I had an acquaintance pass away. He was in his late 40’s and a fellow patient in a hospital he and I lived in. I don’t know his history but I was on a forensic unit 484 paces from him on an adult ward which did not involve justice.
At certain points in my treatment and rehabilitation I was able to access areas which met my ears with “How many days until Christmas?” I don’t clearly remember the first time I heard Frank (a pseudonym) ask and reply with the exact number of days until Christmas.
Frank stuck out in my experiences as only a few have. On days I wasn’t sure what all the pain was about he pointed me to Christmas. Who doesn’t have at least one great Christmas memory? I never knew it but when he shouted it at me, it was piercing me with hope. I don’t know where hope gets you but thinking back to being without hope I can hear Frank’s simple words.
I didn’t watch TV or read a sports page for a few years but after meeting Frank I often knew the scores. Frank demonstrated that interest in anything can excite the soul. I didn’t really have a passion or so it seemed but it always cheered me that he was a fan.
I didn’t see many different faces while in hospital but Frank’s life carried lessons for me. Frank struggled but usually with joy in his heart. I say usually because I saw him cry at losing in the hospital BINGO once. I did not see a sore loser, I saw a man who put his whole heart into things. If disappointment brings tears it points to desire, it points to enthusiasm, it points to passion. If you can understand an Olympian weeping at loss you can understand Frank’s tears. He was giving it his all.
When I think of Frank I will remember that a voice and words can be the hand that pulls us past our disappointment, our losses, and our pain. Some days one of the few to speak to me would be Frank. Sometimes when you hear something it doesn’t take sprout until much later. I was impacted I thought by the repetition but in fact it was the distance between whenever and Christmas. There was always a measurable space between what I was enduring and what I would enjoy.
210 days until Christmas Frank, thanks for the gift.
The photo’s I have seen recently of Tim Hudak look as though he’s casting a glance for the truth. He knows it is in the room but pretends it’s in the hall. All I hear is something about a million jobs but what can be expected from a conservative government? Ask a nurse. To Tim Hudak a nurse is somehow a medical luxury, frivolous to treatment and the beginning and end of mismanaged health care dollars. I am all for efficiency but when it interferes with efficacy it becomes dangerous in a health care setting. Health care workers are the light bulb to the whole electrical system. If we reduce their numbers the rest of the components of healthcare are gears missing teeth. What good is a gurney if there is no one to push it?
Tim Hudak came out to party faithful with a promise to cut 100,000 public sector jobs. A week later he’s adding carrots and onions to a broth he threw down the drain. I have seen photo’s of Mr. Hudak beside banners of this 1 000 000 promise but he seems as perplexed as the rest of us with a proficiency for grade 5 math. If you shed 100,000 jobs shouldn’t the well thought out banner read 1 100 000? Optics and the fact Tim might stumble having to say more than the slogan one million has lead to its proliferation.
If the provincial conservative campaign starts out with a mathematical miscalculation or worse, misleading numbers, I dare not think what they might do with governance. If I am to believe that this one million includes the to be cut workers, I can only assume Tim Hudak has some master plan behind making my nurse a welder.
The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is 3.2 million. When I was that age there were only a few.
Why is that? I’m not smart enough to know but I can talk about mental illness thirty years ago. Mental illness was not talked about as it is these days. I don’t recall a word spoken about it until it was I.
I was the only overtly mentally ill person in my high school. No one appeared to be anorexic and the only medication names on tongues were mine. None of my friends had a diagnosis or prescription for anti-depressants. Ritalin wasn’t in every classroom; it wasn’t even in the school. No one had Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in any of my classes from 2 to 12.
Stigma was mostly my imagining I’m sure. I don’t recall any specific disrespect but there were no anti-stigma campaigns, no celebrities with experiences. I felt fairly singular and didn’t have a lot of fun being me. I was a cutter before it was fashion and to place a tattoo over my scars then would have been as unusual. My symptoms were postcard’s to my peers from places they had not named yet. I would not be properly diagnosed for more than a decade. It’s difficult to find the right dose when you don’t know what you’re aiming at.
