Monday, June 11, 2018

The Fallout of Stigmatism

The Fallout of Stigmatism

Well my intentions of posting regularly have not been so successful. Being a full time student taking extra courses has been a learning experience. Life has changed much since my last post. It has been a journey. Hopefully over the next few months I can catch you all up or at least post a few times.

My post for today is a response I made to a friend's Facebook status. In her status she was explaining her reaction to someone's hurtful comment on the death of a celebrity who suicided.

Having worked in Community Mental Health, having struggled with PTSD which included depression, having a nephew, friends and far to many acquaintances who have suicided. I am also on Ordained Deacon. I have a few thoughts.

1. We can never ask the person who is gone so really we can never have an answer as to why they never sought help? We can never have an answer to what we could have done differently or why we didn't recognize they were that depressed. Why they chose the method they chose? Didn't they realize how it would hurt those left behind? We can never ever have concrete answers to many questions and that goes against most of our human minds that seek truth or at least concrete answers to circumstances..
2. People making comments like "the person was a coward", "selfish"
etc creates an unsafe or what appears to be an unsafe environment to talk about feeling suicidal. There is still so much stigmatism that people are afraid to ask for help or for that matter speak about the fact they at one time in their life sought help.
3. Too many "Christians" have judgemental attitudes about suicide, mental health, gender identity, sexual orientation, women, men and so many other things. My opinion on this is that God loves everyone period. Jesus a Jewish man came to this world to teach the Jews a different way of doing things. Teaching about loving your neighbour as much as you love yourself. The result of Jesus coming and teaching his disciples about God's Abundant All Accepting Love started the Christian Church. Over the years different people and institutions have strayed from those original teaching.
4. Access to affordable services are often not available. Access to local services is often not available. I know this is changing a bit but for the past few years where I live access to mental health services for teens has been awful. Often a 2 year waiting list. For transitional teens this wait becomes much longer. The reason for this is that if a youth of 16 goes on a 2 year waiting list by the time they come to the top of the list they are not offered services because they are now too old and have to access adult services... so they go on another waiting list that could be 6 to 24 months. So if you had access to money then you could likely access services sooner but then you still have the stigma to deal with and that is a very hard wall to break through..To get up the courage to ask for help when you know the moment you ask for help you will be stigmatized.
5. I do pity those people who feel that those who chose suicide are cowards and/or weak and/or going to hell. I do pity these people because they do not realize how hurtful those statements are and how untrue those statements are. I pity them because possibly one day circumstances in their lives may be different and they may be faced with understanding how wrong they were and afraid to confess they were wrong so they live with the guilt that they said mean things. Possibly they will never change their heart and always be hurtful to others.
6. We need to continue to have honest conversations to dismantle the stigmatization. We need to advocate for more accessible services.

Friday, April 4, 2014

some of ones challenges

Well I started the year with grand intentions. I intended to blog minimally once a month and as my school, work and church schedule wold allow possibly more.

Now of course one of the challenges of blogging and applying for Ordination is that once my thoughts are published online they are there forever.

I have waited a while to write as I had to process somethings personally before making them public.

On February 12 my oldest nephew Suicided. In some ways this was not a shock to me as he was having some issues with depression and had been involved in drugs. He was trying in some ways to turn his life around and had gotten involved in a christian group called Overcomers.

There of course is the debate within the Christian Community of whether someone who Suicides goes to hell or heaven. I firmly believe God forgives us of all our sins...the challenge is in us forgiving ourselves and others.

The first week after this choice my nephew made was followed by a whirl wind of activity of funeral planning, getting information out to people, dealing with my own sadness, supporting my father and sister (my nephew's mother), my other siblings, nieces and nephews. I being the oldest aunt in Canada was asked to do the Eulogy along with creating a service bulletin. The church the funeral was at is paperless and yet many coming to the funeral follow a tradition of having a bulletin. Yes the funeral encompassed probably every mainstream christian denomination you could think of. I got my own priest to send me a template, got termonolgy explinations from the pastor doing the service and another church print them for me. Ah yes it would be one of those Ecumenical moments. In the midst of all this my brother and I spent hours talking to some of my nephews almost 900 facebook friends.

The week following my nephew's funeral I was scheduled to preach on the following scriptures: Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119; 33-44; 1 Cor 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48. 

As one goes through a process called grief that is complex and at times wanders all over the place one can easily blame others for many things.

