yes. let’s talk.

Once again, it’s a telecommunications giant’s day of hashtagging to promote themselves and an open discussion of mental illness…

But for one day only.

That being said, mental illness is a 24/7 365 kinda thing for those who live with it. My struggle with mental illness, particularly depression, PTSD and anxiety disorder has been ongoing since 2014. I still go for treatment and I am often told that I should:
– be grateful that a large corporation runs this campaign.
– REALLY should try to get over things.

And one person asked “what are YOU bringing to the table?”

These are people who have used the branded frame on their profile picture and reposted the hashtag many times. They’re all pretty aware folks however repeated the VERY SAME stigmatizing talk that the day is supposed to be avoiding IN THE NAME OF the day!

Let’s talk is a good first step towards ongoing conversations regarding mental health issues. It was a good first step taken in 2011 and seven years later we’re STILL ON that “good first step.”

Let’s talk raised $100 million and counting for mental health organizations, yet a 50 minute session with a counsellor still costs $160 for those without comprehensive health insurance plans.

I won’t comment that one of the organizations who benefits from this is notoriously “top heavy” with executives and has a reputation of a focus on “white collar” mental health issues while trying avoid the “messier” diagnoses.

THIS is why I seem ungrateful:
– If they truly cared the hashtag would read #letstalk without the advertising. I’m all for talking about destigmatizing mental health, however, even as a customer, I am NOT going to extend social media reach.
– This campaign treats dealing with mental health issues as a “holiday” instead of removing the stigma by forcing people to deal with Mental Health issues as I do – 365 days a year. This is why I post about my struggles – often triggering the “get over it/yourself” comment.

And it wasn’t just me – I know of other people struggling who were targeted for being critical of the campaign while sharing their experiences. These three other people have been up front and open regarding their struggles and LIVE “mental health awareness” 24/7 365.

I guess by talking and writing publicly of our struggles, we are whining and not contributing. Because we currently don’t have a bright and shiny story that ends with a “happily ever after” to suit a corporate video campaign, our struggles don’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I guess my having an inexplicably bad day where things are just “meh” or worse for absolutely no reason whatsoever doesn’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I guess by repeatedly advertising services who support mental health treatment and provide crisis intervention, working as both a social worker and lay minister doesn’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I’m not doing this to complain or to be an “inspiration,” I’m trying to get people to understand that mental illness treatment is an ongoing process that may not have a tidy ending with all loose ends neatly tied in a bow.

Dear friends, if you were truly invested in ending stigma around mental health beyond feeling good for posting/tweeting a hashtag to raise 5 cents, you would engage your friends who haven’t had their happily ever after and still struggle.

You WOULDN’T tell them to get over it. You’d be there to listen, you’d ask them if there is anything they can do and if not you’d JUST BE THERE.

Fuck. The residents in the Hundred Acre Wood accepted Eeyore, despite his chronic depression!

To instead of a hashtag, let’s share information regarding the resources.

#letstalkhamilton #nomorestigma

If you are depressed, in distress, or in crisis, call the Distress Centre.

Coast Hamilton Hamilton Crisis Line 24 hours – 905-972-8338

Barrett Centre for crisis support 905-529-7878 (24 hour crisis support phone line, 10 residential beds for 3-5 day crisis stay, DBT skills group, CAMS therapy)

Salvation Army army HOPE LINE…1-855-294-HOPE

Sacha Hamilton 24 hour support line 905-525-4162

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moving on?

A number of my friends have/are coming up on anniversaries where they’ve lost a loved one – be it their spouse, partner, parent, pet.

They all have posted on how they “move on” and rediscover who they are. My answer is simple:

You don’t.

You don’t “move on” – you just keep on moving along your path. Don’t remain mired in the past and ruminating on what life “could have been like” if the loved one still lived. Stop ruminating on what they are doing now and focus on YOU.

Stop counting the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes since your life changed. Your life has changed and what was in the past is in the past. It is the foundation on what you base your future life and growth upon – it’s part of you but it’s time to build upon what was started, instead of contemplating the work already done.

You don’t rediscover who you are. Because you are no longer a “we” or “they” you are a “me” and a “you.”

You are still the same person as you once were. You were not defined strictly by the loved one whom you shared your life with. You still have the same fears, the same cares, the same spirit and heart, albeit a little more tattered and torn due to recent losses. But it’s up to you to mend what you can and continue to add to the quilt that your life is.