There were six or eight of us when I was 15 on the psychiatric adolescent unit at the children’s hospital in London. One of my roommates was a young boy who broke my Walk-man. At another time my roommate had bi-polar or manic-depressive illness as they called it then. There was a young girl with anorexia and a few other patients with varying symptoms.
Why is it that were I a student at any high school today I would find others with symptoms, diagnosis, hospitalizations etc? Why is my adolescent uniqueness now a journey for many more?
Today, 8 out of every 100 teens have serious depression. My high school of 400 would today contain 31 others similar to me.
Is mental illness in fact more prevalent and if so why?
When a party governs, it is a disservice to common sense let alone the nation to make decisions based on the likelihood of re-election. There is no winner when the governing powers essentially maintain a political campaign. There are solutions and we must look to future generations as well as our own. Dad might have a job but what does the child or grandchild inherit?
What if what is presently beneficial is for longer detrimental?
How can a government make just decisions and legislative calculations to the benefit of anyone when the criteria are optics and polls? The rearrangement, manipulation and creation of laws and agencies of the land in the name of some anti-dialogic dynasty is repugnant and willfully an abuse of the powers of governance.
In Canada we have a parliamentarian and senator who fully construct arguments on the footing of lies. These individuals have excused themselves of their fables but what does it do to democracy. I can’t control who ends up in power but it has always been my understanding that whoever is elected will be and find peers who are truthful.
Parliament should not be used as a playground where statements can be entered to fowl the nation but retracted to retain ones seat. If I stand to lie should I have the privilege to sit and represent my constituents and nation?
If we have parliamentarians and senators excusing themselves of statements and paragraphs of what should be sworn word, I can only wonder where else spring lies. These individuals swear an oath and pledge to conduct themselves in the best interests of the country. These statements have grown into a national fancy. Voter fraud didn’t appear rampant unless you were in the House of Commons or the upper chamber.
I can see a more direct path to democracy and good governance when those who speak for thousands use the truth. Outside of parliament, lies that can be proven in court are perjury. It seems incredulous to have people who manufacture laws to be immune to them. If there is no repercussion for lies and misleading where can we find discouragement? If a parliamentarian or senator can be found to be a liar what further trust can we find in the oath to conduct oneself in the best interests of the country.
The call is ours. Do we want nation builders or party strategists?
“One of the things that I have seen is I’ve seen on mail delivery day, when the voter cards are delivered to community mailboxes in an apartment building, we often find that many of them are actually just discarded,” Mr. Butt said on Feb. 6. “They’re in the garbage can or in the blue box. I have actually witnessed other people coming in, picking up voter cards, going back to, I guess, whatever campaign of the candidate they support, and actually handing out those voter cards to other individuals, who then walk into a voting station with a friend of theirs that vouches for them with no ID.” Brad Butt Member of Parliament
“I can tell you that vouching is a problem,” Mr. McInnis said, “It’s not just vouching. I’ve witnessed it personally on the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth. It is a problem. Many of these people, first of all, don’t even know who the candidates are and haven’t been involved. That doesn’t absolve them from the right to vote; I realize that. I’ve seen people take them in and almost mark their ballot. That’s how serious this is, and it’s thousands and thousands.” Senator Thomas McInnis
Why are these men lying? Is it an attempt to promote something beneficial to their constituents or beneficial to their politics?
I read an article about student organizations at Duke University and their “Think Before You Talk” campaign. The aim is to re-evaluate and spread awareness about commonly used phrases and their impact.
Language is important and a behaviour that springs from thoughts, perceptions, beliefs and attitudes. Certain words become taboo and or even disgraceful but despite their banishment the sentiments remain in the dictionaries of our hearts.
It is important to be careful about some phrases and expressions, they can become habit. We seldom consider what a word or phrase means to the person or group singled out. We can remove words from our lexicon but the meanings carry into new ones. You don’t hear the word Nutter much but you can catch the flavour even in song lyrics which reference bi-polar. If a person refers to something as Gay we can socially reject its use but from where it stems may never be altered. For some it becomes a mental maneuver to ensure social acceptance.
Making it unacceptable to speak with certain phrases will have an effect on prejudice and stigma but a thought will still be a thought. If I think in a derogatory fashion watching my tongue will not change the attitude which wags it. If I keep a derogatory remark to myself it is unlikely to change the values or judgements I place on people who are different from me.
