Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bell Let's Talk Day - Your brain is an organ, you know.

Today is Bell Let’s Talk day – a day where mental health issues are brought to the forefront of the Canadian media, traditional and social.

It’s also Mercury Retrograde, a time where Murphy’s Law reigns supreme, but also a time when the creative and the unconventional also take charge. Most people are afraid of change, of seeing what happened previously, and stall before they can move forward.

Other people think it’s a load of horse shit, this Mercury Retrograde. After all, things just go wrong. At the same time. For everyone.

That’s fine. Believe what you will. But where we usually go wrong is when we start to believe that we know best for everyone else.

If you know me, you know I go in for the whole astrology thing. The occult stuff. I always have. I have grandmothers and great aunts who are obiers. I have family who have guardian angels and talk with spirits. I’ve gone through a bunch of stuff myself that I’m not ready to talk about but may make a good story one day. But I believe.

I have friends and acquaintances who do not. We still get along, even if we broach the subject. I know what I know from first-hand experience; they know what they know from their own first-hand experience.

I have broken off communications with (now former) friends, both believers and non, who have tried to force their experiences down my throat to the point that they deny me mine.  They tell me that what I experienced is “wrong”, “unbelievable”, “inaccurate”, or something along those lines. Because they didn’t experience things the way I did, they believe they are more correct than I am.

Good for them. That’s why they’re ex-friends.

What does this all have to do with mental health issues?

Because we treat mental health the way we treat anything we can’t see. Like it doesn’t exist. It’s not real. It’s nothing to concern ourselves about.

The brain is an organ, like the heart, the lungs, the kidneys… organs get sick. We can physically see the results of what happens when our kidneys get sick, when our lungs collapse, when our hearts struggle to function.

People believe they cannot see what happens when our brains get sick. But we do.

That really nice person you know who works 3 cubicles over stops talking to you. Or gets bitchy day after day. Obviously she must be on her period, she’s not getting laid…whatever comical excuse you make.

There’s a kid in your child’s class that can’t stop screaming. Well his parents must spoil him. He needs a good spanking or something to straighten him out.

Your bubbly friend on social media who loves to chatter and debate with everyone stops returning messages, stops posting witty sayings. You figure they got a real world life so you ignore them and move along.

Your other friend on social media won’t stop complaining about her life. It must be awful to be her in a big house with her beautiful children and her gorgeous purebred dogs. Some people just won’t be happy with what they have. Why doesn’t she just cheer up?

Because you can’t see what’s wrong with them – they’re not bleeding, they’re not pale, they’re not collapsed in a heap on the ground – then they must be fully healthy. Because nothing ever goes wrong with the brain. It’s the only organ that is impervious to disease and degeneration, right?

We would be well to remember that we are not like anyone else we know. We don’t know what people experience, and what they go through, even if we have been through it ourselves. We don’t know anyone’s family history unless they tell you.

For example, my mother had an aneurysm within a week after I was born. At the time, in 1970, she was one of three people on the planet who survived a ruptured brain aneurysm without surgery. They don’t know how. She was comatose for over six weeks, and when she came back, she had to learn how to walk, talk, eat, read, dress herself…everything again. Along with having a new baby. She always had remembering issues, but she would always talk about why. If you met my mother back then, you’d think she was just a little slower than most, but a very kind lady nonetheless.

My son was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum at the age of 3. People often asked me how did I know. A mother knows when something isn’t right with her child. Good parents use every resource available to them until a solution can be found for their child/ren. Even when people tell you that it’s just a “discipline problem”.

His father’s family has a history of brain disorders, as we came to learn quickly. His father was diagnosed with epilepsy three months after our son was born. Because it was a physical disorder, his family opened up a little more to discuss some of the “issues” that had arisen throughout their history. But before that, nothing had been discussed. My son has cousins who have brain disorders as well, ones that are much more severe than his.

I have never been formally diagnosed, but I know when my brain isn’t feeling well. I know when sadness is just more than the blues, and when euphoria is more than a rally cry. I know how it affects me. I used to hide in corners and say nothing. Now I use social media to vent. I write so I’m not clutching at pain, in a false belief that things will never be better. I found tools to help me, but I also know that when I can’t handle it, there are people to see and places to go where I can get the help I need.

Today is about coming together to see things differently. To let people know it’s okay to be sick. To let them know you believe them, even if you don’t agree with them. As it should be with everything, whether it’s the occult or whether it’s an ailment. Accept the people who come into your life for who they are; offer to help them always. That’s the essence of humanity.

Give mental health the respect it deserves, today and every day. Just like you should do the people in your life. 

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