My youngest daughter Fern was 10 years old when her brother Bruce was struck down by schizophrenia. Ironically her sister Debbie suffered from symptoms of clinical depression at almost the same time. At one point, Fern and I visited her two siblings who were ensconced in separate wards on the third floor of Prince George Regional Hospital. The following is from Fern’s blog.
A Few Thoughts on World Mental Health
So today is World Mental Health Day 2022, as per the World Health Organization. Some people are fans of this group, some are not. As usual my apathy guides my opinions about these things.
I do not care. I cannot care.
I care about mental health a little bit I suppose…of course I do. It’s a subject that has loomed over me like a buzzing lightbulb in an interrogation room. I spent many a day as a kid with adults who suffered and instead of actually caring or having compassion for others, I dragged it around with me and saw all obstacles, life events, adverse emotions of others and pretty much anything that I didn’t understand as “mental illness”. It was such a weight, a lonely lens to look through. I felt and still fight the feeling every day,
like King Midas
– everything and everyone I touch doesn’t turn to gold, it goes “crazy.”
Everyone will know that it’s always going to be my fault if they aren’t ok.
What an indictment? I could sink and disappear thinking about it now. Such a small fear, but sharp, with little razers all over it. It rules my life. And now that it’s popular to talk about, I fight resentment about it. I fight, apathy about it. The little kid in me squints at it all and asks the world: where were you when my trauma was being built?
It’s first world narcissm, second world self-loathing.
When I first saw that it was World Mental Health Day, I immediately rejected it. It should be every day damnit. And, this is probably another way to sell crap and online courses to sad people. Again, defaulting into how I have coped in my life: cynicism and sarcasm.
I will address this in another column
– make popcorn…
So, I added the pic above as sort of a prompt for myself. I came across it and felt the duality of this play on a word: Hopeless – I felt both hope and hopelessness. We all know that thoughts and memories are the cause of emotion and the power of one word to flick at more than one emotion at a time is quite remarkable. In my experience when my mental health is in decline, it is hope that I am losing, like it’s trickling out of a leaky faucet. Hope is a feeling, a spidy sense, a gut reaction to expectation or anticipation of something. It’s not the outcome we are trying to manipulate (again with that word) it’s the feeling we are trying to attain. Like something has been planted and we just know deep in our crevice’s that this garden is going to grow.
I had this motto for a while:
protect my mental health at all costs.
It got me through a few years lately with so many life changes and a few heartbreaks and health concerns. But, I know it’s rigid and limiting. When you have not had boundaries at all in your life, the walls that you create are at first made of steel and sweat and tears. Now that I am in the mode of calling myself out on my own bullshit, I can probably soften those walls. They are still heavily fortified with snipers at every checkpoint.
But on this day when now it is nearly fashionable to wear your heart on your sleeve, I will try and lower my rifles
and just send in reconnaissance
– they can keep me posted on where my mental health is.
Fern, Like the Plant