First off, I would like to thank everyone who has been following my blog posts for the past six months; it means a great deal to know that I have such amazing friends and family who will support me no matter how tough things get. This will be my last official post with Healthy Minds Canada but I will try to continue writing through other means. It is very important for my well being to allow my thoughts and feelings to be expressed openly, rather than let them fester inside.
During my participation on this site I have allowed myself to open up about things which I have not done previously and to discuss aspects of my mental state which I was formally ashamed of. I would like to advise anyone who has been following my story who does not know me personally that there is probably someone in your own life who has been dealing with similar issues and may be putting up a good front. The continued stigma against mental illness is keeping many people ‘in the closet’ about their condition. Also, the limited education people receive about mental health prevents many people from connecting the dots concerning their mental processing to any actual condition. For instance, someone who repeatedly checks the door to make sure it is locked may not understand the obsessive compulsive nature of this behavior, while someone who feels sad, hopeless and melancholic on a regular basis may not identify as being depressed. Not knowing anything else, they might feel that their behavior is ‘normal’ or ‘just the way they are’. This is problematic because the issue they are struggling with will often go untreated. For this reason it is vitally important for anyone who knows someone, or thinks they know someone, who is struggling with their mental health to be as supportive, informed and open minded as possible.
It is unfortunate how we learn what is acceptable and what is deviant in early childhood, and these beliefs often follow us into adulthood. I knew I was gay from a very young age but also felt it was something I should keep to myself. People with mental illness often feel this way as well. Once we discover something about ourselves that is ‘different’ we often go into denial about its existence. It is true much progress has certainly been made in this area but there is so much more work that needs to be done. The answer partly lies in self awareness. It is time for everyone to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves: am I ok today?
About Mark Rob
Mark Fraser is a 30 year old man who has lived with depression, anxiety and obsessive thought for much of his adult life. Since coming out as gay in high school he's had difficulty relating to others in his community and has experienced self-doubt and a pensive outlook for his future. Mark moved to Toronto in 2012 and has become involved in Second City Improvisation classes as well as personal training in order to maintain his physical and mental health. He has expressed interest in blogging with Healthy Minds as a means of reaching out to others who feel isolated and as a way to express himself in a positive space. You can connect with Mark on Twitter or Facebook.