It's one thing to share your story on the screen, to send it out into the internet ether and let your words speak for themselves. It's a whole other world when you get up in front of a microphone and let people peek at your heart for six minutes straight. But I did it, and I couldn’t be more proud of my role as a mental health advocate. I met so many lovely, encouraging souls last evening, and it meant the world to have my favourite people on the planet in the audience. Thank you to my mum, dad and sister for showing up for me, like they always do.
When my husband first suggested we bring our four-year-old daughter, Eve, to the event, I wasn't sure. Would she be bored? Would there be any other kids there? Would it run past her bedtime? But Michael didn't care about any of that. He simply wanted Eve to see her mama being brave and giving a talk that might help some other people.
There are so many days when I feel like a parent on the sidelines, not participating in things because of fluctuating moods or chronic pain, so it felt wonderful for me to show her what I CAN do, for a change. How I can contribute to an important conversation, raise awareness and show people what it looks like to survive a collision with mental illness. How it's possible come out of the darkness to the other side and tell your story as part of the healing process.
My favourite part of the night was when I finished my speech. As soon as the audience started applauding, my darling girl excitedly ran up to me and presented me with a single flower. Later on, Michael told me she what she whispered to him afterward: "Mama did a good job of not being shy in front of all those people." As compliments go, I'll take it.