A politician from southeastern Manitoba has gone public with his mental health struggles. Dawson Trail MLA Bob Lagasse spoke from the heart on Thursday when he addressed the Manitoba Legislature, sharing what he has battled in recent months.
Lagasse says he came to the realization a few weeks ago that his mental health was not where it needed to be.
"I ended up getting very hyper-focused on thoughts of self-harm," he admits. "And I wasn't able to kind of pull myself out of them."
Lagasse says because of his ADHD, he tends to get hyper-focused on certain ideas; whether healthy or not. And this particular time, he got trapped in a loop.
"I can remember spending about four hours one morning just thinking of self-harm and I just could not get myself out of it," he recalls.
Lagasse says after talking with his wife, he immediately called his doctor, knowing he needed to get his ADHD treated, as the two go hand in hand. The MLA was given new medication and says he has already seen improvements. On Thursday, Lagasse shared this story with his fellow politicians, and his video recording very quickly went very public.
"I felt that it'd be best to not hide this, to share that I am human, and I do struggle," he admits. "Sometimes I think people view people in different positions of power, like athletes, they view us as almost not human in a way. And that's the furthest from the truth, we are extremely human."
In making himself vulnerable, Lagasse says his desire is that it will get people talking about mental health. His hope is that people who struggle realize that they are not alone.
"It's okay not to be okay, as I said in my statement," says Lagasse. "It's not okay to go through this alone."
Lagasse says if your mental health struggles are not something you can talk to a family member about, then reach out to a friend, a doctor or someone else you trust.
In his address Thursday, Lagasse also noted the lies told to boys and men. He says young boys are often told to walk it off and not be a "sissy" and that men don't cry.
"Those are all lies," he says. "There is no reason for you to walk it off, there's no reason for you to not show emotion. If anything, that stuff makes you stronger."
For Lagasse, he says this is a generational issue, noting in the past, society did not talk about mental health. He notes we were told to bottle it up, adding many of our parents and grandparents had no idea how to deal with it.
When asked what it was like to share his struggles with members of the opposition, Lagasse says they are all still people too.
"We're not enemies," he says.
As for the response from the public, Lagasse says there has been an outpouring of support for him. He notes one lady, in particular, messaged him to let Lagasse know that his statement will help her son.
"Then at least by me being vulnerable, I can make someone else strong," he says. "And I did respond to her and simply stated that if she needs anything I will try to help in whatever way."
Lagasse says his purpose for going public was not to gain attention. Rather, his hope is that others battling similar struggles will know that while it is okay to not be okay, it is not okay to go through it alone.