PSA: You Are NOT Alone

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1608481339.872536-d1c92042-a71d-4b59-bd5d-ed39b8b7a033.png

The journey you take in this life may feel as though you walk it all alone, and in some of the most beautiful ways, sure you do… but, even though there may be moments where you are in a room all alone, or rather are in a room with someone else and feel all alone, you in fact are not.

Isolation is an incredible deception because it tells you that you are the only person going through what you are experiencing. Yes, there are unique factors to the situation you find yourself in, it is after all your life; however, in reality, there are roughly 7.8 billion people on the planet, and many are experiencing the same thing as you are, just different versions.

I’ll never forget when I spoke at a Reclaim Your Voice event in Toronto back in 2016. I discussed my experience being hospitalized for mental health issues against my will and how difficult that was for my trust connections afterwards. At Reclaim Your Voice events, participants will write down notes for the speakers to read when the day is done. I received a note from one person in the group saying that while I was speaking about the psych ward and what happened with my family, he felt as though I was describing his life. He thanked me for speaking that day and then the note came to a close. I will never forget looking at the cue card sized note and thinking to myself, “wow, other people have been through this as well. I am not alone.

Isolation is a liar, and a popular one at that. Feelings of being alone in your experience are not necessarily accurate.Yes, you may experience periods of solitude or even estrangement from others in your life, but even in that solo journey comes the reality that others are going at it alone as well.

This holiday season, do what is right by you when you celebrate. Make the day special for you even if you cannot be with your loved ones outside of your home. Do something you love to do, or even just something comforting, and enjoy your time to yourself. 2020 has presented unique challenges for us all, and even though we are all going through it alone, we are still in this together.

I Survived The Night

This morning marks 8 years since I survived my first night in a psychiatric unit of a hospital. Well, an emergency psychiatric unit to be specific. I say “survived” because not everyone is so lucky. My first night sleeping within the cold foreboding confines of a hospital ward, designed to detain those in heightened mental states, was exactly as you would expect. The first 24 hours from the moment I stepped foot into the hospital until the following afternoon were composed of straight horror film scenarios, except it was real life.

Between the tall male that had just been released from prison who was warning me that where we were was “worse” casually bringing up rape, to the heavy-set woman who tried to choke me out in my sleep, I knew shit was f*cked. Worst of all, no one was taking my personal testimony on something as private as my own thoughts, and there were no psychologists or therapists to speak to at all. Just a shrew of a psychiatrist who diagnosed me within 20 minutes of arrival. I spent most of that 24 hours frantic about my new reality, and for the other portion of time I drew “universes”.

I sat on my hospital bed in a communal room where for the first time in my life I was being observed under harsh circumstances, and all I could think to do was draw.

Since that day I have become stronger, not because I was hospitalized but in spite of it. There is a problem with the way our healing system is set up and it is okay to recognize that. In fact, it is imperative to do so. If we ignore that the mental health system has its failings then we fail any member of the public in crisis.

What I saw in those first 24 hours didn’t tell me everything about the journey that laid ahead, but it did show me that I could get through it. I survived that night and many more…many worse.

Since that day I have had to rebuild myself, my reality and almost every aspect of my life.

To all of the psych ward survivors out there: I see you. Even if you aren’t raising your hand to say that you’re a part of the club…

I see you.