Mental Health Conference; Day 2

Hey everyone,

So day two of the conference was just as powerful as day one and I’m sorry this has taken so long. Work got really busy and I hit some hard anxiety that took some time to work through. Day two began with a talk from keynote speaker Kat Singer. It was very powerful and they shared some of their art which was very moving.

The workshops for the day were to follow the keynote speaker. The first workshop was presented by Subata Khalid and Susan Chen and was titled Reframing Body Image. They spoke about body image and changing it from negative to positive. It really meant something to me and I am so happy I got to experience it. The two of them were very knowledgeable and inspiring.

Another workshop was presented by Tyler Sarry and was titled Outside In. Tyler spoke about not only being physically fit but also being emotionally fit. He shared strategies about mastering ones mind and body. His workshop was a lot of fun and everyone seemed excited to be there. The atmosphere in the room was very uplifting and this was a very enjoyable workshop. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tyler outside of his workshop and he is a very positive and uplifting person.

The third workshop was titled Healing Through Yoga and presented by Marlee Liss. She focused on using yoga as a tool for healing. She was also one of the vendors at the conference with her book titled Re-Humanize. It is a very powerful, thought provoking book that I will be doing a post on at a later time. Marlee is an inspiration and someone I am so happy I got the chance of meeting.

The final workshop was presented by Shaila Khan and focused on using movement for self care practices. This was an interesting workshop and I had a chance to participate in some of the activities. I really enjoyed it and it’s something that I would recommend to others. She introduced different movements to deal with stress.

The final keynote speaker was Jennifer Poole who is a professional within the mental health field. She brought a different perspective to mental health and it was a very interesting talk.

Also on day two was the living library which I had the pleasure of being one of the books. There were “books” standing around the room and people were able to go and “read” them. I spoke about abuse and it’s effects on body image and I believe that it went really well. The living library was a new concept to me but it was also a very powerful one. It is something I would do again if given the chance.

Day two was a success as was the entire weekend. I am so proud to have been part of it and it is something I look forward to being part of in the future. I hope that everyone who attended walked away with something they were looking for or something they didn’t know they needed.

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey

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Mental Health Conferece: Day 1

On the weekend of February 3rd and 4th I had immense pleasure of attending a Mental Health Conference at York University that was organized by one of my friends with Project Heal. This was the very first Mental Health Conference I have ever been to, however I know that it won’t be my last as it was such an inspiring experience. Not only was I able to attend but I was also able to assist in running the conference over the weekend.

Day one began with a welcome address presented by Alicia Pinelli, who then introduced the first keynote speaker Charles Hargobind. Charles spoke about Mindfulness in the 21st Century and his talk was very relatable. He focused on calming one’s mind and body through mindfulness practices and the benefits such practices have on everyday life. He spoke about his own life experiences and how he has used mindfulness practices to calm his mind and body.

Once the keynote speaker had finished there was a break to allow for everyone to mingle as well as check out some of the displays and vendors. These included Scared Queerless and NEDIC both of which I was able to talk to. Scared Queerless is a nonprofit organization started by a group of individuals who are aiming to combat violence in and towards the LGBT+ Community. NEDIC is an organization that focuses on awareness and prevention of eating disorders, food and weight preoccupation, and disordered eating by promoting critical thinking skills and a healthy, balanced-lifestyle.

Next everyone had a chance to attend one of four workshops all of which were very well done as I had the pleasure of attending bits of all four. The first was presented by Alan Faigal and was titled Mindful Movement. He focused on using movement and self-care, including moving creatively to gain vitality and self-awareness. Everyone involved in the workshop was able to find news and creative ways to move their bodies to release some of the daily stressors and replenish their energy. This was a very fun workshop. The second workshop was presented by Alyia Chan and focused on Supporting Loved Ones Experiencing Mental Health. She focused on being able to support loved ones and other’s we work with who are experiencing mental health. She taught how to facilitate conversations, identify changes in mental health, and other ways of support beyond the medical model. Her workshop was very informative and something I think I will be able to use.

The third workshop was presented by Cameron Algie and was titled Overcoming Anxiety Through Play. He spoke about using Improv and play to help with anxiety. He introduced different forms of improv to allow someone to connect with their body, let go of judgement, make mistakes and laugh. This was a very fun and helpful workshop as I live with anxiety. It was nice to be able to let go, just be myself without worry. The final workshop was presented by Alicia Pinelli and was titled Reclaiming Your Awesomeness. Alicia spoke about the awesomeness we had as children and what has made us lose that sense. How society has shaped who we are and what we can do to get back what we had as children. This workshop was very inspirational and is something that really makes someone stop and think.

Once the workshops were finished lunch was provided and NEDIC did a presentation that was truly powerful. Everyone was then able to go to a second workshop of the four that were presented. Finally everyone came together for the last keynote speaker of the day Janna Morrison. Janna spoke about her experience with an eating disorder in a talk titled The Chaos Within: The Healing Process. She shared her journey with an eating disorder as well as her experience with the healing process. Her talk left very wet eyes in the audience, it was very moving and inspirational as well as emotional and very real.

Overall the day was a success and by the end of it I was ready for day two to begin. Stay tuned for Day 2 as well as an overview of the weekend.

