Friday, November 21, 2008

IT ALL EBBS AND FLOWS

Amy and I have been having a lot of chats lately. Sometimes we discuss kittens, sometimes we talk about Christmas and sometimes we talk about our friendship. As women who have always primarily had male friends, we find ourselves at a time in our lives where, suddenly, we’re each surrounded by a handful of phenomenal women.

There is something generally about the nature of ladies that causes us to be competitive, catty and always on guard with each other. But in the instances in which those barriers are trampled down, relationships that are both fruitful and nurturing can be allowed to grow. It takes work, but it’s worth it.


Original Photo: jenniferlstoddart on Flickr (Used With Permission)

One key factor that someone like Amy has going for her is trust. I trust her, she trusts me. As a woman trying to navigate her way to the next milestone of 30, trust is a major component of my personal lifeblood. For as long as it’s taken me, I’m finally at a point in my life where I’ve realized the importance of self and also the ripple effect that my life has. What steers the current of those ripples is dependent on me.

It’s been slightly more than two months since I started seeing a counsellor. The point of my sessions is not only working through stressors that impact me directly, but also finding the little pockets of my past that have an even greater impact – for good or for bad. What I am discovering about myself in these twice-monthly appointments is that I have a hugely difficult time expressing my needs or feelings in the moment.

Who hasn’t thought of the perfect way to say something only moments after the fact?

Each time my counsellor and I meet, her and I weed away further at where this comes from. So much of the time, I want to say what’s on my mind but it’s as if the words literally become lodged in my throat and become stuck there. My question to myself is “what is it that suppressed me into thinking that I couldn’t say what I wanted to say?” And more importantly than that, “what can and will I do to break through that hindrance?

It’s quite possible that I won’t get all my answers anytime soon – or ever, for that matter. One thing I do know is that I am willing to work on that which impresses upon me and develop who I am for the even better. As people, we try to eat right, exercise, brush our teeth and visit the doctor for check-ups each year, but who of us is willing to keep what’s upstairs healthy and in check? Yesterday I received an e-mail with regards to my openness in discussing my struggles with abandoholism, obtaining counselling and seeking to better my mental wellness.

The author of the e-mail invited both me and my best friend to join a panel of bloggers at Northern Voice 2009 in an effort to discuss blogging as a means of breaking through the stigmas surrounding mental health issues. My best friend was diagnosed as Type II bipolar in recent years and has chosen to be open about his affliction in order to shed some much-needed light on the subject. Many people don’t understand that mental illness is, in fact, an illness. It is nothing to be taken lightly, as those who are mentally ill more than often experience a great deal of suffering on a daily basis. It is heartbreaking.

If you’d like to find out more information about counselling services in British Columbia, mental health or even to find out how you can attend Northern Voice 2009, visit the links below.

BC Association of Clinical Counsellors
Canadian Mental Health Association
Northern Voice 2009

5 Comments
Dan

Amy is great! Easily the most genuine and easy-going person I was fortunate enough to meet out there (though, not to put down all the rest of you amazing people :)

Your (and his) openness continually inspire and give confidence to many many people all across the country (and world, for that matter). I hope you’re proud, and I hope it continues :)

Jen

Just a comment – you have all of your friends on here often which is nice. I can’t help but ask – what is the reason is for the vague references around MG being your best friend? Why not call him by name?

Not prying or even expecting and answer really, it is just curious :)

Amy

During a conversation I had a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I didn’t have many girl friends. I was surprised to hear her say “yes you do, you have a lot of girl friends”. It took a day or two for that to sink in. I DO have a lot of girl friends. All of a sudden I find myself with more girl friends than guy friends. And not just girl acquaintances, but strong, fulfilling, trusting, mature relationships.

To be honest, male friendships worked for me because I’m lazy. In my experience, I find that women take a lot more maintenance to keep up the friendship. They require more phone calls, more one-on-one talks, and more face time than my guy friends to keep them at a level where things are easy and comfortable.

With work comes reward and, as I get older, I realize that the more effort I put into a friendship, the more I get out of it. I am finding that lately I am constantly being surprised and overwhelmed with what is being given back to me from these women. It is very nourishing and I feel an enormous amount of love for each of them (you included, of course). I only hope that now that I am consciously aware of how fortunate I am to have these relationships, that I can continue to grow them and keep them.

I agree that mental health is just as important as physical health. I think it is excellent (and very brave) that you are going to participate in this panel.

Leigh

Sounds like that would be interesting. Do you think you’ll participate in that panel?

I miss having close girlfriends nearby. I still haven’t formed any really close relationships with any females since I moved to Vancouver two years ago. It’s hard to come by those great friendships. Takes time I guess.

Jennie

Thank you for sharing. I’m proud of you for posting this. I hope I can make it out for NV09.

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