also someone who has experienced mental illness. I hope that we have the imagination to define one another in our complexity.
We all feel worried or anxious at times; that's what makes us human. Anxiety can be a healthy internal warning system for us to pay attention to something important. It's our body's way of signalling to us that something matters and needs to be done.
When you teach your child "calm breathing," you are using a technique that works to slow down his/her breathing, combating upset, stressed and anxious feelings. Teaching a child to use calm breathing to regulate their emotions is important because it shows them how to change their breathing to minimize the effects of their emotions.
It is my belief that good counselling can provide a much-needed service in our modern world, but therapy needs to grow and adapt with the times. We have a society filled with very busy, potentially stressed people who want concrete results and some who still fear being stigmatized by seeking therapy or having to go to the "head shrinker."
It takes a lot of courage to own up to your difficulties, to open up to a complete stranger, and most importantly, to be willing to roll up your sleeves and do the inner work needed to heal. It's not a walk in the park, by any stretch of the imagination.
Counselling should push you and test your limits, and help you understand your strengths and vulnerabilities. It may be uncomfortable and exhausting at times, but in the same way a good work out feels good physically, a good psychological workout can be deeply, emotionally satisfying.
You've heard of the recent attacks on women's healthcare in the States, but in Canada, we're feeling the impact too. For 50 years, Planned Parenthood Ottawa has been there for our community, providing unbiased counselling, education, advice and support. But it's become increasingly hard to do our work. Planned Parenthood is under attack, by people who oppose healthcare for women and the trans community, who don't want youth to get the education they need, and who dedicate themselves to cutting our funding every way they can.
In Canada, I quickly realized, depression is one of the only life-threatening illnesses that you have to be rich to get proper treatment for. Since 1961, Canadians have taken care of our neighbours, our family, and our friends if they have illnesses like heart disease, or diabetes. But if they're suicidal or depressed? We've basically said tough luck -- deal with it yourself. This while more people are actually suffer from mental health issues each year then heart disease and diabetes combined.