My personal belief is that we all, whether we realize it or not, have a job to do here on this earth. And possibly, as we carry on into the next world as well. Perhaps we are all part of “The Whole?”
Our talents and inspirations direct us as we journey along through life. If we happen to straggle off the path for awhile, that’s okay. It’s how and when we learn to get better at the job (or jobs) we are supposed to do.
Writers must write. Builders must build. Rulers must rule. It doesn’t matter that we’re not very good at what we do. Eventually we get better. Or perhaps another person whom we encounter is inspired to do the job even more successfully. It doesn’t matter who does it, as long as it gets done.
Perhaps the world of humanity is akin to a giant bee hive?
As I approach the age of wisdom I also enter into the age of forgetfulness. Particularly when I am low on sleep. My mind and my eyes process things in a series of postcard-like images and thoughts. It all comes together quite well eventually, but slower than in the days of yore. It’s hard to admit that your multi- tasking mind is sometimes barely capable of hanging on to one task at a time. The solution, I think, is for we seniors to get together to fill in each other’s “blanks.” We speak a different language at times from younger folk.
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.
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.
By Doris Ray, (author of THE GHOSTS BEHIND HIM published by Caitlin Press 1999. Received BC 2000 BOOK AWARD)
I am hoping the general public is beginning to understand that erratic and sometimes criminal behavior sometimes stems from a serious chemical disorder within the human brain. When a brain chemical disorder affects the thought processes, the affliction can cause a patient to lose touch with reality. When a brain chemical disorder affects a patient’s emotional state of mind it can lead to extreme anguish and despair. And too often suicide.
Once we accept that diseases of the organ that is the human brain are for real; that the person we thought was “weird” or “possessed” or “bad” was in all actuality, suffering from an illness, compassion will set in. I am hoping that will happen soon!
On Being a Mother
Sometimes I think we mothers have no control at all over events that shape the course of our lives. After the last babe has fled the nest, we should be able to rest upon our laurels. The big job is done. We have fed and diapered our flock and launched them successfully through infancy, adolescence and other milestones such as attaining that all-important driver’s license. Now they are married or in college or perhaps hitchhiking around the world. Your only obligation is to send them money periodically—if you have some. (If you’re really lucky and I know I’m fantasising, they’ll send YOU money once in awhile.)
But that’s not necessarily the way it works. We are allowed five minutes or so to bask in a state of warm complacency before our REALLY big job begins. Unforeseen circumstances loom that are beyond our control and we find ourselves caught up in a brand new facet of the human experience. Destiny points the way and we have no choice but to hang up our hats and become enmeshed in something that is in dire need of our particular talents and dedication.
For me it was mental illness. At the age of 21 my son Bruce was struck down by the symptoms of an illness which at times was so bizarre that it was beyond my capacity to comprehend. Despite his doctor’s diagnosis of schizophrenia, I sometimes suspected that he had multiple personalities, or else was in a state of being possessed by otherworldly entities. Bruce was puzzled and bemused by the hallucinations he was experiencing. At first he recognised that they stemmed from his own runaway imagination; later on, he became overwhelmed by them.
In 1993 I became inadvertently drawn into the dark world of mental illness where tragic circumstances sometimes occur when its victims are unmedicated or wrongly medicated. Schizophrenia adversely affects the lives of family members, friends and other members of the community, as well as the victim. Sufferers don’t always realise that they are ill. Sometimes they express disturbing and even criminal behaviour. When that occurs we can no longer ignore or sweep under the carpets, the plight of the mentally ill in our society.
I’ve learned that schizophrenia is a disease that has concrete and specific symptoms due to physical and biochemical changes within the brain. It strikes one in every hundred young people—world-wide, and is usually treatable with medication. It has nothing to do with diminishing intellect or talent. Over the years my son has managed to retain his ability to write poetry and draw cartoons. For that I am grateful.
Psychosis is an acute symptom of a brain chemical disorder. The sufferer has withdrawn from reality into a delusional realm of existence. His behaviour is most often not criminal, although he is a high risk for suicide.
On the other hand, people sometimes confuse a mental health patient suffering from a brain chemical disorder with a psychopath. The classic psychopath – according to my dictionary -is “an individual who is emotionally unstable to a degree approaching the pathological, but with no specific or marked mental disorder.” People diagnosed as psychopathic often express antisocial and even criminal behaviour patterns.
