Mental health

Well, I’m certainly not proving myself to be a reliable blogger. It’s been a particularly busy time as of late with a lot of time on the road, much solo parenting while Grant has been working 12 hour days, and an unparalleled attempt to stay on top of social media. I’ve never been one for much beyond posting for friends and family on Facebook. But I’ve recently been trying to populate my Instagram page with decent photos and stories, and my Twitter feed with quasi-humorous observations which my tiny collection of followers like in even tinier numbers. I am trying to make my presence better known as I branch out into more solo work.  Sometimes it feels like pissing in the wind. Sometimes it is fascinating and enjoyable. Mostly it eats up most of my afternoons when I should be working.

So, trying to stay on top of the blog has been difficult, especially since few know I am here yet and I feel like I’m writing to almost no one. I will be announcing the existence of the website tomorrow. And then I will try to be on here more. I will refrain from trying to say the perfect thing and attempting to write lengthy prose of consequence. Maybe it will be a sentence or two sometimes. Maybe more.

For now I want to say that I have been thinking a lot about the work I and the Jennys have done in the mental health-related arena. We partner with the National Alliance on Mental Ilness (NAMI) in the U.S. and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Canada at most of our shows to raise money and awareness of mental illness and to support these organizations that work so hard on few dollars to help those afflicted with mental health and their families. We’ve been doing this since 2014 and are so thankful to our audiences for giving so generously when we raffle off our merchandise. 

But lately I’ve been thinking of how I don’t mention my own struggles with my mental health. Part of that is because I simply don’t have the time on stage to get into it. And part of it is because even after all of I’ve spoken about on stage about the need to break down stigma, I am, to be perfectly honest, still concerned about how people will judge me based on this alone. There is so much judgment and misunderstanding about mental illness, I am reluctant to expose myself to others’ ignorance.

But I’ve started feeling more and more that it is irresponsible for me to stay silent in public spaces (even though I do mention it in some public mediums and all of my family and friends are aware). I need to be more transparent with it, mostly for me but also for those others who struggle in silence. There is nothing to be ashamed of. After all, what I say on stage is what I feel strongly and know. The brain is a organ like any other organ, that it is susceptible to biology, environment and trauma and there should be no shame attached to illnesses of the brain.

I plan on speaking more about this in the 'back story' on my website as it has been a hugely significant factor since I was a teenager. I have struggled with depression and anxiety disorder all of my life.  A few years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder. It’s been a very difficult few years but I am finally doing better. I will say more about this in subsequent postings and on the ‘back story page’. My ultimate hope is to be a point of light to those still lost in profound darkness. This is mostly for you.

A good friend recently passed on this beautiful and important essay by actor Wil Wheaton on living with depression and anxiety. So much of it resonates with me. It is titled “My name is Wil Wheaton. I live with chronic depression, and I am not ashamed.” That speaks volumes to me about the society in which we live and its terrible treatment of those with mental illness. The persecution of the other has mostly been born out of ignorance. I hope by being honest about myself, I will, in some small way, spread some understanding. Stay tuned.