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Let’s Talk About Mental Health

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Today is a very special day. The day Canada and other places, shed light on a very important topic, that still, seems to be Taboo in many places.

The topic is Mental Health.

If you’ve ever suffered from something tragic in your life, or know someone who has, or you just know someone who is over their heads in the water and they can’t seem to find solid ground, or you have that friend or family member who is suffering in silence, there is something we can do, for us and for them, We Can Talk …

You never know when a conversation will happen that might change a life in ways, we could not imagine.

I’ve just finished reading Romeo Dallaire’s book, Waiting for First Light, my ongoing battle with PTSD. War is a place we see in the movies or on the news, it does not affect us directly, but it does affect many, who have been to conflict zones, or war zones, or on peace keeping missions, war for them is real.

You cannot imagine the visuals that they have seen, the atrocities they witnessed, seeing men, women and children die all around them, and watching their brothers and sisters in arms get killed in action.

And when they come home, they are shattered human beings. And we as a society have failed these brave men and women, over and over again. The Canadian Military has continually failed their own people.

PTSD is something the military has yet to fully comprehend and do something about in concrete ways and means.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of men and women suffer with unimaginable horrors and night terrors, and addictive behavior to quench the pain with drugs and alcohol.

Some take their own lives in Suicide because they have no way out of the pain.

PTSD is an old problem. But in decades past, we had different names for it.

In the Viet Nam Era, when my father came home from the war, in stories he had told me, he and many others came back and they were Shell Shocked.

But in reading Romeo’s book, I see very similar parallels in what happened, and how my father coped with his issues. He never talked about it, until one season when I was in High School, he actually had film, photos and a story to tell.

Meanwhile at home he was drinking himself to death, and abusing his wife and children.

All those men who came back from that war, were bad mouthed, and ridiculed. What happened ? They went without, and many went to their graves mentally cracked.

Living through the scourge of AIDS, was terrible. For many of us who were on the front lines, dealing with terrible sicknesses and ailments, then watching families, churches, friends and lovers, toss their sick partners into the gutter to die alone and penniless, without an ounce of dignity, was horrifying.

I’ve witnessed my share of tragedy. And suffered my own bouts with depression due to Suicide, AIDS and almost loosing my own life. I would not say that I would call my problems PTSD, but tragic sickness and death is part of my story.

Soon after my diagnosis my doctor hooked me up with a good psychiatrist. Along with medicines, and therapy, I was put on an anti-depressant regimen, that I am still on to this day.

I lived, thankfully. I am also clean and sober, which only enhances my life and my personal well-being. I had people to talk to. Therapists, Psychiatrists, Counselors, Todd, and the myriad of people who have been involved in my sobriety.

A few months after I met hubby, he got very sick. And he was cycling rapidly, over and over again, obsessively. A few weeks in, he had a nervous breakdown, and fell to pieces. Doctors and shrinks came on board, and he was diagnosed as Bi-Polar Rapid Cycling.

For ten long and arduous months we plied him with pill after pill, trying to find the right mixture of a “Little bit of this and a Little bit of that…” until we found the mix that worked for him. For that almost year, I was chief cook, cleaner and chief bottle washer.

I got him out of bed, fed him, got him on the sofa.

And at night, I fed him, bathed him, and put him to bed.

A ritual that still exists to this very day.

I was going to school full-time, taking care of house and home, going to meetings, and taking care of hubby, who was comatose on the sofa for the entire ten month period, catatonic.

I remember the night that we had found the magic pill … The next morning he got up, he was coherent, lucid and alive.

It was like Lazarus, rising from the grave.

There was still working to do, to bring him back into full participation in his own life.
And that stared with simple occupational therapy, to get him to do simple things, that led to him getting back into the saddle and living once again.

Mental health is a top issue in our home. Having two people who have mental issues is a task in itself.

I believe that a human who suffers from a mental illness NEEDS a SECOND set of eyes on them all the time. So that they aren’t doing it themselves. That there is someone else actively involved with their daily care and to watch their medical progress with whatever medication a doctor puts them on, because we don’t necessarily catch things on our own, we need that SECOND set of eyes on the case.

I have worked with kids with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. That is some of my most rewarding work, to date. I have sponsees who have mental illnesses as well. Depression, PTSD and Schizophrenia. Everybody needs to be loved and cared for. My time is not only invested in helping men and women stay sober, I also try to help them to stay sane.

To make sure they are on their meds, seeing their doctors and case workers and making sure that they are taking care of themselves, and each other, as well taking care that their homes are safe, clean and void of drugs and alcohol.

Mental Illness is a scourge on our city. many, MANY of our homeless men, women and kids, (read: Young People) on the street, suffer from mental illness, and they go about their lives, and nobody really gives a damn, unless you see them on the street.

We don’t have the amount of resources that the city needs to tackle that problem, because not only do you have mental illness to contend with you also have addiction to alcohol and drugs as well. So you have a triple cocktail of sadness …

Too many of our young people are killing themselves over bullying and mental illness.

What are we teaching our kids, when so many of them are dying and nobody knew about what was going on with them! We have to talk to our kids and actually give a damn about them instead of leaving them to their own devices and video games and their phones.

SUICIDE IS NEVER AN OPTION – EVER !!!

Give a kid a chance … talk to them for God’s Sake.

There is help. There are solutions. You don’t have to be alone. We are here.

We will help you in any way we can. All you have to do is ASK …

Let’s Talk …