At least a couple of times every week I get asked, “How do you listen to
people all day and not be a wreck about it?”
In fact, it was one of the things I worried about the most when I was
studying to become a psychologist. Earlier
in my career, I wasn’t totally sure WHY I wasn’t “bringing my work home with
me,” but I was pretty grateful that it wasn’t happening. It really is this strange thing about working
in my field—being exposed to traumatic material and not being traumatized by it.
is not one of those blog posts that is going to tell you that all you need to
do is be grateful and you will feel better.
In fact, it is the opposite.
not slagging gratitude. Gratitude is a
good thing. A great thing, even. It is important to count one’s blessings, and
to see the good things that are going on around us. It can help us feel hopeful. Focusing on what is good can stimulate us
into thinking more positively, which sometimes orients us to making healthier
decisions for ourselves.
have a dear friend from adolescence with whom I check in nearly every day. We haven’t lived in the same place for over
20 years, but thanks to technology, we can talk and text on the regular and
stay current in each other’s lives, despite seeing each other very
infrequently. The other day she sent me
a mini-video of her relatively serious 4 year old son issuing a warning we
should all heed: Objects in the mirror may be handsomer than they appear.
first I just chuckled and thought that the dear creature was cute.
week’s episode of Masters of Sex (television drama about legendary sex
researchers Masters and Johnson…NOT one of those XXX flicks on the upper
channels of cable) has really had my mind chewing about the idea of forgiveness. In a scene where Bill Masters is talking with
his mother about their interactions with Bill’s younger brother, Frank--a
recovering alcoholic and AA member--they comment somewhat disdainfully about Frank’s
way of being since he has become sober.
I don’t think any AA members are going to nominate the show for an Emmy
based on the portrayal of AA, but Bill and Frank’s mother, Estabrook, says with
contained emotion, “It’s like an accusation, dressed up as an apology,” when
she speaks of Frank trying to make his amends to her.
Walking through my neighbourhood this weekend, it’s clear
that September has arrived. Moving
trucks everywhere, it’s a time when people are starting something new…a new
school year, a new lease, and new routines after the dog days of summer have
come and gone. It’s a time of year that
can be quite hopeful, and gives us time to reflect. At the outset of any journey, we are often
full of ideas about what will be, how we will be, and what will be different
based on our past experiences.
a new year! While 2014 has been mighty
chilly here in Ottawa, the end of 2013 and the very beginning of this year gave
me the warmth and good fortune of getting to spend time with many of my
favourite people of all time, who don’t live here in O-town. When I lived in Nova Scotia, I had a large
community in a small town, and the friendships I made while there have been important
ones that have endured beyond my move back to Ontario.
Thanksgiving, and again more recently when she was visiting me in Ottawa, a
dear friend said to me, “Doesn’t it make you bananas to see all of us and know
that you don’t live in Nova Scotia anymore?
other day, a good friend sent me alink
to an article about “almost depression,” telling me that she thought this
described her, and asking what I thought about it. My friends and family are often hesitant to
ask my opinion about psychological matters (“I don’t want to make you work on
your off time!”), but the truth is that when it comes to my personal life, I’m
never really able to be a “professional”—I make no bones about having my
personal opinions and observations and share them. So when my friend asked me for my opinion, I
shared it, but it also got me thinking about this term, “almost depression.
other day I was talking with a new friend and colleague about research she’s
interested in doing on youth and suicide.
We both marveled at the ways through which this can become a “risky”
subject, and that even people or community groups who might have a vested
interest in participating in and using this research may not feel ready for
it. The primary obstacle is often the
idea that if you talk about suicide with someone who is already feeling on the
edge, that conversation will propel them forward into action--especially if
they are young people.
It’s graduation season! I have a very dear friend who recently
completed his master’s degree. It was a
long and difficult battle that took a great amount of work. Of course I’m happy for him, and of course I
want to honour him in some way, but it got me to thinking about what we choose
to celebrate and make a big deal about vs. what we take for granted.
Getting a master’s degree is amazing! Many people apply to programmes and don’t get
in, and many people start programmes but don’t finish them (and many people
don’t ever want a master’s degree, and that’s fine too—the point is, insert
taken me awhile to process Rehteah Parsons’ recent death. It’s only been 6 months since Amanda Todd’s
suicide. It’s also been in recent
history that a Nova Scotian teenager (“A.B.”) had to go to the Supreme Court of
Canada to maintain her anonymity while taking legal action against peers who
created a false Facebook page about her, intended to humiliate her. WHAT IS GOING ON? I mean, I got the memo years ago as a boy—we don’t
value women or girls in our culture in the same way that we value boys—and
perhaps it’s going to continue to require these kinds of tragedies and legal
battles so that we can stop congratulating ourselves as a culture that we are a
bias-free/discrimination-free equal society for everyone.