Peter Talks About Mental Health

Today is “Let’s Talk Day” in Canada, a day when we are encouraged to talk about Mental Health by one of our good “corporate citizens”. I will not mention them by name, I will not give them free advertising. They treated a family member of mine shabbily, made all the more unbearable for me because of my background in Employment Insurance. Loyal Reader, I swore “off them” as a result and am pleased to say that they have absolutely no presence at all in Chez Montreuil.

Having said that, I do applaud this initiative. I have contended for a very long time that depression is not treated with the respect which it deserves. As someone who has dealt with depression for a long time, I can attest to the fact that well meaning people who have no idea what you are going through can quite freely dish out “advice” or make jovial remarks suggesting that you “take

your happy pills” or “think pleasant thoughts” or “be grateful that you aren’t…….” or that you should just count your blessings.

If someone has a visible disease or injury, their friends and acquaintances, hell, even total strangers will express sympathy, visit them if they are bedridden, buy flowers or a gift or a card or call them to tell the unfortunate how sorry they are about this calamity and wish them a speedy recovery and a return to normal life.

If the person is dealing with mental illness however, that generally generates a completely different response. Generally speaking, if a person is not visibly ill, their situation is not given very much respect. I have had people say to me that I look fine, and that there is “…nothing wrong…”.

I have to blame Society for much of this attitude. The prevalent mindset seems to be that admitting to any kind of mental disorder is a sign of weakness, a sign of failure as a human being. We are pushed into being “self reliant”, into being “able to fend for ourselves”, to ” shake it off and get back into the game”.

Except that our society is not a pack of animals in the wilderness, where a Darwinist code of conduct dictates that ” only the strong survive”. If we work on it, we can unite and build a better, more inclusive society.

Here are some of my suggestions for dealing with depression, whether you are the one who has to deal with it, or you have a friend who deals with the “damned black wolf” a). They work for me, in any case.

If you are the one who is “lucky enough ” to deal with depression in your life, remember that it’s important to stay connected with your support network, friends and family. Don’t be afraid to seek help. One of the beauties of the Internet is that it provides access to so many tools which can help you cope. There are a number of websites set up by motivational speakers, people who have dealt with this issue themselves. Seek them out and use the better ones as “building blocks”. Look into resources furnished by the various levels of government, for example, 211 is the a number one can call to access some mental health services in Toronto. If you can, try to pursue a hobby, something which allows you a pressure free distraction from your cares. Read, listen to music, paint, build a plastic model aircraft. Treat your own “self care” very seriously. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting yourself goals which are unattainable. Life is not a contest, there is no “big prize ” to be won. It’s okay to take time for you, to relax, to have a few drinks, to focus on your successes and how you achieved them by way of your own hard work. Too often we dwell on our failures and our mistakes and our shortcomings, to the detriment of our mental wellbeing. Sit back and enjoy the tangible examples of your own personal success. At the end of the day, your mental health is paramount.

Do you have a friend who deals with depression? Any relationship is like a garden, it requires constant attention. Now you obviously aren’t going to run a rake across your friend’s body, but you can pay attention to their needs. You have to understand that once in a while, they just aren’t going to feel very sociable. As you get to know them, try to understand their situation. Sometimes they might be “with you ” physically, but not feel like communicating. That’s okay. You don’t have to fill every single minute with conversation. In fact, in a rush to fill the vacuum, you might blurt out some deathless platitude, such as “Well, at least you’re not XXXXXXXX.” Statements like this contribute absolutely nothing to the situation, nor to your friend’s state of mind. In fact, later you will probably kick yourself for saying something so stupid. Sometimes the presence of a supportive friend, sitting there quietly, tangibly demonstrating how important the relationship is, can make a big difference. Nature doesn’t always abhor a vacuum.

The big thing is that we can make a difference in someone else’s life by showing them that they are not alone, that others care.

While I am pleased that this issue is getting emphasized today, and I especially like the fact that several “successful” people are acting as spokespeople for the campaign b), this is an issue which needs our attention every day. I encourage you all to do further research on this important topic, because you have the power to change Society, Loyal Reader.

See you soon.

  1. a) My nickname for depression, and no, it is not a pet name.
  2. b) Facts like this contribute to destigmatizing mental health.

4 Responses to “Peter Talks About Mental Health”

  1. an important subject, Peter. Well said. Depression ain’t pretty. But it certainly exists.
    I’ve always loved that drawing of Eeyore that says, “One awesome thing about Eeyore is that, even though he is basically clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends. And they never expect him to pretend to feel happy; they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind, or ask him to change.”
    Yet another reason to wish we all could live in the Thousand Acre Wood .. 😉

  2. agirlwithacameratpt Says:

    Well said Peter. I have a number of friends who suffer from high anxiety and depression and all the extracurricular shit that goes with it. I don’t pretend to understand it, and it’s not a place I can go to but I love them “warts and all”….and yes, I check in on them on a pretty regular basis. Eeyore was one of my husband’s heroes, the complete antithesis of Micky Mouse, who was his other hero. Says a lot about Chris! 😉

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