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Sur Thor, la mythologie nordique et l’histoire derrière la Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale des hommes

[Read the article in English.]Týr_best

L’idée de créer une journée de sensibilisation pour mettre en lumière la santé mentale des hommes était une idée sur laquelle je réfléchissais depuis un certain temps, fin 2013 ou début 2014. Bien que le concept semblait assez simple, je cherchais un angle auquel je pourrais joindre la proclamation de la Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale des hommes. L’idée étant de « tirer profit » du calendrier d’une semaine ou d’un mois de sensibilisation existant pour tirer parti des opportunités de promotion.

Il y a d’abord eu l’inévitable consultation avec un expert en matière de santé mentale chez les hommes : le Dr Google. Quelle que soit la combinaison de mots clés que j’ai utilisée, aucun résultat pertinent ne m’a permis de penser qu’il y ait eu au préalable une journée spécifiquement consacrée à la sensibilisation à la santé mentale des hommes, de manière générale. De toute évidence, pour mes besoins, c’était une bonne chose. Mais à quel arbre pourrais-je accrocher mon nouvel ornement brillant?

Ce que j’ai découvert, c’est la Semaine internationale de la santé des hommes, qui a lieu la semaine précédant immédiatement la Fête des pères. Je n’en avais jamais entendu parler. Si cette semaine avait déjà été marquée au Canada à quelque titre que ce soit, je n’en ai trouvé aucune preuve à l’époque. Néanmoins, j’avais trouvé mon arbre. Et d’un point de vue purement personnel, il n’y avait pas de meilleur timing pour sortir mon ornement de la Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale des hommes que la semaine précédant la Fête des pères.

Pourquoi? Mon premier diagnostic officiel d’un épisode dépressif majeur – avec un trouble de l’humeur non spécifié – est apparu le lundi qui précéda la Fête des Pères 2012, entraînant un arrêt de travail immédiat et brutal. « C’est TELLEMENT parfait! », pensai-je. Quelle belle façon de profiter de « l’anniversaire » de mon pire moment d’adversité et de l’inverser de façon positive pour favoriser la promotion de la santé mentale. Sans parler de l’impact significatif que ma maladie et mon rétablissement ultérieur ont eu sur ma vision de ce que la paternité était supposée vouloir dire.

Le timing était donc plus ou moins établit. Mais de tous les jours de la semaine, je me suis demandé, est-ce que je vais en choisir un au hasard? Le lundi, pour la connexion personnelle? Ou un autre jour qui pourrait avoir une signification plus symbolique pour les hommes qui luttent en silence en raison de troubles de santé mentale?

Retour au Dr Google. Après quelques recherches sur le Web, je l’ai trouvé. J’ai eu mon moment Eureka! La Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale des hommes se tiendrait désormais le mardi précédant immédiatement la Fête des pères. Tout cela grâce à la récente sortie sur Blu-Ray (à l’époque) de Thor: The Dark World de Marvel.

Non, pas parce que je pensais que vivre avec une dépression revenait à vivre dans un monde sombre… même si c’est le cas. Le film m’a plutôt fait penser à la mythologie nordique.

Il se trouve que la journée « mardi », en anglais, trouve ses origines dans un dieu nordique (maintenant moins connu) appelé Týr – ou Tīw. Au fil du temps, le « Tīw’s Day » a évolué pour devenir le « Tuesday » [mardi] que nous connaissons aujourd’hui.

Pourquoi choisir le Jour de Tīw pour marquer la santé mentale des hommes? En bref, Tīw était le dieu nordique originel de la guerre. La justice, l’honneur, la bravoure, le courage dans le combat et le sacrifice de soi étaient tous des attributs masculins tels que définis par la culture qui ont été associés à Tīw.

Après avoir sacrifié sa main à la gueule du géant loup Fenrir pour le plus grand bien du monde, il est le seul dieu nordique à être décrit comme étant « moins qu’entier ». Pourtant, malgré cette limitation physique, cruciale pour un dieu de la guerre, il continua à s’épanouir et à triompher, faisant preuve d’une véritable résilience.

