I forgive you for not knowing it all, and I forgive myself, now, disregarding the fact that hindsight is 20/20.
I forgive you for thinking that you could carry all that you did, and for the ways in which that headstrong attempt impacts my body, mind, and spirit today. We still carry too much. We’ll learn one day, but I forgive you for not seeing this as a flaw that we should prioritize reconfiguring.
A metaphorical story for sleep — please view the accompanying TED Talk!
Imagine, that you’re responsible for an intensive research project, and it’s due soon. You happen to be one of those people who is energized by having 700 tabs open on your computer, which you know will distract you from finishing your project. So, you decide to purchase some new technology — a processor on the market called TheFocus — which only allows you to work on one task or project at a time. You’re thrilled.
Mikaela Brewer: Listening is such an eclectic word — it encompasses so much: listening to our body, mind, and spirit; listening to the world around us; listening to other people’s voices and actions; and the list goes on. Each of these influence our mental health because they shape our connectedness to the world and the people in it. One type of listening that lifts my mental health is listening to my younger siblings (21, 18, 14, 12, and 9). They create an interesting staircase where I can re-venture into specific time-bound segments of my life. My conversations with each sibling are very different, though equally informative and insightful.
Mikaela Brewer: One mental health related truth that I have been struggling to work with is duality — I can be struggling and making progress at the same time. Often, I find myself creating a binary — I believe that if I am struggling, it is somehow wrong to feel snippets of motivation, growth, or momentum. It’s a complicated dynamic because it is inherently difficult for us to see our own progress. Alongside depression, it is also difficult to believe this type of insight when it does surface.
Mikaela Brewer: Right about now, someone is telling you that you can’t do both — you can’t reach the highest levels of sport and be a doctor. Your coaches and teachers are ‘informing’ you of this as you climb the ladder to Team Canada and as your grades positively reflect your work ethic in the classroom.
I know you want to prove everyone wrong. You’ll nearly burn yourself out trying to do it, but not because it’s too much or because you can’t manage your time. You’ll weather your body and mind because you didn’t know you needed to create space for everything else — life, family, deaths, mental illness, rest, and recovery. These things demand patience, time, and attention. They’ll take up space inside you whether you readily give it to them or not. That space creates an air pocket, and as it grows, it will create a pressure that aches like a sinus infection in your mind.
Mikaela Brewer: The toll bridge this year demanded a lot of our mental health currency, to say the least. I’m no longer in school (I will be again, soon!), but I am enthusiastically looking forward to the summer months. Though I will be working and training full time, summer always feels like a great time to recalibrate, reset, and re-evaluate my routines.
The malleability of our minds is a blessing and a curse — we can be changed by something we’ve learned, just as easily as we can be changed by trauma. Today, instead of a poem, I’d like to use a story. I’ve included the brain processes, relevant tissues, and hormones in bold.
Mikaela Brewer: The first step is your own personal research — building a holistic understanding of the past and recent history that informs the celebration relieves the emotional burden on the Black community to explain (here is an article published in the New York Times to get you started). One way to support the mental health of the Black community is to carry this celebration (along with the conversations and learning/unlearning associated with it), and what it stands for, thoroughly into the rest of the year. Most importantly, as we celebrate Black humanity and identity, we have to acknowledge where they are not celebrated, welcomed, or included. The American Counselling Association provided a detailed outline of a few ways in which we can honour, admire, insure and defend Black humanity and identity: listen, respect and learn — augment > breach and boost > afflict. Here is a great piece written by Asante Haughton: Caring is an Action.
When crafting a story, we first think through the words we want to use to describe the setting, atmosphere, plot, and characters. A colour script uniquely tells us how the story feels. Sometimes, words don’t capture history or a narrative like a collection of colours do. Resonant of calculated emotions, notes, moods, tones, feelings, and adventure — colour and light capture what can’t be scripted.