My thumbs mindlessly scrolled across my phone screen. I lifted my head to stretch the kinks and stress out of my neck. It had been only ten minutes of sitting alone in the brightly lit waiting room, surrounded by all the inspirational posters that I’ve practically memorized and underneath those were the emergency phone numbers that are already filed at home. It always feels like an eternity when I’m there.
I was startled when a barefooted child had blasted through the heavy wooden door. He had the most thickest and gorgeous brown hair that rested just above his ears. He spotted the bookcase that was right in front of me and marched straight for it. His mom came in shortly after and landed heavily in a seat next to me. She clutched that very familiar chart that I filled out months ago and rubbed her forehead, took a deep breath in, and then sighed loudly.
I wanted to tell her that she was doing the right thing.
That she was a good mom and that this is right where they needed to be.
That I know things suck but people keep telling me that it will get better.
That she wasn’t alone.
That her boy isn’t alone.
But instead I retreated back to my phone, mindlessly scrolling…waiting…eternity…
The next time you go out to a crowded place, I’d like you to do something.
I’d like you to take a look around.
1 in 5 of those people you’re looking at will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their lives.
1 in 5 of them is experiencing it right at the very moment.
I have bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.
And mental illness is not just exclusive to adults.
Yes, mental illness can start in childhood.
It happens to children.
1 in 5 kids are bravely battling a mental illness and in the province where I live that’s nearly 500,000 youth.
Children can have anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, eating disorders, etc….
This week was Children’s Mental Health Week.
My son’s school did absolutely nothing to acknowledge it. When I questioned my son’s school why – since they do things like jersey days for cancer and “crazy blue hair days” for autism, they simply said that they would love to do something and that they try to rotate causes and that they would consider it next year.
For the record, since 2012, it has always been cancer and autism.
Now, I like his teacher and I was going to leave it at that.
These kids are walking into her damn classroom every day.
I woke up the next day with my pen in hand and went to writing. I reiterated the fact that 1 in 5 kids is struggling with a mental illness and is probably walking their halls and that all it would take is one day of all 600+ of them wearing green to show them that they are supported.
It would spark conversations – because I know that when my son has to wear all blue or a jersey or funky socks, he’s asking all about the illness at home.
Hell, it could help save a student who is suffering in silence – it could help give them the strength to finally reach out.
My God, give these children one damn day.
I realized after I had sent my son to school with the note that I was preaching to the wrong choir but I don’t care.
I don’t care.
I don’t care.
I don’t care.
Maybe she read it and she was bitching about me in the staff room all damn day and angrily crossed off the days on her countdown to summer or maybe she said, you know what, she’s right and talked to the principal about it.
Whatever I don’t care.
Next year, I’ll bring it up with the Principal himself.
I am not the mom that is going to stay silent.
These illnesses may be invisible but these children are not.
And if your school stayed silent this week too, shame on you for denying them this week that was made for them, for continuing to push them aside just like the rest of society.
Shame. On. You.
I’ve added these powerful videos that were made by a Ontario youth for a contest to change the view on mental illness. Please take the time to watch them. Or come back to watch. They are amazing.