Let’s talk about it. Let’s Talk About Mental Health.
Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day – a day devoted to ending the stigma around mental illness. Today – and every day – we are encouraged to tell our stories and listen with compassion.
Five years ago when we opened We Thrive, one of my personal motivations for creating this space was my own mental health journey. I wanted to create a place where people could explore all the dimensions of their wellness, in a safe and welcoming environment. I wanted to make sure that if someone was suffering, they could find the support they needed at We Thrive.
After the birth of my children I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder – an illness that carries with it a significant amount of stigma and baggage. As a way to come to terms with my illness, I began to tell my story in classrooms and presentation halls. I wrote a blog and shared what it was like to live with Bipolar Disorder, with whomever would listen. The response was beautiful. Time and again, I met people who said “me too”. They told me of their own stories of living with mental illness. They described their own suffering, and it broke my heart.
But there is something special that happens when we are brave, and we open up about what we are going through. Even when we tell just one person, in the telling of it, our load is lightened. A tiny bit of the power, that the diagnosis and the illness holds over us, gets chipped away each time we tell it.
I remember reflecting back one day after finishing a school workshop. I got in my car and I thought back to the very first time I told my story. In my very first therapy session I had to recount my bouts of psychosis and mania to my new therapist. I was sweating profusely and shaking at times with anxiety. That day, years later in my car, after telling my story publicly countless times, I was proud of my growth. I could tell it without fear. I could share it willingly with pride. I could be an example of living well with mental illness.
If you are suffering alone, I encourage you to be brave. Share what you are going through with a trusted friend or loved one. Reach out to a therapist. Tell your doctor. Lighten your load just a little.
And if you find yourself being entrusted with someone else’s mental health story – what a gift. See their trust in you as the honour that it is. Listen with your whole heart. Listen to understand. And know that you are doing important work. You are lessening the stigma. You are being a friend. You are lightening their load.
I’ve decided to share my story with you, if you’re curious. This is a version that I wrote many years ago – in 2013. At the time I was writing regularly on my blog Roots B4 Branches. There is a lot more to my story now, many years later. But this will give you a glimpse into the beginning of my journey.
And if you have some time today, check out the Bell Let’s Talk website. View the YouTube video below, and share it with friends. There are other actions you can take, and they all result in Bell Canada donating funds to support mental health programming in Canada. It’s a worthy cause – take a moment and get involved.
Thank you so much for reading.
Sending you much love,
Co-Founder, We Thrive
Chief Empowering Officer, CEO
As a busy mom, wellness-preneur and typical ‘creative’, Sarah Hutchison loves to run with exciting ideas. The pulse of her creativity flows from a deep sense of ‘self’ developed through years of hard-fought recovery from illness and efforts to restore balance to her hectic life. A natural intuitive, Sarah understands her life purpose to be one of service to others, coming alongside, particularly women, to inspire them to be the highest, most authentic, most joyful version of themselves. With the creation of We Thrive, Sarah is living out her dharma as she holds safe space for the transformation and healing of others.