Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the month “January, 2018”

Let’s Talk about Mental Health #bellletstalk


In Canada it’s Bell Let’s Talk day to talk about mental health. I am not here promoting a particular communications network, what I am here to do is to share my own personal experience of living with a spouse who lives with depression, of living with depression myself for the past 2 years, and of knowing many others who daily struggle with PTSD, anxiety, mood disorders and so much more.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with a situational depression related to my diagnosis and subsequent treatment for ovarian cancer. I was in tears all the time, I had lost my appetite, sleep was not happening and work was impossible. Fortunately I have a very good family doctor, a good oncology team, a listening therapist and so much support from my family and friends and my boss. However, if you had told me that I would still be dealing with a depression at this point I would have not believed you. I thought I was going to get over this, but it turns out that sometimes your brain gets changed in such a way that you don’t get over what has happened to you.

Each day I wake up and I do an assessment of how I am doing – are my feet hurting from neuropathy and arthritis or just neuropathy? are my hands achy? have I got a headache? did I get enough sleep? Every morning I wake up and do the same thing. I also check in with my feelings – am I feeling positive? am I dreading the day? That’s because, it turns out, that living with depression is like living with my other chronic conditions – it doesn’t go away, it abates sometimes, it comes on strong others, but it never goes away. I am learning how to live with it. I am learning that it is another part of myself that I have to take care of. I can’t ignore my mental health anymore than I can ignore my physical health. If I did I would not be the functional person that I am.

My dear one has lived with depression for most of his adult life and for most of our marriage. It is his chronic condition. I am not going to talk about how he deals with it but how I deal with it. I have learned to read his signals, to check in with him regularly, to make sure he eats well and to give him the space he needs to cope. It has affected our marriage, in the same way that my cancer diagnosis has, by making us more aware of the other and looking out for them. In fact both our conditions have brought us closer as a couple, which helped our family and has encouraged our friends.

Today and everyday I am going to be open about how I am doing with both my physical and my mental health. There are days when I just need to stop and rest and sometimes do nothing and then there are days when I know I will get things done. I live with both these realities.

Here’s what I also need to say. I work for a part of the church that takes care of it employees. I have access to mental health counselors. I don’t have to tell anyone that I am doing it and no one asks me either. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I know that there are many Canadians who don’t have the same benefits. We need to make mental health care be part of our overall health care. Most family doctors know that taking care of your mental health means that your physical health will be better. I think as Canadians we can and should do better to look after this as well. Mental health, mental wellness, matters for all of us. It is not just an individual responsibility, it is the responsibility of the whole community.

If you need help ask a family member or a trusted friend to assist you. Talk to your family doctor. Talk to your priest or your pastor. Reach out, help is there. I am glad I did, you will be as well.


Reconciliation Goals for 2018

What are your Reconciliation Goals for 2018?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. What are my reconciliation goals for 2018 and what are the parish’s reconciliation goals for 2018? I am hoping that readers out there are thinking and wondering the same thing for themselves and for their parishes. If you haven’t then here is a good place to start.

One of my reconciliation goals for this upcoming year is to have more rural and semi-rural parishes fully engage in neighbourly reconciliation work in their communities. Below is a list I have come up to help you think about what you and/or your parish can engage in this next year to further the ministry of reconciliation between Indigenous, settler and newcomer here in our communities.

  1. Read over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action – take note of those which effect you directly, either the church or in your professional life. Find one that you can take action on with others in your parish.

  2. Read some books by Indigenous authors. There are a lot of them out there. Ask your local librarian for some recommendations if you can’t think of any. Why not start a parish book club that commits to reading together and having discussion time?

  3. Ask your parish priest to start Sunday worship by honouring the treaty that we are part of each week. We live on Treaty 6 land which we share with the Cree, the Nakoda, the Metis and the Inuit peoples.

  4. Participate in a Kairos Blanket Exercise – a meaningful way to learn more about the shared history of Indigenous and settlers on this land. Or how about hosting one in your parish? I know there are facilitators out there who would be willing to assist with this.

  5. Find out who your neighbouring First Nations communities are. Invite someone from the leadership to come and talk to your parish about the life of the community.

  6. Learn about white privilege if you are of European descent and how it affects your decision making without you even realizing it. Make steps to live consciously and name the privilege when you see it in yourself and if you can in others.

  7. Learn about Treaty 6 and the impact that it has had and is having on relationships between Indigenous, settlers and newcomers. What from the treaty can help move forward reconciliation between all of us?

  8. Take time to search the Bible for teachings about reconciliation. What do our Scriptures teach us about living a reconciled life? How will that deepen our commitment to reconciliation in our communities?

All of our reconciliation goals should be about deepening our relationships with our Indigenous neighbours, those who live in our communities and those whose communities are neighbouring ours. I am excited by how much our diocese and the parishes that make it up are committed to reconciliation in our communities. I hope that you are as well.

Happy New Year everyone and let’s all commit to being part of God’s reconciling work in the world with everyone we interact with.

P.S. I first published this in the January issue of The Messenger of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton. You can find it here.

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