There is the same social stigma attached to a brain chemical disorder such as schizophrenia as there is to homosexuality. During my son’s adolescent years I believed the worst thing that could happen to him was that he could turn out to be gay. (He’s not.) He was shy and didn’t date so that thought had occurred to me. Many times over the past twenty years I have reminded myself of that paltry concern. I have wished fervently that one morning I would wake up to the knowledge that instead of my son’s having been afflicted by a devastating brain disease, he was merely gay. Everything, it seems, is relative.
When The Hard Drive Doesn’t Work
It must be very hard to accept the fact that you have a chronic, incurable illness. It must be especially hard to acknowledge that your brain—the part of you which houses every piece of remembered information, as well as the emotional content associated with each experience, can become faulty. But the brain like every other organ in the human body, is subject to the possibility of becoming diseased or of malfunctioning.
The brain is similar to the hard drive on a computer. When it doesn’t work properly, it may begin to churn out garbled information. You have relied on that hard drive ticking away inside your head for all the days of your life. At first you have a tendency to believe the false information you are receiving. If your brain informs you that you are not sick, how are you supposed to know the difference? If your brain tells you that other people can read your mind and are plotting against you, you may believe that as well. When you finally realise that you have a brain chemical disorder and its not going away anytime soon, you need to develop a sense of humour—big time!
Retaining a Sense of Humour
I was down at the Coast during the “big blow” on Easter Sunday 1997. A big wind in the country is merely an interruption between the snow or rain and the ever-popular sunshine. The important thing to remember is to stay off the lakes in your rowboat or canoe. But a wind storm in an urban setting can be an eerie experience, especially if one is imaginative and spending the night on the Riverview Hospital grounds in Port Coquitlam.
Mental patients–I have found–are like everyone else. Those whom we know and love are just fine. It’s the strangers we have a tendency to mistrust. But when I am anywhere south of Hope or Princeton, I begin to notice that there are a lot more strangers strolling about than there are friends. Many have attributes that would qualify them as being “weird” in downtown Fraser Lake. (Simply not wearing parkas and winter boots in April would do that.)
When the sun goes down in the city I never know what to do with my purse. Draping its strap across the opposite shoulder used to deter snatchers, but now I hear that is not enough. Seasoned crooks merely cut the strap and run. Even though it contains nothing more valuable than Kleenex and an occasional coughdrop, I clutch mine closely to my bosom. Holding my head up I stride confidently, gazing neither left nor right, hoping to create the illusion that I am armed with a lethal weapon or at the very least have a black belt or better in karate.
Cottage 119 at Riverview is for patients’ family members to stay when they are visiting. Conveniently, it was right around the corner from where my son resided. At five-thirty on Easter Sunday, Bruce and I were finishing dinner when there came a tremendous burst of wind, followed by a high volume of screeching and wailing sounds from somewhere outside the building. The creaking of branches from nearby trees, as they gnashed and rubbed together, completed the symphony.
Each succeeding gust of wind produced more banshee-like shrieks that pierced the air above the droning sounds of traffic on the nearby highway. These high pitched sounds were not unique to the Riverview area. Later that evening my daughter phoned and said the same eerie noises emanated from outside her in-law’s home several miles away. The hydro was off over there, she stated, which made things even spookier.
She wondered if her not-very-courageous, nervous and overly-imaginative mother was up to handling the situation. I assured her that in the event of a power failure, my finger was poised to dial the telephone for a taxicab.
My son had to leave at 9 P.M. If I was alone in the dark at that time, I was out of there!
Bruce and I discussed the history of the large tract of land known as Riverview. We agreed that the lush grounds would be a wonderful place to live, if one were considered “sane” and did not have to be there. There has been a concerted effort afoot by entrepreneurs to get their hands on the valuable piece of real estate, and build condos and monster homes upon it. That hope is not being shared by mental health advocates and promoters of Hollywood North.
People in the film industry are often seen skulking and lurking in and around the architecturally-pleasing old buildings. I have noticed that mental patients are usually pretty laid back. Chances are if a really weird character was spotted on the Riverview grounds, it would be a movie or television star and not a resident.
There are many beautiful trees on the Riverview grounds, most of which shed their foliage in great heaps in the fall. Now outside our window, we could see these wrinkled pieces of brown parchment, the corpses of last year’s beautiful leaves, begin to rise and dart erratically up into the darkening sky like flocks of small, hungry bats. The scene was more reminiscent of Halloween than Easter.
