Ok, let’s talk: A response to the Bell Let’s Talk campaign

Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day. I agree, but there’s more to talk about than Bell would like to admit.

This is my first time actually re-posting another blog post, but what it says is so important. You need to read it.

Vision Passion Action

This post was written by Danielle Landry. She teaches Mad People’s History as part-time instructor with the School of Disability Studies.

A drawing of a road side stand with the words "psychiatric help 5 cents" on top. Inside the stand there is a person with a blue text box. The bottom of the stand reads "The corporation is in"Ok, let’s talk.

Let’s talk about how those two new workplace scenario commercials only reinforce the idea that it’s unsafe to talk about mental health to your boss or co-workers, instead of establishing that employers in Ontario actually have a duty to accommodate disabled workers, including those with psychiatric disabilities.

Let’s stop positioning disabled people as charity cases through a-nickel-for-every-text campaigns.

Let’s talk about the erosion of our social systems through corporate greed.

Let’s ask why Bell hasn’t instituted any programs to support its low-income customers, such as if they need a reprieve from paying their bills during a hospital stay.

Let’s talk about why it’s not okay that we have to rely on corporate sponsorship to sustain our mental health system. Let’s ask if corporate influence serves to…

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At What Cost?

This may be a deep, thoughtful subject. It’s definitely going to be a controversial one. It’s also definitely a conversation worth having. It’s a conversation about choice and the right to make your own decisions. It’s about the end of life.

I read a blog a few days ago about a husband and wife, scientists from Australia, who had decided when and what their end of life would be. They made no secret that this is what they had planned. I read it, then watched the video, then did a lot of thinking.

The Big Sleep

I thought about my pets, and how I loved them too much to let them suffer. I respected when it “was time” and let them go, though it broke my heart. Sometimes it seems we have more compassion for our pets than we do our loved ones.

And I thought about some animals in the wild, who wander off when it’s time to die, so that they can be alone and not weaken the herd or pack.

Then I thought about some people I have met in nursing homes, incapable of seeing, hearing, communicating; being kept alive on machines, mind and body long deserted.

And I thought, “At what cost?” We can make people live much longer than ever before, but at what cost? Are we keeping people alive against their will? Quality of life must factor into the equation at some point.

Taking into consideration that there is a great cost to society dealing with an aging population in nursing homes, if they do not want to continue living, why are we doing it? For the families? Because we’re afraid to lose them? Isn’t that like letting your beloved pet suffer because you’re not ready to let go? Isn’t that kind of selfish?

Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m definitely not saying “Kill all the old people”. I’m saying if someone whats to end on their own pre-defined terms, whether because of chronic illness or progressive dementia, do we have the right to force them to continue? At all costs?

I don’t know the answer. I’m not saying this is right for me and you may say it’s not right for you. I’m saying we need to think about this. While we have developed the means to keep people alive, maybe we also should be respecting people’s wishes to die – within reason.

You may notice that I’m leaving God and religion out of this discussion. MY God never wants us to suffer. Having been brought up Roman Catholic, the explanation always given when someone dies is that God called them “home” and that it was God’s “will”. Well, if someone is dying (God calling them home) and we force them to stay alive through artificial means, are we not circumventing God’s will?

We all need to think about this – it’s a huge moral and ethical question and it needs to be discussed more as a human right.

The Man in the Shadows

Tshadowshe following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to anyone, living or not, is unintentional.

I saw the door handle move; he was testing the door. Would the locks hold? I cowered in the darkness. Would he leave if he thought I wasn’t home? Not very likely; he had followed me home. He knew I was here; he could probably smell my fear.

A kick. The lock on the door handle gave out and I heard the crackling sound of splintering wood. Would the deadbolt hold? What the hell was I going to do? I quietly crept to the window – maybe I could climb out onto the window ledge. How stupid would that be?

I never should have picked up that bag. I was walking home from work, taking a shortcut through the park so I could enjoy the final rays of sunlight, when I saw the bag just sitting there on the park bench. I looked around but the only person I could see was a kid on a skateboard a few hundred metres ahead.

I sat down beside the bag. What if it was a bomb? I couldn’t detect any ticking though (do all bombs tick?). I slowly slid the zipper open a few inches so I could peek inside.

Oh my God! What was this doing here? Was it forgotten? Was it deliberately left for someone to pick it up? Was it even real?

I squeezed my eyes shut. Think! What should I do? I took a deep breath and quickly picked up the bag. Looking around, I tucked it under my arm and started sprinting. I could barely breathe. I ran all the way home.
When I arrived at my apartment building, my hands were trembling so much I fumbled and dropped my keys. As I stooped to pick them up I saw him standing across the street, watching me.

2016 – The Year of Living

new-year-resolution-c-carouselHappy New Year 2016!

