In Genesis, one of the first things God says about humans before the Fall is “it is not good that the man should be alone” (2:18). We are alone in many ways right now. Ten months into this pandemic, in the midst of a long winter, many of us are feeling the effects of social…
There’s a temptation to wish life away – to wish that pandemic days, months or even years would rush to oblivion. That from some bright future these mournful days would become as an Autumn mist burned away by the late morning sun. Forgotten, banished from memory. Exhaustion of online world and conversation. Two dimensional images…
Dixon Chibanda is a psychiatrist in Zimbabwe, one of only 12 such doctors for a population of more than 14 million people. Mental health problems in that destitute country are rampant, and a significant percentage of them can be summed up in one word: kufungisisa. In Shona, Zimbabwe’s official language, the word covers brooding, anxiety, depression and panic attacks, and its literal meaning is “thinking too much.”
Ten years ago, we were going through a huge family change. Job loss, relocation, back to school, small kids in tow – the whole shebang. Part madness, part adventure and a heap of faith in a pilgrim life. And with that upheaval, I picked up the knitting needles. I’d first learned to knit as a teenager and knit myself a huge blue shawl-collared cocoon to hide in, then moved on to smaller things like mittens for boyfriends.
I’m seated amidst a sea of black dresses and suits in the glaring heat of a summer afternoon. There’s the faint smell of lilacs. We’re outside on white plastic chairs in a semi-circle facing a table of photos of a man who died at 33 years old, after being rendered paralyzed five years earlier through a car accident.
Christmas music fills the air. Lights sparkle on the Christmas trees of in each of the “Drumm girls’” homes. An enormous glass bowl full of fake fruit and vegetables sits in each home – carrots, lemons, metallic cucumbers, carved stone pears, crystal covered apples and more – the collection growing larger with each passing year. Each piece holds a memory. Each piece is a part of a Christmas tradition that began on December 24, 2002. Each piece is a memory of our mother.
In August 2019, Canada’s first “dementia village” – a community specifically designed for people living with dementia – opened in Langley, B.C. “We practice person-directed care, focused on enriched living” said Adrienne Alford-Burt, executive director at the Village Langley. The philosophy of person-directed care is centred on values including choice, preferences, self-determination and meaningful living.
A few weeks ago, I got a text from a close friend saying he was on the Burlington Skyway, the 40-metre-high bridge running between Burlington and Hamilton, Ont., and he was going to jump. It was 3:30 p.m. With two kids just home from school, I hesitated to call the police. But after this person didn’t return my texts or calls, I called 911. They dispatched cruisers to the area and started to search. After several hours of back and forth with the police, they let me know they eventually found him safe and sound. He had been bluffing. I was relieved, but angry.
The greatest battle on earth is the one that takes place between our ears. The battle of the mind. It started when I began to squint my eyes for the camera. I wanted to create laughter lines in a laughter-less face.Then I began sucking in my cheeks. I liked how it made me look thinner, model-like.
IN JANUARY LAST YEAR, an Ontario farmer was convicted of four counts of animal cruelty, after the deaths of more than 1,500 pigs near the small town of Tavistock, Ont. Police officers arrived on the farm to find 1,265 pigs already dead, and another 250 pigs in such distress that they had to be euthanized.
If you have an infection, we can grow a culture of the bacteria that caused it and usually prescribe an antibiotic to fight it. If you have Type 1 diabetes, we know that your pancreas has stopped making insulin and, while we cannot fix it, we can prescribe insulin injections to prevent it from being fatal. If you have Parkinson’s disease, we know that a large number of your dopamine neurons have died, and we can reduce the adverse consequences for years with L-dopa drugs. But with mental illnesses like depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders, we are still in the dark; their cause is unclear, and their treatment is less than satisfactory. We all wish it were not so.