Opinion: An Indigenous perspective on mental health awareness
- Alyson Bear | February 22, 2018
For me I was not always aware of how much of my personal well-being had so much to do with what I was doing in life. Taking care of yourself, putting yourself first is not always easy and especially as a mother, you have to make sure you are taking care of yourself if you are even going to have anything to give to your children. They need you at your best, not your worst and that is something we need to fully understand as parents. It is better to make it easier on people then harder and not be so hard on ourselves. The world already does a very good job at doing that for us.
Everywhere we go no matter where we look and now with the power of technology we are totally plugged into it 24/7, draining our energy. Images, ads, subliminal messages telling us we are not good enough. Always being told how to look, what to eat, who to be, since the get go, since we come out of the womb. It is plastered on billboards, on magazines in the grocery stores, on the television, movies, commercials ads everywhere we look, consumerism is consuming us, in this capitalistic society we live in. We are literally marinated in Eurocentric Worldviews. That is also why everybody seems to be adopting so much of the oppressor’s worldviews and their ways to handle problems and life.
Trauma and Tragedy come natural with life and unfortunately for many First Nations peoples it is life for us on the regular. It seems almost foreign to live life without trauma and tragedy. We have to try and get through what seems like barrier after barrier to get to any safe or comfortable places in this world, and society. If you could have a degree in lived experience I know many First Nations who would have their masters and phD’s. Is it not life experience who makes us who we are?
That is why when we are going from one experience to another not actually healing it is affecting us and running us down and while we consume and consume, things that are not healthy for us and our well-being. Therefore, we are not taking care of one another and no wonder why we have mental illness on the rise. The entire world is out of balance right now with climate change, the massive pollution happening to Mother Earth, the ocean, atmosphere, endangered species, and more and more issues and mental issues within society itself. Yet so many people continue to live in denial and choose the oppressor’s way of life.
You’re not going to find who you are chasing a bottle, becoming dependent on drugs, trying to be someone you’re not. The system creates a dependency, but deep down inside all of us is someone who wants to detach and embrace who truly are and be cared for and taken care of. So, if we can at least begin with ourselves and be kind to ourselves, caring and loving to ourselves taking care of those wounds in need of healing before we move on to what’s next too quick and then we can start taking care of one another and then those who need it most.
There is a suicide epidemic happening in Indigenous communities. There are MMIWG still being stolen from us every single day. They are still taking our children, apprehending them and putting them into their system. The overrepresentation of Indigenous men and women incarcerated continues to rise. The Justice for Colton Boushie movement is happening right now and it continues to show on its face that racism is alive and well in our communities and for some reason the justice system has never been on our side.
It is hard to live in a society that tried to eliminate your people and try to assimilate or make your people self-destruct, always pointing the finger and saying hey you guys are doing this to yourselves. Always convincing you that you are not good enough for that job or good enough for this world. A feeling of complete hopelessness a feeling I have felt before.
Mental illness is real and we need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of each other. It is up to us to show the future there is a good way to live life and it comes from letting go of a lot of comfort zones and things we think we know and embracing who we truly are and walking that path less taken to show those to come a better way. There is a lot of work to be done but not all is hopeless is what we need to remember and we are never alone when we walk with the prayers of our ancestors. Resilient are my people.