Today's post is in honour of Bell's Let's Talk initiative they have here in Canada. For today, January 25, 2017, Bell will donate ¢5 for every tweet and retweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk to mental health initiatives. This is a big deal for a lot of people and it helps open the dialogue about mental health. My post today is going to focus on that, but I don't want people to feel like they're reading something they're not ready for, or don't want. So keep reading if you want, but I won't be offended if you don't.

Okay, still with me?

My post today isn’t a pity-grab or a pile of excuses. I want to be honest and sometimes (most times) that’s easier to do behind a screen and armed with a keyboard.

Image belongs to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division

Today is special to me because I’ve struggled with mental health issues within myself, my children and my family.

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ve probably seen my posts about domestic violence and my experiences with it.

When you live in home of instability and a history of mental illness, diagnosed or not, it’s natural that you would inherit, either genetically or situationally, certain concerns.

I have depression and mild anxiety that is typically situational.

Not always, but for a long time in my life I was afraid of everything. After my parents divorce things started to unravel. Now that I’m older and I can look back armed with more information and education I can see that my mother suffers from depression. She’ll never admit to that though.

But this isn’t about her. This is about me.

I first started realizing I was ‘different’ when I was about 10 years old. That’s when I started cutting. Or trying to cut. I was terrified of the pain, of blood. I don’t have many scars because I would be too scared. I called The Kids Help Phone when I was 11 to try to talk to someone about my mother’s boyfriend beating the shit out of her daily and my inability to understand what was going on. I hung up before they answered and when they called back I denied everything.

At my Day Job yesterday we somehow got on the topic of physical punishment for children. I’m of the generation where spanking was normal. The conversation painfully reminded me that I’m not truly over everything in my life. I wasn’t just spanked. It wasn’t just ‘because I had been bad’. Finger jabs in the chest when you’re 13 hurt a lot. Smacks upside the head and a constant litany of verbal abuse has contributed to my anxiety and shame. I am 33 years old and I am still rebuilding the confidence I had at 7 years old.

Just thinking of her causes my chest to tighten, my palms to sweat and my breathing to become ragged. It’s suffocating and horrible. But it’s who I am.

Posted by Sarah Jayne

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