Personal Journey

Mental Health and PR: My journey

By Matisse Hamel-Nelis on July 3, 2023

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Headshot of Matisse Hamel-Nelis sitting on a grey sofa while wearing a black dress.

Why, hello there! Allow me to introduce myself formally. I’m Matisse Hamel-Nelis, the founder and podcast host of PR & Lattes, and I live with Bipolar Type 2 and Borderline Personality Disorder. 

With July being Disability Pride Month, I wanted to take this opportunity on the platform I’ve worked to create to try to demystify and remove the stigma around mental health and being a PR/communications practitioner.

I’ve said this before and posted resources for folks to learn more about it. And while I’ve been open about my disability in the past on my non-professional channels, I feel it’s time that I stand up and take pride in it. 

It started last year when I made a post on LinkedIn about this. But I wanted to take this opportunity to dive in further.

Growing up, I was always trying to figure out what was happening to me. My initial diagnosis was clinical depression, but the medications didn’t work. 

It wasn’t until my time in university when I took a semester off to deal with what was going on with me, that I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Type 2, and shortly after that, also with Borderline Personality Disorder.

I’ll be the first to say that these diagnoses initially felt like a curse; I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would be like, whether I would be accepted, and how I would manage to enter the professional world.

But I’m thriving with an incredible support system, therapy, and learning various coping mechanisms and medication. As a result, I’m living a life I never thought possible when I was first diagnosed. 

As I said, I’ve been a mental health advocate on my personal/non-professional accounts. However, I’ve been scared to share it with my professional ones. 

Why? 

First, I fear people assuming I can’t do my job. Secondly, I’m afraid of people thinking about who I am as a person based solely on my diagnosis. 

But I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of hiding a part of me that has helped me achieve many hopes and dreams. I’ve become a vice president for a multinational company that focuses on accessibility (something I’m passionate about), I teach incredible college students with a passion for public relations, I’ve been married for over 11 years, I volunteer, and, most importantly, I’m a good person. 

I cherish my relationships and hold friendships near and dear to my heart. 

My mental health diagnoses do not define me but are part of me. The journey I’ve been on to find myself, grow and understand my disability has given me tenacity, perseverance and determination. These traits are essential in the workforce, especially as we navigate the pandemic and beyond. 

So, there you have it. In all my glory, this is me sharing my personal struggle and triumph with my professional network. I’m embracing being an open book about this to remove shame and stigma around mental health. 

So, I welcome all discussions and questions about this.

The Disability Pride flag is a large horizontal stripe of individual red, yellow, white, blue and green stripes on a black background.

And, if you’re wondering what the colours of the Disability Pride flag represent (blue is for me), here’s the breakdown:

The black field represents the people with disabilities who have lost their lives due to their illness and negligence, suicide, and eugenics.

The colours on this flag represent different aspects of disability:

  • Red is for physical disabilities.
  • Yellow is for cognitive and intellectual disabilities.
  • White is for invisible and undiagnosed disabilities.
  • Blue is for mental illness.
  • Green is for sensory perception disabilities.

Again, if you have any questions or just want to chat more about this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at matisse@prandlattes.com.

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