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Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Way Out of Stigma

I'm so proud and grateful to be part of a community like Niverville. Since moving here seven years ago, I've seen time and time again how people come together in genuine and impressive ways to support not only one another as individuals and family units, but also causes with a wider, more pervasive audience.

A couple of weeks ago, I got up early on a Saturday morning to climb aboard my Hiawatha and pedal through the dampness and timid sun towards the soccer park. The music hit my ears several blocks ahead of my destination, and I felt my synapses bathe in happy juices.

It was time for the 3rd annual Rock & Roll Half Marathon and 10km Fun Run & Walk, raising funds and awareness for mental health. I had the special privilege of donning a vibrant orange vest and marshalling a street corner, whilst simultaneously clapping my hands. (That's a lot to do at once.) It doesn't help that I have a special case of number dyslexia and although I had read the e-mail three times, printed off the info, and then gotten to my corner early, my brain had managed to scramble "junction of first street north and first avenue north; direct traffic east back toward fifth avenue" into "junction of second street north and second avenue north; direct traffic EAST BACK TO FIFTH AVENUE" (why can't dyslexia be consistent?!)

Thankfully, I live in a small town, and my sister was stationed at the next intersection. She doesn't have problems with numbers getting scrambled and rearranged in her head, or with urges to own every apron made in the 1950's. She's got some other problems, but not those ones, so she pretty much set me up at a corner, faced in the correct direction, and helped to de-mystify the whole event for me. I had claimed the junction that rightly belonged to my brother in law, and had I followed through with redirecting traffic east from there, I would have been solely responsible for shaving three blocks off of the half marathon.

Some people may have thanked me profusely, but we'll never know.

Speaking of the mystery that is the cranium, this wonderful event in my very own town (which I usually know my way around in....) was all about raising awareness and funds in the arena of mental illness. There's a snappy new blog dedicated to this cause, and I think you should check it out.

Once you get there, turn east, back to fifth avenue.

You'll see me there, wearing an awesome orange vest, with my arms confidently pointing out just which way to turn.


christine said...

i hate mental illness.
i love that your town acknowledges it,
and works to end it.

janice said...

You are my sista from anotha motha! I am also syslexic inconsistently. Nobody in Calgary sends me back to my corner so I have to figure out compensating ways, constantly.

Mental illness? What is mental health? Would I recognize it?

joyce said...

I was so relieved when I figured out that it's a CONDITION. Every time I make these really weird number mistakes, I sink straight into shame. But then I remember that it's probably not something I can "get smart" out of and i don't feel quite so bad.

Mental health is when you DO get out of bed in the morning, and eventually something makes you laugh.

Anonymous said...

I like your definition of mental health.