From time to time I come across something I feel moved to share. The blog, Mental Health @ Home recently posted about how the mentally ill are treated around the world. The post is quite surprising, disturbing, as well as informative. I believe we are all connected; what affects one affects us all. I am sharing in the hopes of creating further awareness and, hopefully, political will to enact change. Although Canada has come a long ways there is still a ways to go in de-stigmatizing mental illness. so, while we no institutionalize the mentally ill, we do continue to wrap them in the invisible chains of intolerance and indifference. To learn more please click on this link: https://mentalhealthathome.org/2020/09/29/mentally-ill-in-chains/
The authors share many helpful posts on their blog, Curious to the Max. I am honored to introduce Judy and Peggy’s blog:
From Curious to the Max comes a post many of you will find helpful. Here is the link:
Is there anything more frustrating than a government website? Forgive me while I rant a bit, but honestly, I think they’re designed to send people absolutely batty! And by the way today is Bell’s “Let’s talk day”. It is a day designed to get people talking about mental health. The corporation donates five cents to the Canadian Mental health Association for each text message sent on their network. How ironic is that?
I swear to God, governments are the cause for much mental illness these days. At least, the particular page I have been trying to navigate is contributing hugely to mine today. So, I try to call the help number. No bloody help AT ALL!
Thank you for “listening”, that is my rant for today. Eventually I will calm down and try again. It’s a useless endeavor until I do.
I have been following the journey of two young people who are riding across the country on motorcycle to raise awareness around mental health and mental illness. Their page has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception a week or so ago. It is truly inspirational to see all the posts on Facebook telling personal stories of the challenges surrounding mental illness. There are also many heartbreaking stories of people who have died by suicide. David and Rochelle have dedicated sections of their ride to each person who made a request for them to do so, including me. I was so touched when I opened Facebook one morning to discover a post from them saying they were dedicating the first leg of their journey that day to my uncle.
We lost him to suicide not long after our Mom died of cancer many years ago. I often wonder if there was a connection. He often called her and the two of them would have long conversations on the telephone.
When I was young, we lost a neighbor and good friend to suicide and many years later his son died this same way. Back then there were few supports and people who died by suicide were often criticized and maligned, making it even harder for family and friends of the deceased. I am glad that there is much more understanding today, but there is still much to be done, which is why this young couple hit the road.
When people are physically injured or seriously ill in body nobody expects them to “get over it” or to keep on living their life as if they were healthy and strong. It’s amazing to me the depth of ignorance still prevalent in this day and age. Empathy and compassion are so needed and too often in short supply.
I am so grateful to these two young people who are taking the bull by the horns to try to make a difference. And they are!
I am providing the link to David and Rochelle’s page, A ride down AddyLayne, please consider making a donation if you can as all funds raised are going to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Here is that link:
and the link to the go fund me:
I have been thinking much more serious thoughts of late – likely due to all I have been reading: about the death knell on democracy; about the climate crisis; about mental health issues, and so forth. Sometimes I just have to wade into those dark pools of human realities.
I like to keep things light, as much as I possibly can. But that is difficult when I allow myself to read all the doom and gloom. I worry about what we are leaving for future generations, because, let’s face it my generation, the “baby boomers,” are quickly entering our twilight years. Meanwhile the powers that be seem bent on operating like its business as usual while the planet seems to be rushing headlong into catastrophe or quite possibly total oblivion.
I was reading one article that discussed the responsibility of journalists to forego using the words “climate change” and instead to call it what it is – a full-blown climate crisis. Perhaps it is well past time we woke up to the reality of all the damages done to the environment in the last hundred years. Yup, it seems pretty bleak.
Then there is the whole issue of democracy and the war on media. Nothing is quite as simple as it seems – there is no black and white but many gradients of gray. Social media has made elections much more devious and based on character (or perceived character traits) of the candidates and, as Ontario illustrated in the last provincial election, platforms that are thin if there is any at all. We vote more with our emotions than with our heads.
And our heads have been inundated with social ills from overcrowded prisons to waiting lines in hospitals. Mental health issues are wide spread with little hope of an answer to the many plagues, such as depression, that abound these days.
I don’t know what to say about it all except that it is very worrisome. I’d like to stick my head in the sand until it all gets magically better. But magic is a mirage – much like the smoke and mirrors that is politics.
I do believe in the inherent goodness of humanity. At every turn in history when push came to shove the despots and tyrants never won – they may seem to in the short run, but in the long run cooler heads do prevail. Perhaps it takes a period of chaos or the imminent destruction of the planet for people to stand firm and shout out a decisive “NO”.
Please, let those cooler heads come to the fore now. May God grant us better leadership and more applied intelligence than we’ve been witness to in the past number of years. Please, God, let it be so.
“How are you?”
“Yup, just okay, but I’m here.”
I participate in this scenario quite often. My husband is not well and I am his main caregiver. I don’t think most people want an honest answer to the question of how I am, not really. Most days I am okay – just okay. There are some when I am very happy, and of course others when I definitely am not happy. But for the most part I am okay. I don’t think people really want to know about my daily struggles or the things that I find frustrating. It’s not easy caring for a sick partner. It just isn’t. I congratulate myself on a daily basis for being ‘just okay’.