In some small way when someone can be devalued and thus held with less regard it can be a boost to self esteem. If a group or individual become a putdown it is made by someone who wishes to be more. Possibly that individual is threatened and or confused as to their own status. We need to change the thoughts behind the use of offensive slang. These thoughts have become ghettos for people different from some imaginary homogeneous ideal.
It is more helpful to change the attitudes which give rise to offensive remarks. If we censor the tongue, what rattles in the mind continues. Not using certain phrases changes what is passed and where but a bigot can stand next to those he hates with a leash on his larynx.
In response to Ashley Smith’s homicide at the hands of correctional staff the federal government has unveiled two beds for women in a provincial treatment centre as a pilot project.
Did we actually need an inquest to inform us that severe mental illness needs treatment beyond which corrections is presently able to provide?
I cringe at the image of Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney cutting a ribbon or standing beside some version of an action plan sign. It is a little like being informed that a number of the inmates need razors and giving them two. I failed Grade 9 mathematics but I have seen a variety of statistics for the prevalence of mental illness among female offenders and it appears the abacus that the government is using may need some recalibration.
If we were talking about diabetes would they order two syringes? The abilities of corrections have been proven to be deadly but we are evacuating two for now. I thought we learned the lesson with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Number of passengers equals number of lifeboats.
I guess for these mentally fit politicians, coming up with a game plan by December is progress. It is a shame and the negligence and indifference are almost equal to the stupidity.
For how long have we known that mental health care needs to be carried out by clinicians? I can’t think back to a time when correctional officers and correctional facilities were the model for mental health care.
This government is prancing around showing us their commitment to mental health services for inmates at the same time they are denying it. Men and women are housed in segregation as a response to mental health needs. We need to drain the pool and the government shows up with a rubber dinghy. The issue is serious enough that it requires action rather than a show of concern.
Two beds only for women confuses me. Severe mental illness is found in both men and women. To allocate resources to one sex is a failing at best and a discriminatory display of less than a basic understanding of mental illness.
People who have no mental illness to contend with would find segregation alarming in a matter of days if not hours but politicians grin with glee at announcing an action plan by December.
How many women and men will still be administered their mental health services by a correctional service.
Do you really need to consult with stakeholders to find a response and action plan? The stakeholders are in solitary confinement. This government already knows solitary confinement is torture. They need to recognize that mental health care is health care. It needs to be considered a health care issue as much as a security issue.
If I suffered a severe physical illness the image of correctional surgeons would seem alarming.
The use of solitary confinement on anyone can inflict permanent psychological injury. To use it on the mentally ill is probably more harmful, depending on their symptoms. Seclusion denies a person the psychological benefits of movement, and visual or auditory stimulation. The need for human contact and interaction is fractured at best. Seeing a hand or face through a food slot may worsen symptoms. I would also add that it is internally disorienting to be exposed to 24 hour light. The use of light in various forms can be used to torture an individual. To my knowledge there is no medical literature supporting the use of constant light to treat or rehabilitate mental illness of any sort or severity.
Prisoners with severe mental illness are subjected to correctional measures so why isn’t the correctional model used in hospitals? Would we use diluted chemotherapy on them? Something less?
As I write this, individuals with mental illness are in solitary confinement. We can punish them for their sins but should we torture them in their illness? The use of solitary confinement as an acceptable standard for the treatment of mental health is a form of torture, exacerbates mental illness and often causes deterioration of the mental health of a segment of society that is under the care of our government.
It is incumbent on government; a duty, to provide the necessities of life including mental health care, as prisoners are in conditions which make them incapable. The duty to provide the necessities of life is essential when a prisoner is further incapacitated by illness.
This government has not and is not performing their duty. Instead they are openly presenting a systemic institutionalization of stigma through laws and services. Under the Charter these are acts of discrimination.
I call on the government to provide the necessities of life; treatment, to any citizen who is in need of what we refer to as mental health services but which under the charter must be acted upon as though it is and can only be recognized as healthcare.
To continue with the use of solitary confinement and the denial of mental health care is negligence. We do not have to prove a government’s intent regarding negligence as by law it is enough that they have shown their indifference.