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My Story - by Dannie - Trigger Warning

My name is Dannie. I am 41. A three time suicide attempt survivor. Once with meds and booze and two failed hangings. Two times confined inside a psychiatric ward. Have bipolar disorder type two.

Shocking? Not to me. Why?

Above all else, I'm just a human.

And that's it. We need to normalize mental illness. I live in a small town. In the coffee shops(which is the local gossip gathering place) you hear the words "cancer", "heart attack" and "stroke" said effortlessly and without fear of stigma.

But "suicide", "crazy" and "depression" are still largely speaken of in hushes or if speaken of it's in a dismissive tone.

That's a large part of why we don't seek help. Who is going to say they have suicidal thoughts when it's not spoken of without being judged for it? "Don't say anything. This is a small town, people will talk!" We know what to do in a fire with fire drills. How can we expect people to know what to do if mental illness isn't spoken of? What child is going to say suicide if they've never heard their parents say the word?

It has gotten better with a lot of work through a ton of agencies at the government level and the local grassroots level. But with my two ward stays and seeing how packed the wards are and the seven to twelve month waitlist for services after discharge tells me there is still a ton of work to go to get us to the point that we're ok with seeking help before it spirals to the point of confinement. Remove the stigma so we will seek help before it gets to that point.

With that being said, I honestly loved my time in the ward. Being around people who were finally taking the steps needed to find their true selves. To see others stop the lies and admit they need help was so empowering to me. Peer support was so integral in the time inbetween art therapy, pet therapy and one on one sessions.

My last stay on the ward was just shy of three months. Upon discharge a part of my plan was exercise. I started jogging and that was a huge part of things clicking for me. In the community I run a half marathon in I choose a local mental health group and use the half marathon as a fund raiser to hopefully to be able to leave some good in the town I visited that weekend. Through the social media postings of my training and the calls for funding people do reach out to me saying thank you for speaking out about this.

Again, we need to normalize this. Speak about it just as effortlessly as we do with cancer and heart disease. Are you cancer? Are you heart disease? Are you depression?

And with the normalization we'd be just, you know, human.

Wonderfully imperfect human.

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