The pain of those old wounds will remain. Stop trying to ignore it and forget that it happened, but at the same time – stop picking at them and trying to get them to bleed. Let them heal and wear your scars proudly as they show your character and that you have fought battles and come out (hopefully) victorious, or at least a survivor.

Treat your past like looking in a photo album. Remember the happy times, the funny stories, the painful moments and yes the heart-wrenching tragedies and loss. Revisit them from time to time but try not to wallow, put the album back on the shelf for you to revisit again further down your path.

Your loved one would want you happy. They would want you to remember the better times and what joy or happiness they brought to your life. They would want you to find a similar joy so you can have that sensation regularly in your life.

They would NOT want you sad. Angry. Depressed.

You are not replacing them. You are not forgetting them. You are honouring their memory and the love you shared together.

Try to remember that myke!

Edit:

I wrote the above in my personal journal last night, because this Valentines Day would have been the 20th anniversary of my first date with Larry and will be the 5th anniversary of his death in August. I had noticed my beginning to psych myself up and tear myself apart and finally stopped to ask myself why I was setting myself up for a meltdown.

I, too, have had at least one other devastating life changing event but I managed to come to terms with it and didn’t set myself up for anniversaries and rehash “what could have been” because I accepted it as a fact and tried my best to build upon the outcome. I still bear the scars but I don’t let them control me…

spinning my wheels

Despite my best efforts, 2017 was a year of being on pause.  Nothing I set out to do transpired as external forces precluded me from following through on plans and dreams.  2018, so far, has been a series of unfortunate surprises and disappointment.

It’s hard not to get discouraged in life these days.  Despite all the goodness that is happening in my world, it seems like I’m mired in the mud, spinning my tires, doing little more than getting frustrated and dirty.

Getting back in the saddle and “putting myself” out there has resulted in a whole lot of frustration and one pretty darkly funny thing – I now have the ultimate “icebreaker” for functions – “Hi, my name is Myke and I’ve dated a potential serial killer!”

Fuck.  If that’s the highlight of my past year…things are looking pretty bleak for me relationship-wise.

By the way – it was a coffee at the Second Cup on Church St., little more – he told me I really wasn’t his “type” before I sat down to drink.  I guess I’m lucky?

I met another great guy who was charming, intelligent, spiritual, EMPLOYED (!) in good health and had dashingly good looks.  All was well until I found out that he is 78 years old and will turn 80 in 2019.  I’m okay with an age difference, however when he has a grandchild who is older than me – it’s an issue as statistically speaking, he won’t live long enough to share my retirement years with me in a meaningful way.

I’ve already buried and mourned one husband…I don’t want to be worrying about going through that again in the near future.

Musically, it seems I’m stuck in a rut.  The Foundation EP was disappointing.  Despite it having 2-3 of my best songs so far, it hasn’t sold and I’m hard pressed to pull the trigger on CD copies when I only have three pre-orders – I’ll have to do it soon because I owe those folks their CDs – maybe I’ll turn the rest into a VERY expensive art project.  I have two bags of custom guitar picks from my “pre-Hamilton” days with my name misspelled on them, despite my being a D’Addario/Planet Waves artist at the time…the story of “Myk’s” life I suppose…

I’ve put myself “out there” for gigs, which has fallen on deaf ears so I’m wondering at this point…why bother?  People tell me I need to play more and get out, however the very same people always have an excuse for not attending, even if the shows are free or pay what you can.  The next gig will be small, local and likely live streamed…we shall see…

At the same time, people whom I’ve given support, chances and opportunity to have failed to engage me in their projects, despite assurances in the past they’d do so.  It’s quite clear that support and opportunity flow in one direction away from me…

I’m beginning to get mercenary in my decluttering and cleaning house.  I’m also getting mercenary in NOT bringing in any new clutter or unnecessary objects, having to justify moving them in the near future.  I’m beginning to see less reason to keep the house at this juncture in my life – we shall see what transpires as I continue to determine what the future will or will not bring for me.  At the moment, I just want less shit weighing me down!

So if you see me and wonder why I look so pensive and dark – please don’t tell me to smile because there’s a high likelihood you WILL get a VERY honest reply from me.  By the way did I tell you I want on a coffee date with a person who’s suspected of murdering two people, perhaps more?

There’s a song in there, I’m sure, but at this point it seems that nobody’s listening.

<sigh>