*Click here for an electronic copy of the original article.
One in five Canadians is diagnosed with mental illness, which makes it more common than cancer and diabetes. Many more cases of mental illness go undiagnosed because of the fear of judgment and rejection.
Sometimes sufferers of mental illness resort to suicide. This was the heartbreaking circumstance surrounding the recent suicide of 16-year-old Amber Regis, a local teen who struggled with depression.
Terri Naccarato, a friend of the family, organized an afternoon dessert soirée fund-raiser at the Teatro Conference and Event Centre on Feb. 3 to help Amber’s grieving family rebuild their lives after their tragic loss.
Saddened by local suicides over the years and having been impacted by family and friend’s depression, Terri felt compelled to do something to address the major issues leading to suicide.
“I had to do something,” she said. “This cannot be the only answer for a teen when they are struggling. We need to bring awareness to this horrible illness and bring the community together.”
The event, titled In Celebration of Amber’s Life: Bringing Awareness to Teen Depression/Suicide, featured a number of speakers who shared information about mental health and resources for Halton residents coping with mental illness.
Terri rallied local talent and business owners to donate time, talent, services and prizes for a silent auction, raffle and door prizes. Among those who donated their talents were magician/illusionist Tyler Fergus and teen singers Dylan D’Alessandro, Gavin McLeod and Lateisha Justino.
Aestheticians from Allegra Organic Spa & Boutique were on-site, offering manicures to attendees between speakers and performances. The goal of the event was to educate the community about depression and mental illness and to help remove the stigma that so often prevents people from seeking help.
“People are afraid to talk about [mental illness] because they feel that they are going to be stigmatized,” Tammy Whelen, a mental health educator with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), shared at the event. “They don’t want people at their job to know that they might deal with depression or schizophrenia because maybe they’ll get fired. Maybe their coworkers will bully them. Maybe their wife will leave them. These are all things that cross people’s mind. And it shouldn’t be that way.”
She says we have to look in the mirror and realize the problem starts with us. We’re stigmatizing people when we label them.
“Many people are frightened by what they don’t understand. The more we understand mental illness, the less likely we are to stigmatize sufferers,” Tammy said. “Who’s to say that someone who’s diagnosed with a mental illness, like depression, or schizophrenia, or bipolar, or anxiety disorder, cannot live a mentally healthy life?” she said. They can, she adds, by access community resources.
One of the things mental health professionals say we must understand is that mental illness is complicated. There is no one cause.
“Mental illness is the result of a complex interplay of genetics, biology, personality and environmental factors,” Wendy Caron, a social worker with Woodview Mental Health & Autism Services, explained to listeners. “And 49 per cent of people with mental illness do not seek treatment.” Wendy’s sister suffered from anxiety and depression and ultimately took her own life. She believes that the more we talk about it, the more likely people are to reach out for help and find an alternative to suicide.
There was a time when breast cancer was just a whisper on people’s lips. Now we wear pink ribbons and buy pink appliances and run for the cure every October, Wendy says. The same attention must be given to mental illness.
“We need not whisper when we say, ‘I have mental illness. I have depression,’” she said.
Becky, a teen facilitator with Lighthouse, a peer support program for grieving children, youth and their families, shared the story of her own sister’s battle with depression and why it’s so hard to understand mental illness. “It’s not like cancer or tuberculosis or any other kind of physical disease because it’s something you can’t see,” she shared. “She really pushed through and she really tried. And for three years she really gave it her all, but in the end, she took her life when she was 17 years old.”
The reality is that people do commit suicide. And as much as people are uncomfortable talking about mental illness, they are also uncomfortable talking about suicide.
“I think that the people who organized this today are just so great for doing this kind of thing in memory of Amber,” Becky said. “I really wish something like this happened in Oakville, where I’m from, because I know what I needed when [my sister] died was just a sense of community, caring, well-being. Just knowing that there were lots of people who were going to listen to me and understand and care.”
But how do we begin to support those who experience such painful losses, especially children who have lost siblings, parents and other loved ones? The answer is by helping them seek programs that will connect them with peers who are going through the same thing.
Melissa Hedman-Baker, clinical director of Lighthouse, says that it’s very common for grieving children to feel like nobody understands them, especially with their peers at school. “At the Lighthouse, they are amongst others who understand what it’s like,” she shared. “Even if the circumstances surrounding the death are different.”
