Brand building through storytelling

The joy of telling the truth about depression

Hey, everybody: I’ve suffered from a mental illness. This doesn’t mean I’m bonkers, cracked, cuckoo, demented, loony, nutty as a fruitcake or out of my tree. It hasn’t dented my sense of fun or stopped me from achieving my goals.

CPRF2But yes, I have seen a psychiatrist, plus a couple of psychologists and a band of open-hearted folks who used to gather once a week in a church basement to affirm our shared faith in the 12 Steps. If I hadn’t sought help, I’d still be asking questions like “Why am I living?” and “Do I deserve to be here?” I’d be plodding through each day as if through wet sand, longing for sleep to take me away from the world and its unending disappointments. I remember exactly how it feels to do battle with depression—the so-called “common cold” of mental illness, which affects one in five of us at some point in our lives. So I was proud to be the keynote speaker at the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation‘s recent Silver Dinner at the Four Seasons in Toronto, where I met a number of you and signed copies of My Mother’s Daughter.

Click the video below to see some highlights from the speech (I wish you could also see the standing ovation).

That night I shared my vision of how this country will look when diseases of the mind get as much respect as diseases of the body. Help available for everyone who needs it. Effective supports in the workplace (no more brain power lost because the boss doesn’t know why a star employee can’t cut it anymore). Flowers, get-well cards and smiling visitors in the same psych wards that are now bastions of loneliness.

And the emblem of the new openness around mental illness will be thousands upon thousands of people rallying proudly to the cause, just as they already do for physical illnesses like breast cancer. They’ll be wearing T-shirts with the names of loved ones who have struggled with mental illness. No shame. Just tenacity and hope.

When I wrote my speech, I didn’t know that the foundation for a new grassroots mental health movement was finally at hand. Minutes before my presentation, big news galvanized the crowd: the Canadian Psychiatric Foundation and the Mental Health Partnership of Canada are joining forces to take their shared cause to the streets. A new charity, Mental Health Partnerships of Canada, aims to rally a nationwide army of volunteers. Said the Honourable Michael Kirby, the dynamic and inspiring Chair of both the new organization and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “Our alliance will create a charity for mental health on a scale with breast cancer and heart and stroke.”

I’ll be there. I urge you to join me. In these times of mounting fear and anxiety, mental health matters more than ever.

Click here to read my post about the 4,000 lives Canada loses every year to suicide.


Posted by Rona

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