Tag Archives: Emotions

Mental Wellness Week

Hello all! Thank you for your support, compassion and kind messages over the past week. Each one meant A LOT!

This is a week dedicated to mental health. Some people call it “Mental Illness Week”, others say “Mental Health Week”, but, you know me, I must be different and I choose to call it “Mental Wellness Week”.

Mental illnesses and mental health issues are so often at the forefront of conversations and in trying to get help out there to those whom need it the most.
Of course I support both of these conversation but I wonder what sort of world would we have in 20 years if mental wellness was taken seriously as well? Teaching our youngest children to our oldest senior how to better care for their mental wellness.

Rather than focusing solely on what to look for in society to point out the mentally ill person and help them before it is too late, what if we began to encourage positive mental wellness messages as well. How do you spot a person who takes excellent care of their own mental wellness? How do we take that model and teach it to those who’ve never understood or been taught how to or fell off the rails somehow?

A lesson such as compassion for oneself would radically change our world for the better. I know from my own journey and watching others going through the same journey that the people who are able to show compassion for themselves and can accept their humanness in all its glory and its gory are the same people whom are more able to extend compassion towards others.
I know for certain that I was a far more judgmental and harsh person when I had no compassion for myself. I didn’t have it for others either even though I thought that I did.
When I finally realized that I was just a human being with so many facets, I was able to start being more accepting of others as well.
Imagine a world where we show compassion towards ourselves and then for others. I can’t even think of how much that woudl change our world for the better.

And self-care. Remember being a teapot 2 weeks ago? The importance of keeping yourself full and taking care of your own needs so that you would have the ability to offer goodness from within yourself to others.
What if we began to teach children how important they are. Not due to any ability or level of cuteness but being a worthy human being just for being alive?
Could that child become a teenager that put their own needs for safety and wellness above the needs of a group? Could they make better choices about where to spend their time and who to give their time to if they only knew to put themselves before the boyfriend, girlfriend, groups or others?

Worthiness. Teaching people that they are worthy.
Worthy of a good life, worthy of safety and protection, worthy of being heard and believed, worthy of exactly what anyone else has emotionally…
Worthy even if they are not being taught that at home? How long could abuse last if the person being abused saw themselves of being absolutely worthy of a better life? Never blaming themselves or taking on responsibility for the other persons behaviour. Can you imagine?
Even as a very young child, knowing this one skill would have propelled me in to speaking out more and not stopping so quickly. If I’d known that I was worthy of better… wow.

There are so many life skills that we just do not often teach at home or at school. This is not done neglectfully. It is bypassed because most of today’s adults don’t know what mental wellness includes or how to go about getting it. I didn’t! As a parent, I never taught my children much at all about becoming or staying mentally healthy and well. I did not teach it to them because I hadn’t been taught it yet myself. This needs to change in my opinion.

Wouldn’t it be terrific to one day wake up and realize that we now lived in a happier world filled with people who really knew how to care for themselves and considered themselves worthy of such treatment?
Bullies woudl hold far less power.
Abusers would have a much harder time convincing someone that horrible treatment was deserved somehow.
Pedophiles would be at a huge disadvantage if there was no hidden need for them to prey on. Children would already feel special.

John Lennon sang “Imagine” so many years ago but I’d love to add to those lyrics. Just imagine a world where most people are mentally healthy and skilled while far fewer suffer mental illness because they can catch it when it starts and get help immediately rather than putting it off for days, weeks, or years.

imagine

Dissociative Identity Disorder

I thought it might be wise to go back to a topic I covered almost 2 years ago. The basics of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). I have a lot more readers now (YAY!) and new friends whom don’t really understand DID. No criticism here at all. Before I was diagnosed with it, I knew as close to nothing as one could get.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is portrayed in the media as some sort of wacky, wild, really cool to watch phenomenon. If that isn’t their angle? They are usually discussing the controversy of the diagnoses. I hope that if I share what it means to me, it will take some of the confusion out of it and hopefully inspire some understanding.

