Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her 20s and was very open with her struggles throughout her life, including battles with addiction.
Since her death, fans have taken to social media to share stories of how Fisher’s honesty helped them come out about and cope with their own mental health struggles.Here are some of the most memorable and powerful of Fisher’s quotes on mental illness, delivered with the sharp wit and unflinching honesty that we will always love her for.
“Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves.” — Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing
“We cannot control everything that happens to us in life, but we can choose how we respond. When we respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening to me?’ and adopt a victim mentality, we suffer. When we choose to respond with an attitude of ‘Why is this happening for me and what can I learn?’ then we feel a lot more empowered, which impacts our mental state positively.
The biggest misconception about happiness is that we can outsource it — that something external is going to make us happy. Happiness is NOT a constant state. As humans we experience and grow through a variety of emotions. The expectation that we should be happy all the time will leave anyone with an expectation hangover. What we can be is grateful.”
—Christine Hassler, empowerment coach and author of Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life
I think this is an insightful perspective into the impact Bell Let’s Talk day has on the mental health movement. I have to admit it is one of my favourite days on social media, it’s incredibly inspiring to see so many people open up for the first time and share their experiences or words of positive encouragement for those going through mental illness. However, it’s also incredibly sad and frustrating at the same time to see so many people suffering in silence and unable to find the resources they need to lead a meaningful life.
Mental health treatment is expensive. Trust me, I know. I was fortunate to have the support of my family in paying for a psychologist (not covered by OHIP), which would set me back about 110 dollars for every one hour appointment. At one point I was going 3 to 4 days a week for almost 4 months at my lowest point 3 years ago. Waiting for a psychiatrist (covered by OHIP) took almost 2 months to get an initial appointment and even so most of the time they just give you medication and direct you to other resources such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or other forms of talk therapy. For most people many of these resources are simply unaccessible and unaffordable. Even on campuses across Canada, there’s often long wait lists to get into counselling on campus. I was told to explore options off campus to gain faster access and because I was covered by insurance outside of the school, meaning I could try my luck and get covered somewhere else but it was unlikely.
Your brain is apart of your body. I don’t understand why people face so much discrimination to get a “check up” on their brain. We get yearly physicals for the rest of our body, why should someone feel ashamed to talk about what’s going on in their head. I mean any pain someone feels is subjective, so why is it any different on thought process. When we feel “sick” whether it be the flu, a cold, or even a migraine, many of us stay home to “rest” and feel better and don’t face any shame in doing so. But as soon as someone says I stayed home because my anxiety was too high, that’s when people’s perspective starts to change.
It’s great to see a national conversation and even international to some extent, but it is simply not enough to talk about it for one day. We should be talking about it every day until it’s normalized. But more importantly we need to hold accountability to our words. We say we want to remove the stigma and make care accessible, but yet people seem to stop talking about it as soon as the day is done. We need to do more than just talk, we need to take action. Whether it be advocating at your school to encourage more funding into mental health or encouraging and lobbying our politicians to integrate more funding into mental health resources. Mental health should play a bigger role in the renewals of the provincial health accords both in terms of primary health care but also in health education. Many mental illnesses begin in childhood, if we can find ways to remove barriers when children are young, train teachers and other child educators to recognize signs early on, we can save many people from going down a long road of recovery and give them the resources early on to cope later on in life.
The conversation shouldn’t stop today. We should be holding people with power accountable for their words of wanting to make changes to our mental health care system. PM Justin Trudeau wants to be part of the movement remove the stigma surrounding mental illness, so let’s hold him accountable in creating dialogue with our provinces and territories in allowing people to access the care and supports they need to feel right again.
Don’t stop the conversation.
Today is #BellLetsTalk day. It’s supposed to reduce stigma around mental health by getting Canadians to talk about. It also helps raise money for mental health initiatives and programs. Aside from the fact that mental health awareness gets coopted by a massive corporation for one day, I have other qualms about throwing my support behind the movement.
Bell Let’s Talk assumes that one of the major keys to fighting mental illness is simply by talking about it. By sharing my experience on social media, I’m supposed to be on my way to feeling better. By tweeting “Let’s talk, today and every day!” I’m supporting others dealing with depression, anxiety, and other issues in a way that’s helpful and meaningful.
But mental illness doesn’t work like that. And it certainly doesn’t work like that in Canada.
