Clara Hughes: “Education is the most crucial component to breaking down the stigma attached to Mental Illness.”…by Chuck Duboff

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I suffer from depression; I have been blessed with many who have stood by me and helped me through the difficult times.  I believe this is a very important blog…I thank individuals like Clara Hughes, Michael Landsberg and Howie Mandel for being just a few of the many individuals with mental health issues who have chosen to speak up and help de-stigmatize this disease.  I ask that you please pass this blog on, so that others may learn from it…I know in the past, when I have written blogs about my own depression, I have received many private messages from former students and friends thanking me for opening up and talking about my challenges.  I ask that you share this…and if someone reaches out to you or is struggling, take the time to try and understand what they are going through.

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© Chuck Duboff

“Every single day I struggle, I have those thoughts.”  Howie Mandel.

Mental illness, depression, bi-polar disorder, OCD, anxiety…they have all been stigmatized throughout history.  Individuals who exhibit traits synonymous with mental health issues have been ostracized, belittled, laughed upon and shunned from society.

Speaking as an individual who has battled depression throughout my whole life, my most common refrain is that far too many people assume that individuals who suffer from mental illness, choose to live their lives in this manner.  Whether it is family, friends or outside observers, it saddens me that individuals will get upset, castigate, belittle and shun me when the illness takes control.

I have been fortunate to have several individuals who have stuck with me, not given up and have tried to understand what I go through.  The respect and appreciation I have for these individuals can’t be put into words.  Knowing that these people are not giving up on me, helps me to get through the “difficult days”.  Though they may not fully understand what I am experiencing, they do recognize that it is not something I choose, but rather a disease which I live with.

Thankfully, through much hard work by many individuals, those of us who suffer with Depression and other mental illnesses, have felt safer sharing our stories with the world.  It truly helps when I know that individuals like Carrie Fisher, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Gwenyth Peltrow, Billy Joel,  Jon Hamm, Clint Malarchuk, Stephane Richer, Darryl Strawberry, Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones, Charlie Sheen, Britanny Spears, Terry Bradshaw…and so many more…all struggle with this same debilitating disease…

There are three Canadian individuals whom I must single out for their efforts to improve, increase and positively accentuate the understanding of Depression and Mental Illness.  Clara Hughes, Michael Landsberg and Howie Mandel have become the “noted” spokes people for the annual Bell Let’s Talk campaign, a day dedicated to increasing the understanding of what individuals with mental disorders go through.  On this day, for every tweet and other social media interactions, Bell Canada will donate 5 cents to Canadian Mental Health.  I know that this day is making a tremendous difference in the attitudes which individuals are exhibiting towards those of us with Mental Health Issues.

I thank Bell Canada, Clara, Michael and Howie and all the others involved in putting this day on.  You are making a difference…writing this blog today is a lot easier than it would have been even five years ago.

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