Guest Post: One Youth’s Thoughts on Acceptance and Inclusion

Great post!

Champions for Community Mental Wellness

I am proud to share this post, which has been written my daughter. It is comprised of a series of paragraphs she wrote for her English class. She is a teenager and presents her perspectives on how we sometimes view kids who behave unexpectedly, as well as how we “do” inclusion. I believe her voice is important, and I wonder, when we are asking our youth their thoughts on education, are we remembering to ask their thoughts on inclusion? Because their answers just might surprise us. 

Author: Courtney Copeland

Fictional scenario

The room full of children screeching and yelling was deathly loud. Sadie sat still and emotionless. She could not focus. Her tiny legs started to bounce up and down as her eyes trailed around the black and white room. A room that was once full of colour. While her thoughts wandered from topic to topic, the prickling sensation in the…

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Letter from a Support Person

My father and my sister Maria years ago

My father and my sister Maria years ago

I recently received a beautiful comment on this blog. An anonymous support person wrote a letter that was much more powerful than anything I could write trying to understand that point of view. Thus, I wanted to share this letter from a family member or friend of a person struggling with mental illness. Hopefully, it will touch you as much as it impacted me.

Plus, if you ever have something that you want to bring to my attention or think that I should share, let me know in a comment. I cannot promise to always blog it. However, know that I am open to hearing your voice and what you would like to see more of on this blog.

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Helping Others While in the Midst of Suffering

Standing with Joni Earkson Tada who struggled with depression after being paralyzed

Standing with Joni Earkson Tada who struggled with depression after being paralyzed

Yesterday, I was honored to receive an award that I dreamed about winning ever since I heard about it several years ago. My classmates and faculty nominated me to win the Friend of ADA (American Disabilities Association) Award at my university. The reason for this was my work blogging and advocating for those with mental illness and aspergers.

For most, yesterday was a dream come true. A lightness lifted me as I carried my bouquet of flowers around campus and blushed as people congratulated me. This award seemed like the first step toward helping others on a more global scale and winning the Noble Prize one day.

Yet, another part of my day was filled with gut-wrenching sobs and suicidal thoughts. As I cried so hard talking to my mom that I nearly collapsed, I shuddered to think of what people must think when they passed by my heaving form. What a failure I was to the award that I had just received!

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Coping Skill: #58. Reading

Menu at The Eagle and Child

Menu at The Eagle and Child with Tolkien and Lewis met

No matter where I go, there is one item that I bring at least one of in my purse: books. These are helpful ways to engage your mind and learn. Also, they can be amazingly helpful for coping with stress, pain, awkward situations, and much more. In fact, reading is probably the main healthy skill that I use for dealing with life.

Books provide many benefits for those who struggle with mental illness or who do not. When you allow yourself to be sucked into a story, you are able to travel to new places and meet new people. Because of this, you come out understanding the world around you better. Every time that I open a magazine or book, I find myself learning more about others as well as who I am.

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Ten Things Not to Say to Someone Who Self-Harms

Self-hate and self-harm

When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves. – Chuck Pahlahniuk

For centuries, people have used self-harm to cope with life or discipline themselves. From religious ascetics to depressed teenagers, SIB (self-injurious behavior) can be found in all cultures and eras. Some societies have embraced it while others criticize it. Currently, most people lack awareness and even empathy for this symptom of mental illness.

I am not going to debate what drives every form of self-harm and the validity behind those motives. There are people who believe one can self-harm for good reasons. However, any form of inflicting pain on oneself (outside of for some extreme purpose) is problematic. Yes, that is very controversial and black-and-white. Yet, I have seldom, if ever, seen an exception to this.

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Everyone Struggles Even Bullies

Last night, my co-worker and I were discussing how her ten-year-old son is being bullied at school. Hearing about such young children with great sensitivity being treated unkindly brings back horrible memories. I am thankful to my parents for homeschooling me because my experience with teasing could have been much worse. Still, the cruel way that some kids treat others breaks my heart.

One of the hardest parts is that many of those bullies are suffering too. Few kids are mean naturally, in my experience. Some are hurt by their parents while others have been teased themselves and are trying to protect themselves. One child might have a behavioral disorder and another is struggling to understand with a sibling died. Whatever the case, bullying others is still wrong. Yet, realizing the pain of even the unkindest of people is important.  This video really touched me and validated my views.

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Understanding Suicide and Depression

“I just don’t understand.”

Those words might seem trivial, but when someone is honest about not understanding my illness, it is refreshing. So often, people try to belittle my depression, anxiety, or other mental health problem by reducing it to something they can understand. “We all have anxiety.”  “I sometimes don’t like how I look either.” “No one is happy all of the time.

These sayings might be true, but they can reduce the struggle that millions of people face daily. Instead, sometimes the best option is to simply listen and admit that you do not understand what someone is going through despite your love for them.

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Putting Yourself In Someone Else’s Disability

Most people strive to understand others around them. We want to be emphatic people who help those around us. Whether it is listening to our children or encouraging a friend through a difficult situation, our social interactions often focus on meeting the needs of others or them meeting our needs.

Understanding others is not an easy task, however. If you have a loved one with a mental illness or disability, this task grows even more difficult. Not only are they are a different person, they also have an unique brain wiring and genetic makeup that is extremely difficult to relate to without frustration and confusion. This difficulty also affects them as they become guilty of the time you spend and annoyed at not being understood.

That is why putting yourself into someone else’s disability is so important despite the struggle. Here is a great example of this.

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