Last year, I went through a tough time. I spent days in bed crying. It was hard to feel motivated to bathe, feed myself, let alone venture outside. I wanted to disappear.
I was really lucky that my manager and workplace understood and gave me time off to deal with what I was going through. But many working Canadians aren’t that lucky. People who are paid hourly lose pay for missing work. Even salaried employees can be reprimanded, demoted and fired for having to deal with mental health issues. Each year on #BellLetsTalk day, a number of former Bell employees come forward with their own stories of how Bell doesn’t actually care about their mental well-being.
Eventually, I started therapy. It was expensive, but because I had a job and some savings, I was able to afford it. I also have health benefits, but it covers psychiatry not psychotherapy. Psychiatry tends to be more expensive, so $500 of insurance only gets you around two or three sessions. Plus, do you know how long the waitlist is to see a psychiatrist in Canada?
Once a week, I’d leave work early to make it to my therapy appointment. Again, my manager was amazing and never made it a big deal. I feel so lucky. I was never docked pay or asked to produce a doctor’s note. Many Canadians aren’t afforded the same luxury.
Months after starting therapy, I found that no matter what I was doing to help myself, I still couldn’t shake off feelings of sadness, panic and anxiety. It was difficult to imagine a future, let alone plan a week ahead. I felt anxious whenever I had to see people or be in social situations. I couldn’t focus on work or anything. No matter how much I exercised, I couldn’t feel confident or the jolt of endorphins that used to come to me so easily.
So I went to my doctor. I’m pretty lucky that despite moving to a new city, I was able to secure a family doctor by recommendation. Most Canadians don’t have access to a regular, family doctor and rely on walk-in clinics, which require waiting around for hours, missing work and other responsibilities.
My doctor prescribed me an antidepressant. I knew that giving it a try would be the best course of action, but it was still difficult for me to accept this reality. I kept wondering what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just feel like my old self again? I felt like a failure.
After thinking about it for a week, I filled the prescription. My pills are expensive, but my health insurance covers nearly the entire cost. I’m lucky that as a full-time employee, my workplace provides health insurance coverage. I can’t imagine having to pay for these medications otherwise. No wonder so many Canadians are never able to get the help they need.
At first, I felt just about every negative side-effect my doctor had told me about – drowsiness during the day and insomnia at night, heart palpitations, dry mouth, nausea and dizziness. But after about two weeks, those feelings went away, and now I can say with certainty that my medication has really helped me. I’m lucky to have found something that worked so quickly.
I still go to therapy and I don’t expect to be on antidepressants forever. But If I do, that’s ok, too. Mental health, however, is so much more than just talking about it. It’s more than a hashtag and getting Canadians to open up about it for a day.
It can be an extremely lonely experience. It can feel frustrating and seemingly inexplicable. I’ve found it helpful to talk to my friends about it, but I’ve also found comfort in online movements like #TalkingAboutIt, which is used 365 days of the year – not just one – and support groups like the Bunz Mental Health Zone on Facebook.
But to truly make a difference on the mental health of all Canadians, we need to be doing so much more. We need the government to step it up and make mental healthcare, including therapy and medications, available and accessible to everyone.
We need workplaces to get on board and really listen to and care about their employees. We need mental health days to be seen as just as important as regular old sick days. We need to start talking about it, normalizing it and letting kids know that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, anxious and depressed – and then provide actual help.
A few months into my therapy, I said to my therapist, “I can’t believe it took me so long to come here. Therapy should be as normal as going to the doctor or dentist for annual checkups. It’s like a check-up for my brain.”
I want other Canadians to be able to get the help they need – and not just talk about it for a day.
Reposted from: https://nowtoronto.com/
I often hear clients say, “they made me feel ___” or “I had no choice but to yell back.” This is absurd. We always have choices, but the reality is that we just don’t like our options.
How do we not take it personally when someone says, ‘You’re a pain in the ass’? Well what does it mean when we are a ‘pain in the ass?’ Is it literal? Do we cause a physical pain to occur in their rear? No, it means we are being insulted. We aren’t taught how to cope with this stuff in school. Our teacher may have told us to ignore it when someone calls us names. But how did it that work out? Terrible. It’s one thing to ignore a dumb remark. It’s quite another to feel like a doormat, letting ourselves be verbally abused and ignoring the painful degradation of our worth as a person.