I have written about the ups and downs of health issues pertaining to diabetes more than a few times here. My husband jokes he has ‘frequent flyer miles’ at the hospital. This weekend he ended up there once again. I don’t know who dropped the ball. It may have been the doctor’s office when they called in a renewal on his medications. Or, it may be that the pharmacist neglected to include one of his meds in his blister pack. He takes a lot of medications, and it’s easy to miss it if one isn’t there. Plus, his meds are often changed for one reason or another. At any rate he’d been without one of them for about a week – a medication he really needs – hence the most recent hospital stay. It’s scary sometimes. And it’s also daunting, this responsibility to be on top of everything medical.
I am doing my best to take care of myself as well as him through it all. I try to keep it positive and I pray a lot. But much of the time I am exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet, I am okay. I know powers greater than mine carry me through it all. So, yes, I am “just” okay and I’m alright with that.
She sat on the sofa not moving while the litany of destructive self recriminations began. She was too weak to stop it. It played on and on with one accusation following another in a never-ending loop. The mental pain was excruciating. She wanted to die just to end the pain. Yet, thoughts of her children stayed her hand. Who would find her dead body? No, she could not do that to them.
Despite the fact she knew she was not the mother she wanted to be; despite all the times she was distracted and preoccupied by the nonstop judge that ruled her mind and kept her hostage; despite the strong inner critic who chained her to the whipping post day after day after day and lashed her repeatedly with words both cruel and untrue.
Then one day the pain became too great. She decided to end it. She could not go on this way, and really, her children would be better off without her. She was merely existing, not living. She did not deserve their love; did not deserve to be their mother. And the children deserved so much more than she could give. In fact, she had nothing to give. She was empty, totally drained of joy or happiness.
She was broken, utterly and entirely spent. She cried and cried – screamed out her pain, but no one heard – no one. At least, that was what she thought and believed at the time.
When you reach rock bottom; when you can sink no lower, it is then you begin to rise. The ascent was slow at first, very slow. She thought she’d never see the light at the end of that dark tunnel. But she had strength – more strength than she knew. She crawled in increments so tiny as to be microscopic. She did not see much change, at first. The inner voice tortured her still, but now there were small moments of quiet – moments of peace she’d never known before.
Those moments stretched into hours. Then eventually into days, and then weeks, until finally she emerged from the darkness.
She stretched her arms up toward the sky and turned in circles laughing up at the sun. And the blessings – oh the blessings – she felt the breeze tease the hair on her arms. She felt the sun warm against her skin. Breathed deeply the aroma of the sweet grass and briny air. And gazed about her like one newly born. She filled her senses with life.
Like someone blind suddenly given the gift of sight her eyes were opened. She had much to give and gave it unstintingly. Compassion for others flooded her heart. She was healed. Yet the gift of memory allowed her to be a blessing to others. She never forgot her journey through that dark and bitter tunnel.
And so, it was and is and will be until the clock winds down and her days on earth are done, that brokenness leads to blessings untold and reaches out to heal others trapped inside the tunnel.
“Being kind, gentle, empathetic and helpful should not be at the cost of your own growth. Most certainly help others, lend a shoulder to the wheel when necessary but don’t ignore yourself in the bargain. Strike a balance, help others and help yourself too.” – Latkia Teotia
‘Psychic vampire’ – I first heard that term on a late-night radio program. It describes people who suck the life right out of you. I have known such individuals. People who are so joyless that they sap your energy and leave you feeling empty and exhausted. It can be so tiring trying to help people who are so entrenched in drama that it has become like an addiction for them. I feel for them, I do. At the same time life is short and I cannot afford to be swamped by the never-ending despair that certain individuals seem to be embroiled in. It makes me sad for them. Yet I know there is absolutely nothing I can do. It is as though they have a problem for every solution. And though the problems are not of their making they nevertheless seem to thoroughly enjoy the victim role. What can you do? Nothing at all, but pray for them, wish them well and move on with your own life. And that’s not to be unkind, but to realize that there are circumstances and situations beyond our control. I matter; you matter, and so, too, do the “psychic vampires”, I just cannot afford to allow them to siphon all the love, joy, and peace out of life. But I wish them well. I wish them the blessings of peace.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Andre Lorde
“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.” – Parker J. Palmer, Let your life speak: Listening for the voice of vocation
I read recently not to worry because worry is a form of prayer that can be like a self-fulfilling prophesy. I can attest to that; whether my expectations are good or whether they are fraught with worry I pretty much always get what I expect. I’ve read a lot of books on the power of positive thinking and I do believe whole-heartedly in that – if nothing else it makes you feel good and feeling good is always preferable to feeling lousy. But the concept of worry being a form of prayer is a completely new idea to me. “As within, so without”, as the saying goes. So, in that respect I can see how worry can influence people, circumstances, and situations. People seem to be drawn to happy, confident individuals more so than those who seem to have a problem for every solution.
I am not a guru. I don’t have any answers. But I do know from experience that worry never helps anything. And as my mother used to say, “it all comes out in the wash”.
“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere”. – author unknown
And one more: “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” – Swedish proverb
My mind is reeling with the words of the pathologist reverberating in my head while images of Chris in that casket flash on and off like some demented disco ball. Many people do not want to talk about it. That’s okay – they are dealing with the aftermath in the best way they can. Personally, I need to talk. I need to let it out – but where? Grieving is a highly personal thing. So if you’re following this blog you are forewarned. I am going to talk! At the same time I am not a fully open book. Evidence of this blog aside, I am a private person. I don’t particularly want to “put it all out there” but I need to release these demons that hound me. I need to start getting ready for work and I do not want to carry this into my day. To speak or not to speak, that is the question. At the moment writing about my dilemma is helping, but time grows short. I guess I will have to leave it for a better time.