The Recovering Farmer

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Eradicating Stigma

 Perhaps “eradicating” is a strong word. We hear it being used when we talk about the Covid virus. I have heard it used in other instances when something bad or evil needs to be gotten rid of. We have all heard about reducing or lessening stigma. By definition, eradicate means to “destroy completely, put an end to it”. I like that approach. In essence, search and destroy.

A few months ago, I received an email from an organization, I had not heard of before, asking whether I would participate as an interviewee in a live Facebook event. The email had hardly landed in my inbox before I responded with a resounding yes, because that’s who I am. On sober second thought I thought it might be prudent to look into this organization.

The email I received was from the Stigma Free Society, a mental health organization, operating out of Vancouver, BC. That certainly piqued my interest. Their goal is to create a world free of stigma through awareness, understanding and acceptance of ourselves and others. What I find particularly interesting is how they share personal stories of experiences or journeys that are often stigmatized, to provide real life examples. ( )

I have always loved the story telling approach in addressing stress, anxiety and depression. Perhaps that is overstating it just a tad. I should say I have loved that approach ever since I started telling my story. I am a staunch believer in learning from one another. Any journey with mental illness is filled with various twists and turns. I often refer to it as a labyrinth. A labyrinth is defined as “a place with a lot of crisscrossing or complicated passages, tunnels or paths in which it would be easy to become lost.” So if you are in a labyrinth you either need a good GPS, a map or someone to talk you through finding your own way. And you will always find the best directions come from someone who has been down that road.

And then as I was mulling this over my wife, who was looking at her phone rather than the Netflix show she had picked, pipes up with something she just saw on social media. She was reading about human libraries. At first blush that sounded bizarre but then she went on to explain.

The concept is simple enough. Instead of reading a book, you “borrow” a person. That person then tells you their story, on the topic you have chosen, and answers questions you might have regarding the topic. (visit to get more details)

It took a minute but then the sheer brilliance of this concept kicked in. I thought of the huge potential this could have in our world. It seems that each day that goes by the world becomes more divided. Wouldn’t this be a great way to unjudged people and begin a journey of understanding?

Can you imagine being able to talk to a person that was walking a similar journey as you? If you could talk to someone dealing with anxiety or depression? If you could hear their story and ask questions, questions you have regarding your own journey? If we could, as the Stigma Free Society strives for, create awareness, develop an understanding of each other, and foster an acceptance of ourselves and others? Me thinks the world would become a better place. Let’s go for it. Make it a good one.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I Can Do This


The last eighteen months have been something many of us have not experienced before. It has been a challenge to survive. It has been life changing. It has taught us a lot, some positive and some not so positive. In some cases, it has left us reeling.

Not only that, its not over yet. If someone had told me in March of 2020 that I would be sitting here, eighteen months later, writing about this, I truly would have been mortified. At the time, most of us thought that in a month, maybe two and at the most three, we would be done with the virus. Clearly that was not to be. We continue the battle.

Add to the regular challenge of working from home, masking up to go out, not being able to get together with friends or families, we now have a major divide happening in whether to get vaccinated or not. There are demonstrations and protests. Social media is alive and well in presenting the ideas and beliefs of each individual. Google has even made some people smarter than doctors and scientists. Its true. I saw it on Facebook.

Added to this is the noise of the recent election. And honestly most of it was noise and nothing but noise. As it turns out it accomplished little at best. Uppermost on many minds was whether politicians running for office were vaccinated or not. Many were loathe to admit it. Political platforms were built on it.

I admit it. I am vaccinated. Interesting. That wasn’t at all hard to admit. Then again I am not looking for votes. Not only that I can tell you all about my side effects. I am convinced that getting vaccinated improved my golf game and I did the research. Okay, I just made that up. But hear me out. Since my second vaccination I have golfed better than at any point in my life. I have come to realize that the vaccine has done something magical to my internal GPS. I am hitting the ball better and closer to my targets. In fact, I even had a hole in one. Coincidental? I think not. Fight me.

My apologies. I digress. Seriously the pandemic has left us all weary. We have tried to remain strong, but it really is getting us down. I recently spoke to an elderly lady who was dealing with other issues aside from the pandemic. I told her how I admired the strength she had. She looked at me with weary eyes and suggested she was so tired of being strong.

I suppose that echoes many of our own thoughts. We are getting tired of being strong. I have said before, if we knew of an exact date of when this would be over, life would be easier. We would be working towards that date, knowing it was going to end. But like other experiences we don’t know when it will be over. It’s a big unknown and unknowns can have the ability to drag us down.

So let me just simply leave you with a poem I have shared before. It remains one of my favorites. It was written by John Greenleaf Whittier. Whittier was an advocate for the abolition of slavery in the 1800’s. He experienced his own journey with mental illness. The poem encourages me as I hope it will you. Make it a good one.

Never Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit –
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Friday, September 17, 2021

I Am Not Dead, Yet


A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from someone I used to work with occasionally, chatted with about our individual challenges in navigating life, and someone who reads the stuff I write. We caught up on work, some new stuff happening in the world of agriculture, and the ongoing challenges of farming. Towards the end of our conversation, he finally came out with it. He said he had been looking for new blogs but there were none. So, he had to check to see if I was dead. I assured him I wasn’t dead. Yet.

Perhaps I have been experiencing writer’s block. Although I have no idea what that means, it does sound better than saying I am brain dead. Perhaps it’s the pandemic. Everything else is being blamed on it so why not. It’s been eighteen months since this strange, diabolical virus wreaked havoc on everyone, except, of course, those that don’t believe in it, but that’s another whole story.

This last week my brother, who is significantly older than me, came up with an idea. His goal was to write a thousand words a day until he dies, which is twenty years if he meets his expectations. That got me thinking. As writing has always helped my mental health, and I have not been writing for months, and my mental health seems to be deteriorating, I suggested to him that I would join him on his quest with a few modifications. My expectations for my life expectancy is somewhat lower than his and I will limit my writings to six hundred words per day. Seems that that is the limit to my attention span. (If readers take note my blogs for the most part have been right around that)

As I looked back to my last blog, I see some irony here. It is titled Never Stop Talking About It. Well, it seems, I did stop talking about it. And as I reflect more on my life since January of this year, I sense a correlating issue. I stopped talking about it and my mental health has suffered because of it.

As I look back a little further, I see another blog I wrote called Adding To The Noise. A challenge, of sorts, to be cognizant of over exposure to social media and news. Be aware of the negative effect this barrage of information can have on our mental health.

I have a hunch that one of the reasons I have been less than motivated to write is because I don’t practice what I preach. Between the upcoming federal election and the ongoing debacle of the pandemic the information out there is mind boggling. It literally gives me a headache. For no specific reason I seem to be drawn to ongoing debates about various issues. But then I find my equanimity disappear real quick.

It seems that our world is becoming more and more divided. I see family relationships being broken. I see a lot of anger from all sides, and sometimes there are more than two sides, causing division. I can’t help but wonder where it will end.

I suppose as a mediator I should have some sage advice on this. But I don’t. Perhaps that is a sign that I am too opinionated as well. It was Bertrand Russel that said; “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves and wiser people are so full of doubt”. Hopefully I can find a way to be wiser, to understand all sides of the debate and to engage in meaningful dialogue. Because, quite frankly, that is the only way. Make it a good one.