Let’s Talk 2017

Don’t remember if I’ve posted about Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada before, but January 25th, 2017 was a good day.

Bell raised money in support of mental health, asking Canadians and Bell subscribers to share messages with #BellLetsTalk in text messages and various social media platforms. The idea is that by talking about mental health openly, we can help end the stigma around it, and hopefully better support those around us who are affected or who are dealing with mental health.

This year’s #BellLetsTalk results:

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Some people might say that Bell’s approach to mental health awareness isn’t the right one, that money needs to come to programs and from the government and while this is all true, at least Bell is actively doing something, and they are getting people talking. Change happens when people start talking. “We must all work to eliminate the stigma around mental illness” by Erin O’Toole is a good read.

I’ve struggled with depression for a long time, and in January 2016 when things got really bad, I had a few great friends who were instrumental in getting the support and medication I need. Things are not perfect now but they are better than they were.

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#semicolonEDU

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“Not better yet, but finally getting help and making progress. Past few months have been a roller coaster. Big thank you to everyone who got me started in the right direction.”

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I’ve struggled with depression since high school for sure, maybe longer.

I’ve always thought that I could fix myself, that I could hide it, that I could put on a happy face and that I didn’t need help from others. But yet, depression has always been something holding me back.

There were a few times when I was really low. At these times, I was ‘forced’ into counseling or talking with someone. When the mandatory sessions ended, I always stopped going thinking I was fine again, I put that happy face back on and that I was okay.

Someone told me something along the lines of the following: “you have to choose to get help for it to make a difference.” I believe she was right.  This past January, I hit the lowest I’ve probably been. It was effecting me emotionally and physically. It was effecting my relationships, my work, my studies. It was another time when I had lost hope… Thank goodness for a few people who made doctors appointments for me and who came with me. I believe that this time, I did make the choice to go to the doctors, to take the medication and to see the counselors. I’ll stick with the doctors, but I’m still a little weary of counseling..

Since January, I can say that I no longer believe that I can fight this battle on my own. I’m glad that people helped me get back on track. I’ve made progress, but still have a ways to go..

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I’ve finally felt able to share my experience.

This post was inspired by Project Semicolon:

Project Semicolon (The Semicolon Project) is a faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire.

Your story isn’t over yet.

This post I guess, is also in response to The Nerdy Teacher’s post, The Semicolon and The Nerdy Teacher #semicolonEDU #ProjectSemicolon. To see other stories, search #semicolonEDU on Twitter or check out this post, #semicolonEDU Reflections from The Nerdy Teacher.

It needs to be shared

When you get better, everything in your life will get better. Nothing improves until you do.
– Larry Winget

 

The following is a part of my personal story. Recent in fact, from a few days ago.
I feel like it needs to be shared.

It is okay to ask for help. To reach out because you are worth it. I have been reminded of this.

I need to get better this time. I am continuing on that path as I have been for 8+ years.
However, this time things need to be improved. They must get better.
So that I can be the best person I can be.

. . .

I arrived 2 August’s ago and met you in September. I knew your name and what you taught. 
I would see you almost everyday in passing. 
I didn’t really meet you until mid November though, when I actually talked to you. When I began to work with your class.
It was then that I realized you would become a good friend to me. 
But this would come too late, early December. 
You left early for Christmas and I was going back to Regina at the end of that month. 

When I actually did talk to you, I found out you were different than people said you were.
You cared. You wore your heart on your sleeve. You’ve had to be so, so strong; and you still are, perhaps stronger even. 
I confided in you and you told me you would be there for me. 
That’s something so easily said, “I’ll be there for you”. 
I often wonder if we truly mean it when we tell someone this..

When we said goodbye, we didn’t really say  goodbye. 
You said we’d stay in touch..
You made me promise to call you if I was ever in a rough spot, if I needed someone to talk to. 
No matter what time it was, or whether you were in Yorkton or if you were in California. 
You gave me all your numbers, I still have them today. 
But the best thing you did was make me make that promise to you. 
There were times I thought of calling you, but I didn’t. 
I don’t think you realized how important I valued what you offered me, nor did I ever think I would have to call you..

. . . .

Time went on. 
We texted each other for a few months after I came back to Regina. 
That was good. 
But then life went on and I felt like we drifted apart. 
I felt like I should have things together by now; that I no longer needed your support. 
I realize now how silly those thoughts were..

. . . .

It was early August again, a year later. 
You called and said, “Why don’t you come back to Yorkton? There might be a job for you here.”
I sent in the forms and a resume and I was put on the substitute teacher’s list 
It was a start.
I came back for you, but I also in part came for me … but I came because I was running again; I was still running.  
I watched you have to be even stronger than ever.
I respected you so much more. 
Things got better for you – thank heavens. 

You would text me the odd time and ask me tech questions – I was your tech person. 
And then it stopped.. 
I felt like that was all I was good for; helping with tech problems.
The dynamics of our relationship/friendship changed; or maybe it didn’t but to me it felt like it did. 
I became angry and frustrated. 
I gave up and thought what was the point. 
You were busy with your own life and family and that was fine. 

. . . 

I got to a bad point. 
I didn’t see the point anymore.
I thought it would be easier to end my story. 
I didn’t think anyone would care or would notice. 
I had already lost the people I thought were important to me. 
There was nothing really keeping me here since people stopped being a part of my life, or I had simply pushed them out. 

