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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Out of the Shadows

No man, in my opinion, has a more advantageous difficulty on his hands than you have; provided you will but use it as an athletic champion doth his antagonist.

EPICTETUSDISCOURSES. Book i. 24. 1

Today's blog post is inspired by the passage above from Epictetus' Discourses.  If we can use the struggles and adversity we encounter much as an athlete uses resistance training.  If we allow ourselves to gain strength from our achievements even if we only gain an inch in the mile that we need to travel.  

This is a very difficult thing to do at times.  We often only see the destination and not the journey that we are on.  We can only see what we have not accomplished or completed and not how much we have learned in the process of achieving.

Yesterday was a day that mental illness was brought to the forefront of the public's vision in Canada.  Bell Canada was sponsoring the day to bring mental illness out of the shadows of the public's perception and into the light of day.  Encouraging people to discuss the topic and share images of "normal" people who have experienced mental illness at different points in their life.  To eliminate the stigma that is associated with all mental illness in our society.

How does mental illness fit in with Epictetus' teaching above?  I have experienced depression from time to time in my life.  I even sought out counselling at one point.  I still have to watch for triggers and make sure that I am not getting overwhelmed which tends to bring out depression and anxiety in me.  I feel that for me depression is just another sparring partner, along with various other physical issues, that I have to deal with in this life.  With the help of my family, friends and community I can battle against this and climb the hill to sunshine.  It is with community that I can win the battle.

As with all adversities that we experience, we can use our daily struggles to grow stronger in our character.  We can become an athlete in life, proficient in the arena and a victor of daily living.  Let us use all of the tools around us in order to do this, loved ones, family, friends and the greater community/society around us.  Let's get the conversations started, ask for help on the journey, and run the race in community.  Find the people who support you and get out of the shadows and start walking, jogging and running the race to happiness again!