Learning to cope

Monique Chiasson
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Educating yourself key to dealing with mental illness

Learning to cope

TRURO - Martha Rodler has come to expect people uttering "stupid" or "crazy" under their breath within her earshot.
She doesn't approve of such rude actions, but she deals with it in a positive way.
"I feel bad for them because it's their problem and they are looking for a reaction so I don't give it to them," said the North River resident who has learned how to deal with mental illness issues in a healthy way. Her mother and brother were both diagnosed with schizophrenia many years ago and while she has had to learn how to cope with their illness, she has also had to educate herself on how to handle society's ignorance and intolerance of mental illness.
"There's still a stigma that someone with mental illness is stupid and it can be shameful for some ... but you can't let what other people think affect you," said Rodler. "You need to see there's a person beyond the illness and it wasn't their choice to have it. It's a challenge that has made me a stronger person."
Before Rodler educated herself on understanding mental illness and enforcing healthy boundaries, she often felt "stress, resentment
and anger."
She said as important as it was for her to learn how to accept, understand and deal with other people's mental illness, it is also vital the community becomes more understanding and tolerant as well.
"If a person with mental health (issues) has learned to live with it why can't we (as a society)? It's time to break the cycle of stigma," said Rodler.
There are many ways of getting help, she said, including searching for information online, self help groups, therapy, books and tapes and through the local Canadian Mental Health Association.
The association hosted Wine, Women and Wellness at the Marigold Thursday night. The event was the first of its kind in Truro with the goal of bringing women together to become closer, share their experiences and help raise awareness about mental health.
"It's great," said Rodler. "Women are very strong but we need each other."
The association's executive director, Crystal Hill, said such events are vital to the community.
"Everybody is affected by mental health and it's important to recognize the importance of talking about it ... so people know there are resources available," said Hill.

Organizations: Canadian Mental Health Association

Geographic location: North River, Crystal Hill

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  • Gilliad
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Thank you, Martha Rodler, for speaking out, and thanks also to the Truro Daily News for printing the story.

    Mental illness is still hidden behind closed doors in many homes throughout the world. It takes brave, strong people to talk about it, let alone deal with it.

  • Sam
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    Congrat' to Ms Rodler for dealing with peoples unjust and unfounded perceptions toward her health issues. It's a true crime that people suffering from mental health issues need to not only deal with their own situation, they need to deal with comments and behaviours from others that are without basis.

    This person should be applauded for not only holding her head high but for speaking out about this matter in such a public forum.

  • Carolyn
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    What an incredibly strong woman! Martha is correct that illnesses of the brain are not chosen - it's a terrible thing to battle and it's reality for one in five people. Our friends and family who are ill are already fighting to get better - why should they have to fight ignorance and discrimination as well? There is a movement underway to have a provincial strategy for strong mental health and anyone can lend their voice at oneinfive.ca. Thanks to Truro Daily News for covering this important story!

  • Gerald
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    You are to be commended Ms Rodler...I truly admire your attitude and desire to make people understand how to deal with mental illness. It's in all our families to some level...we just don't seem to want to admit it and deal with it constructively. Thank you for your efforts.

  • emily
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    You are so right about people educating themselves about mental illness. It is a disease. Imagine the outrage if other diseases such as cancer was frowned upon or people shunned.You have certainly made a contribution to that education through your article. Thanks for your courage.
    Yes indeed, I do believe that mental illness is in everyone's family in one form or another. Community support is vital in accepting all diseases.