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Author Archives: mensdencanada

Canada is back? When it comes to mental health, we were never there.

These are the Faces of Mental Illness. Mine is. Maybe yours is, too.

Another 6 million Canadians will suffer a mental illness this year. Almost 4,000 will die by suicide as a result.

Yet when it comes to healthcare, we are second class citizens in our own country. Stigma is the PC term, but what we are really talking about is discrimination. 

The WHO Constitution enshrines “…the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.” The right to health includes access to timely, acceptable, and affordable health care of appropriate quality.

Canada is back? When it comes to mental health, we were never there. Per capita funding for mental health in Canada stands at $5.22. Compare:

UK: $62.22

AUS: $98.13

NZ: $198.93

Mental Illness Awareness Week starts tomorrow, October 2. Share this post with your Member of Parliament. Share it with your MPP/MLA/MHA/MNA. Share it and let them know that you believe a Health Accord without mental health, is no Health Accord at all. 

This is our generation’s civil rights battle.

Will you sit on the sidelines, or will you answer the call?

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Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Ronaldo, Euro Cup 2016 and Why a Former NHL Enforcer Blocked Me on Twitter

(TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE, METHODOLOGY)

Dear Georges Laraque,Laraque1

I am deeply saddened by yesterday’s events. Not by the fact that you blocked me on Twitter – I wasn’t Following your account, in any event – but saddened by what blocking me says about your understanding of mental illness, suicide and stigma.

Don’t get me wrong, Georges, I truly feel for you. What sports fan cannot relate to the heart wrenching loss of a favoured team? Where I feel no empathy is in your choice of words to express the agony you felt in France’s Euro Cup 2016 defeat at the hands of a Ronaldo-less Portugal.

Je vais me pendre.

And for the bilingually-challenged, you even made a point of repeating this message through a second tweet, this time in the language of Shakespeare:

“I’m gonna hang myself.”

That’s what you said, Georges. Word for word. Not once, but twice.

You suggested that your words were just a common expression, a figure of speech. Not one that I’ve ever heard, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. We don’t exactly travel in the same circles.

Now, I’m a reasonable fellow. I truly believe there was no ill-intent on your part. And I also believe you when you say you weren’t being serious. But by the same token, you also said you weren’t joking about or mocking suicide.

You see, Georges, that’s the whole point of why people are upset about these tweets of yours. Regardless of your intent, the opposite of being serious is being light-hearted. Funny. Flippant. Trivial. Pick your own antonym.

Every single day, we lose 11 Canadians to suicide, primarily due to untreated mental illness. That’s almost 4,000 people in Canada every year, leaving an estimated 32,000 loved ones behind to grieve. They deserve more from a public figure like you than light-hearted, flippant “figures of speech” that allude to the painful loss of a loved one.

So yes, I called you on it on Twitter. As I have called out many others and will continue to do so. The only way we can S.T.O.P. the stigma around suicide and mental illness is by calling out the use of language that Stereotypes, Trivializes, Offends or Patronizes people living with mental health issues. Because stigma leads to the shame, isolation and despair at the root of suicide.

In your heart, you know I and others were right to call you on it. Or you wouldn’t have subsequently deleted your trivial tweets and related replies. Thank you for that, by the way. Recognizing the cause of an issue – and trying to limit the harm caused – is half the battle.

But here’s the other half to complete your act of contrition: put out publicly a heartfelt, sincere apology to the survivors of suicide loss for your poor choice of words. Use your public platform to promote suicide prevention.

And become known as a different type of Enforcer, one who lays down the law on language that stigmatizes suicide and mental illness.

Be well,

Jean-François

a.k.a. @DysthymicDad

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in Blog

 

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Black Dog Blokes’ Blog Featured Fellow: Michael Kasdan

This week’s Black Dog Blokes’ Blog guest post is an abridged adaptation of Michael Kasdan’s story, originally published anonymously on The Good Men Project on August 28, 2014, under the title: “Depression. A Part of the Human Condition.

MichaelKasdanIn the not-too-distant past, I was one of those people that believed that there was no such thing as depression. That everyone gets sad. That it was a cop out. A sign of weakness, by those who can’t cope.

I was wrong.

As I learned from experience—it’s real. Very real. There was a time when, over a period of months, I became absolutely paralyzed. Every day was too much. Everything shut down. I couldn’t write. And I couldn’t think, except for the cycling fears and the anxieties. I wouldn’t interact with those around me. I didn’t want to be around anymore.

It was the lowest period of my life, the nadir (or perhaps the culmination?) of my battle with depression. And coming to terms with my depression—even just talking about it, has been incredibly difficult.

♦◊♦

I didn’t begin having periods of depression until about five years ago. The truth is, I still feel confused about why it happened. I still feel shame about it. I still often feel that it’s “not me,” and that it makes me a weaker person. I question why this happens to me, what is wrong with me.

In these past five years, I have had recurring “episodes” that vary in intensity and length. Some of these episodes have been cripplingly paralyzing and excruciating on a day-to-day and minute-to-minute level. They seem to be triggered when a number of stressors occur at the same time, situations that seem impossible, that I can’t think my way out of. Perhaps it’s my mind powerfully saying “I don’t like this,” but at the same time not seeing a path forward. So it rebels. I’m not sure.

What does it feel like?

“Living with depression is the loneliest feeling in the world. It’s almost like an auto-immune disease of the mind. You turn on yourself.”

 

Living with depression is the loneliest feeling in the world. It’s almost like an auto-immune disease of the mind. You turn on yourself. You tell yourself you are worthless, you are ugly. The brain simply shuts down and takes with it the centers that you use to make decisions, to be funny, to be interesting, to feel love, to see beauty, to experience joy. It’s full on lethargy, and a powerful malaise takes over.

It’s absolutely exhausting, both physically and mentally. It’s hard to motivate myself to do anything. I can’t check emails without great fear and anxiety. I am seized by severe – almost ridiculous – procrastination. I cannot make even the most basic of decisions. And it builds on itself; undone tasks stack up, as time passes it gets harder and harder to reach out to friends, harder even to get out of bed.

Even though I know it’s illogical, even though I know I should reach out to friends, stop procrastinating, exercise, do the things that make me happy, I simply can’t. Worse still, when I am in its clutches and those around me try to help by suggesting I do all those things, the fact that I can’t makes me feel even more hopeless, more worthless. It’s a loneliness feedback loop, and there seems no way out.

And then it just stops.

For me, coming out of depressive periods happens suddenly and for no apparent reason. It’s not like I have all these wonderful tools and use them to work my way out of it. Nope. I just hold on for dear life until it ends. And it does. When it’s ready, the fog lifts, the sky clears, and I feel strong and energetic, creative, playful, sharp, and intellectually curious. I feel “myself” again. Usually within a few days. Thank God.

♦◊♦

Though I hope to never go through another episode, having been through recurring depression, in a strange way, also makes me feel more alive. It has forced me to be more in touch with my emotions. I feel like I’ve grown, like my focus on what’s important and what matters to me is sharper. I have also learned through this that the best thing we can do is to be open about it and be kind to each other. To watch our friends and our loved ones. To support each other. To be patiently loving.

And being sensitive to the pain and needs of others makes me feel more human. It makes me feel more connected to the world; not less. Like depression is part of the human condition.

When you think about it, that’s really incredible. Because that feeling of connection, it’s the exact opposite of loneliness. That this feeling can spring from the ultimate loneliness and pain of depression is hopeful, invigorating and impossibly delicious.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2016 in Blog

 

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