Mental Health Week 2015
It’s smack dab in the middle of mental health week and I need to pause, as I do every year, to talk about something that breaks me more than anything else.
The core of my mission with my blog and a lot of what I do is self-esteem and young women – especially the mental illnesses that accompany the lack of that self-esteem. I love blogging, I really do, but the best part of what I get to do is getting to know some of you at a more personal level.
Every week, I get letters from you that break my heart – sharing insecurities that you can’t tell your loved ones and making me cry with stories of friends or family that you have lost to eating disorders, depression and other mental illnesses. I wish I could make it all better but all I can say is “me too.” I often write back letters full advice but I often am not super vulnerable about it, because I know how much you want answers when there doesn’t seem to be any.
But I figured to be fair, I would be completely transparent about it this week.
I am not really that emotional of a person. It takes a lot to break me down. I mean, I do run 250 miles through the wilderness on a long weekend with no sleep and call it a good time. But just a couple weeks ago, I was home and talking to my parents about my youngest sister who has struggled with severe anorexia for over a decade. I began talking about a situation with white hot anger and broke down and ended up just crying for a really long time.
Mental illness is heart breaking. Eating disorders are devastating. And an innocent life that has been plagued with anorexia, anxiety, depression and pain since before they have proper memories is a tragedy.
I am not going to pretend that Jolene and I have the perfect relationship because we absolutely do not. There is a whole lot of broken going on in that situation but recently, our family was talking about who we have become through all of this and I said despite our differences, difficulties and hurts, we would drop EVERYTHING if one of us needed each other.
While this is true, anorexia did not make our family better, just stronger. For longer than I probably should have, I sat around in the mess of everything and played the victim card, but a number of years ago, I picked myself and moved on.
We all did.
I learned to love myself and my life and made it my mission to share that vibrant love with other people who may need a little strength.
My parents are working with neuroscientists to study the impact of anorexia on Jolene’s neuropathways to hopefully provide information to help others to never reach her situation and do activism on the local level with their business and community to prevent eating disorders as well as educating on mental illnesses to get rid of the stigma that tends to be attached to them. I have watched them fix a marriage that was almost broken by the eating disorder and keeping hoping when everyone else had given up – they continue to be some of my greatest heroes.
Megan became one of the strongest, most beautiful women I know and is someone that so many people look up to. She is my best friend through all of this because sometimes you just need someone who understands.
Jolene is a fighter and I always say she is the bravest person I know. It is so impossible to get up every day and fight the same battles that feel like they don’t have a solution but she keeps pushing on and continues to be a source of inspiration to others. She is the most tender hearted, loving person and doesn’t just manage to have a sense of humour through the process but quite possibly is the funniest person I know. I’m betting on you, kid.
If you are struggling with a mental illness, whether it is anxiety, depression, an eating disorder or you just find you can’t really like yourself all that much – don’t keep it to yourself. There are so many different places and people who are ready to help and there is absolutely NO SHAME in getting help for something.
I have attached some resources below, but if you really just need a friend to listen or give some more in depth resources, send me a message at lacesandlattes(a)gmail.com. I am not a medical professional, but I can find you someone who is or just remind you how precious you are.
National Eating Disorder Association
Canadian Mental Health Association – Getting Help
Janae shared this song earlier this week and I figured it was pretty appropriate this week.
If you are interested in learning more about my family and our story, I did an interview video series a couple of years ago (just scroll to the bottom).
Beautifully written as always Jess. I love you!
Rhoda Stoll (Aunty ) says
Makes me cry! You have all been through so much but are all such beautiful people in side and out! You are right it has made you all very strong and I applaud each one of you! Keep writing and hoping and praying, God is still there for you! Hugs and prayers and lots of love!
Peter Lawless says
Eloquent & Heartfelt, beautifully written piece Jess!
Hey, I think I just fell in love with you even more. I am surrounded by people with mental health struggles and it’s always been so frustrating to feel so isolated by its stigma. It’s tough to find the balance between being respectfully private and being vulnerable and getting the word out there so that we don’t have to feel so alone. I’ll email you! Otherwise this comment will be huge.
thanks for sharing Jess. As someone who has lived with an eating disorder, it truly is important that young women know how much damage they are doing to themselves and to seek the proper care and help. It’s a great thing she has you as he sister! XOXO
Jenni W. says
Hey Jess, thanks for writing this and pouring your heart out. It’s beautiful!
Thanks for sharing your story. Mental health is one of those things we don’t talk about enough so I loved this post. I think the more we discuss it, the more people will realize there’s nothing to be ashamed of and maybe get the help they need.
Sue Lebold says
I’m so proud to see and hear the way you are all coping and bringing awareness to many! You are an inspiration to many and you will continue to be. Thank- you for sharing from your heart. Blessings to each one of you as you continue this journey of life and as you encourage others along the way.
You. Are. Never. Alone. My Heart aches for you and for all of us who Know.
Sending Peace and Love to you, someone I may never know…but I know.