Day 95 (of 187) thoughts on @Bell_letsTalk #BellLetsTalk Day with a thank you to @heylandsberg @matpatgt @sicknotweak
An important day. As I said to the grade 7 girl who pops into my office waaaay to early most mornings. Not every morning, but most…. a chance to feel free to talk about topics that make many people uncomfortable….especially in schools.
Anxiety (not worries) nice when they are specific (separation, phobias) not so fun when it is generalized…
Depression (not the same as being sad, much in the same way that a sore throat is not the same as throat cancer even though they make the same location hurt….)
Suicide (we talk about it – but too often after a suicide hoping to prevent “copy-cats” when the reality is that most suicides are way to personal to be “triggered” by what someone else does)
Baseline (how someone “normally” operates and why some “I’m going to kill myself” statements do not cause a Critical Incident intervention – unless what is normal has “changed” such as having some specific plans)
Triggers (identifying what may cause stress in someone – which of course is very personalized and can range from “too much loudness” to “too quiet”.)
But the more we talk about these subject, the more normalized it can be to not focus on the symptoms but instead dig deeper…
Shifting our thinking away from “what do you have to be sad about?”
“You think you’ve got worries?!?”
“Why would they kill themselves, they had so much to live for”
“They just snapped” (there is never a snap, but a change in the baseline due to various triggers)
Changing towards validating how hard it can be/is. And offering help…support…a cup of coffee…an ear. In some of my talks on mental wellness, I get asked about my own anxiety and I prefer to think of my struggle as more dealing with worries: I don’t like big crowds (and I can avoid that by not going back to the sun run). I still remember the nausea I felt walking to school in kindergarten and elementary, convinced I was sick….but also having the capability to put it in perspective and be aware that it always “went away” when I got distracted by the learning at school. My anxiety/worry dragon was tame in comparison to those with full blown anxiety and I don’t want to devalue their experiences by saying “I know how you feel”. Even though I can empathize and believe I know a part of what is being felt. Anxiety can be a good thing – it keeps us safe and alive….usually. It’s paring down the myriad of thoughts that suddenly run through the brain….as the image my son helped me create can illustrate when a(ny) question is asked (or dog barks or…)
And every possibility is possible – from the puppy staying inside the house to it eating my face. When everything can lead to a thought of death…that’s hard…and exhausting.
Having role models share their struggles helps:
@heylandsberg and his #sicknotweak @sicknotweak is sending a positive message about dealing with depression and that it’s not a quick (ever) “fix” but that the feelings don’t have to own you – you can own them!
Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Sarah Silverman have also talked about their anxiety and panic attacks (and one boy I work with will attest to panic attacks feeling very much like what he imagines a heart attack would feel like).
@matpatGT raised a small fortune for mental wellness and continues to promote mental health wellness support
– and I need to ask him and other youtubers to help put together some 5 minute “reset” videos to help distract brains for a short intervention to help get learners ready to enter (or re-enter) a class
Are some of these topics scary? Sure. Nobody wants to be depressed or anxious or…or…or…. but ignoring them hasn’t helped. And ignoring these topics makes our most at-risk learners think there is nobody “like them” because everybody else has their stuff together. Worst of all, the worst case scenario is literally. the. worst. thing.
I grow my beard in Movember because I’ve lost too many friends who didn’t talk about stuff because “men” didn’t talk about “that stuff”.
I blog and present on mental wellness IN school because I’ve known too many students who have taken their own life because of school stress.
I believe character matters so everybody deserves to be treated with respect and have a chance to graduate with dignity no matter your race, gender, postal code…or struggle. Schools are good at physical adaptions – actually most of society is getting better – but we still need to work on what we don’t see. As one of my favourite comic blocks points out:
Has over-sharing happened? Absolutely – and I listen without judgement and only offer support and encouragement. But an overshare and some tears beats having emergency personnel attend a tragic event.
My biggest fear for youth with mental health concerns remains self-medication because even though some substances are legal, the effects and affects that can have can be debilitating. From paranoia to suicide to long term addiction…I am proud of the Facebook posts I see from people saying “5 years clean” “10 years sober” and feel a pain when I learn that someone “made a bad choice…”. And so often because people felt alone.
Thank you @Bell for the nickel for each social media mention using #BellLetsTalk on January 30, 2019. Let’s break past $7 million today!
Medical links from the government of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/topics/mental-health-wellness.html