It goes without saying that no one has an understanding of what life is like for another person. Regardless of our personal situations, there will always be a small part that is unknown to even our closest confidantes. I write this not because I think it is a brand new revelation but rather because I know it’s a generally understood concept. I’m writing about this because today I’m interested in kindness. That sounds weird. I like kindness every day. My particular interest in kindness today stems from two things: 1) Today is Bell Let’s Talk day which is a day that seeks to bring attention to mental health, and 2) Last night 16 people I don’t know and will likely never meet were mean to me.
These 16 people called me names, made comments about my intelligence and appearance, and questioned my commitment to values I hold dear. They did it all from the comfortable anonymity of a Twitter handle and likely under the assumption that I would never see what they had to say. As they typed out their 140 characters, they had no idea that as a result of my own struggles with anxiety that I will think about those comments and give them more weight than positive ones from those who gave me nothing but support. They had no idea that I was having a particularly bad day as a result of caring for someone who lives with debilitating depression. They had no idea that I was sobbing as I scrolled through comment after comment and re-tweet after re-tweet.
In the light of day, I can understand that those commenters have their own things going on. The comments had nothing to do with me or anything else. I understand that today – to be clear, I’m completely fine and I beg you not to worry — but last night, due to a confluence of events beyond the awareness of the Twitter-verse, I had no energy left to fight.
I’m not writing this in an effort to garner support or fish for compliments. I’m writing this because kindness is key, y’all. Without support from family and friends, I would have wiped away my tears, slapped a smile on my face, and pretended not to be bothered. Instead, I was allowed to cry, talk it out, and come out stronger on the other side. Initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk are highly flawed but it does encourage kindness and openness. Thanks to changes in how we approach and what we know about mental health, I was able to be authentic and own my weakness before it owned me. That said, kindness and openness around mental health should not only be practised once a year when a media company says so much like love should be expressed more than on Valentine’s Day.
More information on the Bell Let’s Talk campaign and other organizations that support mental health:
Student Counselling Services
Located in B210
Phone: 705-474-3450 x4507
Good2Talk (Ontario’s Postsecondary Student Helpline)
Crisis Line at North Bay Regional Health Centre
LGBT YouthLine (4pm-9:30pm Sunday to Friday)