It's safe to say that we've all had days when we just don't feel like ourselves. Whether it's a situation in our personal life or at work, it's important for us to pay attention to how we're feeling. It's also important that we know it's all right to be honest with others when we aren't feeling OK. When was the last time you weren't feeling like yourself and responded honestly when asked how you were doing? I rarely do... I say I'm good or fine when I'm really not. I'm not sure why I'm not honest about it...
Lately, I've had many days where I haven't felt like myself. I've been resisting acknowledging that I need to take time to check in with myself and pinpoint why I'm feeling "off." These feelings are often brought on by an enormous stress, such as a breakup, where it truly feels like your heart is breaking and pieces of you are forever changed, the loss of a loved one or any major life change. But sometimes the feelings of not being yourself stay longer than a few days...
As a society, we need to be conscious that we all have days like this, but for many of us it's more than just having a "bad" or "off" day. The statistics speak for themselves; one in five Canadians will have a mental health problem or illness in their lifetime.
Part of the challenge is that we're afraid of what it means to have a mental health issue... and until you acknowledge that you're going through something, you can't actually resolve it. Even as parents we may ignore possible issues that we're having and that in turn makes us more likely to ignore the issues our children may experience. We need to remove these stigmas so that we can break the cycle of ignoring problems that with a little help could be resolved.
Mental health is a cause that's very important to me. Owning NKPR provides me with the opportunity to pick and choose what brands and campaigns we work on and support. The opportunity arose late last year to work with a grassroots advocacy organization (Partners for Mental Health) on a breakthrough campaign called Not Myself Today. I pulled together a team of individuals in the office who have been touched by this cause and we did everything in our power to be a part of it. What we realized was how many of us are truly connected to this cause -- whether it's having experienced the loss of a loved one because of it, or having someone close to us going through it, or experiencing it ourselves. The campaign continues to build on the success of many mental health associations across Canada, challenging each and every Canadian to take a pledge acknowledging that mental health matters to them.
Not Myself Today is a national mental health social engagement campaign that launched yesterday to continue to build the momentum for mental health discussion and change the way that Canadians think about mental illness. Knowing that almost every person in every community across Canada will at some point be touched by mental health problems or illnesses, how can we not come together and realize collectively that the time for change is now?
The concept of the campaign Not Myself Today resonated instantly with me. I truly believe that if we were more honest and accepting as a society about how we are truly feeling when we are not feeling ourselves, there would be less stigma and more progress.
Mental illness can take on very different hues. Some people can continue to function highly all the while experiencing pain. Others withdraw from society, from friends and loved ones. Some people take it upon themselves to seek out help and others find it extremely difficult to do so, mostly because there is a stigma. There is no one-shoe-fits-all description.
Throughout the month of April, Canadians can visit notmyselftoday.ca to sign the online pledge and pin their moods to a virtual map of Canada that will be populated throughout the month. You can also join the conversation on Twitter @NMTCanada. As a society, we're quick to support research for cures of many physical illnesses -- it's time the same solidarity got behind mental illness.
I took my pledge yesterday and pinned my mood. My mood was "hopeful," as I am optimistic that Not Myself Today will continue to create the momentum for this very important cause that affects so many of us. I'm hopeful that we can build a world with less pain as those suffering begin to feel comfortable coming forward and sharing. Together let's change the way we think and act towards mental health.
Follow Natasha Koifman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/natashankpr