Starting the conversation

Mental illness has been talked about in my school but for the most part only in almost non-existent whispers. I believe that starting the conversation needs to be done and which is what I hope to continue to do within the community. For some reason being honest about what we are dealing with is frowned upon when really there is something extremely powerful about sharing our personal stories.

One in five people will experience a mental illness over the course of their lifetime. And of those who do say that they feel ashamed and avoid seeking treatment because of the stigma. Families, too are embarrassed and blamed. Friends don’t always understand or have the right words to say. How can you comfort your friend is in emotional turmoil that you’ve never experienced, so you just watch them suffer and pull away from the person you used to know.

In the obituary’s, we always see the courageous fighters of those who lost their battle with breast cancer or other rare diseases, too. We almost never see the picture of a girl who was going through so much pain, there is no picture of a brave, intelligent, young woman who couldn’t see any more hope to keep pushing through the dark pit of depression. When there is a segment about teen suicide on the news, there is sadness and sorrow in the atmosphere. Until something like this breaks the news, we do not like talking about it. Plain and simple. But it still remains the most common subjects that most of us avoid speaking openly about.

It is crucial to have champions who talk about mental health and mental illness. Personally, I find that there also is power in recovery stories. Stories have to capacity to change both the storyteller and the listener. People who tell their personal story of mental illness are modeling recovery. These people are standing in blunt contrast to the negative public images of mental illness and of the mentally ill, too.


waking up, afraid.

i have woken up

with your words in my mouth

still screaming stutters

full of your anger

all of those gluten free

sentences that wont

leave me alone in the

middle of the night.

no amount of self induced

vomiting has been able to

loosen their strained grip

around me

the triangular folding

of childhood is still a

waving flag of the

triggers I’ve been pulling myself.

i keep finding myself

in empty parking lots

where i thought my house was

but i was only coming

back to a memory

the one i can only paint

in pictures of the past.

now, i wither with the stubborn words

caught in the handcuffs

the policeman said

it was for my own good

hands behind my back

dog barking in the background

door kicked in

glass on the floor.

i wake in a sweat

confusion of what i ever

did to be treated

like a criminal.

Suicide vs. Self Harm

A lot of people mix these two up quite a bit. Suicide and Self Harm are two different things.

If someone self harms it does not mean that they want to die – It is not an attempt to kill themselves. It’s been said that Self Harm can lead to suicide. But this does not mean that they are the same thing. It can seem that these two things are directly related. Most of the time, it is the only thing that is helping them cope and stay alive. Although, they could have suicidal thoughts.

For instance, Someone who cuts, can get an immediate sense of relief and release. In which they cannot get from anything else in their life.  In my experience, when having suicidal thoughts and end up self harming it isn’t an attempt to kill myself, it is simply a way of coping with the thoughts. A way of silencing them. Though, there are better ways to deal with those thoughts. This is why talking to a professional like a therapist or a counsellor is so important. Even reaching out to a trusted friend, family member or even a teacher can be very helpful as well because they can help connect you with the right support. It is also one of the most hardest and most bravest things you can do.

Parents of someone who may self harm could be in shock and out of fear say things to their child that may be very unhelpful and invalidating. We need to talk openly about these issues so that there is a safe place for the ones who are suffering to speak out about getting help without being judged or misunderstood. It is important that people who are struggling with self harm know that they are supported and that they are understood by those around them. Which is not always an easy thing to truly believe. Often, teenagers who self harm are paranoid that nobody cares about them, that they are unworthy of love and care. It feels like nobody understands and no one really “gets” it. Making them feel more ashamed can end up triggering more self harming thoughts, too.

Statements like “why are you doing this to yourself?”, “how could you do that to yourself”, “doesn’t it hurt?”, “Just stop” are very unhelpful and hurtful in the end. People also link Emo with self harm and cutting. Most often these individuals do not understand self harm and therefor judge someone when they do not have the knowledge about the subject at hand.