For the last 2 years I have been confronted with a question that I have never had a clear answer to.  The question is “Why”? Although this confronts me everyday I have underestimated the power in it.  I have realized that sometimes your body will put things in motion before your brain will even process the “why”.  Or maybe the answers are not always the prettiest ones.  Maybe it is because I never took the time to truly admit the “why”, or maybe there are so many reasons that I struggle to find the one deserving of a definitive answer.

The question is; why did I start a Mental Health foundation?…

Maybe it is because I suffer from severe generalized anxiety, and my whole life I have felt an inability to relax, enjoy life or simply feel comfortable in my own skin.  The stress and exhaustion can be so crippling that I isolate myself as to not bring others into my state of malfunction.

Maybe it is because I feel I have to apologize for the way I am, so I don’t make anyone uncomfortable.

Maybe it is because the first time I admitted it to others I heard comments like; “you just feel sorry for yourself”, or “I know people with real problems and you are playing a victim.”

Maybe I got extremely sick of hearing people say; “What do you have to be stressed about?” “Life is too short to worry all the time” or “you just need to relax” as if these genius ideas had somehow eluded my mind.

And Maybe I was scared of living with this “invisible pain” for the remainder of my time on earth.

Maybe it is because I have a beautiful, talented, intelligent, and selfless sister that has battled severe depression her whole life, and against all common logic can’t look herself in the mirror and feel happiness or self worth.  She is only able to see a mere fraction of the good that she offers the world.

Maybe it is because my father passed away in 2011, and although his passing was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through there was a second period of mourning.  I was not only mourning his death, I found myself mourning his life.  It was because my father lived with depression his whole life and never acknowledged it.  The fact that he lived with such an “invisible pain”  because in his generation; vulnerability meant weakness, and the outside perception of weakness was harder to deal with than the pain of living in sadness.  Or the fact that I was guilty for not reaching out my hand to him, letting him know that it is Ok to ask for help.

Maybe it is because I have an amazing Mother that despite not suffering from mental health barriers has witnessed her whole family struggle.  She has spent her whole life trying to make everyone around her happy only to sacrifice her own.  Maybe because my Mother has lived with 3 people that have been so distracted with their own “invisible pain” that she has never felt as loved or as appreciated as she deserves.

Or maybe it is because I have known so many who turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their “invisible pain”.  The thought of appearing weak to their peers seems so unbearable that they find alternate ways to survive and appear normal.

Maybe it is because suicide is the second largest cause of death in Canadian youth, and it is unacceptable that we live in a world where someone would cease to live before asking for help in fear of ridicule.

Maybe because I have seen the disease of ‘perfection’ infiltrate too many lives, or even tear apart others.  That some Women will starve themselves to fulfill societies misconception of beauty, and some Men will lie, cheat and steal to fulfill societies misconception of power.

But most of all I believe too many humans live with “invisible pain” and we refuse to see it, hear it or acknowledge it.  I refuse to allow the Mental Health chair to remain empty at the table; I will fill it and give it a voice.  I will make this pain visible, make vulnerability the pathway to beauty, celebrate the imperfect, and be fearless in the fight for human understanding.  My question is… will you do the same?

You will see it, if you look closer.

You will hear it, if you decide to listen.

You will feel it, if you reach out your hand.

You will help, if you choose to understand.

UnderstandUs.