Being Thankful for the Steps In The Right Direction

Being Thankful for the Steps In The Right Direction

Hey Superheroes,

I am writing this post late because perfecting an ignite speech is a lot harder than it seems, and anxiety is keeping me up tonight. I want to talk about something that has been at the forefront of my mind recently, which is appreciating the changes that people are willing to make.

Growing up in my household, getting through things on pure will power was a way of life.  Both of my parents are immigrants from Portugal who had to fight very hard to get everything they have in life. They grew up in abusive homes  where both grandfathers ( my mom and my dads) struggled with addiction and education was a privilege they were not afforded.  My father endured war time and my mother endured a move to another country  not speaking english, and expected to support her younger brothers and sisters at the age of 15. Growing up,  my mother bragged about how she never sought help for her depression and my dad’s favourite saying was “bah, friends! they are like your teeth when they dont hurt you” ( he has bad teeth and they rarely ever dont hurt him).  Trying to explain depression to my parents was not an easy task. I got yelled at for “exposing my weaknesses to the world” and repeatedly told that  “if i just prayed, god would take care of everything and make it better”. In my parents childhood, they didn’t ever talk about mental health issues. All they knew was fighting and making it on your own, even when its in your best interest to let someone guide you sometimes.  Hell, my mother made it through stage three cancer without taking a single day off work ( with the expectation of surgies) and my dad went back to work two days after a major operation. Talk about a doctors worst nightmare.

But, as I pushed and pushed something magical happened. My mom, called me in tears after Canada Am and told me that I was her warrior and she was sorry for not understanding. She felt like it was her fault. Both my mom and dad made the effort to watch my TEDx video and ask me about it. Does that mean the comments about praying to god and hoping I work in something else has stopped… no. They may never get there, they may never show up to a speech or fully understand what I do what I do.  But for now, they are trying.

In mental health, we focus so  much on where people should be. On all the change that needs to happen, we can forget to thank people for the efforts they make in the right direction. Some people may never be comfortable enough with the topic of mental health to fight along side with us, but that does not mean they are not trying. Learning about mental health is a long and confusing process that can be terribly uncomfortable. The journey is slow… especially for those coming from a generation where this was never a topic of conversation.

So appreciate the moves in the right direction. I love my mom for looking into herself and finding the reasons why she did not want me to talk about it. I love her for letting me guide her through the realization that my illness was not her fault and her understanding me a little more. She might still tell me pray or work in business, but that little change, was hard for her. So I will thank her for it for now.  I love my dad for his realization that his daughter was on TV making a difference and threatening to beat up anyone who says otherwise, even if he may never fully understand exactly what depression means.

There are many people out there, whose journey of understanding mental health was not fast enough for me. Who I criticized and told to move faster. For that I am truly sorry… Know that trying and moving slowly in the right direction, is better than not moving at all. By telling them they are still “not good enough” when they are trying to learn makes the option of stoping and not trying all that more intesive.

So, lets all agree, to the next time someone asks a question, creates a bad campaign or says a wrong statement about mental health. Instead of being upset with them, thank them for their efforts and work with them on their journey to move forward.

Alicia