As the speeches came to a close, handmade bookmarks were passed out by some teens from one of the programs run by Woodview.
“Each of these bookmarks have an individual message of hope from a kid that knows what it’s like to be depressed to another kid somewhere who may be struggling,” Wendy shared.
Wendy directed her final words to the supporters of the Regis family:
“How does someone move on from this kind of loss?” she began. “With the support of friends and family and community. Your cards, your visits, your casseroles, your ongoing support is what’s going to help this family come out of their darkness.”
The event was well received by attendees who engaged with speakers, requesting more information on how to best support teens in their community. “The only thing missing was more people,” said Hunter Foster, a local teen who attended the event.
“I learned a lot, and I wish there were more teens and youth there,” he said.
Not only was the event intended to educate the community, but to be a show of support for the Regis family. While many people were not able to attend, they showed support in other ways, and these gestures let the family know they are not alone.
“The community support is overwhelming,” Tara Regis, Amber’s mother, said. “We are so grateful for the love, prayers, words, gifts and events that our family, friends and community have blessed us with. Honestly, there are no words strong enough to share our appreciation. Thank you just does not do it justice.” Despite the Regis family’s tragic loss, they are able to reflect positively on Amber’s life and are proud of the person she was.
“Even in death we feel that Amber has brought amazing people into our lives that we may never have had the chance to meet otherwise,” Tara said.
She hopes that the event in Amber’s name will bring greater awareness to the issue of teen depression and promote open dialogue and trust between parents and their kids.
“We are hoping to be able to work with the community in the future to share Amber’s life and establish further supports for teens in the community who may be struggling with similar issues,” she said.
Loved ones described Amber as compassionate, intelligent and athletic. She went above and beyond to help her friends through tough times and brought a smile to the face of everyone she touched.
“She was a supportive friend, a fun-loving and protective big sister and an amazingly strong daughter who made us proud,” Tara said.
*Link to original post here
Pressing snooze on your biological clock could not only cost you financially, but emotionally as well.
More than half of university-aged young adults believe that fertility begins to decline at a later age than it really does, according to a recent U.K study.
The Globe and Mail reported results from the journal, Human Reproduction, citing that 67 per cent of women and 81 per cent of men think that female fertility greatly declines after age 40; when in reality there is a marked decrease from age 35.
A 2010 Canadian study showed that women on the other side of the pond believed the same thing.
Many from the U.K study believed that the drop zone is later still, with 31 per cent of women and 52 per cent of men thinking that the chances of natural conception don’t decrease until after age 44.
The study also reveals that success rates for assisted-reproductive technologies are being vastly overestimated – with reproductive specialists being expected to perform miracles.
While researchers can’t put their finger on the reason for this misinformation, experts speculate that it’s because doctors aren’t being proactive by discussing their patient’s fertility until it becomes a concern.
In addition, it is believed that celebrity stories, such as that of Kelly Preston, who gave birth to her son when she was 48, are skewing the perception that healthy fertility is the norm at any age.
I was only in my 20s when I was diagnosed with secondary infertility. After many rounds of Clomid (medication used to induce ovulation) and a miscarriage, two years later I was finally pregnant. And although I am happy to have a healthy second child, I don’t forget everything my family went through in the process. Had I been prepared for this possibility, I might have handled it a lot better.
Similarly, those without accurate information about their fertility face the possibility of a long, expensive and emotional journey on the road to having children – that is if they even want them.
It’s not fair to assume every woman wishes to bear offspring. And some still may wish to invest in their independence and focus on their career before focusing on having children. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. Let’s address a woman’s right to choose. After all, part of what the feminist movement was about was taking control of our fertility. Thank you birth control pill!
But to truly take control we must have full knowledge of our body’s capabilities and limitations. Information about the realities of female fertility needs to be readily, and widely, available. It should be discussed in sex-education classes and brought up by family physicians in young adulthood. The question needs to be raised early. “Might you ever want to have children?” If the answer is yes, then “Here are the things you need to know.”
However, should the fear that an aging woman’s ovaries might shrivel up, leaving her barren, pressure her to start considering having children she may never want?
