Hello my EncouraGem friends and followers. I am basking in blessings here in California, and having an uplifting time with my sons and their families. I am staying at one sons home half way up the San Bernardino mountain which is very similar to where I live in Muskoka in October/November. I get to go down “under” as they say in Australia, to visit my other son plus grandchildren and great grandchildren who all live in the greater Los Angeles area. I had not received any inspiration from God to write this months EncouraGem article. However, God has not been sleeping on the job, but has graciously put before me, a very talented lady’s writings. This Christian lives in Schreiber just outside of Terrace Bay Ontario, and writes a weekly article for the Terrace Bay Newspaper. Her name is Lorraine Payette and she calls her articles “Scuttlebutt from the Pulpit”. I pray her story of how God rescued her, and is now using her to reach lost souls from their life of addiction, mental health and pain.  Be blessed
with…                 SCUTTLEBUTT FROM THE PULPIT
                                           “Let’s Talk” … for real
                                             by Lorraine Payette
January 30 is “Let’s talk”, Bell’s promotion on mental illness. Well if you think the state of the world which mainstream media presents is depressing and out of control look up the Canadian statistics on the mental health of the nation. It is mind boggling, eye opening and could cause mental illness! I felt my mental health take a dip while scanning the information.
Being a survivor of bipolarism, addiction, substance abuse as well as the suicides of loved ones, I take a keen interest in these things, especially recovery and healing. Interestingly enough, Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia each only account for 1% of mental illness. Substance abuse is mentioned often but the number 1 mental illness is General Anxiety Disorder, not counting 7 other anxiety disorders! *  Hmmm.. I would have thought the #1 illness would be the Opioid Crisis which is the mental illness of addiction.
Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world.  Mentally ill people are disproportionately affected by homelessness and living on the streets.**  How many of those are primarily the illness of addiction? They don’t say.  It’s all glumped as mental illness. Hmmm… Regardless, it is a very discouraging fact finding. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of solutions or success stories.
As a partaker of the mental health system circa 1988-1993, I was one of the fortunate ones because I made it.  I not only survived, I learned to live despite the fact that when I came home I had no avenues of professional help other than an addiction counsellor and my family physician.  The key factor for my recovery was the fact I had a safe place to live. They say you can never go home, but I did.  My mother graciously allowed me to move back home.  Thank God for mothers because I would’ve been discharged from the LPH and living on the streets again quickly enough.  I believe I would have died out there if it wasn’t for my mother and the ensuing reconciliation I had with my siblings.
The social workers at the LPH would’ve helped me find a place to live, but I saw the horrible, awful conditions my fellow patients lived in.  No wonder they always found their way back to the “Bug House”.  How can the medical professionals expect mentally ill people to take their medications and then live in the dire poverty of unsanitary squalor with the ever present threat of violence, to recover enough to lead a normal productive life?  Mental illness becomes preferable and an escape from the horrid reality of life.  There is a hopelessness there that the medical gurus and politicos need to address.  Medication alone is not the fix.
Let’s talk indeed.  Is anyone listening?  Why is it that all the funding goes to cancer treatment and research and big hospitals, but for the Cancer of the soul/mind….crumbs…rhetoric?  The closure of the LPH as well as similar facilities especially in BC has helped to increase the crisis of mental illness and people dying on the streets and in hovels.  Everyone needs a home, a safe place to live.
“Housing designed for people with mental health conditions can contribute to significant cost savings for the health system.  It costs $486 a day ($177,390 a year) to keep a person in a psychiatric hospital (of which we don’t have one in Northwestern Ontario anymore) compared to $72 a day ($28,280 a year) to house a person in the community with supports.”***
The key words in my recovery were, house (home), family (supports) and the communities of Terrace Bay & Schreiber which really are an extended family in many ways.  I always am grateful and make a point to say God bless small towns because without them you would not be reading this today.
I say I am one of the lucky ones but in truth, luck has nothing to do with it.  I owe my life and recovery to God.  Simple as that, because when I tried so hard to die, He wouldn’t let me, when I despaired, He put people in my path.  When all hope was lost, He kept a flicker of it glowing like firelight in a dark room.  In countless little ways and more than a few stupendous ones, the road to recovery and healing opened up before me.  I just had to be willing to follow it and not direct it.  As simple and difficult as that.
Best of all help is laughter.  I need to thank Tom for that gift not too long ago. One bleak morning, shortly before Christmas, as I was dashing to work, I heard someone call me.  There was Tom in his car, motioning me over.  As the passenger window slid down, Tom was smiling his crinkly smile and said, “Lorraine you’ve got to hear this; it makes me think of you” He had a country & western song on and I listened expectantly.  The chorus came up with this refrain
“…….being crazy kept me from going insane….”  Truer words were never spoken and I laughed and that was like a blast of sunshine on a drab December day.

Now that’s mental health.  Thanks Tom.  Priceless!

* Canadian Mental Health Statistics
** Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario
*** Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario

If you know of someone seeking help from drug addiction, alcohol, or incarceration, in Ontario Canada – Teen Challenge for men – London Ontario and Sault Ste. Marie Ontario give help  with a Christian world view and one of the highest recovery success rates. For women in Ontario the GTA Women’s Centre in Aurora.  Wherever you live, go on line to Teen Challenge Canada at teenchallenge.ca or teenchallenge.com if you live in the United States.
May God be your guide to healing.  Blessings, Syb.

Watch for later this month when I hope to bring you the 2nd part of Lorraine’s “Let’s Talk” conclusion from Bell Canada.

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