Eli and I have both have our share of mental health challenges but, until recently, these were not something we talked about much nor did we share this publicly.
Disclaimer: BetterHelp is running a sponsorship on our podcast, Alba Salix, Royal Physician. We struggled with whether or not to provide a link here, but decided that it was valuable for those looking for support. And they were kind enough to offer our listeners a discount.
When BetterHelp reached out to see if we’d be open to sponsorship, I was excited. This would be a great way to promote better access to therapy and mental health resources. I thought we would just check their service out, sign the deal and move on with our lives. I certainly didn’t expect a series of intimate conversations that would emerge between my partner Eli and myself.
Eli has a history of depression that dates back to his first year in University. I have a history of becoming manic and over-attached, not to mention a workaholic. I also have a history of extreme passive aggressiveness that was part of my early relationship with my mother. And together we have a history of not speaking about our feelings all that much.
Over the past few weeks, Eli and I have begun to find and hold space to speak about what we are each experiencing and to even ask for what we require from the other. It is a form of intimacy I didn’t fully comprehend until experiencing it, and it is scary. It can be fleeting and difficult to recreate and so easy to slip back into old patterns. But it also creating some of the most powerful moments in our relationship — even 21 years in.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what led to us talk about getting help. Was it just knowing that these services and supports exist? Was it something specific in the materials we read?
We live in a culture that downplays the importance of mental health while reinforcing the stigmas surrounding it. We’re supposed to “just get over it” or “get medication” and move on with our lives. And I expect that seeing how many other people were getting help normalized the idea of getting assistance for us.
And then it came time to create the promotion and drop it in our podcast feed.
Should we be funny? Will that just be seen as making fun of mental health? Should we avoid all humour in our voice? Is this even our normal voice? How do we talk about this stuff without bringing everyone down or triggering someone? Does it sound like we are compensating? Who am I and what are we doing?
We know that our audience would likely be open to us talking about our mental health challenges and our search for help, but it was still hard to speak about. We were and are experiencing the stigma that surrounds mental health. It feels safer to just leave it hidden in the darkness of our lives — to just smile and carry on.
Which is why we are writing this article. We hope that taking on this sponsor can give more visibility to the issues surrounding mental health and to fight the stigma of getting help or assistance.
We spent decades thinking we could go it alone, or that no one needed to hear about our “little” problems. We needed help and while I wish we had gotten help sooner, making the decision to look into getting help was one of the best things we ever did, for ourselves and our relationship.
We hope this finds you in a good place and able to talk to those you love about any assistance you or they might need.
Sean and Eli