Everyone has multiple personalities/identities. Even you.
If you stop to think about it, you are not really the same person when you are out with your friends as you would be if you were out with your children. You are different with your spouse than you would be with your parents. You can become the professional at work then transform to a carefree spirit when you go out for an evening with your best buddy. Even your pets get a different side of you.

If you think of your own life thus far, I am sure that who you were as a child is quite different from who you became as a teenager and then that teen became a young adult. Eventually you grew past the age of being a young adult and perhaps started making some more adult decisions like getting married or having children. You continue even now to mature and change with each passing year. Ask someone who’s in their 60’s and they will tell you that they are very different from who they were at 30 and few 50 somethings that I know are still acting as though they are 20.

The difference between you and all your sides/personalities are that they know each other. Each part knows what the other was up to and went through. Who you are right now knows what you have done good or bad over the course of your lifetime. Not perfect memories of every little thing but you have the big picture. At 40, you can recall being a teenager especially as your own teenagers are now giving you the same hassles you once gave to your parents. There is an easy flow of communication between these parts of you.

When you have Dissociative Identity Disorder, this ability to easily communicate is severed or severely affected. It is like growing up and the 4-year-old you doesn’t know the 5-year-old you. Each one is compartmentalized in a separate box and each box is locked. Usually this is caused when there is trauma so severe and so constant that the host could not have survived psychologically without creating a very handy coping tool. Rather than being totally overwhelmed by what is going on and absorbing all that trauma by oneself, some children unknowingly begin to dissociate. This is a very clever secret door that a traumatized mind is able to create to help survive the fear and pain.

Sadly, if dissociations happen regularly and a total “split” occurs, the child will have very few memories of this age. Good or bad. If the trauma continues for many years, these splits can happen over and over. The biggest difference between a dissociative mind and one that has not needed to develop this skill to survive is the ability to recall life in an orderly fashion.

This issue of segregated memories is used to help diagnose cases of DID. When I am asked to give a family history or a history of even my past week, it can be very confusing for me. I don’t always recall who came in to our lives or who went and and when. I have years of missing time scattered throughout my life so I can occasionally recall moving to a new home but not recall leaving it or I could suddenly be in a new home and not recall leaving the last one. People with DID need to constantly juggle what they know with what they can’t recall.

People with DID, myself included often have very large chunks of their life missing. One dissociative part of me from when I was 4 might not even know about me or any other parts. For 43 years I did not consciously know about any of my other parts but most of them knew me. They did not all know about each other though. Some did, some didn’t, some parts formed groups, some stayed isolated, some even thought that they were the only one. They seemed to not even realize that there was me.

These parts and pieces of my life have a very chaotic order to them and they almost all are still the ages that they were when they came to being. This is where it gets really hard for me. That silent 3-year-old that needs to be held and hugged is always 3 and always needs to be held and hugged long after it is “appropriate” to want this from those around her. I can and I do try to take time to fill those needs if I can but I have a LOT of Helpers and taking care of each one would be 3 full-time jobs at this point.

I really like this graphic as a way to explain what I am trying to share here.Excellent

For me this happened 34 times. For a long time I only heard 3 but that was when I was still assuming I was psychotic or just truly bat shit crazy. In time, with a great deal of support and compassion, I allowed myself to begin to hear others and there are 34 in total that have made their presence known. I don’t know them all yet and I don’t have all of their memories.

I work daily on hearing them, finding out what their needs are and trying my best to fulfill those needs. I feel as though when parts of me feel heard and hopefully healed as much as possible, they can get a well deserved break from needing to protect me from what they deem as dangers. This will reduce the “need” for dissociations.

I am not a professional with all this nor do I have all the answers. I am learning day by day and sometimes I get it all very wrong. I’ve been able to help my Helpers at times while hurting them at others. I am working at it though. Every day.
One day I hope that my 4-year-old will know my 6-year-old. My teenagers will know the adults and the adults can allow me to take care of my daily needs without whisking me away. I will not integrate them, I just want us all to communicate more easily with each other rather than living in all these separate locked boxes. My goal is to find peace.DID0

Attachment

IC

I never understood how attachment theories worked nor how they affected me personally. I just knew how I felt inside and felt this deep longing to belong somewhere in this world but no matter what I achieved or who cared for me, I still felt that ache just as strong as the day before. It was a deeply lonely feeling as though I was separate from every single other person around me.  I’ve heard others describe it as “being alone in a crowded room”.

