We Need More

Today marks the first Bell Let’s Talk Day that I’m not participating in at all since its inception, and the first one in 4 years that I’m not participating in as a member of a mental health organization.

Let me preface this by saying that the things I’m about to say are in no way meant to undermine the accomplishments of Bell Let’s Talk and the advocates who support it, or to make anyone feel bad for participating. If this campaign brings you hope, a sense of belonging and community, a way to feel like your voice is being heard – I am happy for you and for those reasons I think that it has done great things and is still, by far, better than nothing. 

Some people in the mental health community (and outside of it for that matter) knock Bell Let’s Talk because they dismiss it as simply a marketing ploy. I’ve always thought this viewpoint is too simplistic. Is it a marketing ploy? Yes, absolutely. It has brought Bell a great deal of positive press over the past 8 years. Bell is a for-profit company; they would not run any campaign if they did not believe it would make them money, no matter how much they wanted to. What people do not always understand is that literally everything, ever, is a direct or indirect marketing ploy, but that doesn’t make it bad.

Even everything that non-profit organizations do is a marketing ploy, designed to attract donors and volunteers. Non-profits care about money almost more than for-profits do, because even non-profits need to cover their own expenses and that alone is very hard for them to do. They need even more money to actually expand and, you know, do things. My point in saying this isn’t to make you say, “WELL FUCK EVERYONE, THEN!” None of this is because people or organizations are bad. It’s because this is the way things are because capitalism. What makes an organization good is if they can make money AND do good things at the same time. It’s really easy to do one or the other (although, without money, good can usually only be done on a small scale). It is very hard to do both. The scale and longevity of Bell Let’s Talk shows how effective they have been at accomplishing this elusive goal.


Songs I Needed At The Time

I was watching a Vlogbrothers video in which John answers a question – “What have been the most important songs to you?” And he says that’s a good question because the most important songs are not always the best songs, or your favourite songs.

And finally something that I think about way too often for some reason was put into words. I never know what to say when people ask what my favourite song is, because I feel like that answer changes all the time. My favourite song of the moment is probably something that came out within the last few months, or maybe an old one that I’ve ascribed new meaning to. Songs that I absolutely adored 10 years ago are still incredibly important to me, but not ones I actually listen to very frequently anymore.

So, here’s a list of some of those songs, the ones with specific stories attached.

(There’s…a lot of Taylor Swift and Marianas Trench.)

Abuse is Abuse

Here’s a story I haven’t told before. Or at least, I haven’t told this version of it before.

Usually, I tell a story of two teenagers in love who were tragically pulled apart by their terribly cruel friends. He cut himself; she tried to save him. His family was dysfunctional; she tried to save him. He was struggling under the pressures of popularity; she tried to save him.

All of that is true.

But what is also true is that meanwhile, she was constantly losing friends and almost never made new ones, and her confidence in herself was growing weaker by the day. And he did nothing to save her.

For the first two years of our friendship, we were adorable. We wanted the best for each other. We could tell each other things that no one else seemed to understand. It’s no surprise that we fell in love.

But once we did, he used my love for him to manipulate me in subtle ways. It took me FOREVER to realize it because we were once so pure and great together, and he had so many of his own troubles that I ended up giving him a pass on a lot of stuff. Even if I was initially mad about something, he’d find a way to get me to apologize to him instead because I was adding to his problems.

Here’s the thing – did he know what he was doing? In the early days, probably not. Did he feel bad about it? Absolutely. He took his self-hatred out on himself in the form of slashes into his skin.

But did it all still happen? Did it all still hurt me just the same?


Finding the Blips in the Flat Line

It’s been a long time since I’ve published anything. I’ve still been writing, it’s just that everything I’ve written is so personal (like more than usual) that I don’t want it on the Internet, at least not right now. And nothing I’ve written is about mental health.

Prior to graduating from university, I felt like I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with all the ideas I was having. I was constantly being exposed to new things and I was actively involved with the mental health community at our school.

Since then, though, I’ve pretty much plateaued. I have nothing else to say. I haven’t experienced anything new in terms of my own mental health, and I haven’t experienced anything new in my personal life that’s worth publishing.

Sure, I’ve taken up rock climbing and the ukulele, done better and longer speeches, experienced my first full time office job, and met the real love of my life, but none of those things have led to any new revelations about mental health.

I guess I should be grateful that my own mental health has stabilized and that I no longer experience the depressive episodes that plagued me in the past. I have lots of time to pursue my hobbies, like writing this blog, because I’m not sad and tired all the time. But…if I’m no longer on the roller coaster, what am I supposed to write about? I still have no problem giving speeches and presentations, because I can say the same thing to different audiences. But blogging requires new material all the time.