My son was now mentally stable. I could tell because his sense of humour was evident. He had mentioned that there was an historic graveyard located a short distance from the cottage. Just then a gust of wind blew up, setting in motion whatever it was that caused the shrieking noises.
“Perhaps its the ghosts of long dead mental patients,” Bruce suggested with a grin. I was not amused.
Major depression is the most common of all brain chemical disorders. According to statistics one man in ten and one woman in five will suffer a serious depression at some time in their lives. Many of us become depressed when we anticipate or experience unpleasant situations. It’s that “blah” feeling that envelopes us when our least favourite aunt arrives for an extended visit and the anguish that tears us apart (after the murderous rage has subsided!) when we discover a parking lot dent in our brand new car. And in my case, the ultimate down-in-the-dumps despair I once felt when I stepped on the bathroom scales. (I remedied that a few years ago when the offensive measurement of poundage went out with the garbage!) Those dark feelings usually dissipate within a reasonable length of time and are a part of everyday living. But when those feelings don’t go away, the sufferer may become trapped inside a demoralised and hopeless state of existence.
Symptoms of major depression are: tearfulness, brooding, irritability, obsessive rumination, anxiety, phobias and excessive worry over physical health
I had my first panic attack when I was about 13 and in the eighth grade. The teacher in our small rural school had asked me to read a poem to the class from our English textbook. I had been reading aloud to this same bunch of kids since Grade 2 so this should not have been a big deal. But that day an idle thought drifted through my mind that was to cause me consternation for more than four decades of my life. For some reason I thought, “What if I can’t do this? What if the words get stuck in my throat?” And that’s exactly what happened! My throat closed up tightly and I could barely breathe, let alone talk.
After that excruciating experience I avoided reading aloud to my classmates, or to anyone else. As a young mother I usually joined whatever organisation happened to be sponsoring my children’s’ particular endeavours. I enjoyed the interaction with other people although it seemed I was forever being nominated for the position of secretary. I would always decline. My heart would beat fast and I ‘d be trembling as I fumbled for an excuse. I knew I would have no problem with the business of keeping track of the minutes; it was the thought of reading them aloud at the next meeting that terrified me.
Panic attacks can occur at any time. You might be shopping, sleeping or in the middle of a meeting. An episode usually begins abruptly, peaks within 10 minutes, and lasts about half an hour. Signs and symptoms can include a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling and shortness of breath, as well as other body alarm signals. The symptoms of panic are so intensely physical that it often doesn’t occur to people that the attack they are having is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. They may even think they are having a heart attack.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The plight of victims suffering from a psychiatric illness known as obsessive compulsive disorder was the theme of a Jack Nickolson movie entitled “As Good As It Gets.” Jack did not experience hallucinations or delusions but he was overly concerned about things that made no sense to his friends. Common fears are: fear of contamination, concern with order and neatness, doubts of having injured someone, left something on (or unlocked) and inability to throw anything away. The person will be driven to perform specific ritualised behaviours calculated to temporarily reduce their discomfort such as: repeated hand washing and cleaning, excessive ordering and arranging, checking and rechecking, and collecting useless objects. A diagnosis of OCD is made when obsessions and compulsions become so marked they interfere with social and occupational activities, or cause intense subjective distress. Thankfully, there are now effective treatments available for those who suffer from persistent panic attacks or OCD.
Psychosis can occur in extreme states of mood disorders as well as in schizophrenia. Psychotic depression often takes the form of delusions of imaginary poverty, terminal illness, cosmic self-blame for world problems. Conversely, psychotic mania (in bipolar illness) involves delusions of wealth, great personal power, unlimited abilities or cosmic importance—symptoms that in psychiatric terms are referred to as “grandiosity.” Those suffering from bipolar disorder often experience a “double whammy” of symptoms, with moods constantly alternating from a depressive state to a “high” or mania in a relatively short period of time.
A very inspirational Facebook post by Mr. Joel West of Burns Lake, BC
In life sometimes we get blinded by the bad, the negative and most times forget that we are all here for a reason and that our lives have purpose, that we all have it in us to help each other and that when things get tough and feel that you are never gonna win or we never get a break, then we can either take the easy way and just give up.
But in those times creator may pass you a life line or an angel in disguise that will give you the strength to go on, the courage it takes to make this life beautiful, and maybe even a child’s opinion that can reset how you see things or how you look at life; or could be something that might seem so easy that we forget how wonderful and heartwarming it is to even give or receive a simple hug or a smile and a wave to let you know that you are worth it, that you have a place in this world.
