I pour my heart and soul into each blog post. I often cry while writing them, depending on the topic. But I want you to understand that everything I write about is real…everything I write about is from a past experience or something I am currently going through. I’m sick and tired of living in fear of being stigmatized because of my mental illnesses. I put a brave face on and try my best to tune out the ignorance but some days my walls just aren’t high enough to keep it out.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Recently, I made some life changes. It was difficult and I didn’t think I would ever stop crying. The only thing that got me through the week was knowing that on Saturday I’d be at the rink, coaching. 3 hours on skates, coaching some pretty amazing individuals. I’ve talked the team in a couple other blog posts. When I am with them, I know I can be myself. I know I won’t get judged and they’re happy to see me. In a conversation with my Dad, I told him about how I’m not afraid to show that I’m having a bad day, when I’m coaching. I’m not afraid to leave the bench to go cry in the change room because my anxiety is high and I can’t breathe. I’m not afraid to show up at the rink with puffy red eyes, after a sleepless night. Because these players and their families understand. I’m just their hockey coach and that’s okay. I’m accepted and feel safe. It’s an indescribable feeling.
I’ve become pretty damn good at putting a smile on my face. I’m constantly looking to protect myself because lets face it, people can be mean. You tell them you have an illness and they physically want to see it. “Oh, but you look fine to me.” and that’s when I say, if only you could have my brain for 1 hour, then you might understand. You are constantly bracing yourself for hurtful and negative comments. You already live with your own self-doubt and negativity, why on earth would you want someone elses.
Depression and anxiety are real. I’ll say it over and over until I don’t have to anymore. People suffer every day. A lot of them in silence. They want help but don’t know where to get it. They want help but the wait lists are too long. This needs to change. Things need to change. Mental health needs to be put FIRST. It needs to be a priority.
I have hope that things will change. Because I will continue to push for it. I will fight every day.