About a year ago I had a conversation with a doctor who has taken a keen interest in attachment issues. He explained to me that a child attaching to its mother is not just a good thing, it is a biological need that MUST be met. It is not a want or a wish, it is a need.
In healthy infant development, the baby will attach to mom first for food and comfort. The father is usually the next attachment and then gradually over time after the age of about 6 months, that infant will gradually begin to expand his or her circle. If mom and dad have given the child everything they need, this attachment to others is a very natural process. Auntie Kate to visits the most regularly may be the first outside attachment perhaps Grandma and Grandpa are next. It will usually just be whomever the child sees the most often and has positive interactions with.

The trouble for neglected infants is that when the mother and/or father do not adequately bond with  or care for their baby, that infant will still have that biological need. Generally neglected infants do not have good support systems either. There might not be an Auntie Kate or a set of grandparents that either live close enough or perhaps care enough to be there on a very regular basis. Even if these people do try and do care, that infant is still going without. He or she needs mom for certain and in the best circumstances, dad too.

To explain the gravity of this situation… if this was to happen in the wild? The infant would die. In some ways this is also true for human beings.

If you watch this short video, it shows how a good and connected parent affects the child and then this same parent refuses to engage at all. Watch the difference in the child.

So what happens as these babies turn in to preschoolers, become school age, turn in to teenagers, and then become adults??? That unmet need is still there and it will never leave unless that need is met somehow. Some people will say they do not care what happens to their parents and that may be absolutely true but they will still hold that biologically unmet need within themselves.

Quite often these people seek out acceptance to a much greater degree than those with healthy upbringings. “Looking for love in all the wrong places” as the song goes. We can grow up, get in to deep relationships too young and sadly even accept abusive relationships easier than most people would because that need for a bond is so overwhelming.

I recall my thoughts after my first marriage crashed and burned… I realized that I had not chosen well or been picky enough. I had my children when I was not yet old enough  or fully equipped to handle them (I was married and in my 20’s but I really wasn’t equipped). I just wanted to be married and have children because I was desperate for a connection of my own. Sadly this rarely ends well so I got a divorce then swung to the other extreme where I need NO ONE for ANYTHING and totally shut myself off from anyone outside of my own children. That doesn’t end well either just in case you are thinking of trying it. 😉

So here I am at 46 years old and I know many others just like me who are even in their 60’s and yet they still wish for a unconsciously look for a mother to take care of them. We attach to others too quickly. We can force bonds which can often freak other people out. We can be seen as needy, sometimes even childish or many other varieties of “messed up”.
Please do not blame yourself if you see yourself in this situation. Your needs were not met and you are behaving as your mind feels that you need to in order to get that need met. It is not acceptable to continue this behaviour long term but do not berate yourself for needing something you couldn’t get.

I am not a professional on this in any way so I can’t give a laundry list of suggestions but perhaps even just being aware of your reactions and accepting them for what they are, an unmet need, could be helpful.
In my own life I am still in mourning for the things I never had but I am also getting healthier and being sure that my boundaries are as appropriate as possible.
A spouse is a spouse.
A therapist is a therapist.
A friend is a friend.
A sister or sister-in-law is a sister.
Those are the lines and attempting to put these people in a mothering or fatherly position holds our progress back. We will be once again seeking and not finding what we need and this can be devastating even if you are not totally aware of what you are doing.

The only true healing comes from beginning to give ourselves what we need. Starting to mother and/or father ourselves. Accept that there is that little girl or little boy in there that really needs to be shown true parental love. I will admit that I am still at the point where I feel like this just sucks and I shouldn’t have to be my own parent after everything else I’ve had to do for myself… but I know cognitively that this is where I need to go and I have started in some ways.
I just found this post and think it might be helpful to say to ourselves. Either this or something like it but we need to start to nurture that inner child.