Et c’est comme ça que je vois les hommes aux prises avec des problèmes de santé mentale. Nous nous sentons « moins qu’entiers » lorsque nous vivons avec l’anxiété, la dépression, des traumatismes liés au stress opérationnel ou toute autre maladie mentale. Et pourtant, chaque jour, nous faisons preuve de bravoure, de courage et de résilience dans la lutte contre notre cerveau.

Nous sommes l’incarnation de l’esprit guerrier de Tīw.

Plus d’informations sur la mythologie Tīw peuvent être trouvées dans cet article [disponible en anglais seulement] du site Web The Art of Manliness.

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Posted by on June 6, 2019 in Blog

 

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Why My Local Kiwanis Club Has Me sKreaming Against Halloween Stigma

Why My Local Kiwanis Club Has Me sKreaming Against Halloween Stigma

Every Halloween season, the stigma against mental illness rears its ugly head, usually in the form of distasteful “dangerous crazies” costumes and asylum-themed decor. This year’s no exception.

But I’ve been so busy raising awareness and fighting stigma of mental illness on social media, that I was blindsided by what’s been happening in my own backyard of Orléans, a suburban community in the City of Ottawa’s east end.

sKreamers is the “demented and awkward child of the Kiwanis Club of Orléans.”

Their words, not mine. It says so right in the About section of the sKreamers website.

sKreamers is a so-called Halloween ‘attraction’ held annually at Proulx Farm in rural Cumberland, with the fictional Orléans Asylum for the Insane serving as its fictional backdrop.

It boggles the mind how a community service club like Orléans Kiwanis could find it acceptable to be teaching our youth that people with mental illness are to be feared.That denigrating people with mental illness as “bitchy, whiny inmates with very bad attitudes” is somehow all in good fun, in the spirit of the season.

Try telling that to the parent who’s lost a child to suicide, the #1 cause of non-accidental death among Canadian youth. Or to any of the 1.2 million Canadian children and youth who will struggle with mental illness this year.

This $20-admission ‘attraction’ features, among other activities, “The Escapee’s [sic] Insane Wagon Ride”, where you get to witness the “live-capture” and “beheadings” of in-patients from our local (fictional) mental health institution. As if that weren’t bad enough, you can also partake in “Shoot to Thrill” where, for a mere $5 more, Kiwanis volunteers will “train” you to take part in the “interactive inmate shooting gallery.”

Yes, you read that right. Because apparently open season on the mentally ill is what we want to be teaching our kids?

To call people with mental illness “uncontrollable” “assassins” is irresponsible at best, perpetuating the myth that those with mental ill health are dangerous killers, when they are much more likely to be victims of violence. So say the stats.

Labeling people with mental illness as “insane” or calling them “crazies” further fuels stigma. It shames into silence those who struggle with their mental health. Stigma is the single biggest barrier to people getting treated for mental illness.

And by the way, every single word in quotation marks above comes straight from the sKreamers website. It’s in their promotional material. Seems no one has taught Kiwanis members how the language we use matters… a lot.

One would think a service club whose motto is “Serving the Children of the World” would discourage name-calling and fear-mongering. And want to encourage our children to seek out mental health help and support when they need it.

Although too late in the season now, Orléans Kiwanis and their partners need to abandon the concept of a Halloween “asylum attraction” for 2018. It’s horrendous, hurtful and harmful to the 6.7 million of our fellow citizens diagnosed with mental illness. And its damaging to the Kiwanis brand.

But you can still do something about it for this year. Send Orléans Kiwanis an e-mail. Get your pumpkins from somewhere other than Proulx Farm. Spread the word by sharing this blog post.

And instead of heading out to sKreamers this weekend, donate the equivalent admission amount to The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health…and do so in the name of the Kiwanis Club of Orléans.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2017 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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