Today in Canada is Bell's 'Let's Talk' day, which is meant to open conversations and remove stigmas around Mental Health. If I were the only member of my family who struggles more with mental than physical health, I might find days like this easy to ignore.
But, as anyone who has been around here long knows, I talk openly about my struggles with depression. I do it because reading about other people who battle depression has made a difference for me, and I want to make that difference for others. And, I do it because there are people who for many reasons can't or won't speak up. It seems like almost all of those reasons boil down to not feeling heard, not feeling it's safe to speak, not having the words to really share what their particular mental health challenge is like. I hope in time each person has a safe place to share their experience, and that being heard means getting meaningful support.
Depression is just a part of daily life at our house. How was school. How was work. How are you feeling. How are you feeling, at our house, is not idle chatter. It's a check in. After BB2 was hospitalized following his second suicide attempt, we made a deal - he would always tell me when things were getting that bad, and I would always support him getting the kind of help he believes makes a difference. We shook on it.
I'm not a saint or a martyr. I made the deal because I'm his mom and I'm the wall that can't fall down. I stick to it because focusing on helping him keeps me from having to look too closely at myself. I do it because I'm one of the main reasons he struggles - nearly all children raised by a mom with depression struggle with depression and/or addiction themselves. I do it because he'll let me.
BB2 is a man of honour; I know that when he promises something, he's good for it. He's held up his side of the deal, and I've tried to hold up mine. But, sometimes, I wish more people really understood - I wish people understood we're not just moody or 'having the blues.' I wish people understood that every case of depression - even repeated relapses in the same person - plays out differently. I wish I trusted other people to be vigilant and compassionate and there.
Like me, BB2 will probably never be completely free of depression. Like me, in the good times, he'll probably still see it waiting in the shadows. And like me, he has a strong voice and a way with words that will be his best tools for self-advocacy and shining a light where others can't. Like me, he has a lot of support, even when we sometimes can't see it.