IC1

The Human Brain Overrides the Instinct to Discharge Trauma

Do you ever wonder why people with trauma experience pain years after the trauma happened? This pain often has no real cause and it is then called a “somatic illness”. Basically this means that it is pain caused by your trauma with no underlying physical cause (until you are older and years of pain catch up with you). Why does this happen to us and not to other animals that can experience trauma/life and death situations on a regular basis???

It is all because The Human Brain Overrides the Instinct to Discharge Trauma.
Special thanks to my friend who writes “The Healing Arts Therapy” for quite a bit of the research and writing included here. 🙂

Zebra

Animals in the wild routinely experience life or death situations that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, dump adrenaline into the bloodstream, and provide the energy or “charge” for a fight, flight, or freeze response. When a zebra is chased by a lion, adrenaline surges and the zebra runs for its life (a flight response). When the zebra knows it has reached safety, it instinctively “discharges” the remaining adrenaline energy by trembling, shaking, twitching, and jumping around. Because the animal completely discharges the excess adrenaline energy after the chase is over, it doesn’t hold the memory or the energy of the trauma in its body.

A zebra doesn’t hold tension in its body from every chase and live in the past thinking, “A lion chased me yesterday and I barely got away.” “A lion chased me last week and I’m still stressed out about it.” “A lion chased me last month and I’m still having nightmares.” (LUCKY ZEBRA!)

Humans have this same discharge instinct available in our hindbrains (reptilian brain), but our frontal lobes overwhelm the hindbrain. Following a traumatic event, we do tremble and shake, but as soon as our frontal lobes engage and become dominant, the discharge process is interrupted, and any remaining excess adrenaline energy is locked into the body.

For example, following a severe car accident, it would be good to shake and tremble until you were done, and you wouldn’t be done until all excess adrenaline energy had been discharged from your system and you felt calm. But you will have to override this shaking and trembling instinct and activate your thinking brain to take down driver’s license and insurance information and answer questions for emergency responders and police reports. Some of the trauma energy may naturally discharge, but the adrenaline energy remaining in your body when your frontal brain becomes dominant will be stuck there.

When the discharge of trauma energy is interrupted and incomplete, the excess adrenaline is still surging around the body trying to do what it is designed to do: provide energy for a fight, flight, or freeze response. When the frontal brain overrides the hindbrain and demands that the body stop trembling and shaking, the body has to do something to contain the adrenaline energy. So it “freezes” it into body tissues with chemical bonds to hold it still. This frozen adrenaline energy remains locked in the muscles and fascia and organs and nervous system until it can be discharged, sometimes for the rest of a person’s life. This held energy can create a multitude of symptoms and compensating behaviours.

Any human behaviour that we can do to release this trapped energy can be very useful to aid in healing.

My story.

Girl

It was suggested to me by a long time reader that allowing my story to be told might help reach others. I have hesitated doing this is the past because I just felt the details were not really important. That said? I do agree with this reader and have decided to share some of my story (minus the nitty-gritty) with you today. I do hope it helps you understand me better and I hope it reaches some of you so that you know that you are not alone in this fight for your survival.
I am going to leave my siblings out of this story because I do not feel it is fair to assume how they felt or what they went through personally. If there is a day that the ones still living wish to share with you? I’d happily post it.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a princess.
Scratch that. This is no fairy tale. 😉

I was born at the beginning of 1970 in a winter storm. A fitting beginning for the life that would follow. A winter storm of sorts that lasted decades.
I was born to a family that was quite wealthy and had every available support to raise a child as easily as possible. From other family members, I have been told about how my father was thrilled by my birth but my mother hated me from day one. Probably long before day one in reality. I am sure she viewed her pregnancy as a real inconvenience.

My beginning could have been a good one but right from the very start of my life here on this earth, my mother would begin making choices that would seal my fate and my father would not do anything to stop her.
Their first decision? My name.
Heather was the name of a girl whom my father and mother hated. She’d chased my father around and my mother hated her for it. This is the person whom I was named after. Someone they hated.

I have a few memories of my early childhood but none are good. From 0-4, all I recall is being afraid. Many years ago my grandmothers both told me stories of how I was left in filth and ignored while my father was at work. I was also told that I would scream and beg others to take me with them as they left our house or begged babysitters to keep me. That is just not normal behaviour for a young child. Wanting to leave with anyone rather than staying home with their mother.

