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The Person Right Beside You…

The Person Right Beside You…

You wake up sad, again. You have that feeling of butterflies in your stomach from the moment your eyes open. They aren’t the pleasant butterflies that tickle you in anticipation of something wonderful that is about to happen. These are more like butterflies with sharp beaks, pecking at the inside of your gut, leaving you with a feeling of foreboding. You wake up with that clawing sense of hopelessness, again.

Depression. Chronic sadness. The blues. These are names we give to those feelings that can come upon us at any given time and set up residence in our hearts and minds. They are the scribe that rewrites our inner monologue, our interior voice that, not just a few weeks ago, was telling us everything was great, the world is an exciting place and there is so much to look forward to. Then, without a warning, the scribe turns to a poison pen and injects our thoughts with stinging pangs of unexplained grief.

When it comes to expressing our emotional pain, we go mute for fear of alienation and rejection.

sad-woman-silhouetteChances are you know someone who is experiencing these feelings—it may even be you. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, more people than you may think are grappling with some degree or form of depression or anxiety. Twenty percent of Canadians will experience some form of mental illness in their life, with 8% experiencing a severe depression. Anxiety disorders account for about 5% of mental illness nationwide.

Those numbers are quite likely higher because there is still such stigma attached to depression and anxiety. Despite the fact that we live in a world where every tiny detail of our lives seem to be scrolling along Facebook and Twitter feeds and Instagram posts (to name a few of these venues), we are still afraid to expose our most vulnerable selves. This creates an even greater sense of loneliness and disconnectedness from our neighbours and even our friends. We can share the most intimate details about or careers, sex lives, eating habits, and so forth. Yet, when it comes to expressing our emotional pain, we go mute for fear of alienation and rejection.

The last frontier in our overly-explored society may be mental illness.

Silhouette of a person on the telephone at workOddly, when a celebrity death happens due to depression, anxiety or drug overdose, out come the platitudes and posts and homilies of regret for the poor, stricken soul. Yet, we likely have no other relationship with these individuals than their movies, music or books. They are a one- to two-dimensional presence in our lives. When they are met with tragedy, we are seemingly given permission and opportunity to express grief for their bitter end, their families and our own sadness about what ended their lives. Funny, we struggle with those very same expressions when it comes to people we know—or think we know.

The last frontier in our overly-explored society may be mental illness. We have sufficiently picked the carcass of every other issue and ism in our culture, but we continue to give scant view to an issue that affects more of us than we’d like to think. And maybe that is the problem right there: we are all vulnerable to mental illness; we are all at risk of falling down; we are all afraid that we will lose face, career and friends if we show weakness. Facing those fears and foibles as a society is one way of dealing with our individual and collective fears and pain. Removing the stigma of getting help will make a difference. Most assuredly, you know someone who is struggling with feelings of sadness, depression, hopelessness and anxiety. They may be the person right beside you.

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AndyAndrew Vails writing career began in Halifax when he was but a child. In Grade 4, he wrote and produced his own series of comic books entitled “Freaky The Frog”, the on-going tale of a little misfit frog and his pals of the pond. Marvel Comics never came knocking but Andrew knew he loved to create and tell stories. Since then, Andrew has worked in advertising, PR and publicity; has interviewed politicians, rock stars and very interesting yet not-so-famous movers and shakers. He has published articles in a variety of local and national magazines and websites. Andrew is currently working on the project queer50.com.


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3 Comments

  1. Wonderfully written Andrew

  2. I spent last night speaking of this very thing on my wall last night…yes the person right beside you…so freakin real!!!!!

  3. This is beautifully written. Thank you.

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