However, it’s not personal when we consider that they are merely “firing for effect.” They want to intimidate us and they are using provocative words or a hostile tone to show dominance. This is done to push us into submitting.
Instead, we can choose to agree with the feelings, not the facts. We can say, “It’s awful, isn’t it!” Or, “I don’t blame you for being angry.” We are not agreeing that they are right in their “facts.” We are just letting them know we heard what they said! We can say, “That’s what you think, I never thought of it that way.” We are merely agreeing that they said it.
We can keep our version of the facts to ourselves. This is called, discretion, which is the power to choose how much we wish to reveal and when. Right now, we do not have to choose to reveal anything. It wouldn’t help if we did. They aren’t interested anyways. We can choose to do something else instead, such as:
• We can agree with them; e.g., “It certainly seems like I’m hard to get along with.” We are not agreeing with the facts of the matter, we are agreeing that they feel the way they feel. Feelings are like opinions and perceptions in that they are subjective, without a factual basis.
Or we can choose to agree that they are upset: “It’s so frustrating when this happens, isn’t it.” We do not need to go on and on defending the inaccuracy of their accusations, trying to win a pardon for our offense against them. We are not required to defend against fiction, they are not a judge and we are not guilty. We do not need to explain our choice to live in the real world. It’s not a crime, we do not have to convict them of our innocence.
• We can say, “I can tell you are angry.” This is not a confession of guilt. It is an observation of their tone, words and body language. We are just acknowledging that we can tell they are in emotional pain.
• We can tell the truth: “It makes me angry when you blow up in my face for telling you how I feel.”
• We can say “It must make you angry when that happens. I don’t blame you, I’d be angry too if that happened to me.” This is an appropriate validation of the other person’s anger and of their worth as a person. When we validate the other person’s anger, we are validating their right to have feelings in spite of their unpleasant choice in how they are being conveyed.
Below are other useful responses when faced with another’s intense emotion:
• “It seems that way sometimes doesn’t it?”
• “I never thought of it that way.”
• “You may have a point.”
• “I don’t know how you stand it.”
• “You got a real problem there, I don’t know what to tell you.”
• “It’s just awful, isn’t it.”
• “Thanks for calling that to my attention.”
• “I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
A key point, we must be mindful of our tone to ensure we are not being sarcastic, dismissive, or provocative. Have you ever taken a road trip and gotten lost? You don’t know where you are and feel a bit confused on what to do. Do you stop and get directions? Do you turn around? Do you pull over for the night? Do you keep going? You’re concerned, confused, and unsure what direction to go. That is the tone to use, confused. Really you don’t know what’s going on and why the other person is making these false accusations. You speak slow and softer, but deliberate and clear.
This is not “pleasing,” or “kow-towing,” or “giving thrm the satisfaction.” It is taking the wind out of their sails. You are depriving them of a target. They will go find another victim: “You’re no fun anymore!” Amen to that.
You’re probably thinking, why do you even care since you’re Canadian. I care because I am an educated woman, a minority, and a global citizen.
I get it, Trump winning was not a surprise, I knew it was coming as soon as the debates began to start. Everyone keeps talking about how it was “unanticipated” that Trump would win. That because his campaign was misogynistic and sexist it would lead to his downfall. But when you followed the media and the voices of the people you could see the dissatisfaction at the bureaucratic level and the need to get rid of the “typical” lifetime politician. We live in an age where mainstream media controls what we see in the sense that there is more negative news broadcasted than positive. It’s framed how society views things in that the media did a solid job at painting a bleak picture of why the economy was doing so poorly, why unemployment, natural disaster, and terrorism was on the rise.
There’s no justification in calling a woman “disgusting” for requesting to a break in order to allow her to pump breast milk for her young child. There’s no reason to publicly humiliate a woman by calling her a “big, fat pig” and there is absolutely no rationale to insinuate just because you have the power and fame you’re entitled to grab a woman by the p***y. That with his new Cabinet many women may lose access to getting preventative reproductive care, whether it be access to birth control, pap smears, and abortion.
It’s completely frightening. How do I look at a young girl with big dreams to change the world and tell her that she will be reduced to just her looks and body parts rather than her intelligence. That in order to achieve power, money, and rank, you have to be submissive to the big man up top if you want to get anywhere. That a man who has the top role in one of the most powerful countries in the world and a large social media following can influence a large following particularly with views on women, the LGBTQ community, people of colour, and evidence-based science.
