You Are Not Alone
Cue the Michael Jackson song…joking aside, whether it’s the constant bombardment from social media, the news and life’s daily pressures, it sometimes seems like there are not many places to escape when the going gets overwhelming. Some of us are more resilient to the pressures life throws at us, but there are still an alarmingly high number of us suffering from illnesses which are still kept tightly under wraps. It is said that approximately 1 in 3 Canadians will suffer from some form of mental health issue. 1 in 3. Really think about that. We’re talking about an illness which doesn’t target a specific gender, age or demographic, it’s literally widespread. According to CAMH, “In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem.1
- By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness.”
Let’s Get Real
For most of my life when it came to the topic of mental health, I could say I was on the fringes; I didn’t have any real association with it or with anyone who suffered from any form of mental illness. Outside of having an “odd” aunt or uncle, whose behaviour was the ongoing family joke, we never dug deeper to find out anything further. At sixteen (if memory serves me right), I learnt that my father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but with my parents being divorced for about 4-5 years at the time and my dad being a constant no show at visitations, the subject was put on the back burner yet again. Fast forward to last year, when a very traumatic and life altering event forced me to come face to face with the reality of mental illness and what it can look like. I will not go into details of the event, as it is not my story to tell, but what I can say is whatever ideas you have when you think of an individual suffering with mental health…you’re probably wrong. The day to day struggles, frustrations, issues and stresses we all have are added to the fact that sometimes your mind might feel like it is quite honesty against you. And that’s for those of us who are classed as having a “healthy mind”. Now can you imagine if you have all that “noise” to contend with? Because, the truth of the matter is, it could quite LITERALLY be anyone of us. Over the past year, watching someone you love and care about be eaten away by the realities in their mind is not only heartbreaking, but it is made worse by the fact that you quite literally cannot “fix” or “heal” them. I have had a very rough time of wrapping my mind around that, because I am a fixer; I see a problem and normally I can find a solution, but mental health doesn’t work that way. It is not my journey,
I am merely there to be a support and to try to be a positive force in their lives, I can only hope that I have. I can say for me, education and increasing my scope, even marginally- has helped me be better prepared, spot the signs, thus hopefully making me a much better support. Finding the right balance between medication, therapy and having a good family support has been a juggling act, but I feel that we are on our way. Besides, it hasn’t all been bad, there are days where they are themselves again and hope is restored, the feelings of loneliness and frustrations dissipate and all is right in the world again. What I have learned is to take each and every day at a time, appreciate what healthy means and to simply be compassionate towards others, because we LITERALLY never know what they are going through. Someone gave me great advice, “take each day at a time and if it helps to take each hour, minute and if you have to each second, at a time”.
Where To Get Help
Situations may require immediate and urgent care, if someone is a danger to themselves or others, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 or your local hospital, but in the case where they may require someone to talk to, here are some resources available in Montreal.
AMI Quebec as per their website, they “help families manage mental illness through support, education, guidance, and advocacy”. They have a crisis line which is available 7 days a week with counselors and also have temporary residences if the need arises. They can be reached at 450-679-8686, link at the bottom.
Montreal also has numerous Crisis Centres dotted about, you can visit the Quebec government’s website for more details specific to your area (link at the bottom), it should be noted that this service isn’t limited to people who suffer from a mental health issues. Instead they are for anyone going through a major life change, such as bereavement, loss of job financial issues, ect. The West Island Crisis Centre, can be reached at 514-684-6160.
Suicide Action Montreal, available 24-hours a day, counseling they can be reached at 514-723-2000 or 1-866-277-3553 offers support, crisis monitoring for vulnerable people and their families dealing with suicide.
Another service for the family, friends and support network of someone suffering from mental health issues is, Friends for Mental Health. They offer support, courses, support group and resources to help navigate the world that is mental health. I have heard nothing but good things about this organisation and I am currently in the middle of an 11-week course on schizophrenia- very very eye opening and informative.
You can always call 8-1-1, for any information or help and they will be able to get the help to you, should it be needed along with pointing you in the right direction for these resources and the many more out there, be it in your local area or this small island we call Montreal.
Disclaimer: While we are in no way mental health professionals and are not experts in this field, we speak from our own perspectives and experiences. The brain is such a complex tool, it can work for us but sometimes it can work against us. If in any way you feel you may be suffering, whether from anxiety, stress to having suicidal thoughts, do NOT suffer in silence, to seek help you would be surprised at the resources and connections you can make. The sooner the better.
Pictogram & Quote: Pinterest
Crayons: Love Skylah Photography
AMI Quebec: http://amiquebec.org/crisis/
Suicide Action Montreal: http://suicideactionmontreal.org/index.php?page=home
Friends For Mental Health: http://www.asmfmh.org/