Starting at age 4, I was given a gift of new underwear for my birthday. Not the best gift for a 4-year-old but they were a tiny hint as to what that birthday would mean. I would be sold to men who liked little girls and my hair was cut so short that I also looked like a boy and could satisfy men who liked boys as well. This was not a rare occurrence. It was done as often as there was demand and there was ALWAYS a demand.

It was also around this time that I learned to mistrust what people said vs. what they actually did. My mother could be the sweetest, kindest, most gregarious person to anyone on the outside but then a monster behind closed doors. It was her perfect “outside face” that allowed others to believe that she was trying her best but that I was a child with some real issues. She convinced therapists, social workers, a child psychiatrist, doctors, teachers and strangers that the problem was set squarely on my own shoulders. I was the one who hurt myself and then lied with crazy stories to cover it all up. This lasted for my entire life with her. It still goes on to this day! She is perfect while I have mental illnesses.

There was a lot of sexual and physical abuse but even worse than that was the sadistic nature of the emotional abuse. I was made to believe that I was only sold to men (and some women) because I liked it and caused it to happen. If there were bruises or broken bones? I had obviously done something to deserve that. If I got ill. that was my fault too. That woman (my mother) made sure that my self-esteem was now only low but non-existent. I felt less than human and not truly worthy of any kindness. This is the part of her abuse that is the hardest to get over or heal from. I feel like I am worthy and then someone talks about me or doesn’t like me and I am plunged deeply right back in to feeling absolutely worthless. My brain knows that I am a good person, that I give a lot of myself to helping others, that I am smart, and have a lot going for me but my heart still says “You don’t deserve any of it and you are just as worthless as you always were”.

I did try to speak out and I tried to reach for help but these efforts were always met with my mothers wrath. I recall being made to eat a “poop” hot-dog in a bun. If I was going to spread “filthy lies”, I was going to eat filth as well. After a certain number of times where I reached out to ask for help and having that come back at me with a vengeance, I gave up. I still find it hard today to speak up about it because my automatic feeling that accompanies this openness is fear.

There are so many details and situations that I could discuss but I am sure you get the idea by now? It wasn’t just a hard life. It was a life filled with monsters that never hid under my bed. They just stayed out in the open and did as they wished with me as often as they wished it. I many ways this abuse started before I was born and still continues today. 46 years of situations and stories that would make your blood curdle.
If you read my list of Helpers from last week, there are a few more details of which Helpers came in to being and when/why.

I wish I could say that I grew up, moved away and never had to deal with my mother again but I moved 3,500kms to get away from her and 2 months later, she was living 1km down the street from me in her newly purchased home.
I have not spoken to her in over 11 years yet she still speaks about me in public to anyone who will lend her an ear. She tells them lies and makes me look horrible. We live in a very small community and there are many people who have never even met me whom hate me with passion. I’ve been called a liar, a bitch, a whore, a selfish daughter and worse by these people who just believe the words my mother shares. Supposed grownups and mostly “church friends” of my mothers. I really try hard not to let it bother me but she has even gotten to my own children and 2 of my husbands extended family members. The words said under hushed breaths make me want to just run away again and never look back… or just give up and leave this world altogether. It is hard not to taint the good that I have created in my life with that poison. I am only human. It is hard to be hated and even harder to be hated for something you never were.

Sadly it is not only my monster/mother that drags me down like this. My father takes part as well. He is quieter about it but when discussions of how my brother abused me surfaced, it was his voice on the other end of the phone calling me a sociopath. In my heart I know that he believes every word and knows the truth but he is unwilling to face it and it seems that hurting me instead is acceptable to him. I recently cut off all contact with him and I know it was necessary for my future mental health but I feel like a 46 years old orphan who never knew what it was like to have a mom or dad.