That morning I did something stupid. 
I did it, and I realized what I had done.
It cause me to feel scared, to panic and to worry.
I didn’t image it would be this way.  
Ultimately I didn’t want to feel this way…

I realized that it was in fact not time for my story to end. Not just yet. 
But I was gonna wait to see what would happen. 
After some time, I picked up my phone and texted you. 
I said, “I’ve done something stupid. I made a mistake. Help me.” 
I didn’t know if you were at work or if you would answer but you did. 
You messaged me and then you called me, and then you came and got me . 
We went to the hospital. You stayed for a bit, then you went to work. 
You came and picked me up. 

We talked. 
You told me you want to help me. 
You told me that this time, counselors and doctors need to make things better this time for good. 
That yes, the 4th time needs to be the charm. 
You said you won’t give up on me this time. 

I got your attention. That’s what a part of me needed. 
I never wanted you to worry or to feel scared for me, although I realize I did that.
And for that I am truly sorry.
You’re here for me, and you never left me. 
You’re so glad that I kept my promise to you. When the doctors where there and you were with me, you told them about that promise.

. . . .

I am and will forever be grateful to you.
Beyond words, there is no way I can express to you how blessed I am to know you. 
So we’ve started a plan. You’re on my case about it, which is good. I need that. 
I want this to be the time things get better. It has to this time. 
I can’t do it without you.
I know you’re still here, that you never left me, nor that you ever will.

I am truly honoured that you are my friend.
I’m glad I called you.

promise me

I’m still keeping that promise to you …

 

Don’t Be A Bully, Be A Buddy

Last week was Anti-Bullying Awareness Week in Canada, November 12-16. Students at St. Mary’s School in Yorkton, SK took part in learning about bullying and their mission was to “make bullying unacceptable for everyone, everywhere.”

At the end of the week, they put together this video: Be A Buddy, Not A Bully

Be A Buddy Not A Bully from CTTCS on Vimeo.

So be a buddy! Don’t be a bully!

Also, check out this video from MuchMusic Talks: Artists against bulling site for more information and check out their True Colors Video below:

 

 

Mental Health – Student Relationships

Mental Health – How a person thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life’s situations. Mental health is how people look at themselves, their lives, and the other people in their lives; evaluate their challenges and problems; and explore choices. This includes handling stress, relating to other people, and making decisions. – Network Therapy

 

There are many forms of mental health than can affect many different people in many different ways.

Relationships at home, school, with peers key to teens’ mental health: study

Highlights from the study:

  • Mental health does not only affect adults, it is also affects students as well.
  • Relationships with others can affect our health and mental health.
  • Peer and adult relationships are equally important.
  • Talking to parents can create emotional stress for some children.
  • More girls find it easier to talk to their mothers, and boys to their fathers.
  • Some students believe their parents expect too much of them.
  • Girls may have higher emotional problems, and boys, behaviour problems.
  • Bullying is also an issue, especially with various form of bullying.
  • Some say it is important, and even a responsibility of teachers, parents and peers to watch for signs of mental health problems and to step in and create positive connections and relationships with them.

Why is all of this important then?

I really do think that relationships are very important in regards to mental health. Students need close friends and peers. They need parents who love them, who support them and who they are able to talk to. Strong relationships that classroom teachers can build with their students can be very important to a student who does not have a close relationship with their parents. Teachers can be the one person that supports them and encourages them, someone who keeps them on the right track. I think it is important that teachers and peers look out for their students and friends, because sometimes those close to us can miss warning signs of mental health problems.

How many youth (seen in the news or heard about) have taken their own lives for one reason for another? My answer is that because I have heard about it, one death is too many. Even when we may think that everything is just fine, it is easy for some to hide a problem and say “I’m doing ok” even when they are not. It’s hard to ask for help and it may seem like it is easier to hide or to deal with things alone, but this wont help you in the long run. Mental health is an issue that we have the power to change if only we can show those in need that we care, that we want them to be happy and that it is okay to ask for help. The people that see the changes and take the time to care can be the ones who can save a life.

 

I have great parents, but I find it really hard to talk to them. In high school, I felt myself pulling away from them and this has continued to even now. In high school I turned to a teacher and a guidance counsellor and with out them, I don’t know if I would be here today. They supported me and kept pushing me in the right direction. Then, I felt that I could manage things, that I could deal with my feelings of depression alone. I kept busy and distracted myself from the feelings by working and with school. I’d like to say it worked – I made it up until last year when the feelings took over and things got pretty bad. I started seeing a counsellor and things were improving. But then it was summer and then I would be going to Yorkton for internship and counselling ended. I felt I could manage on my own, that I could hide it and say that everything is okay.

I can’t say that my parents didn’t notice changes in me, they tried to get me to talk and I would just say that I was okay and that would be that. I had a friend who said, “what’s up with you – let me know if you need anything” – I appreciated this. I find it easier not to ask for help because I feel like I am burdening someone – I know this isn’t true, but that’s how I see it. So as I was moving away from one part of my life and starting internship – I thought everything would be a new start. Things started off good, and then there were days when I didn’t want to go to school, when it was getting bad again. So, with the help of my co-op teacher, I saw a counsellor once again. It’s hard to start all over again with a new counsellor – but I realize that this is important to do. Things were getting better, but the feelings were still there. I was very lucky to make a couple of really good friends in Yorkton, some very strong women who continue to stay in contact with me – they support me, they care and they keep encouraging me to seek the help I need.

It’s scary to ask for help, to make the phone call or appointment and to actually show up and to talk.

Most days I think I can do it myself, and other days, I phone a friend and they keep me going, they are there for me. I am truly great full for the people in my life, who have created relationships (from high school and up until now) where they show me that they care, that they support and continue to support me when I cannot support myself. Things are getting better.

I think educators need to build strong relationships with their students. I think they can and should look out for their students – I hope to look out for mine.

I also think it is important for people to continue to speak up about mental health issues. They should label us, but should make us stronger.