Today is World Mental Health Day. For those who follow me on social media, you know that mental health and wellness is a common topic. My personal experience with anxiety and depression is no secret and neither is my belief that running, and physical activity in general, is what continues to “save” me from spiraling to a point of disability. It’s both reassuring and terrifying to recognize that. I often wonder, with so much gratitude intertwined, how my life would be if I was to suddenly lose use of my legs. I broke my baby toe a few years ago and it impacted my mental wellness. It doesn’t take much. It amazes me how humans both have the ability to be so strong and yet so fragile at the same time.
When I posted my runs on social, I often used the hashtag #runoutthecrazy and it was a popular one. I thought little of it as to me that’s what it felt like, running out the crazy. In the coming months, things changed.
In May 2017, I took a Mental Health First Aid Course with an instructor from the Mental Health Commission of Canada and it changed my thinking, it changed my language. I was reminded of the fact that words have power and the meaning attached to them can be so much deeper. That using words like “crazy” or “insane” or “abnormal” are hurtful labels that can harm someone with mental health disorders. Yes, many might use those terms to describe themselves, however I believe it’s only because that is what society had deemed as the “norm”.
I say, let’s fight the stigma, let’s educate ourselves and create a new normal, one that is inclusive and empathetic, one where we speak of mental health as a level of wellness, not illness. We all have our imperfections and they don’t make us any less whole. The world is tough and messy enough without us making it harder, so let’s be kind to each other. As for the hashtag – #runningismytherapy.