Talk Soon

Lyndsay

Spread the Word

Growing up in a small town meant that there were a lot of things that weren’t talked about, a lot of things that “didn’t exist.” In fact I didn’t meet anyone who was not of Caucasian decent until I entered high school, and even then it was exchange students and not families who lived in my small town. I also didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t “straight” until high school, because everyone who identified as something other than straight had to hide who they were. Mental health was something else that was hidden, something we didn’t talk about. This meant that everyone seemed to be the same, which in turn caused something that made someone different to be considered bad. This went for everything from being good at school to someone’s sexual orientation to mental health. Due to the fact it was considered bad many people didn’t talk about it, there were so many things considered to be taboo, so many things that people kept hidden as much as they could.

As I got older things began getting talked about, however most of the time this was in a negative way, things that made someone different were still considered to be bad. There were still many things that people didn’t talk about. This was not a conducive way to grow up, it didn’t help anything, in fact it made life harder. I was already hiding something and now I was going to have to hide so many other things just to make sure I fit into the cookie cutter image of my small town. Let’s start with the first lie I ever told about myself; that I wasn’t smart. I actually was pretty smart and yet I hid it from everyone because it made me different. This meant instead of celebrating my uniqueness I spent all my time and energy on hiding it. This made my biggest secret that much worse. The biggest thing I hid from all those people in my small town was my mental health.

I live with depression and a wide range of anxiety, it is something I have been living with for quite some time. In my small town this wasn’t something that happened, this wasn’t something that people talked about. This meant that finding help was difficult, which in turn meant that help wasn’t something that I looked for. This proved to be rather damaging to myself as well as the way that I viewed myself. My whole life I had grown up believing that I wasn’t good enough and not being able to talk about something that made me who I was only strengthened this thought in my head, this made both my anxiety and depression worse. It was an endless cycle, one I couldn’t seem to break out of.

Now things are different, now I am able to talk about my mental health and I am doing things to be able to help myself. I am on my road of healing and recovery. However in my small town there are so many things that aren’t talked about, so many things that are overlooked and ignored. This is such a harmful thing, and we might not realize the damage it is causing but I can assure you it is causing damage. So many children, teens and even adults are forced to move through there lives not talking about something that is so prevalent in their lives, something that makes them who they are as people. Everyone is unique, everyone has something that makes them unique and yet sometimes these are still the things we avoid talking about. Not talking about something doesn’t make it go away. In fact from my experience it makes it worse.

We need to change the way society views the differences in people, we need to change the way we view the people around us. Now I know this is something that won’t just happen over night, it’s going to take time but we have time and the more we change things the quicker it will be to change more. We need to be able to allow people to feel safe to discuss those things that make up who they are, those things that make them unique. All too much people are forced to try to fit into that cookie cutter image and that is not what people have been designed to do. People were designed to be unique, to be different.

We need to take a look at the way everyone is handling the different aspects of life, not just small towns. Even in the larger cities there are limited resources for mental health and I find that fitting in and being the same is still a large aspect of daily life. Though larger cities are better with having space for people to be unique but there is still a lot of room for improvement. People should not have to walk around afraid to be themselves, instead they should be proud of who they are. It’s such a big deal in the media right now and that’s because before now people have not been allowed to be who they are without ridicule. It’s not just adults who go through all of this it’s children and teens as well, it’s just called something different; bullying.

Why is it that everyone is so against bullying and we have many anti-bullying movements but when it comes to adults it’s not the same? Every day I see anti-bullying commercials, I read anti-bullying articles and as an Early Childhood Educator I teach children to be kind to each other and not to bully their peers. It is very rare that I see commercials about it being okay to be different as adults, that being different isn’t a bad thing. Treating someone differently just because they are different than you are is still bullying no matter what age you are and it needs to be changed. Everyone deserves to be treated the same regardless of gender, sexuality, mental illness, physical differences, disability, and difference in likes and dislikes. We need to start talking about all these things like we would talk about anything else, like you would have a conversation about what you were going to do on the weekend.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, because nothing worth it is ever easy, but it’s going to be so worth it in the end. Not everyone is going to be open to changing and that’s going to have to be okay, because everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions. However we need to start somewhere, we need to start with those people open to changing, we need to make the movement big enough that it makes an impact. It’s something so simple to start, it’s making sure it continues that is the difficult part. As human beings we all need to take a look at ourselves and how we are treating other people. Are we judging other’s based on something that makes them different? In order to get other people to start thinking about how they treat other’s we first must start with ourselves. We can’t change the world if we first don’t change ourselves.

Maybe you are already doing this, maybe you are already open minded and don’t fault people for being different. If that is the case you’re already past step one. The next step is talking about, getting information out there and stopping the stigma. Talk about those topics that have a stigma or taboo around them. Talk about mental health, talk about sexuality and gender. Let people know that it’s okay not to fit into the cookie cutter image of what is seen as “perfect” because the truth is no one is perfect but as long as people are being themselves they are the perfect version of themselves and that’s what is important. Everyone is worth it and everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, everyone deserves to have resources to help them through life.

Change starts with you and with me. We can work together to advocate, we can work together to get the word out there, we can work together to make the world a better place. Don’t fault people for being different, celebrate those differences!

Talk Soon

Lyndsay

 

Photo Credit: http://news.berkeley.edu/story_jump/poll-californians-support-health-coverage-for-mental-health/ (Taken from google images)