This Friday (May 13th) Canadians across the country will stay up all night in support of #OneBraveNight: a campaign initiative by CAMH that hopes to fight mental health stigma and support those living with mental illnesses.
Anorexia, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, anxiety: many of us here at Shedoesthecity have suffered from issues of mental health, and all of us have either a close friend or family member that we’ve watched suffer and wanted to help.
In anticipation of #OneBraveNight, our writers offer advice to those suffering right now. Those of you who cannot sleep, who are hurting, who are overwhelmed, or in the dark: these words are for you.
“I tattooed a moon on my wrist to remind me that night time is not the enemy and being alone is not a curse. Find someone to talk to, whether professional or not. WE aren’t here to see through each other; WE are here to help each other through.” Solana Cain
“Mental health is such a tricky thing. From the outside, it can be hard to see. And from the inside, it can be impossible to explain. Whatever you may be going through, know that you’re not alone. Take small steps. Celebrate small victories. There will be setbacks, but mental health isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Dani Stover
“When I was a tween, I developed anorexia nervosa. I was not happy unless I was depriving myself of something. I was addicted to a constant state of hunger – feeling empty inside made me feel accomplished, self-disciplined. Fortunately, I got through this time when I got over the desire to disappear. After many months, I learned not to hate my body. I learned not to want to shrink myself until I could no longer be seen. For those living with eating disorders, I want you to know you are worthy of feeling nourished. You are worthy of a full stomach and a full life.” Sarah Sahagian
“During dark days, repeat a mantra that works for you. Try mine: This is only a test.” Audrey Reid
“This is what I would have sent to my cousin, Zach, who committed suicide because of mental illness on Sept. 23, 2015: You are more loved than you will ever, ever know. Your mind is tricking you. Don’t listen to it. Just wait until tomorrow. Six months from now your life will look totally different. This isn’t how it will always be. Your mind is lying to you right now. I am not. Please, please – just wait until tomorrow. That’s all you have to do.” Tiffy Thompson
“I recently lost someone very close to me due to mental illness. I wish she had told me what was really going on at the end. Maybe she tried and I wasn’t listening hard enough. I wish she had screamed it at the top of her lungs from a rooftop. My advice to anyone who feels like they are losing the battle is that you are worth telling someone about it. If they don’t hear you, tell someone else. Forget about all the people who made you feel like you weren’t worth it. F*ck them. Keep telling people until you find support. There are people who care. Maybe it’s someone who you haven’t even met yet. There are people who don’t even know you yet, who would care about you if you gave yourself a chance. And they won’t even expect anything back. Maybe the people who you want to care about you don’t care, and that can be very painful. Let go of the attachment and find new people who care. Things don’t always come in predictable packages. It can be hard to find, but it’s out there.” Becca Lemire
“When you’re having an anxiety attack, imagine your thoughts are a river you’re standing beside. You can either jump in, or watch it as it passes you by. They are just thoughts. They will not harm you. Observe them, and then let them pass.” Audrey Reid
“Feelings are not permanent, and bad ones can often be fixed by taking a nap.” Kennedy Ryan
“You’re not alone and things won’t always be this way. It’s hard to reach out to people, but it’s so important. And if it doesn’t work the first time, that’s okay.” Erin Rodgers
“Anxiety can be incredibly isolating, but one thing that has given me comfort over the years is knowing that I’m not alone in battling this disorder. There will be good days and bad days, and days when you just want to crawl into a hole and disappear. Through it all, it’s important to remember that you’re not a failure and that things do get better; it just takes a little time.” Caitlyn Holroyd
“What I would say to someone stuck in the muck and the mire is this: You will not always feel like this. Even if you have felt this way for a very, very long time and you have already tried so many things to help yourself and none of them seem to help, this too shall pass. You will feel good again. You will feel strong and healthy and courageous and happy. And I know this because I’ve been where you are you. I have been so depressed that I tried to kill myself; I have been so anxious that I couldn’t leave the house; I have felt so bad that I drank and drank and drank some more and then, of course, I only felt worse. I felt awful on every level: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And I thought that that was how it was supposed to be for me. I couldn’t imagine a life in which I didn’t feel sick, depressed, anxious, worthless, a disappointment. Fast forward ten years and I am happy and healthy, I sleep well, I eat well, I love and I am loved. I’m not afraid of anything. You may not feel like it but there is absolutely, positively, a bright future in your midst. I’m not saying it will be easy (it probably won’t be) but you can get there if you remember: this too shall pass.” Bronwen Keyes-Bevan
“There was a time in my life when putting one foot in front of the other was difficult. Days were long, and I wondered if I’d ever experience joy or fun again. But you just keep walking and you will get to a place that is brighter and warmer, and suddenly you start to notice the beauty that surrounds you. The darkness will be behind you, and your journey through it will have made you stronger. It’s amazing how life will suddenly look different. Keep moving forward, you don’t want to miss what’s ahead.” Jen McNeely
To join in and show your support, follow @endstigma on Twitter and tweet using #OneBraveNight. On Instagram, Canadians will be showing their all-night support by posting a #SunriseSelfie at dawn.
Get more info about #OneBraveNight on the CAMH website.