“Everyone’s Been There”: A Dangerous Myth

Let me preface this post by acknowledging a universal truth of life – everyone has gone through tough shit or will at some point in the future. Everyone has a story.

But when it comes to mental illness, not everyone’s “been there”. People – usually sweet, kind, well-meaning people who are just trying their best – love to say this as a response to someone’s experience with mental illness (often one that is directly correlated with an emotion that everyone really does experience at some point in time, such as depression or anxiety). I believe that when people say this, it is with the best intentions. They want to make the person they’re talking to feel less alone, and they want to believe that they understand.

They don’t realize that statements like this severely invalidate the experiences of a person with a mental illness. It’s not born out of malice; it’s born out of ignorance and the limitations that come with being human.

Whenever I use the word ‘ignorant’ people tend to get all up in arms, but the thing is, when I say that I am not calling out anyone in particular. We are all ignorant because we can only fully understand things which we have experienced. We can try to better ourselves by learning more about the world and other people’s experiences, but we can only do so much, and many people do not go out of their way to do this.

Twinning With Taylor Swift (In The Worst Possible Way)

Taylor Swift and I both broke up with our boyfriends recently.

You may be thinking, “Wait, you had a boyfriend?”

And I don’t blame you, because the relationship was so short that I didn’t have time to tell a whole lot of people about it.

I keep trying to write about my feelings on the situation so I can heal but for some reason the words just aren’t coming out. I think this is because there is one version of this story that I am comfortable talking about, the one in which I believe whatever I need to in order to feel okay about things – the one in which I believe whatever he says – but there is another version that I could barely even think about until now.

That’s the version in which I realize that I still do not have the full story, and the full story probably isn’t going to make me feel okay about anything. The full story is probably full of half truths and lies of omission and someone who doesn’t care even half as much as I thought he did (which was already only about half as much as I do).

Taking A Tolerant Approach To Education

We talk and we talk and we talk about what needs to change in this world and the various things that we need to call people out on. But rarely do we talk about how exactly to do that.

I’d like to say that it doesn’t matter how you say something, it’s what you say, and in some cases that is true, but in this case, the “what” and the “how” are equally important. The “how” might even be more important.

Here is why – imagine that you’ve written something (it can be anything, even a text message), and someone reading it says to you, “Um, excuse me, but just so you know, semicolons are actually only supposed to be used when bla bla bla bla. I mean I don’t expect most people to know that, I’m just a huge stickler for grammar and I went to school for Creative Writing.”

Did reading that kind of piss you off? Because it pissed me off just to write it. Doesn’t whoever that person is sound like a stuck up douchebag? They sound like they’re lecturing, and not because they actually care about teaching you something, but because they want to show off the ways in which they are better than you.

Big Girls Cry

I make scrapbooks for every year of my life, and though I took a break for a few years, my 2015 was so eventful that I was motivated to pick the hobby up again.

While doing a page of events that occurred around this time last year, I revisited some blog entries I wrote at the same time. One of them features lyrics from the song “Big Girls Cry” by Sia. That song hit me hard at the time because it described exactly what I feared I was becoming – someone who is living a mundane life, bored out of her mind, just surviving and not really living. I’ve been that girl before. But there were extenuating circumstances that made me that way. I don’t want to be that girl again.

And for a while it looked like I was escaping that reality. Sure, there were some days like that, but I had a pretty fun year.

But it’s been more than 3 full months into this year now and I think I can safely say that I have become exactly what I feared. Most of my days have been like that, and even more now that I live alone. “I come home, on my own, check my phone, nothing though, act busy, order in, pay TV, it’s agony.” Replace “order in” with “eat Doritos” and “pay TV” with “Netflix” and that is my life in a nutshell.

I Don’t Care What You Don’t Like

Whenever someone asks me what my ‘pet peeve’ is, I am always stumped. Little things annoy me just like they annoy everyone else, like long lines, slow walkers, and delays on public transit. I wouldn’t exactly call any of those a ‘pet peeve’. More like ‘universal peeves’.

But I was reminded the other day by a tweet from Hank Green (“Never let what you hate define you”) of something that started bothering me intensely about 4 years ago.

I can’t stand when all people can talk about is the stuff they don’t like. Complaining is the way they make conversation and they love debating with you just for the sake of it.

When you get really close with someone, inevitably this is going to happen; you complain to your loved ones and they help you work through your problems, and you do the same for them. But when I’m still getting to know someone, I don’t CARE what you don’t like. We can talk about that later. For now, tell me about what you DO like.