#BellLetsTalk

We all know what this day means. It has been years since Bell first began this initiative and it picks up steam every year just before the big day. Then the day comes and people use the hashtag all over social media and everyone using Bell as their service provider sends more texts and calls more people than they ever would on a regular day. Which is great. Every 5c counts, right?

That is true. It’s great. This day marks a day where almost every person is concerned about mental health. Or… feigning concern. At the very least, they’re contributing donations to mental health initiatives. But like I say every year, it’s just one day. And the talk about mental health has a way of disappearing after that one day.

Just over a year and a half ago, I became a mental health professional. I never thought the day would come where I actually get to help people who are struggling but, here I am, doing it. And as a psychologist, I get to do so much more than that.

I get the privilege of hearing unique and heartbreaking stories. I get the privilege of being the first person they come out to. I get the privilege of watching them cry because they feel so hurt.

I also get the privilege of seeing them walk a little bit lighter on their feet at the end of a session. I get the privilege of noticing the first time they uncross their arms. I get the privilege of advocating for them when they need it.

Mostly, I get the privilege of being there for them. Of helping them hold all their hurt. And sometimes, that’s all they need.

The phrase, “I’ve never told anyone that before”,  is pretty common in my line of work. Through all the crap clients are trying to get through, they also have to deal with feeling like they can’t talk to anyone. Because that’s the stigma of mental health. It makes us cower… hiding our “worst” selves for fear of rejection.

Today is about breaking that stigma.  About letting our demons roam the earth with us. About letting the people in our lives help us fight them off.

As I do every year, I urge those struggling with mental illness to talk to somebody you trust. Even a little bit. A friend, your parents, siblings, a teacher. It makes a world of difference just having one person know.

And for those who might be doing just fine right now, check on your family and friends. If you notice someone seems off, ask them about it. Even if you don’t, ask them. I know it isn’t usual to ask someone “How’s your mental health lately?” but, maybe it should be usual.

Mental illness isn’t afraid to take control of us. Not in the least. So we need to take back control. Do your part today. Be a human being and talk to someone. And listen. And tomorrow, keep doing the same.

#BellLetsTalk.

Fernweh.

I’m a perpetual wanderer. Or so I’d like to be.

Travel, as you may well know, is a huge part of who I am. I love to explore new places, discover new cultures, experience new parts of myself. All the cliché things that those who travel often say.

Yet, lately, I haven’t so much experienced my usual wanderlust but, rather, something the Germans call Fernweh.

It’s a bit like wanderlust, you see. A longing to travel, to wander off to the far off places, to explore the places you’ve never known. The key difference though, lies in the felt nature of the words.

From my understanding, Fernweh encompasses all that is wanderlust… with the caveat that the longing is more of a homesickness.

How can you be homesick for a place you’ve never been, you ask? If only I had the answer. Somehow though, I’ve felt this feeling.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been pining for a little place called Portland, Oregon. Ah yes, the so-called hipster capital of America. Where food is farm-to-table. Where there are bike paths everywhere. Where there is over 10,000 acres of public parks.

I’ve never been to Portland. And sure, it sounds picturesque but, if I’m being honest, I’m not exactly the “highly walkable city” type. Nor the farm-to-table type. Nor the hiking-every-chance-I-get type. Not to say I don’t like the sound of an environmentally conscious city but, it’s not exactly my passion.

But here I am, experiencing Fernweh for Portland, Oregon. I miss the city. Truly. I couldn’t tell you how that’s possible but, I have this insatiable yearning to return there. Like I’ve been there before.

Our minds are funny things. They play tricks on us all the time. So maybe this is my mind playing an early April Fools on me. Or maybe Fernweh is real and I somehow feel homesick for a place I’ve never been.

Now, who wants to go to Portland with me?

 

My Trending Stories.

Dearest lads and ladies,

I’ve been asked to be a contributing writer for My Trending Stories! Excitement ensues. I’m just starting out but, my content will feel very familiar to all you lovely humans who follow me on here.

I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to streamline my content so, for now, I’m posting where it feels right. I’ll still be using WordPress and I will be posting different things on each site.

If you care to see those articles, here is the link to my profile page over there. And I hope to see some of you there with me!

Thanks for keeping up with me xx

Missing home.

I am good at long distance. Always have been. Maybe I’m a bit too callous or I’ve always had more of a free spirit but, I am good at long distance. I don’t often miss people. I don’t miss familiarity. I don’t miss my bed or my posters or the smell of my home.

Then again, I’ve never really lived away from home like this. I’ve travelled for lengthy periods. I’ve stayed in my university town for months at a time without so much as a one night visit home. But now I’m 3000 miles away. More than that. And I can’t just drive back. I have to plan. Book a flight. Fly in a metal machine across a giant ocean.

And I am missing home. I’m missing the drive down to Tim Hortons to grab a bad but, cheap cup of coffee. I’m missing the Friday nights with the people I have been best friends with since grade school. I’m missing sleepovers at my friends’ houses. I’m missing arguing with my family face-to-face instead of over text message and a bad wifi connection.

I’m missing the people who know me best. The places that I find comforting like my church and the book store 5 minutes away and the park up path across from my house and the lakeshore. My room with all my posters of Audrey Hepburn and Johnny Depp and the Beatles and the Friends cast. The stupid white shirt with the swallows on it that I couldn’t find before coming back to Ireland.

The cheap sushi restaurants in the city I lived in for two years. The absolutely abysmal subway where one line breaks down and the whole system falls apart. The neighbourhoods that I used to explore on Sundays. The streets whose names I know. The barista that always knew I wanted a skinny white peppermint mocha with no whip and no foam. The Jays fans invading all of downtown in their jerseys and caps. Everything.

I am good at long distance. But recently, I am not.

I’m done.

I’m done hearing that 50 people have been murdered while they were enjoying themselves on a night out. I’m done hearing that a school was put on lockdown because of a suspected shooter. I’m done hearing about people dying in the cinema because they chose to watch a film. I’m done hearing about concert goers and singers being shot at venues when they come together to appreciate art. I’m done hearing about it all.

The mass murders. The shooting sprees. The planned attacks. I can’t do it anymore. My heart is aching. It doesn’t stop. Every day I wake up and see another article about another shooting. About one person who is suspected to be motivated by the Islamic State. Or about a person with mental health difficulties who had access to a gun. Or about a kid picking up his father’s gun and going to school.

It needs to stop. These are senseless acts perpetuated by loopholes in buying guns. Loopholes that should have been resolved after the first shooting, or better yet, before the first one. I cannot understand a government that has had 133 mass shootings in a span of seven years and does nothing.

This is me, standing up and saying that gun violence needs to end. And the solution is simple: stricter gun laws. Japan has one of the world’s most stringent gun laws that include a class, a mental health test, a drug test, and a rigorous background check. The result? A grand total of 6 deaths by firearm* in in 2014.

Like I said, a simple solution.

I don’t live in the US and likely never will because, frankly, the gun violence scares me. But if you do and you’re reading this, educate yourself on the laws and loopholes. And then call your senators. Speak up for those who no longer can because they’ve been killed by a firearm. Help make a change.

This organisation does an excellent job of giving facts and resources to do just that. Join the movement. End gun violence. And hopefully we’ll live in a happier world.