It’s the archaic notion that a woman isn’t living up to her God-given purpose if she isn’t procreating that causes so much stress. Should she have to compromise her current desires in order to live up to society’s expectations further down the road?
These are the things a woman must deal with simply because she was born with a uterus. Pressure is coming in from all sides – “Have a baby in your twenties or risk not having them at all,” and “You better hold off on having a baby until you establish a career because old women in the workplace aren’t desirable.” Then you have the pressure to remain childless because you might use too many sick days thanks to your little snot-nosed, germ factories. You risk demotion, and possibly termination, leaving you with the financial hardship you were trying to avoid to begin with. It’s so often about the money, but that isn’t the only cost.
Putting the price of fertility treatments aside, (for example, just one round of IVF can cost as much as $15,000) the true price a woman pays comes in the form of emotional turmoil. While family doctors have some psychological training, it doesn’t replace a good old fashioned therapist. Yes, women should be offered a fertility consultation by their doctors to discuss their biology once they reach the prime age of fertility. But the most important service they should be offered is a referral to a therapist who specializes in working with women who are considering when, and if, to have children.
*Link to original post here
We can’t get enough of the royals. And it’s evident in their constant media presence. Everybody’s favourite princely duo, William and Harry, have made the headlines again – but for very different reasons.
Prince charming, (William) came to the rescue of a Canadian tourist on Monday in Northern Wales, just four days after he helped to save a 16-year-old girl from drowning off the Anglesey coast, reports The Toronto Star.
Darlene Burton, 58, slipped on a rock and broke her leg while hiking near the Point Lynas lighthouse on the Anglesey coast with her husband, Lawrence Oakley. The vacationing Barrie, Ont. couple were stranded on the isolated trail – with Burton unable to move – but Oakley was able to reach a fisherman who then called for help. Then it was William to the rescue!
William has been working as a helicopter rescue pilot since his marriage to Kate last year. And while rescuing damsels in distress is part of his job, it makes the acts no less chivalrous. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’d welcome a rescue by the dashing heir any day.
His bad-boy brother, Harry, on the other hand, has made the headlines for less noble reasons. Photos of the naked prince, who evidently lost during a game of strip billiards, were captured while living it up on a Vegas vacation this past weekend, reports TMZ.
Obviously a day of mingling with celebs at a poolside party hosted by Jennifer Lopez was not naughty enough for Harry. He later brought a few ladies up to his VIP suite for a wild night of fun. Among the photos snapped were a nude Harry cupping his genitals while being embraced from behind by an apparently nude girl, and shot of the naked prince bear-hugging yet another unidentified girl who also seems to be naked.
Of the pair, who makes you swoon? Knight in shining armor, William, or playboy Harry?
*Link to original post here
There are some things every mom says.
“Put on a hat or you’ll catch a cold“
“Your face will freeze that way“
How many times have you rolled your eyes when you heard some of the things your mom said to you as a child?
And admit it, you catch yourself saying the same things to your child today. I know I do. It’s almost automatic. Every time I do it I hear my mother’s voice and cringe. Especially when I fall back on everyone’s favourite, “You’ll understand when you have kids one day.” My only retort was, “Well I’m not having any kids!”
Lies. I now have two. And I’m sure they are doubly annoyed by my broken record of momisms.
Well now kids are taking to Twitter to commiserate with their peers about the annoying things their moms seem to have on repeat.
We’ve rounded up the 10 most common tweets using the hashtag: #thingseverymomsays. Some things never change.
1. Me: Mom I’m bored. Mom: Go clean your room. - @missshadyxx
2. As long as you live under my roof, you’ll live by my rules. - @its_austinnn
3. I brought you into this world & I can take you out. - @mixdgrlproblems
4. When you have kids, you’ll realize what I’m talking about. – @RealBryanGarcia
5. Don’t talk to me like that, I’m not one of your little friends. – @ItsRyanParker
6. I’ll Give You Something to Cry About. – @CarltonnBanks
7. Because I said so. - @iKeepItTooReal
8. If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you? - @CarltonnBanks
9. You eat what I cook or don’t eat at all. - @TonyTRoberts
10. If you go out there and break your leg don’t come running to me. @rmurray92
I have a bone to pick with children’s clothing manufacturers. Walk past the window displays of any children’s clothier and you may catch a glimpse of mini-mannequins, sporting über short dresses, and super low-cut tops. And if it wasn’t for their size, you might expect these fashions to have come straight from the runway.