I’m not a fan of resolutions, as I think they set us up for disappointment and self-loathing. Setting a resolution tends to make us over-critical of ourselves, as if somehow we aren’t good enough just as we are. Sure, we can all get healthier, lose weight, quit smoking, etc., but those are things we should be doing all the time anyway without needed to start self-hating. At the end of the year we can look back on everything we didn’t accomplish and feel even worse about ourselves. Resolutions are not necessary or healthy. For example, I quit smoking a few years ago and I didn’t make a resolution to do it. I just did it.hobbes

What I’d like to do is set loftier goals. What are loftier goals you ask? Good question. I am going to aspire to be a nicer person, and a happier person. I’m going to set some realistic goals for myself that are based more on personality development, and then on the first of every month, I’ll revisit my goals. I can pat myself on the back for the ones that I am actually doing, I can re-commit to some others by re-thinking how to achieve the goal, or I can completely discard the goal if I don’t think it’s realistic, or if my interests have changed. No long-term commitment – this is like a month-to-month lease.

I want to be more conscious of what I’m buying and eating, and I’m not talking diet. My purpose is to buy Canadian products whenever and wherever possible and share my Canadian finds with as many people as I can. I think this is a good way to raise awareness of where our products are grown, produced, manufactured, etc. and might have a positive influence on Canadian jobs. If I can’t find a Canadian product (for example, pineapples don’t grow in Canada), I’ll look for products from the USA.

foot in mouthI also want to be a more positive and less critical person. My purpose is to try to elevate my moods by spreading kindness around. Some people do this by paying it forward at a coffee shop drive through. I don’t use drive throughs though (I actually think they’re the best example of laziness and disregard for our air quality), so I’ll do it by trying to say something nice about most people I meet. I’ll try for three a day. It might be to compliment someone on their appearance, or thank them sincerely for good service, etc. I’ll smile more too – smiling is infectious. Before I make a comment, I will try to ask myself, “Is it helpful?” “Is it supportive?” “Is it necessary?” I’m going to try to be more patient and remember the golden rule – if I can’t say something nice, say nothing at all. Not terribly hopeful on that last part, but I’ll re-evaluate how realistic it is after a month.

I want to disconnect from a lot of social media as well. The town I live in has several Facebook pages, and so many of the comments on them can be very negative. I have a tendency to try and correct misinformation, but I now realize that ignorance truly is bliss for most people. A friend recently pointed out to me that most successful people aren’t on Facebook very much and I realize that’s true. It’s also true that the people who are on Facebook most of the time, don’t have much else going on in their lives. Please don’t let that be me!

I’m going to put a limit on my Facebook activities and even leave some of the groups that I’m a part of because of the negativity. All town information will be on a need to know basis and I don’t need to know about other people’s negativity and close-mindedness. It just makes me lose faith in society. Along those same lines, I’m going to learn to walk away or set boundaries with negative people or people who consistently upset me. I don’t know if they do it deliberately or if it’s just how I’m perceiving it, but whatever the reason, I will no longer accept that negativity in my life. It’s bad for my chakra*.

Since I’ll be disconnecting from Facebook more, I’d like to devote some time each week to writing. I find writing elevates my mood, and allows me to connect with my inner spirit. I’ve already started writing more with this blog and by joining a writing group, so I’m well on my way! I’m also going to spend some time each week reading. I find I’ve been spending more time reading news lately and not recreational reading. I have a list of books I’d like to check out – some e-books and some physical books, but reading a novel for even for 15 minutes a day will be relaxing for me.

And here’s a weird one – I’d like to watch more television shows/movies. This is something I’ve stopped doing over the past year and like reading and writing, it’s a way for me to relax. I’m not going to expect to watch television every evening or go to the movies every week, but I’d like to go to the movies at least every two months if there’s something worth seeing, and watch recreational television for at least an hour or so a week.

I’d like to try something new at least once a month. It might be colouring, a drum circle, wine-tasting, bus trips, whatever – just something to get me out of my stale routine and keep life interesting. If I hear that friends are going to be doing something different, I’m going to speak up and ask if I can join them. I’ve met some really nice, positive people over the past few months by doing this, and it’s definitely a positive thing. I’d like to try yoga and meditation for example. Maybe I can find a friend who would be interested in these things as well. I’d also like to go to Toronto on a Friday evening for storytelling. I used to go years ago and really enjoyed it, so I’d like to do it again and maybe introduce some friends to it.

When I get stuck in a rut, I start to become afraid of change. I need to get out of my comfort zone and stretch my wings a bit. Life’s too short just to go through the motions and soon I’ll be another year older. I’m now at the age where I never know how much time I have left. Time to learn to live.

So here’s a summary of my list of goals:Growing

  • Buy and promote Canadian products (because this is important to me)
  • Say something nice to 3 people a day
  • Be less critical and impatient
  • Avoid negative people
  • Limit interactions on Facebook
  • Make time to write
  • Make time to read (aim for 15 mins a day)
  • Make time to watch TV (aim for an hour a week)
  • Go to the movies at least once every 2 months
  • Try to do something new or different at least once a month
  • Try yoga and meditation
  • Re-visit the goals on the first of every month

Welcome to 2016 – I’m looking forward to the journey!

*This is the first time I’ve used the word “chakra”. It just felt right. I looked it up after I used it and it definitely is the word I wanted to use.