After a hectic few weeks, I have finally stolen some time to sit back and reflect. Things have definitely changed since I released my memoir ‘Completely in Blue: Dispatches from the Edge of Insanity.’
But they haven’t changed in the way that I had, somewhat dismally, figured that they might. In the weeks prior to my book coming out to the public, my girlfriend can attest to the fact that I was perhaps a little bit nervous. I didn’t know what people would think. I didn’t know what I would think, in regards to what others would think. But the shocking thing is, that it hasn’t been that difficult at all. I think.
I got ‘eased’ into speaking openly about my battles pretty quickly. I was fortunate enough to receive an Inspiration Award from the Royal Ottawa and the You Know Who I Am Foundation. I was blessed with the opportunity to create a professional five minute video detailing my personal experiences with mental illness, as well as my musical and writing pursuits, also in the name of mental health. The video was shown to over five-hundred professionals in the mental health community last Friday night at the Gala.
When that video was shown, something weird happened. I expected to be ashamed, because that is something that I have grown accustomed to feeling over the years when discussing my own mental health. But instead, I felt proud. For once, I was finally standing up and speaking openly about my struggles, and I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I got to meet others in the community who have made great strides in the destigmatization of mental health and it turned out to be the perfect beginning to my new life of speaking openly.
Today was another first. The first book reading/signing. I was reading with fellow Inspiration Award winner Nathalie Holmes. Neither of us had really bothered to figure out a format, so we just went off the tops of our heads. But it went swimmingly. We both spoke of our own personal battles with mental illness, read some excerpts from our books and answered a wide variety of outstanding questions. People seemed genuinely interested in talking about mental health in an honest, open and productive manner. I had nothing to be ashamed of and every single person I met was inspirational in their own way.
As I gear up for a wide variety of speaking engagements that are to come over the coming months, I am very glad to say that it is getting easier. Much, much easier. I am starting to feel as though I am a part of something bigger. Part of a societal group that has become famous for being reclusive. And who are now speaking out.
The support I have received over these first few weeks has been unwavering and I have not, for one single second, questioned my decision to start speaking out openly about my struggles with mental health.
Let’s keep the conversation going.