I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but even at 9, I knew something sure as hell wasn’t right.
Back then, nobody wanted to talk about why he never went back to work, remarried or why he wasn’t allowed to see my little brother and I without supervision.
Despite the hushed whispers of ‘manic depressive’ –nowadays referred to as bipolar disorder– I didn’t really comprehend what it meant or whether there would ever be a happy ending.
Spoiler alert, there wasn’t.
Without Google, I had to scrap together my own prepubescent speculations, blaming myself for not being loveable enough; blaming mom for keeping our address and telephone number a secret; and most of all, blaming him for not ever getting his shit together.
Dad’s mental illness was kept under wraps like a dirty shameful secret, but I’m not here to point fingers. Back then, it just wasn’t talked about, and if it was, it was over-sensationalized Hollywood bullshit.
My pillow took a big beating. I can still vividly recall bawling into the blue floral print every time I came back from visiting him on the downtown east side — a hell hole plagued with bed bugs, dark smoky hallways, men who lingered a little too long and addiction of all sorts.
I felt so alone, misunderstood and angry. Why did this have to happen to him… to me? Why couldn’t I have a ‘normal dad???’
Decades later I was able to finally share our story, and man did it ever feel cathartic to finally let it all out beyond that pillow case. I also discovered I’m far from alone.
You can read more about his story HERE, but that’s not what this post is about.
Today it’s all about sharing why it’s so important to show your support and help create a stigma-free Canada.
For every text message*, mobile and long distance call*, Bell Let’s Talk Day video view on social media, tweet using #BellLetsTalk, use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter, Bell will donate 5¢ to Canadian mental health initiatives.
Let’s work together to create a stigma-free Canada.