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February 25, 2018 -6.2°C

Let’s talk mental health

Posted on January 18, 2018 by Maple Creek

Christalee Froese

January 31 is Bell Let’s Talk Day.
This is the eighth year that Bell has been flagging this day as one for the discussion of mental health issues.
I personally think EVERY DAY should be Let’s Talk Day, but I’m a sufferer, and a survivor and I know that one day is not enough to deal with depression.
But at least we’re talking, and for that I’m grateful. I’m grateful to Olympic athlete Clara Hughes who came forward so boldly and courageusly to discuss her own battle with depression. Her website says this:
“I was alone at night, not feeling so happy. Not feeling so filled with joy,” she said. “As the weeks went by, and the months went by, that joy turned to darkness and I was left all alone each night with a two-year contract with a professional team … and two Olympic medals and I felt like nothing.”
Comedian Howie Mandel too is part of the Bell movement, talking openly and constructively about his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
I too am a sufferer.
Mine has taken the shape of depression and anxiety in one form or another. It can be as bad as keeping me in bed all day to as mild as a simple churning of my stomach. My upcoming book Journey to Joy follows the ups and downs of my disease, highlighting the way I managed my way through the worst of it.
My solution? BE NICE! If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to BE NICE. This isn’t just any old nice, like opening the door for someone or giving up your seat for someone in a waiting room or on a bus. In fact, this niceness is not for anyone else.
This niceness is for you, and you alone.
Since suffering from depression, which rears its ugly head every now and again, my only course of action is to BE NICE…to myself. I recognize the pain for what it is, I hold the suffering in my hand and rather than wishing it away, I just talk nice to myself. I say the kindest things—things you would say to your best friend if he or she were sitting in front of you and sobbing.
I say, “It’s okay sweet heart, you’re just having a bad day.”
“I know you feel awful, but it will pass.”
I add a soft, gentler and calm question, ‘What do you need?”
It may be medication, it may be exercise, it may be talking, it may be eating something juicy, some relaxation time or standing in the sun. It may be seeking out a professional’s help, or simply talking to myself in some supportive way. Always, there is an answer. It’s not the final answer, but my true self usually knows something has gone out of balance in my life and if I can just be still long enough to figure out what it is, I can find it.
Sometimes the answer will be ‘I don’t know, I just feel sad and defeated and I don’t know how to change that.’ In this case, I seek help from a professional. But most of the time my truest self will come up with a very good answer, ‘Try dancing in your living room to your favourite song, and then let’s meet to talk again.’
Sometimes she’ll say, ‘Go out and see your horse, she always makes you feel better. Go for a jog, or call a friend to talk, that always makes you feel better too.”
I’m not suggesting that you can talk yourself out of depression—you can’t—it’s chemical and physiological. But what you can do is treat yourself kind enough to figure out something—anything—that will start you on the road to recovery.
So let’s talk—and keep talking—to ourselves and to others about mental health.
To order Froese’s upcoming book Journey to Joy (released April 28, 2018), visit bookjourneytojoy.com.

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