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!
I just watched Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night) with a 2014 joint Belgian-French-Italian production starring Marion Cotillard (La vie en rose), who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Sandra, a Belgian working mother /wife who is faced with a simple and time sensitive challenge. Within two days, Sandra must reach her 16 co-workers and organize them for an important vote.
From the start we feel for Sandra and her pain realizing that after being off work for depression, management realizes they can be more competitive with one employee less which gives the remaining employees a bonus and three hours weekly overtime to compensate for abolishing Sandra’s position.
I keep vacillating between wanting to shout for the rights of people who have suffered mental illness and screaming in the faces of working class employees who are not showing their solidarity. It angers me, it frustrates me to see how management can entice people with money and scares them about their job safety.
And then there is the flip side where this woman, who has battled mental illness and feels like giving up but at the risk of allowing her colleagues to get their “promised” bonus she questions her rights and self-confidence starts to slip. Her husband continues to encourage her.
This movie is so real…we see the struggles and how families are all impacted by mental health and it warms my heart to see Sandra’s husband root for her, believe in her and encourage her. I keep thinking that if she does not get her job back, this is a human rights issue but then again, how many have the time and money to fight cases like this.
Management and some greedy employees threaten others to vote for a bonus which is the same as voting Sandra out of her job. A manager scared employees by saying if they did not vote Sandra out, they would lose their job. It is sad to see the “divide and conquer” approach and I can see how the company is trying to remain competitive but their tactics are so very wrong.
The movie hits many nerves…human rights, mental illness, human greed, abuse of power but mostly I was proud to see a show of integrity by some humans who know what is important in life.
The movie brought up old memories of a steel company where I worked and the employees voted for their raises which would lay off many employees…they were going through a rough patch and if everyone would have worked 4 days a week (and believe me, they had great salaries!) they could have weathered through that economic crisis.
They show working class as the targets of such issues and we all know it happens everywhere but in other places employees do not EVEN have a say. When some companies have to eliminate a few jobs during financial difficulties, they rehire new people a year or two later with just a new title for the same job. Meanwhile, do they know how it impacts on the people they let go? If a person is 20 or 30, it is tough but they will find something eventually but what happens to people over 50?!! We are seeing more and more of this and I find it sad…very sad.
Olivia sighed a sigh of relief after speaking to her caller for two hours and the threat of suicide had finally waned when the teen thought of her little sister, her mother and her dog, Chelsea, she would not want to leave behind to fend for themselves with her step-father.
“But how do I know there is light at the end of the tunnel when my life is shit all the time… when my step-father won’t stop beating my mom and won’t stop coming into my room to get his “sugar” that I’m too old to believe that anymore, eh?” she wailed into the phone.
“Allow me to guide you through an imagery and let all your thoughts, fears, images float by you, like the credits at the end of a movie: now, imagine you are in a dark gigantic cave and as you move along you notice a fork and you have to decide which entrance you will continue on your journey.
You may choose one passageway that will make you go in circles in total darkness for a while but still brings you back to this fork; the other entrance will bring you towards the light but eventually you will still get to the light and you have me and many other counsellors here to guide you until you reach the light,” she stops to give her caller space to explore this imagery.
She hears the caller sob softly, “I can see it, I can really see the light”.
Have you been feeling sad lately? Perhaps nothing out of the ordinary has crossed your path and yet, that dark cloud is looming over you day in, day out. You wonder what is wrong with you? The longer it drags on you start believing the insinuations those dark, bleak feelings carry …the messages of self-worth, success, failure, guilt…well, DON’T BELIEVE IT…and read this post…we say that depression hurts…oh, yes, that it does! But it also LIES…
Depression lies, with tremendous talent and hate for life.
That’s what it does.
Depression, in a way, is a bully, a predator, a demon. It picks on you, torments you, blinds you to your good qualities and your potential. It makes it harder to concentrate or solve problems, and makes it hard to imagine life getting better. It attacks people physically: sleep, appetite, energy, motivation. It destroys joy in the things that would otherwise bring it. It brings on intense, unfair guilt and shame. It slows your thoughts, sometimes even movements. It kills hope. It convinces you that the only path for you is self-murder.
Depression is a serial killer, a horseman of the modern apocalypse.
Depression is awful indeed. I’ve met this demon, quite convinced all was lost, some decades ago and from time to time since. Life got better, much better in fact, after some stumbles: trial and much…
Compassion fatigue may occur in a range of persons involved in providing care to others . Psychologists, social workers, lawyers, disaster relief workers, nurses, psychiatrists, medical doctors, emergency service professionals, police, crisis phone-line attendants and shelter workers among others, are all susceptible to Compassion Fatigue. But it is not limited to only these workers. Teachers, air traffic controllers, daycare workers, personal support workers, volunteers, paralegals, law clerks and so many more. For example, a law clerk or lawyer are exposed to listening sometimes to horrific stories day in and day out. Unfortunately, too often it is not always acknowledged and they may wonder why they are feeling so tired, and experiencing other emotional symptoms.
