I can’t believe that it’s been 2 years since my last Paramedic Nat’s Evening For Mental Health! What a night it was! If you missed it, don’t worry! Along with the Brainstorm Revolution team, I am having another event this February 14th ❤️
The theme for this event is LOVE AND LAUGHTER, so we have an amazing line-up of talented comedians and writers. The night will benefit the RVH Addiction and Mental Health Programs (which I was a student of in 2014 – Chapter 1 of “Save-My-Life School”).
This night will make the perfect Valentine’s evening! Follow the Eventbrite link to add-on a buffet dinner and/or a special rate hotel room.
We are always looking for sponsors and swag-bag items. So let me know if you are interested!
I knew it would happen…sigh. Sadly, it always does with any positive mission shared on social media. Somewhere along the way, someone thinks that a mission solely focused on helping others is, “a pet-project”, “insincere”, “focused on gaining celebrity attention”, “arts and crafts – not services” and so on … (actual feedback I received via social media).
I was hoping that those comments wouldn’t head my way about the addiction get-well cards call-to-action. But in my experience, when media attention picks up… so does the stone throwing. And any disagreements with my past voting choices residents may have (informed or not) reignite and get linked to my current actions.
Side note: I am grateful for the media attention for this call-to-action; it is a blessing! Not a result of a need for “celebrity attention”. The GOAL is to get the most amount of people aware of a call-to-action, be it for legislation changes, improved healthcare, social awareness, and so on. So, I tweet the heck out of things, and am grateful when media wants to share an educational story; thank you to every who has. It’s what you want for a call-to-action! Anywhoo…
Now that I am a City Councillor, I do understand that my actions are under much more scrutiny – which in many ways is fair! And I fully understand that (in most cases – not only in this instance) negative comments about a positive mission often come from a place of hurt and sadness. And if I’m truly honest with myself, I have made comments like this in the past when I felt those emotions – before I knew better. So, while the remarks I mentioned above certainly made me disappointed, I have learned that giving these comments space before I reply is best, because if I reply with harsh words out of disappointment, well I’m really just perpetuating the problem, and being hypocritical.
Ok, so where am I going with all of this?
I am hoping to educate so that people may pause before they they throw stones at a positive mission.
I have a love-hate relationship with social media because while it is an amazing resource for community information and connection, it also provides this peculiar forum for people to lash out at someone before even doing any research into why that person is doing what they are doing. If we were always made to share our feelings face-to-face, like we did for the most part before social media, (unless you were a very angry penpal 😉), or forced to do some research prior to typing, I don’t think so many hurtful remarks would be shared, because before even making it to the face-to-face encounter, or mean tweet, the questions that caused the anger to arise in the first place, would be answered.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: would you like to have a coffee and chat about it? Let’s build bridges together. Not burn them before you even step foot on it.
Thankfully, the happiness that this simple call-to-action is bringing won’t be lessened by disappointing remarks. Love always wins! In fact, after the sick feeling in my stomach subsided after reading those comments, my desire to do MORE emerged.
These cards may not solve the opioid crisis – I never claimed that they would. But I do know that the person who received the get-well card from Mayor Jeff Lehman was so overwhelmed and grateful, and definitely felt connected to the community. And that the women in the detox who received them were in tears. And that individuals have messaged me and requested that I send one to a loved one. And that a wife messaged me and said she understands her husband more more now. And that organizations are making conversations about addiction in the workplace less filled with stigma. And that police officers will be connect one-on-one even more with youth while they make cards in our schools. And that even some doctors are looking at addiction differently. And that at the end of the day… I tried.
People battling addiction deserve get-well cards too!
The #addictiongetwellcards call-to-action is dedicated to changing the way we look at addiction. Some see addiction as a choice and that causes many people battling addiction to be abandoned by family and friends, and feel isolated from their community. Some people believe that these individuals can “just stop”! That is not the case. Addiction is a disease with deeply rooted causes and requires treatment like any other disease.
As a recovering addict myself I am friends with many other recovering addicts, and I have seen the hurt and confusion in so many people’s eyes when they are made to feel less than other members of society because they battle addiction. Some people roll their eyes and act disgusted when they see someone who is living on the streets or not able to work or care for their family because they are consumed by the hell of this disease. Everyone deserves treatment for addiction, but we are still in need of government funding to provide this for everyone – Ontario’s Bill 116 is a great start to this effort! In the meantime, everyone battling addiction deserves a get-well card.
All you need is some craft supplies and a desire to open up the dialogue about addiction in your classroom to participate in this mission! Sharing experiences and beliefs will breakdown the walls of addiction stigma.
After you make the cards, deliver them to your local detox centre, addiction treatment centre or hospital mental health department. You will truly help people know that they are worthy of wellness too! Their card may be the ONLY piece of support they receive from the community. You can save a life and change the way our children view addiction by participating in this simple activity.
Add the hashtag #addictiongetwellcards to your social media posts about this activity. Spread the word! The more cards the better! Thank you.
Lots of people ask me what they can do to help with the opioid and addiction crisis? They feel like it is too big of a problem for them to make a positive impact on. They see and share the pictures of needles on our city streets and say that not enough is being done … and then do nothing themselves. I totally feel their frustration. And I believe that education is the key to empowerment and change.
Information you may not have yet:
Big changes are happening at the city level to address this crisis – many of which are behind the scenes at this time; and some will forever be behind the scenes for confidentiality reasons. Big changes take time, money, resources, policy changes, government and service buy-in, innovation, and … many actions to occur.
But small changes ALSO lead to big changes. And YOU can be a part of those small changes. Today. Here are some suggestions:
carry naloxone with you;
participate in the #addictiongetwellcards initiative;
have conversations with your family and friends about mental health and addiction so that stigma breaks down;
volunteer at one of the many social service providers in our city;
change conversations you may hear that contain incorrect stigma-filled dialogue to conversations of positivity and hope;
tell someone who you know is battling with addiction that you care about them and are there for them; and
write to your government leaders and share how important you feel legislation is that provides everyone with mental illness and addiction treatment. (For example: Bill 116)
No one chooses to be an addict. Let’s show people who are battling addiction that they deserve wellness too. These cards don’t need to be fancy (or they can be – it’s up to you!). Some encouragement can go a long way. Add the hashtag #addictiongetwellcards and share on social media. Let’s stop addiction stigma with compassion.