We need to do more to empower women across the globe and Trump’s influence can seek to impede or even worse reverse the social progress made in helping women succeed. In developing countries, women are often forced to play the role of “stay at home” mom, often locked in centuries of misogynistic power crusades impeding them from obtaining education and income. Even worse is the fact that because many of these women are not able to contribute “financially” to their household, let alone society it further cripples the development and economies of developing nations and keeps them locked in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Even more so we need to empower minorities, especially people of colour to seek greater opportunities. Often these are some of the most disadvantaged groups in our society, whether it be in access to healthy foods/activities, safe housing and community conditions, adequate healthcare, stable employment, and importantly educational opportunities. These are the people least likely to get out of the cycle of poverty and have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to society.
One cannot look at how Trump has discriminated against black individuals or encouraged hatred of immigrants and fear of Muslims without understanding that his policies would almost certainly be discriminatory. With blatant racism protruding through his campaign (ex. Building a wall) how do we go about creating an inclusive society when his opinions and influence create a divided mindset. It’s not just in America, it’s happening in Canada and Europe as well. It’s not an issue about “immigrants” stealing our jobs, after all both our societies thrive on the need for immigrants to help be contributing members to the economy. We can’t blame these individuals who often come from more “stable/prosperous” positions in their respective countries and blame them for when things go wrong. To immigrate to a country such as the USA or Canada is not easy, you have to be able to “offer” something that cannot be done by regular citizens or have the financial resources to support yourself and your family as well as other factors such as level of education and linguistic abilities.
As a society, maintaining the economy is a group effort, we all have a part to play and it is our civic responsibility to seek change and accountability, hence the right to vote. Our voices hold enormous power as a group but yet people seem to show little enthusiasm in becoming engaged with matters that pertain to them. It was not the “immigrants” that caused the recession in 2008, it was the failure of government to create protocol and monitor the major banks who often when after the most vulnerable in society in offering them the resources to “procure their dream homes” (aka The American Dream).
I don’t think Obama and Biden got enough credit for the work they helped partake in. Thanks to their roles, millions of Americans have access to health insurance which not only saved many from bankruptcy but also saved lived. Thanks to Obama, foreign relations were at an all time high helping to stabilize the world economy. Furthermore, because of Obama Banned gifts from lobbyists were not permitted to incentivize anyone in the Executive Branch with gifts helping to hinder direct influence on policy making. Even more amazing, he led an Administration that went 8 full years without causing a major scandal. By the end of his first year, the economy created and sustained 2.1 million jobs for Americans. Signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, which helped millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures and provided $2.2 billion to combat homelessness and stabilize the housing market. Played a lead role in getting the G-20 Summit to commit to a $1.1 trillion deal to combat the global financial crisis and helping to maintain a stable world economy.
For more on his governments successes (there’s over 400 notable accomplishments) check out this site: http://pleasecutthecrap.
Thank you to Michelle Obama to making it her mission to empower young women to get the education they deserve in not only the USA but across the globe with the Let Girl’s Learn initiative. Thank you to Malia and Sasha Obama for being role models for young women across the world, a task the both of you did not ask for when your father sought to become president.
Obama succeeded by taking a rigorous, evidence-based approach to government. So thank you Obama and Biden for your service to your country and to the world. Thank you for being the epitome of dignity and class. As a Canadian I wish you both well on your future endeavours and hope your desire to create social change never ceases.
I don’t know what the next 4 years will bring, but I hope for the sake of us all we don’t go backwards in creating social change not only in the USA but also on a global scale. As a Canadian we have the ability to help influence our relationship with our American neighbours and we need to make sure we protect our interests as partners.
Today I arose from a deep slumber (perks of being sick) to the frantic texts of someone I care about, let alone to seeing them cry when I FaceTimed them.
It turns out they got a C+ on their one exam, when on their others they received a B and B+ respectively. While a C+ isn’t the greatest mark, it’s not the worst mark either. Upon trying to come up with a way to console them I decided the best way to go about it was to be honest and realistic. I’m not going to coddle someone and tell them life is all peaches and roses or even that life is always going to go how you expect it to, because in truth life has many unexpected bumps and blips and you can’t control that.
