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Throughout our day, we walk past tens, if not hundreds of people. They’re rushing to catch the train/bus to get to school and work… they’re lining up at a fast food restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat… or they’re the person who is sitting in a lonely corner on the street. Behind every person, there is a story. Their story. Something personal that they may not wish to share… for fear that they may be naked and exposed to the world. To society. Although they may appear to be living a ‘normal’ life, they may be someone who may be facing hardships. Perhaps they may know of someone who is currently fighting against a disease, or it may be something else all together. But the point is, everyone has their own story to tell… their own challenges and monsters they must face. And more often than not, they are facing them alone, because they’re afraid to reach out for help…

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From the minute we are born, there are only a few things that are certain that no one can deny; the fact that life is unpredictable… and death. From the minute we are born, we are covered in a safety blanket, to keep us warm and protected. And throughout our childhood years, our parents do their utmost to protect us from harm; whether that’s from hurting ourselves on the playground while we climb up and down the monkey bars, or if it’s from that special someone who broke our heart, or if it’s telling that white lie that Santa exists, or if it’s from a death of a loved one. But somehow, as we grow up, we turn our backs on one another at one point and start to exclude those who seem “out of place”. We start to become the ones that people need to be protected from. And in turn, those people have no where to run… the feeling of loneliness, isolation, and depression.

Mental illness should not define you. Nor should you be defined by it. Unfortunately, more often than not, the word “mental illness” immediately puts up a barricade for those who do not understand. It is only a part of someone. Not who they are. How can we come to understand the person for who they are if we have not gone beyond those words because of our own ignorance?

This week is mental health awareness. It’s time to start understanding. And listening, in hope that people who are experiencing a mental illness are not afraid to reach out for help. We are all fighting our own monsters, and it’s definitely easier when you’re not alone.

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