January 28, 2014 – Bell Let’s Talk Day. I was sitting in my living room watching TV with family members when Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes came onto the screen. I had definitely seen her before. I remember literally sitting on the edge of my seat cheering her on as she won medal after medal in both the winter and summer games. She represented so much strength and courage. She was OUR Canadian athlete! – And she had made us so proud! I wasn’t sure right away why she was on the news that night, but it was no coincidence that I was watching, because as she began to talk and share about her mental health struggles, I felt a sudden, incredible feeling of validation and rare happiness. Olympian Clara Hughes had been battling a dark road of depression, as I had been, and suddenly after hearing her speak, I knew that one day I would share my story too.
Oct 6, 2014 – The the first time I ever shared anything publicly about my dark world. I started a blog, and this is what I wrote.
This is a big deal for me. This first blog will be short; but to me its HUGE. I’ve been battling a mental health illness and I feel it’s time to talk about it; but it’s not easy. Let me start by saying, today is the first day of my partial hospitalization mental health program. I have a long road ahead of me, which started years ago. I want to share it with you and possibly help anyone who has been battling a mental health illness with a stigma so big it often keeps our minds closed to the pain these illnesses cause.
Stay tuned if you would like. I will be posting often.
Fast forward to today, March 28, 2017, and I have developed a friendship with that same amazing Canadian Olympian, Clara Hughes. She has written the foreword to my book Save-My-Life School, and after she sent me this (among many) shout-out, this is what I replied.
Dear Clara, ❤
I can say without a doubt that this book would never have even be even a figment of my imagination if I had not seen you on TV a few years back honestly sharing about your mental health journey!
YOU made vulnerability something beautiful to me!
YOU showed me that I didn’t need to hide anymore, and that every time I shared my own journey, stigma would melt away from me – and it did.
YOU encouraged me through messages and emails when I was battling the darkness that still grabs a hold of me sometimes.
YOU told me to never stop – and I won’t.
Over time my posts may lessen and my voice may not be as loud, but by inspiring me to have the courage to put my heart and soul into Save-My-Life School, my message will never be gone.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You are such a wonderful friend ❤
Sending you SO MUCH LOVE.
Here’s to many more years of friendship! Love you dearly Clara! XO