Clara Hughes made a stop in Peterborough Saturday for Clara's Big Ride to raise awareness about mental health and erasing the stigma associated with it. Among those in attendance for her empowering speech at Fleming College Saturday night was Peterborough's Beth McClelland. Clara's speech inspired Beth to go home and write this blog entry below. Have a read, and see Clara's response to Beth via Twitter at the end of this post...
"I just got home from hearing Clara Hughes speak in my hometown and all I can say is “wow”.
For over four years now I have been learning to live with mental illness and for over four years, I have kept it a secret from my parents…until tonight.
I come from a very loving family, with parents that have amazing intentions and while we’ve had our ups and downs as many families do I know we love each other.
So why didn’t I tell them? What if they treated me differently? What if they no longer thought I could handle myself? - I don’t want to be on suicide watch or self-injury watch when I’m doing just fine! What if they judged me? What if they thought I was overreacting?…For whatever reason this cycle of “what ifs” yielded no positive outcomes.
I’m trying to wrack my brain for the defining moment that encouraged me to finally break the ice and tell them, but I think I’ve been blessed with many defining moments, especially over the past few months. A month ago my friend shared a story with me about overcoming a near suicide attempt, a few weeks ago a counsellor I’ve been seeing for nearly four years told me he’s proud of my growth, just yesterday a friend listened non-judgmentally to my story and told me I am special to the world and tonight being filled with the passion and energy Clara spoke with was the icing on the cake. These moments, each one, built a foundation of courage inside of me.
I didn’t tell my parents everything, I’m not ready yet and that’s okay, but I did tell them I am on medication and why. I told them I want to eventually switch family doctors, because while they adore ours, I feel she judges me, and I told them I was sorry that in four years I’d never made these admissions.
They didn’t judge me. My parents said it’s okay that I take medication to stabilize my moods. My parents said they’d help me find a new family doctor if that’s what I want. They didn’t ask many questions and maybe they minimized the situation a bit, but I think they know there’s a lot more to the story and that I’ll tell it when I’m ready.
Four years of fear, four years of hiding and in about four minutes I let almost all of it go. And while there’s still more to share with them, I can’t even begin to express how GOOD letting go felt.
Those moments I mentioned earlier, they built my foundation of courage - but to have a liveable home, you need more than just a foundation. So PLEASE keep talking, because you might just be helping me and those around you build their house of courage, and we appreciate it…the conversation I was able to have tonight is a perfect example of how *you* using your voice can encourage *me* to use mine.
Clara put it so well in saying this isn’t her big ride, or Bell Let’s Talk’s big ride, or Peterborough’s big ride - it’s Canada’s. We all have a stake in this conversation. - Thanks Clara"