Items & Ego: Cassie-Jo Shadlock

This morning I was driving downtown. I was at a red light on Garry St. I looked to my left & saw a man sitting on the step of a building and it was apparent he was homeless. No, he wasn’t begging or “bothering” anyone as some people may call it. He was keeping to himself, head down, fading into the background, as it was apparent he was telling himself he deserved to do.

What I will say is that he was a human being & it broke my heart into a million pieces to see the look in his eyes. He could barely stand to make eye contact with anyone for fear of being judged, not belonging to society, or just wanting to disappear.

How do we look at another human being like that & not feel anything? We find every reason to tell ourselves that this is just the way it is. 

You can find all of his faults, call him weak, or judge what he may have done to get there.  You may lump him into an category based on our own fear of unfortunate circumstances or the racism we have come to find far too normal. All in an attempt to make us feel better about our own demons.

I was on my way to a job that I love, freshly showered, after starting my day with a hug from my mom & my belly full of breakfast. Can you imagine living any other way than you are now, cutting your privileges down to a quarter & still trying to appreciate the gift of life?

Some good friends and I were given an opportunity to come back from vulnerable situations and not let a dark path become permanent. We had love and support throughout our journey but some people aren’t always given that privilege.

I am grateful everyday, but especially today for being here, a life not based on the quality or quantity of items & ego.

I am thankful that I have seen this man & the many men/women out there, who (we have to remember) are not just versions of someone who “once was” important at one time in their lives. All I ask is the next time you see someone in the state that this gentleman was, try & change your thought pattern!

We can use some love right now,  All of us!

UnderstandUs University has begun!

3 Times My Mental Illness Changed My Life (for the better): Laura Hudson

The best way I can describe my depression on my worst day is an inability to cope; a lack of resources – being thrown into a gladiator fight wielding a spoon.

In those moments I look out and see my friends and the rest of the world with their suits of armour and swords parkouring their way through life as I watch from the corner, back against the wall, spoon clutched tight to my chest.

It’s a feeling of being unequipped. Like going scuba diving armed with a snorkel mask; the frantic treading of water, one arm flung over the side of the boat, choking back salt as everyone else gracefully swims below, air tanks attached securely to their backs.

But would you believe me if I told you that even after all of that, and knowing that for the rest of my life there are going to be many more days clinging to the side of that boat, that I wouldn’t trade it for the world?

Here is why.

Our Annual Event is here!

LettersToNoOne-poster 2

Hitchhikers Improv Presents: Embrace the Unusual

We are so excited to support Hitchhikers Improv group on their quest to acknowledge and improve mental health in our community.

This amazing and talented group of individuals share many beliefs that we value as an organization:

  • Vulnerability is the first step to improving your mental health.
  • Passion and art can act as a healthy outlet for improving yourself.
  • Who you surround yourself with becomes your support system and your influencer.
  • Sometimes the people who strive to entertain others may be the ones who need the support themselves.

Check out the video below and visit their website for any upcoming shows.

Hitchhikers Website

 

Stories behind our clothing

Our clothing has always been deeply rooted in the vision of our initiative.  It is not only a way for someone to show visual support to the mental health community but acts as a conversation starter.  Our clothing is more than just fashion; the stories behind the designs aim to be impactful.

Our clothing is available now at ‘Soles of Whitmore’ on Albert St in Regina.

Join the conversation.

 

The Window: Marcia Fisher

In a reaction to the loss of a loved one, I decided to switch gears within my practice and focus on creating pieces that allowed myself to work through the grief. This work took shape and resulted in The Window: multiple weavings which are all roughly 6’ in length. The weaving process was repetitive and therefore held a meditative quality. This work has as much emphasis on the process as its concept; though the completed work is a physical representation of the internal battle of a loss, the process is what guided me through the grief in real time.

The strong importance of this process came to me only after the work was completed. Through reflection, I saw that The Window was an important step towards facing what I did not want to; in the weeks between losing my loved one and beginning the weaving process, I inadvertently kept myself busy with activities which would not bring up thoughts of the loss. Starting and following through with the weavings put a personal pressure on dealing with every aspect of my grief. It was my personal method for nursing the emotional exhaustion I felt.

 

A loss never leaves you. It is possible that it becomes more comfortable and familiar to your being, but it never leaves you. These pieces stand for what cannot be put to words. They stand for what is gone, but not lost. It is a physical recognition of the internal struggle that cannot be seen to the outside observer. It is a meditation on loss and a material representation of the ability to come to terms with it. It is an attempt to put to materiality what cannot be seen or touched, but is certainly present. It is an ode to the elusive, deep understanding that the loss of a loved one is only a physical loss.

Marcia Fisher

WHY I’M CHOOSING TO LET GO OF THE GUILT: Katey Yurko

This is not a woe is me story. I don’t feel sorry for myself. (I try not to, anyway.) What I’d hope is this starts a conversation around this topic because I’m finding that there are so many women (and men) out there who battle depression. It’s very common… although many of us choose to keep it a secret because we feel ashamed and/or guilty about it. And… what I’m discovering lately is, we mustn’t. It doesn’t help us OR our cause. In ways, going through it can really be a character strengthener. There’s so much to cover… this is just the first discussion.

A Community we want to be a part of!

At UnderstandUs we have been blessed to have the support of the Regina community in our quest to improve the understanding of those with mental health barriers.  We could not exist without generous donations from businesses and organizations.  I would like to personally thank everybody for their continuous support, whether it is purchasing our clothing to support, sharing our messages to friends and family on social media, or making a donation to our cause.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We are seeking funding for our 2017 initiatives and I am very excited to show Saskatchewan what were up to next.  Stay tuned.

Jim Demeray

UnderstandUs.

Take A Minute: Ashley Berstein

 

A lot of people don’t know about the mental struggle I have battled in my past (and still do in my present). I suffered from an eating disorder for many years, it is not something I have made very public because it is something that I will never let define me.  From this struggle, I learnt a lot about myself, but most importantly about my strength and resilience that I never believed I had. I treat my body with so much respect now. Food is fuel. I listen to my body. If it’s over-worked, I rest it. If I’m hungry, I eat. Overcoming this mental illness wasn’t easy and it wasn’t done overnight, in fact, it will probably be something I always have to deal with. The most important thing I’ve learnt is that I’m not alone in this struggle, I’ve met and became close with so many amazing people who have helped me fight off my demons.

Canadian Mental Health Association Week

Check out these great Events for the Canadian Mental Health Association Week.  UnderstandUs is a proud supporter of the CMHA and are excited to be a part of these events.

 

My Recipe: Jenna M Warren

Understand Us, the mental health initiative has started a campaign trend called Share Your Recipe as well as Vulnerable Is Beautiful. Ending the stigma against mental health is life changing, literally. After spending almost 27 years of my life with undiagnosed depression and anxiety, the battle wasn’t always easy, but I was always learning and sometimes barely surviving. Here’s my vulnerability.. I mean recipe.