I’ve felt very lonely lately. I miss those whom have loved and seen die by suicide due to their PTSD. I ache for my murdered son. My heart has cement poured all over it while my living children find their way home. I really miss the nurse I felt close to while in hospital and the doctor whom I got to know before his sabbatical. Now my current therapist is retiring in a couple of months and I must say goodbye to her as well. I know these supports are not meant to be lifelong friendships and I am good with that but it doesn’t make missing them any easier. These people got me, they understood me, They believed me and truly heard me. They made me a better person. I am just tired and I am trying to find and keep my spark. I will find it again. I have faith in that.

I’ve had some comments about how I do not share negative stories on my blog but I feel that my intentions are perhaps a bit misunderstood. I do not keep things positive because I want people to think life is just all great and I am flying high. I keep it positive because I have dealt with and still deal with more negative in the run of a day that some people experience in a lifetime. By remaining positive myself, I feel like I am adding to the good in the world and that somehow negates some of the bad. It takes a lot of effort on a daily basis to live a good and positive life but I almost always feel that it is worth the effort.

This blog is very important to me. YOU are important to me. When someone says that they heard what they needed to hear or got what they needed to get because of a blog I wrote, it helps me add to the balance of positive in my life. Thank you for that.

If there is more you wish to know, just ask. If it is too personal to be on the blog, I will respond with a private email.
All the best to each of you. ❤

Kind Words CopyHand drawn by Heather. For sale. $20
Buy an 8×10 “Be Gentle”

Helpers

What a week I’ve had here! How has yours been?
I have been very busy each day so I am grateful for a chance to sit down to write a blog and relax a bit. I hope you’ll enjoy sitting down for a bit while you read it.

I haven’t discussed the Helpers in quite some time because I’ve been going through a very uncertain time with them and felt it was time for that side of my life to be private for a while. I think we all needed it.

On Wednesday I was in to see my therapist and what a wacky session it was from my point of view. I’ll have to ask her how it was for her when I see her next week. I try very, very hard not to dissociate while there but at times it is impossible. Wednesday was just such a day. I arrived for my appointment feeling the anxiety of at least a dozen parts of myself. A man answered his phone in the waiting room and I nearly jumped out f my skin. Doesn’t everyone know that silence and complete stillness is a good thing? 😉

It wasn’t even just Wednesday. It’s been at least a week now of odd feelings and confusion that has not existed in a very long time. An urge to self harm, drink, drive off the road, say a hearty “F*** YOU” to anyone who was even looking at me. I guarantee you that these are not traits of mine alone. I know the Helpers that feel these ways and want these things. I do my best to give them what they need so that the destructive side of them will be calmed down and we can live life the way we have all chosen to live it. The trouble is that I am sometimes not in a good place to be giving much to them if I am having a hard time myself.
We have made it through the week without any “maladaptive” behaviours but I am quite frankly exhausted from holding it all back. Only 2 more really busy days and then a day off. A much-needed day off.

I have been working for the past few months to create some co-consciousness with my Helpers. If you are unfamiliar with that term (as I was until rather recently), co-consciousness is having awareness of another part and if all goes really well, working with that part/Helper to deal with issues together. It is not integration or becoming one. It is more like both being in the room at the same time. Some people seem to have this ability or skill right off the bat but for me? When my Helpers are out, I am not. I had no clue what they were up to. I am hoping that developing some co-consciousness will help us work together in a smoother fashion.

While at my appointment, my therapist seemed to know that it was not “Heather” who arrived at the appointment and she was partially right. I felt like I was there with a half-dozen others and all their feelings were all over the place. A little closer to the end of the appointment, she asked me how the little ones felt about her retirement in June. The adult Heather (me) has been taking it really well. Almost too well. When she asked how the little ones felt about it, I felt this overwhelming presence of the little ones. They did not take over but their obvious distress was felt full force by me. They/I began to cry and feel heartbroken. We were suddenly very little again. I felt them. Small, scared, heartbroken, wanting to be held and hugged, wanting a real mother, and such a huge amount of loss.

I take my therapy very seriously and I have promised myself to always be willing to go wherever I need to go for healing to take place. It does not matter how painful it is. I truly feel that things hurt more when left to fester inside and are worth the discomfort of allowing them to come out.
That said? On Wednesday? I wanted to beg my therapist to stop. It just hurt SO MUCH. I felt like I couldn’t possibly take it for even one more moment. I held on though and still feel like I was kicked in the gut.

