Doug Lawrence

🎧 Your Healing Journey – A Journey of Hope

Focused on mentoring, mental health and grief

Posts by @Talentc

The Power of Lived Experience

Good morning, it's been quite a while since we've had a little conversation and so I thought based on what's been happening with me the last couple weeks that it would be prudent or it would be a good time for us to have a conversation. And so today I want to spend a bit of time just talking about the power of lived experience. And the reason for this particular topic is that I've been involved in a few conversations that deal with lived experience and sort of the definition of it or how it's being used. And so what I would like to be able to do is, number one, let's talk a bit about lived experience from the aspect of how we can leverage that for working with other people. And I've got an example of a young person that I worked with that I'll share with you. But the most, I guess the big thing for me is the definition of lived experience. So I come at that from the aspect of mentoring. And with mentoring, lived experience has a greater scope where some of the other help, peer support type sort of responses focus on lived experience with the idea in mind that you must have lived experience in that particular area. So as an example, substance abuse, based on the definition that I've seen, I wouldn't be able to provide value or work with somebody who is dealing with substance abuse because I don't have any lived experience in that regard. And if we flip that from a mentoring perspective, that's not the case, that from a mentoring perspective I am, because of my background and all of those things, that it's just as easy for me to work with somebody who is dealing with substance abuse as it is dealing with somebody who is dealing with an issue of being in the service industry, and by service I mean law enforcement, for example. I don't need to have that experience to be able to share how we can work together and how we can move forward. So there's some of that, but let me share just a little bit of a story with you that will kind of put some context around this. I was actually mentoring a young person in an industry and had been brought in because there was some concerns of performance and all that sort of stuff, and I was brought in to spend some time with that individual. So if you can just kind of picture us in a room, just the two of us, and I've been trying to get a conversation going with this individual, and in actual fact we spoke for close to 50 minutes in which it was me sharing my lived experiences that I felt were relatable to the situation that this individual was in. And at the end of our session, it was roughly an hour in duration, at the end of our session I asked the question, which I do always, is what was the value that you got from our conversation today? And I might add that I was the one doing most of the talking, and the response I got back from this young person was that they had this sudden boost of self-confidence, their self-esteem had been elevated, they could see themselves in the stories that I was sharing with them, the experiences and stuff that I had, and they felt that they could go back, leave that room and go back to work, and they could be a meaningful contributor for the next little while. It was a lesson for me in that we needed to shorten up the time of us being apart, because it was in that time period there, if I would have kept the sessions to probably about one every three to maybe four days tops, that there would have been a lot more growth, but as it was, there was still growth with this individual, and they were able to reach out at any given time to be able to tap into my lived experience, and I was more than willing to share that. So there's one other example I wanted to give, and that's dealing with the aspect of grief, and I'm involved in a number of bereavement support groups, and what I'm learning is that everybody grieves differently, every passing is unique, and it has to be dealt with in that sort of fashion, but the common theme is that we're all dealing with, in these bereavement groups, we're all dealing with each person having had the loss of someone or something in their life, and so they're struggling, they're dealing with that, and because I have, for the most part, walked in those shoes, that it creates that bond, if you want to, for lack of a better choice of words, creates that bond where we can support each other and be able to move forward, and by doing so, that has, your lived experience plays a small part in that, it's more so about having walked in those shoes that's more important. So I guess if I were to summarize all of this, it would be that you need to tap into the power of your lived experience, and from my perspective, it's, I think of when I'm mentoring, and I tell people all the time that when I'm mentoring, industry-specific experience is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, and I'm going to suggest that lived experience is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, although in a lot of cases, it is a need-to-have, you do need to have lived experience, but I think the differentiator is that it can be across multiple industries, if you want to use, we'll use the industry term, but it can span right across all that, it does not have to be specific to, say, substance abuse, like what we used as our example. So I hope I've been able to shed some light, and if you still have some questions and you're not sure, I'm doing a fair amount of research around lived experience and peer support mentoring and mentoring in general, so please feel free to reach out to me, and you can reach me by email, that's probably the easiest, and that's Doug.Lawrence, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E, at talentc, so the word talent with the letter C on the end, dot C-A, and we can set up a time to connect and have a conversation. And in the meantime, I hope you have a fabulous day, and God bless.

