I had a real shit day at work today; last minute emails requesting to move deadlines closer, major mechanical failures in the lab which set me back by three fucking hours and oh, I spilled milk. For real…I honestly spilled a whole lot of milk on the floor and please don’t tell me not to cry over it because the way things went today, I felt at the time I had every right to.
I also got an unexpected and worrisome text from my friend Joon this afternoon amidst the chaos at work.
She let me know that she was released from the hospital today…
Joon is a friend of mine who I met over a year ago at one of my workshops for adults who experienced childhood abuse. It’s a workshop where I created a platform for adults to openly share their experiences growing up with abuse. It’s also a workshop where I offer compassion, guidance and encouragement to empower individuals by letting them know that they are not alone in their suffering, and seeking professional support is paramount for their healing.
Joon also lives with schizophrenia. For those of you who don’t know, schizophrenia affects about 1 in 100 people and is a disorder in the brain that creates a lot of confusion, hallucination and inner conflict in the individual. That’s a very simplified explanation of the disorder. How do I know this? My older brother also has schizophrenia. Schizophrenia can be treated with medication and therapy so the individual can live a functional and healthy lifestyle (Watch this inspiring story of Quentin who lives with schizophrenia, brought to you by Early Psychosis Intervention.)
Back in late August, I went out with Joon for a nice dinner downtown followed by a walk along the seawall in Vancouver. She shared with me her aspirations in someday becoming a real estate agent, but knows it’s a long road ahead of her whilst managing her mental illness along with her troubled family history of abuse. Yet Joon always remains optimistic, a trait in her I truly admire. She studies hard and is a really bright young lady who continues to do the work to improve her mental well-being. She goes to counselling regularly and reads a ton of books to help her understand more about mental health. She always tells me to look on the bright side and to think more positively. I agree that I can use some more of that. Over the year, she and I have shared much about our past experiences with family abuse and cultural barriers when dealing with mental illness. I think in many ways, we provide support and counseling to each other that has helped us become stronger individuals. She’s been a great friend, encouraging me to continue to raise awareness to men about their mental health, along with promoting my book to her peers.
And today she let me know that she spent some time in the hospital this past month because she was having relapses including hallucinations. It was necessary for her to spend that time so that doctors were able to help stabilize her once again. As a result she’s decided to slow down and take some time off work and to also cancel her upcoming trip to the States. I was so relieved to hear that she’s doing well and back home now under a different medication. I was also inspired by how strong she sounded on the phone, with so much fight in her over her mental illness.
Not only did my heart go out to her with complete compassion, but it made me want to retract my statement about how shitty my day was at work. When I step back and put things into perspective, I am grateful again for what I have: my home, my job, my son, my friends and my health. If only we’re all as strong as Joon, maybe we wouldn’t complain as much about our tragic days at work, or how the barista at Starbucks got our orders for a skinny latte wrong, or how we have to cut back this year and go to Mexico for our holidays instead of Europe. Today, Joon provided a miracle for me and helped ground my whining ego once again.
In the end Joon is extremely grateful to have her sister at home during her relapse to take her to emergency. She is also very grateful for her self awareness to somewhat recognize she was relapsing. And now she’s home, starting over again with a smile and a heart filled with courage.
As for me, I learned not to cry over spilt milk, and just be thankful that my friend Joon is safe and sound.
Happy #WorldMentalHealthDay everyone.