Marks don’t define who you are. Some of the most successful people in this world did not go to school or even if they did they did not complete their education, take for example Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs, Elton John and even Thomas Jefferson. These are all notable people who made significant contributions to our society who performed somewhat poorly in school but used their intelligence, passions, and tenacious ambitions to crush it in the real world and will leave a lasting legacy.
In the real world, your grades don’t matter, as a nursing student I know this. You also can’t change what has happened in the past, especially when it comes to exams, papers, assignments, or even presentations. What you can change is your mind set and how you look at failure. School can be quite hard and takes a lot of time and effort. However, that doesn’t mean that an individual isn’t ambitious and full of talent. We all choose to apply ourselves differently and to different things and in an ideal world that is how we would be measured. Not by the letters on a piece of paper from our time in school. In university, it’s all about grades. In the real world, it’s about experience, balls and drive. Because once you get past the first job, no one is ever going to ask you about your final GPA or how you did on that exam you bombed back in third year.
As a lawyer you are not going to win 100% of your cases, as a doctor you are not going to save every single one of your patients, and as a nurse you are going to miss signs and symptoms that could have potentially saved a patient from dying. But you know what? We are all human at the end of the day, mistakes happen, failure happens, and uncontrollable events arise. What we can work on is reflection, a concept i’m so glad has been emphasized early on in nursing school. We need to reflect on our experience, on our failures, and understanding what we did wrong or why something did not go to plan. It makes me angry to think that society has put such a negative stigma on things like bad grades or even failure in general. We shouldn’t be afraid to fail because success is really the ability to pick yourself back up from setbacks and how to we learn to improve things.
We can cry about menial things like not doing as well as you had hoped on an exam or a paper, but it doesn’t change anything. One exam is not going to decide your whole fate. As I pointed out earlier, marks DO NOT define you or what you know. They are often used as a gauge to see where you lie in comparison to your peers, but it doesn’t factor in some people can be better test takers or can simply read a textbook and not understand concepts deeply.We know now that there are is a variety of intelligences and grades only measure a select few, and do so poorly. A exam or paper does not measure a person’s emotional intelligence, nor does it measure their leadership ability, it does not necessarily measure their ability to think outside of the box and solve problems. It does nothing to evaluate a person’s ability to predict the needs of society, patients, or consumers. It does nothing to illuminate the ability of an individual to work with others and find middle ground in standoffs or conflicts. All of these things are vitally important to an individual’s success in the real world and in life in general and ironically almost none of them are measured by grades.
I’ve experienced failure many times, my first paper in my Master’s was 100% of my mark, I received a 48%. Was I crushed? Hell yeah, I was devastated, but the more I cried over it the stupider I realized it made me look. What I needed to do was understand why I got the mark I received, understand where I went wrong, and learn for future reference what I needed to improve upon. Turns out, I didn’t actually fail in the end upon talking with my supervisors about it and reviewing my paper to understand where and what I did wrong, but it gave me the grounding and fuel I needed to be successful on future papers in which I got a number of Merits and Distinctions. But what I took out of this situation was that a) in the moment I couldn’t change anything I could only change things going forward b) my mark did not define who I was as a person or speak against my intelligence (I was already in one of the top schools in the world) and c) failure is a part of life and in order to be successful you can’t take it personally and d) if you’re afraid to fail you are never going to grow as a person. I can honestly say i’ve learned more from my failures than I have from my successes and i’m so grateful i’ve had the opportunity to fall on my face because that allowed me to pick myself back up, learn, and move forward and into an even better spot.
What we can change and have control over is how we push forward and use our failure to better ourselves and learn! Life is all about learning and improving, there’s no point in sitting and crying over spilt milk. Use your failures and stumbles to become better, faster, and stronger and use it as fuel to reach what it is you want. What matters most is the ability to pursue your goals and dreams and having a sense of purpose. Learn from your mistakes as the cliche goes.
Yesterday I moaned and complained about having to go to my Community Service Learning class (albeit it’s once a month) because I felt it was completely redundant and useless. No other nursing school starts placement in the community until second year, so why did we have to sit through this? Shouldn’t this just be inherent knowledge? I mean it’s pretty obvious we’re all caring, intuitive, and kind individuals going into a profession that is often taken for granted.
