Don’t worry; my second posting won’t be as heavy as the first one. I guess I wanted to kick off my blog with a bang! I was also told by my WordPress blogging expert colleague Laurent to keep it short. He reminded me: “Remember that we live in a world where everyone is a little ADD”.
Looking back at the last 4 weeks, I was blown away by the amazingly generous feedback I received after I posted My Mental Boot Camp. Many people reached out to me to share their own personal story or that of a loved one. Someone I have known for twenty years through my work environment asked me out for lunch where he shared with me that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 30 years ago. This person is married, has children and runs their own business, and has a more “normal” life than many “normal” people I know.
Little sidebar comment here: I’m not so sure that there is such a thing as a “normal life”. If there is, normal needs to be redefined with the fact that everyone goes through shit at one time, or several times, in their life.
The type of feedback I received a lot would go something like: “My husband/girlfriend/brother/dad went through depression and reading your blog allowed me to understand a little better what they went through. I still can’t really relate, but it really made me understand better”. The most touching feedback came from a young woman who told me that her Dad had committed suicide while suffering from depression when she was a teenager. Even though she has progressively managed to deal with this terrible tragedy over the last 10 years, she said: “Reading your post gave me some insight into what my dad was feeling and going through, and answered some questions I wish I could have asked him”.
I also met people who I didn’t know and who I might have never met if I hadn’t told my story. One such person is Jason Finucan. Jason is an amazing 42 year-old man who had gone through open-heart surgery as a teenager AND was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his late 20s. In spite of this, he decided to create something extraordinary out of a very difficult situation.
Jason started a business called StigmaZero (www.stigmazero.com) where he consults with businesses that struggle with how to deal with mental health issues.
Through his work, he empowers employers to generate real change in their response to workplace mental illness, reduces the costs of workplace mental illness and improves productivity while working towards a future without stigma. Jason brings a very unique perspective having himself gone through a stigma-free disease (cardiovascular disease) and a stigma-filled disease (bipolar disorder).
All in all, the feedback I received was nothing short of extraordinary, and achieved in a small way, my objective of opening the channels of communication around mental health.