Last week a disgruntled mother posted a comment on Target Australia’s Facebook page. Ana Laura Amini expressed her disappointment with the store’s clothing offerings for girls between the ages of seven and 14, stating that because their designs lacked modesty, she would no longer be shopping at their stores. Her post received more than 70,000 “likes” and nearly 4,000 responses – many expressing shared sentiments.
Target has since responded, explaining their product design selection process, and assuring Facebookers that they are indeed reading customer feedback. However, this does not directly solve the dilemma many parents have when shopping for age-appropriate clothing: Where can average parents (meaning us non-celeb mommies) get affordable, quality, modest clothing?
Target isn’t the only store to offer questionable kid’s garment designs. And it’s a source of frustration for many parents who seek to dress their children in more modest fashions. As a mother of a tween and teen, it’s become more than just a frustration. I spend far too much time going from shop-to-shop, sorting through racks, for clothes that don’t make my 11-year-old look like her 17-year-old sister.
I have always allowed my children to embrace their uniqueness, and this includes their style. I didn’t bat an eye when my eldest went from wearing nothing but camouflage in Grade 6 to wanting blue hair in Grade 8 (much to the dismay of her principal). And it doesn’t faze me one bit that my youngest refuses to wear dresses, or the colour pink. But whether their style goes against the gender-grain, or is more flamboyant than the norm, they both have one thing in common – their desire for modesty. My girls like to stay covered up. And so the struggle continues.
So who’s to blame? It’s not the manufacturer’s responsibility to guide public taste. They make their money from the demands of their consumers. And since many parents these days want little replicas of themselves, the selection of kids clothing we are left with is just a shrunken down version of adult clothing.
So tell retailers what you want to see in their stores. Nay, demand it! Write letters, sign petitions, employ social media as Ana did. But you mustn’t stop there. What we need the most is to accept that our children are children and not living dolls. Teach them it’s OK to love themselves as they are. Let’s build strong children who don’t bend to the pressure of media images.
We get it. There will always be moms who think it’s cute to have a miniature clone of themselves. And there will always be kids who want to grow up too quickly. But we must be responsible and draw the line and encourage our own children’s age-appropriate modesty. The change starts at home.
*Link to original post here
I come from a long line of women who take great pride in spending hours each day making meals for their families. They ask for nothing in return but satisfied smiles. No dish was simple. Many required hours of marinating and slow cooking. Dinner was always three or four courses. And there was not a morsel leftover at the end of the meal.
As a single, working mom, that is no longer realistic for me. When I get home at the end of the work day the last thing I want to do is spend an hour, or longer, in the kitchen playing Julia Child. Yet it’s important that my children’s nutrition not suffer because of my lack of energy and organization. I had to find a simple solution that made sense for us. So for the last few years I have been attending a bi-weekly meal prep session at SupperWorks where I spend an hour making 12 entrees. It’s such an easy process. I go on their website, make my selections from the monthly menu and book my session. When I arrive I am greeted by friendly staff who take my purse and hand me a glass of wine.
The first thing I do is wash up and put on a crisp, white apron. Then I move from station to station, following the printed directions they have laid out for me. All the vegetables are pre-chopped, and all the meat is portioned out. All I need to do is to measure out a few seasonings, toss everything in a freezer bag, stick on a label with cooking instructions and place it in the holding fridge. The best part is that I don’t have to clean anything up.
While you are given two hours to put together your meals, sometimes I am finished in less than an hour. All that is left to do is put everything in my cooler and transfer the contents to my freezer at home. For the really time-starved, they have a pickup option which means you don’t lift a finger!
I love how everything from the shopping, prep work to clean up is all done for me. In addition to convenience they offer gluten-free and vegetarian dishes for those with food restrictions. And on Saturdays they allow you to bring your little ones in to give a helping hand! Dinnertime is now stress-free and nutritious. We no longer have chicken Tuesdays in our home. We get to enjoy recipes from all over the world. Sometimes it’s Greek stew, other times it’s Spanish fish bake. Tonight it’s crock pot chicken curry. What are you having for dinner tonight?