But these days with all the chaos and negativity it seems almost impossible to help someone when we can hardly help ourselves, but that is when we pray and walk by faith and not how shiny or expressive something is. But don’t get me wrong, those things are nice to have when we work our butts off for it and make our own sacrifices and be committed to do what it takes to have what you want, and that’s how dreams come true, so now we think of what moves to make next to get to the next level and not be afraid to give advice or to help guide people out of harm’s way physically ,spiritually and financially, even if you have to take a little pay cut or a loss, but it is these things that we must restore along with our faith, our trust, our love.
Maybe if we do this our children will catch on and make the future a much better place, that will give our youth a brighter future and our elders a security that things will be ok, so we can learn to live together, not to fight one another and to build, not destroy, to help rise not fall, to help succeed not fail, so once we find it in us that we can forgive, that we can change so if you’re in a bad spot, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I was afraid but I had to gather every piece of courage in me to even breathe a whisper to get help. And I am so happy and grateful that I did and was again, frozen in fear to wonder what my family and friends thought of me when I decided to quit drinking, drugging , smoking and chewing; that I might be seen as weak or soft that I chose to not do those things, or might be thought of being better than anybody and be pushed away.
But I am the person creator made me to be, that I am not better than anybody, that I breathe the same air, that my heart beats the same rhythm as the next person. But In my sobriety I found that I do have feelings, emotions, and most of all a heart that cares. And I’m telling you now I care and love you all; that yes I make mistakes, yes I have my bad days that I trip and fall too, but I learned to get back up cause when we were babies we learned to crawl, then to stand on our own two feet, then to walk. But yes we fell and yes we bumped our heads, scraped our knees and elbows and got big bumps on our heads.
But from that pain we learned determination, we learned to not give up on ourselves, so if we can learn to do that we can all learn how to do things that will makes us happy and successful. So find yourself a place that makes you happy; it could be a sport or school or job or that one person that brightens your whole day when you hear their name or see a picture, or maybe it could be music. I know for myself I love to be on that stage doing what I love best and that is to sing and play my guitar. It’s only there I feel truly loved ,wanted ,proud and it’s only there I could never be hurt; that I can escape to my own happy place with people I love and miss so dearly.
That is my heaven. So find your greatness and run with it. Find people that want more, that inspire you, that motivate you, that guide you in the right path to be joyful, to be free, to be courageous, but most of all be YOU. And that’s what makes you unique and loved. And we all have those qualities to help one another; that we all hold a special key that if found can unlock our ideas our walls our hope our faith our hearts.
So if you found that something that will drive you to get out of bed every morning to keep pushing forward when times are tough, to find your way out of the darkness, don’t let it go cause you may never find it again. But never give up on it cause miracles happen every day and be happy with you; to be grateful for who you are, to love yourself unconditionally. That you are the light in someone’s life, that you are cared for, that you are appreciated and loved by someone, so you all have a good day, morning or night, whatever it may be, that you are going through in this time of your life, that you are LOVED Take care everyone and yourselves eh It can’t rain all the time No matter how bad it is or how bad it gets I am going to make it It’s not over until I win Remember these as they have helped me in dark times and that we are in control of our own happiness 😊🤙 Love you all and prayers going up
If there is one thing I wish could happen is that I never started going to the casino. I need to stop now, cause it’s getting to be too much.
I was reintroduced to it again here in kamloops. I am just not in a good place right now in my life. I don’t know what to do. But one thing I wish is just to get back what I lost. And I’d be done.
I know it’s a learning thing. But man, it sure makes you feel like shit. I need something good like drop in hockey and healthy friends that want to go to the gym. Or jam on the guitar or learn new songs.
I feel I’m stuck and in a rut. I think I’ll have to make some changes again in my life. Or maybe another change of scene, who knows? I don’t know why but to this day I don’t feel like I belong anywhere and just don’t know how to feel around people anymore. But one thing for sure is that I miss all my late bros and family members very much. I would give anything to spend time with them again.
When people ask me how I’m doing I always just say I’m ok or I’m good, you know, the usual. But deep down I’m screaming for a way out or an escape from this pain and suffering. Is it how life is supposed to be ? I want to be happy again and haven’t felt that in a very long time.
