I am sharing a mother’s plea for parents to talk to their children about embracing their differences as well the uniqueness of others.
The video was made after her nine year old son came home upset that he was the subject of racial jokes. Listening to her plea made me think how we, as adults, need to be better models not just in how we interact with different cultures, races and religions but also in the face of any differences. I love how Dianne does not talk about “tolerating” but embracing our differences.
A child growing with a learning difference , a teen experiencing a mental health condition, a youth struggling with his or her sexual orientation or sexual identity or a youth growing up with physical or intellectual challenges should embrace their differences and other youths should as well.
Children are not born prejudice…it is learned…modelled. I’m not saying all children learn this from their parents. We all know how our children learn and change when they go to school. If they have learned a biased way of looking at the world through jokes or racial slurs they heard on the playground, then we, as adults, educators and parents have a responsibility to talk to them about this on so many levels.
Perhaps we, as adults, need to take a moment or two and take inventory on our own beliefs and feelings before speaking to our children. Children are sensitive and savvy and can see through what is real. So take your time to reflect on your thoughts first.
We are not perfect but let’s try to be the best human we can in this imperfect world.
Who am I but me?
in all my imperfections,
I am perfect!
So much training is needed on educating our youths and adults on mental health. I know people still say the “R” word and think nothing of it, calling a bad joke “gay” and asking someone if they are “borderline” or “bi-polar” when they are in a bad mood or upset about something. It still bothers me, sometimes it discourages me and many times it angers me.
I suppose getting angry may give the impression I am feeling powerless, giving into my frustration. But sometimes I think you have to get a bit angry or raise your voice to show people it is NOT okay. I am NOT saying it is not politically correct, I am saying it is cruel and ignorant!
A few weeks ago I was listening to a few younger college girls talking on the bus. They were about 18 or 19 and they were gossiping about a friend (who was not there to defend herself) and complaining about her bad moods but more specifically her mood swings. They never referred to “mood” but kept saying, “she flips” or “bi-polars”. Wow, now Bi-polar is a verb! Who knew?! It is often used as an adjective as well. I could not help but bend over and ask them what the heck they meant by the term “bi-polaring”. A few faces looked stunned and pink and the one who said it was more a crimson tone.
“Um, I meant she flips a lot.”
I said, “You mean, she changes moods a lot.”
A sigh of relief from crimson face, “Yeah, that’s what I meant. I didn’t mean to sound rude. I actually know what Bi-Polar means and I know several Bi-Polars.” She seemed quite proud of herself as if saying something like, some of people with Bi-polar are my best friends.
I respond with my soft daycare attendant voice (since they are acting like toddlers),
“Oh, actually there is no such thing as a bi-polar just like there is no such thing as a Schizophrenic or borderlines for that matter.”
Her pink face started darkening again…I continued…
“There are, however some people who may have a bi-polar condition but that does not define them just like some people who may be suffering from depression and so on.”
Crimson face bobs her head quickly, “Yes, I totally know that.”
I just smiled and went back to reading my Kindle feeling a little less agitated.
People laughing. Some are talking about parties they will be hosting or attending. Others are smiling as they share the cute anecdotes their young children have said as tension is mounting until Santa arrives. Workplaces are bustling with holiday rush deadlines; retailers are on robotic mode trying to exceed their quota for the extra “end of the year” bonus; some are talking about the baking they have been doing for the past few weeks leading to THE Day, anxious to welcome their family and friends. So many caught up in the holiday spirit, it can be contagious yet for others it can be a turn off for some…
Many young children are not so excited about the holidays or rather they have disturbingly mixed feelings. They may welcome the time off to relax or cringe at too much time at home where there is tension and conflict among siblings or between parents. Some worry about the over indulgence of drinking or worse. What about Uncle so and so or Aunt what’s her name? The last time they saw him or her, they still cannot wipe away the memory of what happened… Some children have to become the parent because of the drinking…It’s not always what it’s all cracked up to be.
The holidays can also be just any old day for some because their life is “same ol’- same ol’” and dark clouds are permanent fixtures that hover over them.
Why? it’s relaxin’ and a no brainer. I don’t have to even try to think!
Stop it, I say!! Your brain is turning to mush sitting there, watching flic after flic on the that screen!! Can’t you see?
Oh, is that what it is? “Mush” is it? I thought it was called depression.
Oh…(person silently ducks away)
Ever have a conversation with a friend…well, not a best friend but the many friends and colleagues/peers/classmate, where some have become closer, who confide in you and you sometimes in them, ask you how you are? That conversation above is a snippet on how they can be cut so short, whether you are a student, a worker or person meeting someone at a coffee shop or on the street.
What is the politically correct response when someone appears sad, depressed or mourning a loss for example? Some may say, “Well, you have to be able to listen and be there for the person”. Okay, I can see that happening but for many individuals, there is an internal clock they have and it individually sets an alarm when “enough is enough” to listening. It can go like that snippet above or like this:
How are you doing today? You look kinda glum, what’s going on?
Nothing and everything I guess. I feel a bit lost.
Hmmm, how does that feel to feel lost?
I’m sorry it’s been so challenging for you lately.
Hmmm, gee I’m sorry! Is there anything I can do…?