Vicarious trauma means simply that a person who is exposed to and listen or witnessing trauma, crisis situations of another individual, you can almost live it through the details of that person sharing their experience with you. Once you’re aware of this, it helps to take a step back…do some self-care…take a mental health day…just back away a bit. IF however you are not able to clue into the signs, it can accumulate to the point that you may experience what many call burn-out and a step further would be compassion fatigue.
Some have experienced this type of fatigue and it can take a while to regain your ‘old’ self. I remember taking time off work for about 4 or 5 months many years ago. I was over worked, volunteering, raising a family, going to university part-time, I had personal problems I was avoiding…so this busy-ness was my escape…not good! My body broke down…I usually say, my body stopped before my nerves broke down. But now I know the signs and take self-care very seriously. I prepared a workshop for my work two years ago on Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue to help my colleagues learn the signs to avoid this and to do more self-care.
To read more in-depth information on Vicarious Trauma, click here.
Here is a poem I wrote about surrendering to self-care.
Times you may feel
you care a great deal
wish you could help more
suffering, pain and sore
spirits and hearts
make you sometimes
want to fall apart.
Days, turn into weeks,
time just seems to drag
on and on and on.
You start to get edgy
can’t seem to sleep every night
you have nightmares that might
keep you up, they’re too scary;
You start to forget, become wary
it’s harder and harder to focus
impatience starts to follow suit
and soon you realize it’s that time…
You need to take some time for you,
you need to surrender yourself,
to self-care, wellness to restore
your mental well-being. Surrender your mind and soul,
pamper yourself, your body whole,
massages, bubble baths,
allow friends to treat you
refrain from resisting support
take back your “self”
regain your mental
and physical whole SELF Surrender…now…
you’re tired now… Surrender…tired surrender…
Open yourself to soothing,
restoring, healing your SELF!
I was watching a news video from California yesterday detailing how Robin Williams took his life. The more graphic the person got, the more my mouth opened in shock! Why must anyone hear these details? I don’t think I have ever heard news reported in such an intrusive and detailed way here at home, but then again, I try to stay away from the news.
I was looking for lists of movies and comedy shows to watch and be reminding of Robin Williams’ LIFE and not how he ended it.
The WORLD is WATCHING and listening to these details, young and old, vulnerable people in excruciating pain are watching too. I find this terribly inappropriate and extremely invasive on his life. I can’t even imagine how close friends and family feel about this. Why make a circus out of this tragedy?
Do you know how close thousands of people come “this” to succeeding in taking their lives? I only speak to a handful of people compared to the world that suffers from various degrees of mental illness. I hear youths give me details and I weep at the image of this at the same time am thankful an angel led him or her to phone our service.
In the old days, we did not say if a person had taken their life and I had mixed feelings about that. Of course it is no one’s business who did not know a person personally, but for family at least, that truth needs to be dealt with, the grief, the guilt and agony of knowing how much their loved one was suffering. So I thought, “Well, we do need to talk about it. It does happen. But WHY the details?”
I don’t get the purpose if not only for the media to sensationalize AGAIN and profit from this tragedy. Shame on YOU!
I was sad two days ago driving home hearing of this tragic death; I searched the net for movies and sitcoms and fired up my Netflix to watch a few clips and laughed. It felt good for I don’t think he would have wanted the world to remember how he ended his life but more HOW HE LIVED IT and what he gave to the world.
I cringe thinking the negative impact the media is giving to those who suffer day after day…when that thought lingers for many ALWAYS at the back of their minds. And all I can say is please don’t give in to that gnawing thought…as a youth, you can reach out in Canada to Kids Help Phone 1 800 668 6868,(24 hours, anonymous service) which also offers Live Chat Thursday to Sunday from 18:00 to midnight. For adults there are many resources but since this blog reaches all over the world, I am not going to add any except for 911. If anyone wants to add, feel free.
I have always called the youths who call here my heroes for they have the strength to reach out for help and I can only imagine how difficult that must be. The true heroes all over the world are those who fight their battle of mental illness that drive them to such darkness we cannot comprehend and still manage to get through yet, another day…many times it is one hour at a time. They are true heroes.
A comic, an actor, an entertainer and human soul that so many could feel they could relate to. I first saw him as Mork in Mork and Mindy. His humour, his energy was so entertaining and more than that. How could you not be motivated and excited to learn more after watching Dead Poet’s Society? How could you not feel moved at Good Morning Vietnam? Mrs. Doubtfire touched the hearts of children and adults. I will not go on because I there will be countless detailed tributes to Robin Williams’ life.
I first heard of his death on the radio driving home tonight. I was truly saddened but not shocked. I knew he has been struggling with depression for a long time. I can only imagine his pain and trying to survive despite this.
He will be missed but he will always be remembered.
Addendum: I realize this is quite an intense and extreme poem. It is meant to send a powerful message that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of! There is help, there is treatment and there is recovery. Mental anguish, pain and illness is not caused by children teasing, taunting, parents who are at a loss in understanding…they may hurt a person more who may not have the strength emotionally and mentally to spring back. Please read the next post where I will talk more about getting help…reaching out. Cheryl-Lynn
#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.