Over the last month I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of major agricultural events in Manitoba. I, along with approximately 32,000 others, braved frigid, and I mean frigid, temperatures to attend Agdays. Anybody that did not get there well before the start time was forced to park quite a distance from the Keystone. I know from experience that that walk could well finish a person before they actually get to the show. Not sure what it is but I seem to have a very low tolerance for cold temps. Oh well, spring is right around the corner, right??? I also attended the Annual General Meeting of the Keystone Agricultural Producers. Needless to say producers have mixed emotions when they predict, project, wish for or plan for this year. There does, however, appear to be some cautious optimism.
An event such as Agdays provides an opportunity for farmers to escape from some of the realities at home. Days are short, temperatures are cold, worries and fears are setting in as snow banks get higher. It provides them the opportunity to chat with friends and neighbours, others who are experiencing similar anxieties. It helps knowing you are not alone. But there are also lots of ideas that are shared. Good ideas. Ideas that can increase efficiencies or profitability. And of, of course, the usual temptations. Shiny new equipment with the promise of increased yields. Not sure how that works but the sales pitch is there.
What I found most encouraging is the number of people I talked to who wanted to share stories of their own struggles with stress and depression. It is just over a year ago that I began to speak publically about my own experiences. I could never have guessed that so many others had or were experiencing many of the same struggles I have faced. And, like sharing production stories, sharing stories about stress and depression can also benefit in one’s ability to cope, to get better, to improve life. For me the journey continues. There are ups and downs. There are times when I can’t for the life of me figure out what’s wrong. But then I run into someone else who is on a similar journey and ideas are passed back and forth, new tricks to conquer the sadness, the depression, the darkness. So if you are struggling, talk about it. You will be surprised at the results. There is hope. There is relief. Make it a good one.