On January 23rd, I learned that a good friend had taken his own life the day before. The news of his suicide quickly overwhelmed our group of friends with feelings of deep sadness and confusion. We engaged in the heartbreaking exercise of wondering what we had missed and whether we had failed our friend.
They have demonized Lionel Desmond as a typical example of male entitlement and bemoan the media portraying Lionel as a victim - when the lack of mental health services is central to this tragedy. Lionel was trying desperately to get help. Lionel was denied that help. The Desmond family is now dead.
Caring for our veterans, particularly those suffering from PTSD, is undoubtedly an important issue. However, a conversation around mental health shouldn't overshadow men's violence against women and children. More concerning, shifting the narrative towards mental health and further away from men's violence make it even more difficult to hold perpetrators of similar acts of violence accountable.
Whether help comes in the form of artillery fire, jet fighters, or helicopter gunships, no expense is spared to support and protect our troops when the bullets start flying. But is the federal government willing to continue to fork out $85 a day to keep each of our veterans with PTSD out of harm's way? Apparently not!
While physical disabilities like blindness more obviously demonstrate the need for a service dog, the animals can be trained to serve a host of people with invisible illnesses as well. These service dogs learn how to respond to mental health issues including PTSD and social anxiety; detect silent conditions like irregular heartbeats or blood sugar levels; and provide emotional support for victims of sexual abuse.
The diagnosis of PTSD requires that a person has "...experienced, witnessed or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others." The traumatic event must provoke intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
Teal Swan was only six years old when she found herself in the hands of her abuser and forced into a nightmarish world that a lot of people were unwilling (or unable) to believe. For the better part of 13 years, she was was raped, beaten and psychologically tortured by people who she was told to trust.
Welcoming refugees into our communities implies a responsibility to provide a safe environment for rehabilitation and integration. Yet this weekend thousands of our neighbours will be exposed to trauma in a spectacle many of us would do away with in the first place. The air show is nothing like a charity bike ride. In a city with a large population of refugee newcomers and people who have experienced the trauma of war it is insulting, invasive, and violent.
We see celebrities who we admire as "friends". We support their work, we cheer them on, and we ardently defend them when someone makes an accusation against them. In the eyes of millions of people, Johnny Depp is a hero, an onscreen buddy, and who wants to believe that your best film buddy abused his wife?
The dark fear of living with cancer is like living with death on your horizon. For a long time I let myself feel like that was a certainty. First, before chemotherapy I took a stance of come what may. Since then, I've taken a more active line in trying to move away, and pursue a better, longer life. The truth was that until the appointments of this month I still had no long term vision. I was constantly repeating in my subconscious that radiation therapy was coming, to not be irrational and look into the future,but to stick in this moment and deal with it.
While the incomes of Canada's wealthiest are increasing, the absolute wealth of our poorest is decreasing. As this gap grows, so too do the differences in people's health risks, care and outcome. The poorer people are in Ontario, the more likely they are to have shorter lifespans, to be overdue for screening tests and to suffer from multiple chronic health conditions.