I am sorry if todays blog is a bit disjointed but I am dealing with a lot of Helpers still today. Co-consciousness is my goal but getting there is going to be a very bumpy road. I’d actually love to hear from others who have either tried to develop this skill, already have it and how you control it, or those whom support others through it. Do you have any advice for me? Tips and tricks that could help me or others whom read my blog?

I really hope that you have a great weekend and I think that next week I am going to try to let a few of the Helpers lead the blog for that day. Who knows? It might even happen. *laugh*

As a parting note. For those of you whom are newer to my blog, I wanted to post the quote that gave me the inspiration to call my other parts “Helpers”. A positive quote and a positive connotation for my Helpers. Helpers

 

Schools lack…

School

Schools try their very best to teach children all the skills they need to learn in order to lead full and successful lives. I really believe that for the most part, educators really do care.

That said, I think there is one area that schools and society lacks attention that is absolutely critical and would change the way that our society worked as a whole. We all went to school and now we are all “society”. One day these kids will be taking our places.Will they be as prepared as we were? Were we prepared?

Bullying is a HUGE issue that receives a ton of attention but the education about it isn’t working. I’ve sat in school auditoriums, listened to very passionate speakers on the effects of bullying and then as we leave, I hear kids calling each other names, pushing each other, basically ignoring every lesson they just learned. I would hate to even fathom a guess at the hours a principal spends dealing with bullies, bullied children and their parents. Yet it is only getting worse.
And much worse than bullying? Having no respect for your own self, beating yourself up for finding life challenging, feeling like you are less than or not worthy of better, harming yourself in ANY way because you just don’t have the skills to cope.

I am not usually one for coming up with ideas that basically throw what we  are already doing out the window but in this case? I think we need to strongly consider it.
What do I think we should teach instead?
I think we could do wonders for our youth and our society as a whole if we taught about good mental health.

  • Teach and do projects on self-esteem, help kids figure out what they really love to do and how to be proud of it.
  • Teach lessons on being resilient. You CAN teach someone how to gain skills that will make the ups and downs of life easier to manage.
  • Explain to our youth that they are worthy of love, attention, and support. If they are not getting that at home, parents can be led towards parenting classes that are not done to be punitive but rather done to make all of their lives better. It is very obvious to me that the parents needs as much consideration as the child.
  • We need to teach children about self-care and self nurture. I was 43 before I even knew what this meant. I assumed if I showered and brushed my teeth? I was all good. I had no idea that I needed to also nurture myself, treat myself well, do things that I enjoy like being creative or spending time writing.
  • Teach some behaviour therapy. How to see the world with realistic but not dirtied glasses. Help them see the good that surrounds them and actively push further away from the bad.
  • Teach these children about mental health issues. Let them know what is “normal” and what is not. Help them learn the signs of anxiety or depression so that they can be proactive far earlier. Many youth and many adults graduate from anxiety and/or depression to more serious concerns such as self harm, suicidal ideation, and eating disorders. Give them the local support numbers to call if they ever feel the need to reach out for help. Don’t make them (or anyone) have to go searching for it when they are at their lowest.

My personal belief (and that is all this is although I would LOVE to change the world with it) is that youth who are taught and helped to mature with a good self-esteem, an ability to be more resilient, know that they are worthy and important people in this world, take an active role in doing things that make themselves happy and feel fulfilled, youth who are taught about mental health and have no fear or stigma attached to it will reach out sooner, get help quicker and not fall so far before trying to catch themselves.

Mentally healthy children, youth and eventually members of our adult society will require less interventions, they will become happier workers, more positive people, they will be resilient and good at taking care of their own needs.
I think it is worth taking the time to make this a part of the curriculum and if they don’t? We parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, caregivers, friends, doctors, nurses, etc. need to start teaching it if we can.
I also firmly believe that these stronger, more self-assured youth won’t need as much help with bullies because a bully will be far less likely to upset them as easily AND we will have fewer bullies in the first place. Mentally healthy people do not feel the need to stomp on the feelings of those around them.