Saturday, 19 October 2013

"Grace & Luck"

People have asked us why we get involved in ethical campaigns. A great man said it best:

"There but for the grace of God go I." I recite this to myself often as I consider how lucky I am, through circumstance or chance or maybe even due to a higher power or purpose. Then again it could just be pure, dumb luck that I was born into a loving, supportive family. Luck that I was given everything that I need to live a life of comfort. Not everyone is so lucky.

Is it strange that I should be writing about luck? After 20 plus years battling depression and anxiety, I feel lucky? OK, maybe I am not super pleased that I have had to walk this path. But I am incredibly grateful that I have the means with which to equip myself for the battle: family support; access to a team of health care providers which has included, at various times, a psychiatrist and psychologists; a generous employer provided benefits package (expensive meds that are at no cost to me); and a roof over my head & food in my cupboards.
 
There is no doubt about it - treating mental illness comes at a cost. If I didn’t have everything that I have described above, I would be on the streets like so many poor souls. Souls just like me. These are people who have illnesses that should be treated, can be treated. But, sadly, aren’t. This is the world that we live in in 2013. Did I mention that I live in Vancouver, Canada? The same Vancouver that was recently listed as one of the most livable cities in the world. I think we made it into the top three. Yup, that Vancouver.
 
 
Vancouver really is a pretty great city and I adore it – I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I was very proud when our mayor and chief constable recently announced jointly & publicly that we are facing a crisis, a crisis of severe, untreated mental illness in Vancouver. Obviously I am not proud that this is a crisis but I am really pleased that our top leaders are saying that this is not OK. We can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening in our own backyard. Unfortunately, British Columbia’s Health Minister, Terry Lake, doesn’t agree.
 
In an op ed piece in the October 17, 2013 Vancouver Sun, Dr. Kerry Jang writes that Lake’s response was that we have a “problem, not a crisis” and that “more study to understand the scope of the problem” is needed. So the three studies already completed weren’t enough? Hmmm.
 
I am not an expert in mental health issues and the policy changes that need to happen in government. But I do know that the three studies, along with the statistic that one in three police calls in Vancouver is mental health related means one thing – it’s time for action. Let’s take what we have learnt, think innovatively, and perhaps use some of that money that must be sitting around for Minister Lake to throw at yet another study and eliminate a crisis. Let’s do what we can to help those who suffer from addiction & mental illness.
 
Tonight on the news there was a story about Vancouver’s missing women and memorial paving stones to be placed in the downtown East side in their honour. One of the clips showed the name and birth date of one of the murdered women: Sarah De Vries - May 12, 1969. That’s my birth date.
 
I Googled Sarah and her story is a sad one. A sex trade worker, she suffered from addiction and her life ended tragically at the hand of Robert Pickton. "There but for the grace of God go I."
 
 
So yes, I am damn lucky. And because of that I cannot remain quiet and do nothing. That would be a life full of gifts wasted. Yes, there is a cost to treating mental illness. But should there be? For what is the cost to society if we don't treat our sickest?
 
KB xo
 
Want to help out somehow? There are some easy ways to get involved. First of all, become educated and challenge assumptions and stigma when you hear them. Check out the Canadian Mental Health Association or Partners for Mental Health to learn more or to find out about volunteer opportunities.
 
Vancouver has two wonderful organizations that help out the mentally ill in Vancouver's downtown east side and can always use donations of money or needed items: the Union Gospel Mission and the Kettle Society
 

 

 




Wednesday, 9 October 2013

"Down the Rabbit Hole"

Inspirational quote
 
It's been awhile since I last wrote. Where have I been? Back down the rabbit hole. That damn rabbit hole leads to a dark place. A place that I have become well acquainted with over the years. A place that I hate visiting.
 
When I stopped falling I seemed to land with a thud. And, quite frankly, I was scared. I had tried to go back to work but after two weeks it was simply impossible for me to continue. I couldn't function and the anxiety was, once again, overwhelming. I felt devastated, like I was a failure. I wanted to be at work, living a normal life - not merely existing.
 
It has taken me a few weeks to regain some equilibrium. I feel like I can breathe again and I don't feel like I am walking through wet cement all the time anymore. Am I well yet? No but I made the choice that I always make. I chose to keep moving forward, even if that means that right now it's just small steps. At least it's forward motion.
 
This post is a step in that direction. Not as long as they usually are, it's a small personal victory. I may not be where I want to be right now, but I am getting there. Slowly but surely.
 
KB xo

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