Hope mental health advocate shares story and message: ‘You are not alone’

Writer, musician and mental health advocate Arlen Rundvall. Youtube photo

Writer, musician and mental health advocate Arlen Rundvall. Youtube photo

During my twenties, I was hospitalized many times for mental illness. It tended to be in times of crises. I tried to pretend that everything was all right yet it grew out of my control. Mental illness is a serious foe that requires many remedies and solutions. It took me a long time to learn techniques to prevent my roughest times of mental health.

I discovered in psychiatric facilities that there were many people also facing challenges of the mind. There were young and old people from all walks of life. I discovered that I was not the only one to struggle with my mental health. I was not alone.

Yet the silence and community awkwardness on the subject of mental illness can make it seem like we are alone. It is when we feel that we are alone in illness that it can do the most damage. We can self-isolate in shame, illness and fear. We can even have prejudice against ourselves.

We need all the courage we can muster and all the help that we can find. Few of us are given tools and techniques to care for ourselves. We were not given a user manual when we were born and even when we are diagnosed it can be tricky to find what works for us.

What doesn’t tend to work in my observation is to ignore it and it will go away. The best defence is an offence. Early intervention helps promote getting out of crises quicker. Reach out for help early and it will tend to lessen the negative impact on your life.

We need to lead the charge to know what works for ourselves with self-care. It is our responsibility with the assistance of our health care professionals and support networks to learn what helps us out.

The hard part is to sometimes make the effort to do what we need to do like go for that walk. Sometimes I trick myself into motivation by thinking of how doing something like a hike in the forest will make me feel better after doing it.

I hope that reading this has helped you feel that you are not alone. It can be hard to reach out when we get stuck in isolation. You can do this. You’ve got this. Discover what you need to do to help yourself out and work toward it. Build your toolkit and treat your support network with excellence. Please remember that you are not the only one.

On Wednesday Nights at 7 p.m. there is a Mental Health Support Group for 19+ adults at the Fraser Canyon Hospital lower level conference room. It is a confidential, safe group with courage, dignity, and hope. We talk about positive tools and techniques that help us out. We listen with respect and without judgment.

Arlen Rundvall is a writer, musician and mental health advocate, whose mission is to use his creativity and tenacity to inspire and lead others toward better mental health. You can reach him by sending a message via arlenrundvall.com.