Let me start this off by saying: my decision not to participate in #BellLetsTalk this year was just that – a decision.
Not a protest.
Not a political stance.
But a choice.
And just because I didn’t participate does mean that I don’t applaud every person who bravely spoke their truth in hopes to extend the conversation around mental health or to provide support for others.
To you all I say: well done and thank you.
But let me preface this piece just one more time before we get into it:
I am by no means asking or suggesting that anyone should protest Bell or Bell Lets Talk day in support of me or my views, I simply chose to remove myself (temporarily) from the narrative today – because I needed to.
Now, some may say that’s selfish and “off-brand” (me being a self-proclaimed ‘mental health awareness advocate’ and all) – but honestly, I’ve gotten to the point that I’m fine with that. Especially when my mental health is vulnerable and at risk.
So – why did I choose to sit this specific year out?
Although I could use this post to poke holes in the campaign – such as the lack of representation of mental health and homelessness, violence, cultural isolation, addiction, and poverty.
Or how Bell Media has failed many of their employees by not “walking the talk“.
Or about how all of the marketing dollars used to plaster #BellLetsTalk advertisements all over Canada could have been donated to mental health charities…
I’m not going to dive deeply into those things – this time.
Well, it’s not that those things don’t matter.
However, for the sake of not being branded a “hater”, nor an oppressor of the mental health movement, I choose to only speak my truth instead.
Are you ready for it?
*Taylor Swift voice*
The real reason is painfully simple.
In my current mental state, I felt the absolute need to protect myself and to limit my exposure to the flood of stories coming out today.
This is called coping.
In other words, I didn’t avoid social media today because I don’t validate and appreciate every story and the brave people behind them. No. I avoided social media today because my own wellbeing had to come first.
And if you’re wondering how I came to this conclusion, here are a few key thoughts worth mentioning:
No matter how much I love social media, I find the pressure to keep up with every tweet and post on #BellLetsTalk day completely overwhelming.
The campaign ends up sucking all of my attention because once I start engaging, I can’t seem to stop (this is just one feature of my obsessive compulsive tendencies and anxiety).
Fast forward to 11pm and I’d still be obsessing about who posted what and if they’re coping well and how I should help them and how I could be there for them and on and on and on.
As an empath, I absorb the fears, pain, and emotions of others. And on a day like today, I bet you can imagine how I’d feel trying to go to sleep tonight.
As a person with a full time job that requires my full attention – I simply couldn’t afford to be distracted or absent from work today.
Spending my day tweeting and absent minded would not be fair to my employer, clients, or team – who depend on me to get my work done.
While some people find #BellLetsTalk day empowering, I find #BellLetsTalk day triggering.
While I may be fine day-of, in the days following (when people begin to “forget”), and the high of tweeting up a storm wears off, I too start to feel “off”.
I feel disconnected.
I feel lost.
I feel alone.
And this feeling keeps creeping and creeping and creeping until I eventually break down.
This has happened every year prior.
Lack of Trigger Warnings
Speaking of triggers, social media for the most part lacks trigger warnings. Therefore, on a day like today, people of all ages are being blasted with potentially triggering posts and information that they may not be in the right headspace or emotional state to deal with – whether they like it or not.
“Stay off of social media then,” you say.
To which I say, “Ah! You are a mental health Guru! Why didn’t I think of that!” *major sarcasm that I’m praying you picked up on*
Knowing I’m “not alone” isn’t always comforting.
Sometimes it’s actually incredibly overwhelming.
Sometimes it’s incredibly devastating and causes me to feel hopeless – that this illness is too big, too suffocating, and that it’s grabbing hold of absolutely everyone – everywhere I look.
Mental health matters 365 days a year, not just when it’s popular.
It deeply hurts (and triggers) me when the people who turned their backs on me (when I was at my lowest) are the ones making the biggest deal out of this campaign.
I also hate the competition that naturally arises: “My story is more powerful, more articulate, more heartbreaking, and got more likes than yours.”
This bullshit needs to stop.
I can’t tolerate the ignorance and fighting that is generated in the comments section of many posts.
Viewing these comments often angers and fills me with hatred and pain instead of hope or empowerment.
I want to retaliate and set people straight but I end up ruminating that I’ll say the wrong thing or that they’ll try to embarrass me, etc… Even worse I’ll post something “aggressive” or “crazy” and worsen the stigma.
Today shouldn’t be about me.
I write enough about me already.
People are probably tired of hearing my story.
I should let others be heard.
Instead of tweeting, I practiced wellness activities that calmed me.
Like writing this post.
For a woman who discusses, shares, and writes about mental health almost every single day… it was time I gave myself permission to take a day “off”… even if I did end up writing this post anyways.
So, with a half hour left in the campaign, this is me – participating by not participating.
If you need mental health help and guidance in Ontario, please call:
- Free Health Services Information