Change

It’s not easy.

Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community. *

This is a fact, and coupled with the holidays where people can feel more stress and anxiety, it is perhaps the reason I personally came home from climbing Vinson Massif about 2 weeks ago, to feelings of confusion that if what I am doing will matter at all and even to some resentment.

7 Summits for Mental Health, is a hard task at hand and just like anything in life, there are moments of doubt.

When I started this endeavour for Peaks for Change, I had hope to make an impact, but I did not anticipate that it could be hard on my personal life or me.

However I have come to believe that Jesus put me in this path and he keeps me there for a reason. There are little signs. Just as I was feeling overwhelmed on the morning of Christmas Eve, I receive a personal note on our Facebook messenger, which I have permission to share it here in its entirety, in hope that it can help someone else, and also further ‘our’ goals to end the stigma on mental health.

December 23,

2018 The Trillium Trauma.

On December 12th, 2018 I found myself at the back of a Peel Police car as people stared with curiosity at the Family Services of Peel. Not that I had committed any crime, but the Officers were there to support and service and transport me to the Trillium Hospital. After consulting with a Clinician, 911 was called for assistance.

I do not recall three of the first ten days of this cruel crisis! However, for whatever reason in-comprehensive to me, I recall the main Police Officer’s number, 2482. I might be mistaking during my crisis, but I will have to follow up with Division 11 and send the four officers my genuine appreciation.

During the transit, admittance and those three disoriented days of my life, I felt absolutely nothing! I had no feelings, no lucidity. I was a blank canvass for the further infliction I was to combat. Every single personal item was taken from me, I was left with my underclothing on and locked up in a room at Emergency for my own safety. The Police officers remained outside the restraint until the Doctor was available to attend me with the Hospital Security.

And so, I was a formalized as a Mental Patient in Crisis. I simply cannot account the frightful sorrow I experienced at this place that exists to help people. I also have to remember the utmost challenging employed Nurses and other individuals that handle multiple unwell people every day. My admiration for them as I could never endure an environment such as the one I experienced.

I had a many breakdowns during this period. More often than not, with my Peer Patients and we nourished and supported each other regardless of gender, age or race. People of all walks of life share one thing in common, Mental illness.

Under this umbrella within, they have various levels or a different diagnosis. When I was able to actually convey a reasonable conversation, I spoke to staff and patients of a friend, Emma Dantas. She climbs tall mountains around the world to change the ‘stigma’ about Mental Health.

I am in some ways distressed by Governments, society, and companies such as the one that triggered my PTS. Lack of awareness and education. Personally, I feel it is simply ignorance.

I requested to be discharged earlier. I could not manage my emotions watching my roommate undergoing his own horrible crisis, a handsome, early 20’s year old male having horrifying episodes.

Returning home and to the welcoming of my Cat, Ronaldo, I have not been able to stop weeping. He also went through this trauma with me.

I am uncertain if I made the appropriate decision. At present, I am doubtful what the future brings. With PTS, the many years of Panic Attacks, Depression and now I also have Social Anxiety.

This is a soul who performed on stage, TV, Radio and loved music, now long foregone, as it has for years. I feel that the place to heal my trauma, has brought me other traumas and I still break down in weeping for not only me, but others. The different individuals and the sadness I lived through would altogether destroy me further.

I was coached by the Staff that my empathy for others was not healthy, but how can One not feel.? Fortunately I am blessed with the support of my sister, nephews, and nieces.

It has only been about 10 hours since I arrived home and some would think that now am fully cured. That would be a miracle, but not even on Christmas that will materialize for me and others suffering and being stigmatized.

John Neves “I read this several times and wept. It brought me to a place when I could hear my own mothers’ turmoil of feelings. It brought me to a time, I just did not want to deal with it. It spoke to my own present thoughts of tiredness and emotional ache. Climbing mountains may be difficult, but way easier than living with any form of Mental Illness. Easier than feeling lost, broken and hopeless.

As we come to a close of 2018, please join us in our commitment to raise funds for CAMH’s new Acute Care Center, to open its doors soon, with your one time donation of $5.00. Lets together build a future without at least the Stigma on Mental health.

With gratitude, wishing you a Happy New Year,

Ema Dantas
Chairwoman of the Board
Peaks for Change Foundation




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Create a World in which everyone believes life is worth living.

Create a World in which everyone believes life is worth living.

These powerful words where part of the last sentence Mr Chown, the Director of Events for CAMH wrote in a thank you letter addressed to Peaks for Change in reference to our fundraising gala event we had on April 27 2018.

As I prepare to leave to Russia to climb Mt Elbrus, these words are hitting hard at home : ‘ A world in which everyone believes life is worth living.’ As I think of my Mom, Susan’s son Reid, and all those that just recently did not believe their life was worth living.

Yesterday, I had been speaking to my insurance advisor for our company benefits at Language Marketplace, and she mentioned that insurance companies have seen a rise in claims for anti-depression medications.

Are we as a society becoming more hopeless as we isolate ourselves more and more behind our social media profiles?

How can we tell if our friend, family member or neighbor is debating if ‘life is worth living’?

Openness. Understanding . Speaking out. Listening. Seeking help. That is what we all have to do when we feel or someone else is feeling that life is not worth living.

And this is the aspiration I will take with me as I try to summit Mt Elbrus in a few days. One step at a time. Together, we can ‘create a World in which everyone believes life is worth living’.

Ema Dantas

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Why CAMH?

Recently as I was telling a friend that our Foundation is going to raise money for CAMH (Center for Addiction and Mental Health), her reaction was a very common one, ” Why?”

The question is also mixed with fear and confusion and I find that all the excitement I had instilled on them about attempting to climb the 7 Summits, is gone.

When I explain, among other things, I want to do it in memory of my mother, that causes even a bigger confusion and I get asked, “Why your mother? She was not crazy?”

Sometimes I am left taken aback, sometimes hurt, but now I am learning to say: ” Of course not. My Mom suffered from severe depression, that went untreated.”

Mental Health continues to have a huge stigma in our society. And if you add a cultural aspect to it, the stigma is even greater.

The words “mental health” continue to be associated with people in asylums and psychiatric hospitals and people have a hard time dealing with it. It scares them.

A person can be diagnosed with Cancer and it will illicit sympathy. If a person is diagnosed with depression, suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety, etc,  people pull away from them. And they are left to feel even more alone and isolated.

Its time for “Change”.

Ema

 

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