Today is January 25th. In many ways, just another day on the calendar. But today is a special day that Bell Canada designated for their Let’s Talk campaign to raise money for mental illness research. For those unfamiliar with the campaign, You can read about it here
It is important to talk about mental illness because for all the dialogue that has taken place, both in the media and in our personal circles, the stigma surrounding mental illness is still very much alive. Those struggling with depression or anxiety are often painted by others as weak, lazy, looking for excuses, lacking in strength, not being spiritual or religious enough, not trusting God enough, etc. etc. I started publicly speaking about my journey with depression in 2009. I have written a book, translated and published a Chinese version, performed in many, many venues, had countless conversations with others about their struggles. And yet I still encounter the ill informed, judgmental and condescending attitude towards those with mental illness, quite often in the church circles. For this reason I know every single time I speak in a church, there are those in the audience struggling but are afraid to say so.
So Let’s Talk.
I know many of us are afraid to speak honestly about our struggles because we are scared, or ashamed, or both. I know in the church, so often we publicly feature “sharing” from those who have “overcome” depression and hold them up as the standard and the norm for believers. I know for many of us, we don’t want to say anything because we have not “overcome” our struggles. I know some of you reading this think that I too, have “overcome” my depression and that’s why I wrote the book and hold talks and concerts, etc.
I live with depression everyday. I still have nights where I cannot fall asleep until I am drunk. Today I had to step outside in the middle of church because I couldn’t handle it. I spent the rest of the service sitting outside in the cafe area, crying to a cup of coffee. Last week I chaired a staff meeting at work when all I wanted to do was to shut myself in my office, curl into a ball and weep. EVERY time I get up to speak about my depression, EVERY time I get up to sing, I feared if I could get through it. I have not “overcome” depression. I have not “defeated” it. It is something that I am learning to manage, rather than having it manage me. You are not alone.
So Let’s Talk.
I believe in God. I believe God writes the stories of our lives so we can share and help one another. I am not an inspiration, but I believe God can use my struggles to encourage others to not give up. If you are reading this, and you are struggling, and if you believe you are all alone, and you can never tell anyone. Send me a message. Shoot me an email.