When I get to visit my younger brother Boogie, or my mom, things are good. I’m very proud of their accomplishments and their view on life: to never give up, to work your ass off, and be able to stand on your own two feet. And to not expect anything but your time. I need to search for my worth, it’s purpose, cause I’m lost. This life really loves to kick you when your down and won’t stop even, if you’re hurt or in pain.
Right now I’m in that spot- almost wanting to just throw in the towel. It feels like my self worth is nothing right now, that my purpose is up, that nothing has changed.
And why do I stay sober ? It doesn’t even matter anymore. I am struggling to just stay above water cause I’m drowning and it sucks.
I’m gonna work on staying away from gambling. But know, if you are a gambler, that’s very tough to do. You think, ‘Well maybe this time it will hit… or just one more spin…. “
Oh yes, I’ll admit that I am addicted to gambling. I wish I never even went back.
A word of advice: don’t gamble or play these stupid slot machines cause they just take your dreams slowly and kill you slowly . But if you don’t have a problem with it and just start home like I used to do then that’s cool. If you only spend like 40 bucks each time just to entertain yourself every once in a blue moon then that’s ok too, I suppose.
But if you know me, my limits are ? I got no limits. It’s all or nothing for me. I once got everything back that I’d put in. But I put it all back in, cause I was greedy. And this was a very very humbling experience.
So ya im fine now. Take care and stay safe everyone. Love you all! don’t be stupid like me and learn from what I’ve just gone through, cause it’s real and it can ruin lives. Iwish I could have just listened to my brother Norris and stopped while I was ahead. Or just stopped and accepted my loss.
There are plenty of atheists and agnostics (I used to be one) out there. The ones I know are lovely people although they are doubters. As with everyone else, some are happy and some are not
Here is my take on the subject: If there was no God, to whom or to what could we attribute the existence of all created things? And to whom, or to what, could we acknowledge the intricate balancing processes that constantly cut in throughout the life of every living and non-living thing?
When you believe you have a soul, death is part of the process when your time arrives.
When it comes to the big picture, even some scientists and other smart people agree that changes are occurring because of earthly and cosmic healing processes that are in progress.
Perhaps we are a part of the process as we are handy with our hands, our voices and in some cases our intellect. People are beginning to step up to assist other vulnerable humans, neglected and abused animals and causes such as the envirnment. Whether or not these people are religious, they seem compelled to do so.
I am old enough to remember when we didn’t care that much. So who’s in charge of this new attitude? If not God, who else?
What’s on my mind, Facebook asks? I am thinking about “God” “Allah” “Our Creator” “Great Spirit” and all other honorable labelling of Whomever created and continues to create, recreate, renovate, and update bits and pieces of our universe and all other universes; suns, moons and stars.
I used to believe “God” was male, and then women began speaking up, referring to The Great Spirit as a woman – as they did in ancient times. I’ve since come to believe that there is no reason to identify The Creator as being either male or female. I believe that He/She/It is unknowable ; perhaps an emmense divine form of spiritual energy?
I am an infitesminally tiny speck of soul-energy encased in a rapidly deteriorating shell. I beieve I have fullfilled some of what I was supposed to do: have children, and in turn, many of my children have had children. Some of us have picked up on an element in our lives that was in dire need of improvement, such as the abhorrent treatment of animals; and also our blaze attitude toward the most vulnerable of our fellow humans.
At the moment I am very upset that so much that is wrong in our society is based upon reluctance to accept change. Change is what life is all about. Right now there are crises happening that we cannot and should not ignore. “School shootings” have become an almost commonplace phenomena in our so-called “civilized” world.
What’s so surprizing and frightening is that those who are screaming out in agony and anger that the killing of children must be, and can be stopped, are sometimes considered to be heretic and possibly even treasonous!
I believe the Creator has given us the gift of a kind and loving spirit. It seems obvious that we are basically supposed to bear children and do the best we can to look after them. We may screw up in certain aspects of raising them but we love them. Later, as we age and our children have grown, we celebrate the beauty and collective joyousness of being around other people’s children. We want them ALL to have fun, to excell and most importantly of all, to survive. That an unstable or hate-ridden human hurts a child in any way shape or form we must make NOISES.
There is an evangelist on television at the moment and he is definitely inspiring. He believes in the power of prayer and I do agree with him on that. But the Creator has also given us intellect and the ability to make noises. When we are really disturbed about an injustice that can easily be solved, we need to speak out.