Here! have a chocolate that’ll perk you up
Which response would you feel is helpful? Don’t know? You found the real you in one of these? Great! There isn’t really any right or wrong answer…okay, I take that back, saying “buck up” would probably be a no-no. But ultimately what you say is not always what is important but how you say it, how you feel…just be genuine. If you really don’t have time to listen…be careful what you ask to not give the pretense that you have the time to listen because when you open that door and give the impression to someone that you intend to be there to listen for a moment, then slam the door back in their face with a “buck up” or “that’s too bad…umm, I gotta get back to work now.” That is of NO help whatsoever. Don’t pretend…just be real.
For those of you readers who are not too sure what “real” is I have a great book to suggest and it is clear as water flowing in a brook. For the well read and articulate person who comes up with “genuine” or “authenticity”…um, just read the damn book. I am referring to one of my all time favourites, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
child looks up in awe, lines mock her whithered face, snuggling in her arms
A warm smile or a hand on a shoulder left one second longer are examples of “real” holiday blessings. Happy Holidays!
Some call it Seasonal Affective Disorder. Others call it pre-holiday blues and some simply acknowledge how much they miss that significant other. It is sometimes like missing a limb or a deflated lung…we all have our stories. What helps you through these times?
This is a time of year a virus peaks its ugly head around mid-November. It spreads its infections to those most vulnerable. You may not “catch” it at the same time; you may not catch it every year and yet, there does not seem to be guaranteed antibiotic to cure its infective powers.
September days start waning as the sun sets sooner; October days rob you of nature’s dinner’s sweetest and most potent “digestif”. November drops its veil of hoary matter and thickens day after day, week after week hiding nature’s Monet, slowly slipping into Picasso’s Blue period. Nights are longer than days and symptoms of this virus multiply
Humans are deprived of nature’s nutrient feeding brains with hope and cheer. Life, death, separation and loss blend. Waiting, as it stings open wounds and those who’ve barely healed are reminded of life’s demises.
They call in the evening. They call late into the night. They cannot understand why they feel so depressed. They are teens and young adults…some are even pre-teens. They ask me why they should continue?
The pain travels through space into my ear…they are misunderstood, treatments keep changing with little or no windows of sunshine peeking into their long dark lives. Some are even told, it’s just a teenage phase…get over it…pull it together!
Too often, I hang up feeling powerless, wondering if they will heed our verbal contract …to hang in one more hour, one more day…to reach out one more time.
Many adults finally get treatment for their mental health only discovering many times it started when they were teens. Experts in psychiatry say if a teen gets treatment for depression, for example, the recovery can be so much shorter than, if they wait until they are adults, the recovery is longer. This information sometimes gets a youth’s attention and I am hoping they will find the help they need…deserve.
This morning, I read this article on my friend/colleague’s Facebook page here about people from all over the world coming together to share their findings…professionals going back to the drawing board to study, do more research; to connect with those who have been working in isolation… to listen and try to find better treatments for depression in youths…to prevent suicides.
It only makes sense that a youth may not manage well on an “adult’s cocktail” even if professionals keep tweaking it. “Trial and error”, I sometimes try to explain the complexity of a youth’s unique, amazing and ever changing brain.” What do I know? I am not a medical or psychiatric expert? And, deep down in my heart, I am frustrated.
And then this article I just read by “Toronto’s CAMH (Canadian Ass. of Mental Health) who have launched a new centre dedicated to child and youth depression.” Let`s hope this video also reaches people to raise awareness…raise funding so researches globally, can find better “cocktails” and treatment geared to youths, come to understand the complexities of their brains…finally give them hope…their friends and family hope…
Suicide is a tragedy that affects the family, friends and the community in so many ways. It takes time to heal and everyone heals in their own way, in their own time…but never EVER “gets over the loss”. People learn to move forward despite the loss, the emptiness.
At first there can be a celebration for having found the strength and courage to get out of bed; others it’s to put one foot in one shoe on at a time and shuffle into another room. There is no right or wrong way. There is no such thing as “they are stuck in the past”. Some do not acknowledge the grief until years later, because it is too painful to make sense of such a tragedy. It is eventually walking, shuffling or limping forward with the memory imprinted on your heart that is a success. Prints on a heart are made with indelible ink…
Sometimes it’s the guilt that tears one apart for the longest time…guilt, an emotion with sharp teeth. Other times it’s the anger that consumes one…anger sucks the energy like a vacuum. The sadness, the pain, the hurt can be felt differently by any one person…it can burn. It can feel like your gut was cut out, a limb torn off, a Mack Truck parked on your chest…and the list goes on. Why? Because it’s different for each person. There is no ONE size fits all.
There is no perfect “How To” instruction manual but there are many places that offer support. Sometimes it’s trying to find the right fit for a person. It can be reading stories of people who have experienced the same type of loss and tragedy. Other times it is seeing a grief counsellor or a family doctor. Some have found going to a bereavement group helpful. Others have a supportive network of friends “who DO get it”. These are only some ideas and whatever has worked for one person may be different for another person.
Hopefully more people will learn through the experience of friends and family who have lost someone through suicide…so we can still keep talking about it and keep it out of the closet.
Here is a song that inspired me to write this little piece tonight.
#ActuallyAutistic - An Aspie obsessed with writing. This site is intend to inspire through sharing stories & experiences. The opinions of the writers are their own. I am just an Autistic woman - NOT a medical professional.