The truth is, no one in nursing school, healthcare aide programs, or even medical school teaches you the skills of compassion or empathy. How can they? I spent the whole class wondering why we were talking about this or the need to embrace diversity in the healthcare setting, seem’s like common sense, no? The answer to that is a big solid no, and I spent a long drive reflecting on some of the things i’ve come across whether on social media, in class, working with older adults, and even in a book i’m reading called ‘A Nurse’s Story’ by Tilda Shalof (I suggest this book to all!!! I have never laughed, cried, felt so overwhelmed by the job, and appreciated nurse’s as much as a should have prior to reading this).
There’s no memorization from a textbook on what to say to a patient who is dying, a script to cover how to hold the hand of a patient going through a violating and painful procedure on their own, or even a manual on how to console a family who just lost their loved one. There’s no instruction book on what to say to a patient who can’t bathe them self or when you’re cleaning them up after they defecated or threw up all over the place because they can’t control their bowel movements. How do you deal with a patient who is going through dementia and becomes aggressive with you or starts shouting or trying to place an IV into the restless, frightened and tired child who was kept up all night from being ill? Putting in the IV is textbook, anyone could do it with skill and practice but there’s no textbook on how to interact or console the young child. I don’t find learning the skills to be hard, I mean all we have to do is practice. Anatomy all I need to do is memorize and review. I find the hardest part of nursing to be learning to interact and converse with a patient. How during my own OSCE sitting with a standardized patient going through the early stages of dementia, all I could think about was “what the heck do I talk to you about, I don’t know anything about you and how to comfort you????”, rather than how do I conduct a Mental Status Exam or collect the patient’s blood pressure, O2 saturation, and TPR (temperature, pulse, and respirations).
On another aspect, I came across a picture on Facebook a few days ago of a scantily clad young woman passed out at a party that had defecated herself, while her fellow partygoers mocked her and uploaded pictures to social media. It was incredibly in-dignifying, sad, and messy seeing the young woman in such a vulnerable state. What was even more sickening were the comments of people judging her and making fun of her, it made me angry to see people be so inconsiderate, soulless and cruel. We’re humans, we all make mistakes and this woman while likely made a poor judgement call should never have had her mistake uploaded for the world to see. One thing that did strike me were the comments of fellow healthcare aide’s and professionals because like them my first reaction would have been to find materials to help clean her up, whether it be finding something to dispose of her “waste”, some wipes to helps clean her up, and a fresh set of clothes, as well as checking in on her vitals to make sure she was okay. Regardless of how “disgusting” it is to see human waste coming out of her body, she’s a young woman who deserves the right to her dignity and protection of her privacy. But again, it wasn’t until today that I really appreciated having a lecture on diversity and empathy because I realize those are things that cannot be taught whether it be in a classroom or textbook.
To be honest, it’s scary working in such close quarters with a patients and learning to interact with them, but it’s also incredibly rewarding at the same time when you finally find that grounding. I’m starting to feel more confident in my abilities and willingness to learn to skills and continue to become an empathetic, kind, and compassionate healthcare professional but I also know it’s going to be a work in progress. It’s not easy though to not judge someone or feel like you don’t owe someone something, after all we are all human at the end of the day. As our society becomes more diverse, it’s going to be interesting learning to interact with patients of all ages, sizes, occupations, creeds, and ethnicities. Regardless of whether I agree or not with someone who does not share the same values as me (ex. “White Supremacy”), they are still entitled to a duty of care and respect even if it means putting aside my own thoughts and feelings.
Looking back at my own “practical experiences”, my first shift working at a Senior Care agency with an older gentleman going through the terrible and irreversible condition of dementia was my first eye opening experience. I was told the individual would be pleasant although a bit stubborn, little did I understand how in an instant dementia could change a person’s demeanour in the blink of an eye. I walked in, introduced myself, and sat down to eat lunch with the man, and the first thing the man did was shout at me telling me how much he hated it being in assisted care and wanted to go back to bed. Trying to convince the man to stay in a calm manner, he began to use his wheelchair to return to his room where much to my dismay went to sleep calling me “mean” because I was trying to encourage him to take a few bits of his pudding to get some food into his body. To some this seems like it’s not a big deal, but to any healthcare provider, it’s hard to stay compassionate or kind in situations like this but we do it because we care regardless of whether or not the individual takes a liking to us.
