As a whole, we’re unlikely to talk about mental health – let alone get up on a stage and sing about it. On Friday night, I had the honour of attending Ashley Gibson’s Life Is Sweet…Even in February at the Flying Beaver Pubaret with Shannon Kelly. In honour of her late mother who succumbed to her mental health issues 15 years ago, Ashley decided to mark the anniversary of her mother’s death by attempting to erase some of the stigma surrounding mental health here in Toronto.
Ashley is one of the most open, honest and caring people I’ve ever met. The first time we sat down to chat, our talk ran the gamut from mental health issues to work to women’s health to pretty dresses and social media. That’s why I wasn’t surprised at all when Ashley opened her heart completely to a sold out crowd last Friday night, allowing us all to re-live her memories of her Mother. A week later, I still think of Ashley’s story every time the songs she sang for us replay in my head. Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know, The Spice Girls’ Mama and Coldplay’s Fix You, among others, now hold new meaning for me as I hear them again through the lens of mental health.
Along with her touching, poignant and raw pubaret, Ashley also curated a series of mental health posts on her blog, Dancing Through Life, from people from all walks of life. From those who watched a loved one experience mental health concerns to those who suffer from anxiety, depression and loss themselves, the Life Is Sweet series threw open the door to talking about mental health among friends, family and peers.
You can read the whole series here.
As this month draws to a close, consider opening up about your own mental health issues or allowing yourself to recognize what a friend, family member or coworker might be going through. If we’re going to have an open discussion, we first have to be open ourselves.
Life is Sweet.