Welcome to Canada

So, last night, just before 10 pm I think, I heard “something, something BITCH” yelled by the woman next door.

It seemed even louder due to the quietness of the evening.

I looked at Sid, Sid looked at me, we both shrugged and made here-we-go-again faces as the yelling rant went something like this: Continue reading

Time Heals Everything, they say

So I believe it is time to write a post that has been in my head for almost a year but was too painful to put into words.

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As some of you know, I had to stop dancing about a year ago, due to generalized intense joint pain.

For those of you new to my blog, I used to train, compete and perform with, teach, deejay and do social media for Swing Dynamite, a Swing Dance school in Ottawa. In fact, Ottawa’s only dedicated Swing Dance school.

Anyway, it was as if all my joints had suddenly decided to give up on me.

My ankles, my knees, my hips, my elbows, my wrists, my knuckles, my shoulders… even joints I didn’t know I had* hurt.

Not that I was any stranger to pain, mind you. Pain can even be considered my longest lasting friend, considering it started when I was 11 and I met my oldest friends when I was 12 back in 7th grade.

Every time I danced, I was in pain. Every time. But I also got a lot of joy out of it. The joy exceeded the pain by far so I danced.

However, it got to be that the pain over-weighted the joy so I had to stop. Continue reading

It comes out of nowhere

My latest post on Canvas.

I’ll add a note here saying that this message is not a rant against social networks in general or Facebook in particular. It seems like the sole mention of FB is enough to generate strong anti-FB feelings. Not my intention. I don’t have any beef again FB. I very much appreciate that it allows me to be in touch with my family in Colombia and my friends all over the world (Turkey, France, Spain, USA, Argentina, Italy, etc). In fact, I would even dare to say I like FB.

As for some FB statuses being the proverbial straw, that was just a fluke. It could have been personal comment (yeah, in real life) which I often get as well.

I Pledge My Commitment To Be Mental In 2013

er…. I mean….

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

Yes, that’s it. Everybody knows I’m already mental so I don’t have to pledge to that. The Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project is an “A Canvas Of The Minds” initiative to bring awareness of mental illness, the stigma associated with it, the struggles of people dealing with various mental illnesses and any other topic related to Mental Health. This how it works:

Continue reading

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Did you know that it was Mental Illness Awareness Week this week? sadly, I only found out about it yesterday.

I think this is very sad indeed because if I, a person who is very much aware of mental illness and has become rather vocal about it in all the social networks didn’t know about it, what chance has a regular Joe of hearing about it? Clearly, we need to do more to raise awareness.

Also, did you know that most people believe that mental disorders are rare and “happen to someone else.”?

However, an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year (I’ll try and get the Canadian numbers later). Here’s a very helpful article on how to recognize the warning signs from Mental Health America According to MIAW Canada, people who struggle with a mental disorder often go through life without reaching out for help: They simply don’t know what’s wrong and feel they are just “different;” they feel they can beat it on their own; they are ashamed and try to hide their symptoms; exasperated family and friends tell them to “get over it;” or they reach out for help but their first experience leaves them feeling disregarded and misunderstood.

Mental Awareness week is over today.  Nonetheless, I’m asking you to please take a moment to read and share this.

Help create Mental Illness awareness!

Resources

Mental Illness Awareness Week Canada  (MIAW) @MIAWCanada

Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH)

Health Canada 

Royal Mental Health Group Mood Disorders of Ontario

I wish I had cancer

Yeah, you heard it right.

I know that I’m gonna get a lot of angry cancer patients on my case, thinking I’m mocking them.  However, I am not.

While I’ve had been thinking of it it for quite a while, only until very recently I finally said it to someone other than myself, on a DM.

And I stand by it.

You see, I have an illness.  But it’s a mental one.  I look good on the outside.  I haven’t lost ridiculous amounts of weight.  I still have all my hair. I have a good colour.  I don’t look like I’m ready to take my boat ride across the River Styx. Only that I am.  And I’ve been there several times.

But Mental illnesses don’t get the sympathy or empathy from society that cancer does.  Or Cystic Fibrosis.  Or Muscular Dystrophy.  Or any other of those “legitimate” illnesses.

People like me are mostly regarded as moody individuals.  An annoyance, most of the time.  Someone normal people need to stay away from because we are Debby Downers.  Oh, it’s all in your head, I’ve been told many times.  Or, you just have to count your blessings instead of focusing on your limitations.  And sure, I’m all for counting my blessings.  I’m very grateful that I don’t have to sleep on the street, that I’m not starving.  That I am not being gang-raped, or tortured or enslaved.  I’m also grateful for friends and the love they give me.

But the truth is that even if I we do the right thing and reach out when we have our lows, it becomes harder and harder to do as time goes by. Sure, friends and loved ones (spouses, children, etc) will try and help the first time they hear about it.  And the second time. And the third time.  And maybe even the fourth and fifth.  But after a while, they do get tired.  And that’s normal.  They are only human too.  And so, we become a burden.  Because Mental Illnesses are hard to treat.  The prognosis is gloomy for the most part.  According to the Royal Mental Hospital Depression Research Centre (depression is what I have but it might as well be schizophrenia or any other mental illness),“Many people diagnosed with a major depression will fail to respond adequately to two medications of different classes and about 60 per cent will have a treatment resistant depression.”  60 PERCENT! And unless we commit suicide (gasp! yeah, I said. Because a lot of us actually do) we live a normally long life just like any other person free of any lethal disease.  So we become this pain in the ass, gloomy, cranky, grumpy, sad people that no one likes to be around.  Even those who love us, have a hard time 1. dealing with us at a personal level, and 2. dealing with their own coping problems associated with loving a person with a mental illness.

And those are the lucky ones who’s friends and family care enough to help them.  But there’s still a lot of stigma associated with mental illnesses.  Even as I write this blog post, I can hear a very scared little voice at the back of my mind telling that I’m insane for talking in public about it.  What are they gonna thing about you? it says.  People don’t like to be friends with crazy people.  Also, people DON’T HIRE crazy people.  So won’t you keep it quiet? it’s for your own good, you know.

So, I wish I had cancer.  At least there wouldn’t any kind of stigma associated with it.  And – like I said to my friend, if I’m lucky enough, cancer would kill me really fast so I wouldn’t have to go on living in so much pain.