I spent some time at CAMH’s Queen Street location this week – this time as a guest, not as a patient (or “client” as we are referred to). I’m in the process of giving back to this amazing hospital – the hospital that not only treated my panic disorder but gave me back joy and energy and hope.
This time last year my biggest problem was “how do I get out of bed”? This week my biggest problem was “what can I wear to this meeting with the CAMH Foundation?”. See, I have two distinct wardrobes: black suits for my work at the funeral home and yoga pants for every other day – nothing in-beween and neither of which was particularly appropriate. I scoured my closet and found a bunch of circa 2007 separates (my God, I was thin BC: Before Child). By the time I was finished trying stuff on, my closet looked like a Target change room after Black Friday. Surprisingly, not even a jaunty blouse can liven up a funeral suit, and even my dressiest sweat pants didn’t look right. None of my old dress pants fit particularly well, but, hey, it was going to be a quick meeting so how uncomfortable could it be? Answer: pretty darn uncomfortable. Twenty minutes into the ride downtown my intestines started protesting their constriction and my left leg started to go numb. Luckily I wore a floofy blouse so I undid the top button of my trousers without anyone noticing. Or maybe they did, but the staff at CAMH being the kind and supportive team they are, they said nothing. No weird stares either. They have a few ideas about how I can help them (yay!) so I guess I’ll eventually have to go shopping for clothes that fit (ugh).
It’s amazing to see how far this hospital has come over the past 150 years. Opening in 1850 as “The Provincial Lunatic Asylum” the name change says it all: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health now has the look and feel of a “centre”, not an institution. They are at the forefront of research and are recognized on the international stage as experts in mental health. I am incredibly lucky to have been treated there. So, in the spirit of mental health week, here are some quick hits of kindness to encourage and support each other, as everyone is fighting a battle of some kind.
- Leave a like or comment on a friend’s social media post. People put themselves out there when they post things publicly. Write something nice as a reply. EDIT: whoops! I didn’t mean my facebook posts! I see the WordPress stats and that’s good enough. I meant post a response to people who write things like “I’ve got a case of the Mondays” or “here’s a family photo”.
- Cut someone some slack. This could be a spouse or a sibling or child. I sometimes get so caught up in parenting my son that I forget to just relax and have fun with him. Let go of striving for perfection and having things “just so”.
- Write your partner, your child or your friend a list of things you love about them. Acknowledge and thank the people in your life who help you and encourage those who need a boost.
- Three years ago my colleague and friend made me a mix tape (on a cd). To this day, it is my favourite thing to listen to in the car. She took the time to put it together and every time I listen to it, it makes me happy. Which reminds me, I should send her a text telling her this.
- Every night, for the next three nights, write down three things that you’re grateful for. This time last year I was barely functioning and on the verge of giving up. I had no energy, no enthusiasm and even taking a shower was an insurmountable task. Every night I am eternally grateful to CAMH for bringing me back to life.