 Below is an excerpt from that sermon that sums up my thoughts:

"In our Gospel reading today Matthew is relating a portion of the sermon on the mount. The particular portions we read today are know as the Law of Retaliation and the Law of Love. In a commentary I was reading it described the law of retaliation as a law that an injured person might insist on. The principle was that retaliation is to be equal to the crime. This rule was enacted by God to prevent people from exacting a greater punishment then was warranted by the injury done. Jesus instructed his followers to go one step further – to love the evildoer and wish him good. How often do we actually do that? Each of us has had times in our life when in our opinion we have been wronged. Do we hold onto that transgression by others or do we forgive and wish the perpetrator well. I can’t speak for anyone else, I can only speak for myself. I have at times not been able to wish my enemy well. It really is hard to let go and wish someone who has hurt you well. However the times when I have let go and wished my enemies well a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The question is do I want the relief of forgiving or do I want the bitterness and anger of holding onto the hurt?"

Sounds easy peasy. Not that easy to do in reality.

We all have a right to feel emotions of any type when surviving after someone you loves dies. THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO FEEL WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE SUICIDES. Actually it really sucks. The keys are to giving yourself permission to feel all the emotions and not getting stuck in one emotion.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


It has occurred to me as I have continued to blossom over this past year that presentation of one's self is as important as the knowledge and experience that one has. That being said, does it mean that one must act and not be true to one's self?

I come from a background of working in trades and being well, as my friend Bonnie used to call me "a ruff tough cream puff". I wear work boots and practical foot wear, don't own a dress or anything much feminine. As a teen I never wore make up. I actually wore make up once when I got married. Later that night I had to call the person who applied it to ask how to get that stuff off my face.

This past spring after reading an article on women Priests and the benefit to wearing make up I started to ponder make-up. With having been asked to be involved in leading a number of Morning Prayer Services, including sermons, over the summer I thought there may be some value to wearing making. By the way, at that point my friend Bonnie was likely in heaven with a smile on her face rolling her eyes at me.

At that point in my venture I did actually own a lipstick. It is kept in my tool box. It's great for marking where outlets etc are when mounting drywall. OK so this wouldn't do. I went on a quest to investigate this stuff. I bought some lipstick that I thought was a plum colour. Put it on and it was bright flipping red....I looked like a clown.

I decided I had no idea what I was doing so I made an appointment to meet with a Makeup consultant??? not sure if that is what she is called. Anyway I sat down with her and explained why I wanted to wear make up and that I didn't want to spend ages applying it. She said, "she would put it on for me", at which point I said, "you put it on on one side and I will do the other, I have to walk out of here knowing how to actually do this because you aren't going to be at my house at 7:30am to help me." I think I may have taxed her as I inquired about to the purpose of every single brush and pad...why use this one over that one, what is the difference, does it spread the make up in different patterns or thicknesses and so on.

I made my purchases and started a new chapter in my life.

I have had a few interesting escapades along the way.

- It is far easier to apply eyeshadow before one applies mascara.
- Using a jackknife to sharpen your eyeshadow doesn't work well. Someone clued me in that you can actually buy a sharpener to do that job or even get eyeshadow that rolls out, kind of like the mechanical pencil I have for drafting.
-My Lipstick has gotten flat. What happened to the slant that made it easier to apply?  I am still not sure how to get that slant back, thinking the jackknife may work, I just don't want to waste the lipstick.
-I am thinking the next lipstick will be one of those little ones you can use a little paint brush thingy to paint my lips with instead of rolling the actual stick around my lips. Just can't figure out how to keep it and the brush in my pocket without having lipstick all over the inside of my pocket from the brush.

I also have not figured out how one wears this accessory in the summer with the heat.

Is this all worth it. Yes, a subtle amount of make-up presents a face with a bit of life rather then a washed out look. It enhances the real self.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The New Year

As we head into 2014 many people make resolutions to start of the new year. I have decided I am going to blog. The dilemma for those of us following the Christian Tradition is in that, this is not really our new year rather it is the secular new year. Even within the Christian Tradition there are two new years as the Orthodox tradition does not Celebrate Christmas or the birth of Christ until January. How do we as Christians remain relevant in a world rapidly changing? How do we remain true to our faith and not stuck in Religious Rhetoric?? Part of it is continuing to seek knowledge and at the same time, ensuring that others have access to knowledge. Of course this means that we need to strive for accurate historic content, bearing in mind that some traditions had a very specific reason, at the very specific moment in time when they were instituted. Now this may all seem a little wishy washy, the reality is that life is fluid and does not stay exactly the same for ever. Biblically Jesus spoke to different groups of people in different ways. In my humble opinion his underlying message was that God loves everyone of us as we are and to stop being so judgmental and anal about what is the correct way to be. Yes it is a challenge for me to follow that example. For those of you who know me I am a bit anal about Liturgical Correctness. Anyway, to sum up Remember God loves you and what will be will be. What is right for me may not be right for you.