It’s funny because I remember my first day at Western back in 2011 and being asked who wanted to be a doctor that over 300 out of the 340 kids raised their hands and out of this 200 wanted to work with kids. I realize to obtain my goal i’m going to have to work incredibly hard to compete with some of the best and brightest and I realize even when I get there my work will be incredibly hard, depressing, but also rewarding. Like I said in the beginning of my nursing school journey, I would be interested to see where four years will take me in terms of where my interests lie, and it’s already been one term and i’ve started to find my niche. I thought I would never make it to this point going through the personal struggles and self-doubt I encountered late last year, but 2017 has brought a new found confidence and stride in me and I am ready to face the challenges that sit in front of me. I’m doing all of this for me in the hopes that someday I can make a difference in the life’s of people going through what is often a vulnerable, frightening, and tumultuous period in their life.
I’m not sure i’m cut out to work with an older population. I really struggle to find the ability to connect with patients and find common ground. Along with being a labour and delivery nurse, I always thought for some reason geriatrics would be an area that would interest me, after all that is where most of the patient demographic will sit when I finally enter the world as an RN. But after spending weeks working with young kids whether it be in a community hockey program, helping out with a hockey tournament, or even interacting with the children of fellow friends, I have found a new interest in paediatrics and it makes me so excited at the possibility of getting placements in this area in future years. After years of convincing myself I didn’t like kids, I have a new found interest, curiosity, and passion with working with them. I remember growing up being fascinated at working at SickKids Hospital and entering those doors everyday as a doctor saving lives and eventually telling myself I wasn’t good enough to work in healthcare. But now, I found a renewed passion in it and I must say I can’t wait to see what the future holds, but I hope to work my way to getting into a NICU or PICU and helping the sickest of the sick hopefully be able to go home and grow up to be amazing individuals with all the potential in the world.
But in all honesty i’m incredibly proud to be part of a cohort of people looking to take care of others and for the most part striving to make a difference even though many people often take us for granted. Without these individuals putting aside their judgements and personal problems we would never have a healthcare system like the one we have now and for that I am incredibly proud of the people who put in many hours to take care of us and our loved ones as well as the hours of study and practice to become competent professionals.
Paul Bloom says empathy is a capricious feeling that plays on our prejudices.
By empathy, the Yale psychology professor does not mean kindness or generosity, but the process of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes as a moral guide.
In his book Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, Bloom argues empathy, as an emotion, often leads to bad moral decisions.
“It feels great, but given the nature of our minds, [empathy] leads us to bias decisions, to enumerate decisions, and often, cruel decisions,” Bloom told The Current’s host Anna Maria Tremonti.
Bloom says empathy speaks to our unconscious biases, which should have no role in guiding moral decisions.
“The temptation of empathy is to make the problem go away for the person immediately — and who this person is depends on what they look like and what they seem like.”
‘Racist biases show up tremendously in who we feel empathy for.’– Paul Bloom
Bloom says empathy cannot be felt for more than one person — meaning we tend to prioritize the particular over the many when making empathetic decisions.
“It’s because of empathy that people care more about a little girl stuck in a well, than they do about climate change.”
In some circumstances, empathy motivates people to do things that actually make the world worse.
Empathy for Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose drowning made international headlines in 2015, mobilized many to call for military interventions in Syria – which was arguably a poor moral decision, says Bloom. (Tima Kurdi/Facebook)
As an example, Bloom refers to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20 children were killed. In an empathetic gesture, people from all over sent teddy bears and toys to the grieving community, but eventually this became a burden as residents had nowhere to put the offerings.
The parents asked for the donations to stop, but the public refused.
“It’s a simple example of the difference between wanting to make the world a better place, and really helping people, vs. feeling empathy and wanting to scratch that itch.”
But all is not lost.
According to Bloom, compassion is an all together positive strategy for making a difference.
“There’s a lot of experiments looking at empathy and compassion, finding that not only do they activate different parts of the brain, but that when you feel compassion you’re actually better able to help. You enjoy helping, because you’re not suffering along with people.”
And with less of an emotional toll, Bloom says compassion allows for more consistent giving.
‘A lot of people in helping professions, doctors, nurses or first responders, burn out — they have to drop out. The best people care about others, but they don’t feel their pain.’– Paul Bloom