How Bell Let’s Talk Inspired my Startup

 
Joel Muise, Co-Founder of  Tranquility Online  w/ Clara Hughes national spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk.

Joel Muise, Co-Founder of Tranquility Online w/ Clara Hughes national spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk.


On February 17, 2015 - my life changed, forever.

It really wasn’t supposed to, and I’m not even sure if I wanted it to - but it did.

The sequence of events that led to February 17, started 18 days before…

For those who don’t know, Bell Let's Talk, is a wide-reaching, multi-year program designed to break the silence around mental illness and support mental health all across Canada.

Since its launch, I’ve always been a huge proponent of it.  The main reason is that I understood that one of the largest barriers to getting help, and the reason why mental illness is so destructive, is because of the stigma that surrounds it.

Trust me, I understand this all too well…

… and because of that, I’ve always tried my best to support the initiative since decreasing the stigma of asking for help has the potential to save and transform millions of lives every year.  

With that said, every year I would write a simple post reminding people that I, in fact, am 1 of 5 people affected with mental illness, and that we must continue the conversation. Which is exactly what I did...

The Conversation

So, how did Bell Let’s Talk inspire my startup?  Well, it all started with a conversation I had with a friend regarding the Facebook post below:

 
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A few days later, my friend from high school reached out to me to ask if I would mind sharing more. In that moment, for some reason I cannot quite explain, even today, I decided to tell him everything. In other words, all of the gory details of everything I felt really embarrassed and ashamed about.

There was definitely a large part of me that was afraid of what he was going to say about the whole situation. In my mind, I had always regarded him as someone who was really popular and confident in high school (i.e., had his shit together).  But, for the most part, he shared with me that he understood and that he had felt a lot of the same feelings that I did.

It was that conversation that led me to wonder if I could share my story with the rest of the world...

Now, I don’t know if there’s any conclusive science to back me up on this, but in my humble opinion, I believe that shame is the most destructive emotion within the human experience.

Why? It’s because we’re often ashamed that we feel ashamed, and that’s an extremely isolating and dismal situation to find oneself in.  

When it comes to shame, we often will go to any length to hide it, and as it lurks, it’s eating away at our self-esteem and self-worth.

So, I guess there was a part of me that started to think…

You know, I have all this shame about my own struggles with anxiety and depression, but maybe… if I just let it all out, then there would be nothing for me to hide from anymore. Sure, some people may judge me negatively, but at least I won’t have to expend all my energy hiding it anymore…  Maybe then, I could remove my mask...


So, a few days later, I decided to start writing a Facebook post, explaining in more detail what: “I have suffered from Anxiety and Depression” really meant.  Not only what it looked and felt like, but also… why I struggled with these things.

Unfortunately, I soon realized that my story was way too long to be a standalone Facebook post. I soon realized:


“Well, I guess I’m starting a blog”

I titled it: “The Story of My Life” and hosted it on Wordpress.  It was the first blog post I ever wrote and it was something I figured maybe a dozen of my friends may end up reading, and then I would never think about it again, but, boy was I wrong…


The Story of My Life

 
originally posted on February 17, 2015

originally posted on February 17, 2015

 

Most of the story describes some of my early childhood experiences, and a lot of it focuses on the worst 4 years of my life: “High School” - am I right?!?

The trigger, a confession from a girl that led to a 4-month long stomach ache, that eventually led me down a road of my first bout of depression, antidepressants, side-effects, some relief, but no solutions.

To read all the juicy details, check out the OG blog post here: https://www.tranquility.app/blog/story-of-my-life


The Reaction...

So, here’s the thing, writing that blog was the most vulnerable thing I had ever done.

And, the result was that, 48 hours later, 4,000 people had read that blog post.  They had read the story of my life, and they were sharing it to all of their friends and all over social media. The support was overwhelming.  I had over 100 messages that came to me via Facebook saying things like: “I’ve gone through the same thing” or “thank you for sharing your story and giving me hope”...

You see, the second part of the blog eventually turned into something of a rant… A rant about how broken our healthcare system is and how so many of us have been left behind.

And with that, all of a sudden, I felt a certain burden and responsibility to not be one of those people who sit around and complain about something without at least providing a solution.

One person that reached out to me was a psychologist who was launching an integrative health coaching program, and when she asked me if I wanted to be part of the solution, I decided that yes, I did…

Since then I’ve given my own Bell Lets Talk Talk…

Started a vlog channel where I document my journey building a startup, while in every episode I face something that makes me anxious as part of completing a Fear Ladder.

And here we are, four years later, and we’re about to launch Tranquility Online to the public, making getting help for mental health: Affordable, Timely, Stigma-Free, Personal and Accessible.

This year, don’t be shy, and please show your support on social media using the hastag #BellLetsTalk or visit: https://letstalk.bell.ca

Love,

Joel.

Co-Founder & CEO of Tranquility Online.


 
Joel Muise