To the editor,
Re: Let’s talk about mental health, Editorial, Feb. 1.
There is a common scene played out on TV and in movies, as if this is the thing to say when one encounters a person in visible distress: ‘Are you OK?’ It is obvious already that the person is not OK, for a variety of reasons such as, they are covered in blood, or perhaps a close relative has just died.
Editorial: Let’s talk about mental health
Non-verbal communication is powerful, and a simple gesture such as sitting quietly beside a person in distress, of whatever kind, speaks volumes. A person in dire straits can’t be expected to give a detailed explanation of what they are going through. People are prone to answer that question with a yes, to placate the questioner.
There is more awareness of the prevalence of depression and anxiety problems in our society, but another taboo subject is still kept mostly in the dark, and that is loneliness. It is not chic to admit that one is lonely. You can be lonely in a crowd, and you might not be getting the kind of connection and intimacy that you need. Friends and acquaintances might feel insulted if you divulge this feeling. Doctors are prone to prescribe an antidepressant medication if this complaint comes up.
Sociologists in both the U.S. and Canada are finding that time spent alone is increasing in every age group.
So, in addition to the conversation about mental illness I want to add one seldom spoken word: loneliness. The first documented use of that word was by Shakespeare, in his play Coriolanus: “I wandered lonely as a dragon.”
Madeline Bruce, Nanaimo
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