Sunday, January 31, 2010

Learning to cope

An article published in the January 29th edition of The Truro Daily News:
Educating yourself key to dealing with mental illness

By Monique Chiasson

TRURO – Martha Rodler (pictured) has come to expect people uttering “stupid” or “crazy” under their breath within her earshot.

She doesn’t approve of such rude actions, but she deals with it in a positive way.
“I feel bad for them because it’s their problem and they are looking for a reaction so I don’t give it to them,” said the North River resident who has learned how to deal with mental illness issues in a healthy way. Her mother and brother were both diagnosed with schizophrenia many years ago and while she has had to learn how to cope with their illness, she has also had to educate herself on how to handle society’s ignorance and intolerance of mental illness.

“There’s still a stigma that someone with mental illness is stupid and it can be shameful for some ... but you can’t let what other people think affect you,” said Rodler. “You need to see there’s a person beyond the illness and it wasn’t their choice to have it. It’s a challenge that has made me a stronger person.”

Before Rodler educated herself on understanding mental illness and enforcing healthy boundaries, she often felt “stress, resentment and anger.”

She said as important as it was for her to learn how to accept, understand and deal with other people’s mental illness, it is also vital the community becomes more understanding and tolerant as well.

“If a person with mental health (issues) has learned to live with it why can’t we (as a society)? It’s time to break the cycle of stigma,” said Rodler.

There are many ways of getting help, she said, including searching for information online, self help groups, therapy, books and tapes and through the local Canadian Mental Health Association.

The association hosted Wine, Women and Wellness at the Marigold Thursday night. The event was the first of its kind in Truro with the goal of bringing women together to become closer, share their experiences and help raise awareness about mental health. “It’s great,” said Rodler. “Women are very strong but we need each other.”

The association’s executive director, Crystal Hill, said such events are vital to the community.

“Everybody is affected by mental health and it’s important to recognize the importance of talking about it ... so people know there are resources available,” said Hill.

Also see:

Learning about Schizophrenia: Rays of Hope - A Reference Manual for Families & Caregivers (PDF)

Symptoms of Psychosis & Schizophrenia (PDF)

Photograph by Monique Chiasson, Truro Daily News.

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