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Valentines Day and Memories

Hello, and welcome to another episode of your healing journey, a journey of hope. Today I wanted to spend just a few moments talking about Valentine's Day, which is only a couple days away, and the memories that it left with, certainly with me, and with the time I spent together with Deborah. So Valentine's Day typically is, the relationship there is more so for the purchase of flowers to give to your significant other, your loved one, perhaps a dinner out are some of the things I know when I think back, those were some of the things that were precious to us. And now what I'm left with is the memory of giving those flowers. I can still remember taking flowers to where my wife Deborah worked, and that was always the big deal was getting the flowers delivered to her place of work, and usually I probably overdid it just a little bit as far as the size of the bouquet and that, but in any event, she was my valentine, and I wanted to be able to honor her in doing so. One of the things that I found as time has gone on since Deborah passed in 2021 was that special occasions have a way to trigger memories, have a way to trigger our response or reaction to a number of things, and actually they are a reminder of what we had and what we could have had, had she have lived longer than what she did. And for most of us, I think what we need to be able to do is to be able to think of why this day is so special, and by that I mean Valentine's Day. What is or what was the significance of that day to us in order to be able to move forward? You know, some things have changed, and we wish we could go back, but we know that we can't, or reality sets in and we realize that going back is not an option. It's another day to remember and to actually, you know, it's Deborah's birthday is coming up on the 24th, and her daughter is arranging to have a birthday supper in her honor, and that's, sorry, that's important to me that they would take the time and effort to do that, my son and my daughter, so that even though it may be another day to remember, it still has significance and we still want to honor her in however we possibly can. And so, I'm getting emotional here, so I just, I wanted to, as we're getting close to wrapping up here, I wanted to just let her know, let Deborah know that you were my valentine for 43 years, and every day is a memory that I wish to cherish and hold. And so thank you for giving me that opportunity. And to our listening audience, I sincerely hope that you take the time to celebrate Valentine's Day and the love that you have for your significant other. Take that time and let them know how much you actually do love them, whether it's simply just saying I love you, or whether it's a bouquet of flowers, chocolates, whatever makes you feel happy. I know for me, the flowers eventually kind of petered out and it became recognizing that we loved each other and spending some quality time together outside of what would be considered the norm. And so I encourage you to do what you have to do in order to share those memories and to read and actually to remember what you had and what you could have had, had things been different. And with that, may God bless.

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The Dreaded Week-end

Well, good morning. I thought I'd post this early this morning before I take off and head off to Sask Polytech to speak to the HR class on mental health. And it kind of triggered something that I felt I needed to do, which was to talk a little bit about the dreaded weekend. And what I mean by that is we're coming up to three years since Debra passed and out of, aside from her not being here, the other part is the aspect of the weekends was when we used to do so much together. That was our together time. We would visit the grandchildren, we would visit friends, we would do all sorts of exciting things, but we did that together. And that's what's missing for me today. And that's why if somebody says, you know, how was your weekend? I typically will tell people that it was all right, but it's not my favorite time of the week. And that's simply just because there is a piece of it missing a key integral part of it being my happy time, which was the time that I would spend with Debra. So for those of you that are going through the grieving process, I'm sure some of you will be able to echo my thoughts and feelings. And in any event, I hope that you have a great week and may God bless.

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Mentor Programs and Mental Health

Hello, and I'm back again just to have another chat with you to share some insight into some things we need to be aware of when it comes to the implementation of a mentoring program. One of the things that I have started to recommend to individuals, organizations, when they go to implement a mentoring program is that they take a look at the aspect of mental health being part of that. Let me give you an example is that when it comes to young entrepreneurs who are striving forth to take a concept, an idea, a dream, and turn it into a reality, they will encounter a number of different challenges from a mental health perspective as they go along their journey. I've mentored a few individuals that, you know, initially right at the very beginning of the mentoring relationship, we identified that there were some mental health challenges that needed to be at the forefront of our conversations so that we were able to deal with those as time evolved through the mentoring relationship. One of the things that I found that's really important to sort of be mindful of is when you go to implement a program in an organization is to make sure that you take advantage of this opportunity to create that support structure for mental health and for your employees in the organization. If you'll recall, we did a post, a video on the agriculture industry and dealing with the aspect of grief and how it all impacted their mental health and being an old farm boy from way back when, I know for a fact, I know that that's truthful, is that the lifestyle and everything that you had to deal with on the farm certainly led to more and more involvement with the mental health part of your life. What's interesting is that back in my younger years, we didn't talk about that stuff very much because it just was not something that you did, but as time has progressed, we're now talking about it. But my point is that talking is great, that gets it out there, but we're not providing any steps in order to be able to deal with it, to give people the tools that they need in order to be able to deal with mental health and that. In the agriculture industry, not to revisit what we talked about already, but the grief causes anxiety, stress, and a number of other factors that need to be addressed. We can't really afford to look the other way, as I can tell you from firsthand experience, the consequences are not always what we had hoped for. It's really important for us to be able to recognize the power that mentoring can have in a mentoring relationship, especially when it comes to working with individuals who are in fact struggling with mental health. So I encourage you to, wherever possible, and if you need to reach out to me, please feel free to do so, but we need to have that conversation around the aspect of where does mental health fit in my organization? Where does mental health fit in my business? Where does mental health fit in anything that I do as an individual? So looking at it from those sort of those three different pillars. And so I encourage you to take a moment and think about that, and think about your mentoring programs that you may or may not have in your organization. And can I implement a mentoring program and include mental health as part of that? So in closing, I wish you all the best. And like I said, if you have some questions on that, please feel free to reach out to me and we can have a conversation about those. So please take care and God bless.

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So, I grew up on a farm. I spent the first 18 or 19 years of my life on the farm doing, you know, the usual stuff. And what I didn't realize was the impact that farming in general had on my mental health, and most definitely the mental health of family members. And just to qualify that a little bit more, one of our family members had a firsthand experience with mental health challenges in that they, because of all the pressures and everything else that was going on, they ended up taking their own life. And, you know, when you think about that and the impact that that has, how that deprived other family members of having more time with that particular individual, having them, you know, being able to provide the leadership for younger members of the family so that, you know, we can move forward with our lives and learn and grow from the, you know, the experience of this particular individual not taking into account the whole mental health umbrella. Large part of that, and there were some other things that went on that I'm not going to elaborate on in this video, but there was definitely a stigma, just as there is in a lot of other professions, and just as for males in general, is the stigma about it's a sign of weakness if you admit to the fact that you're struggling with mental health challenges. And certainly the agriculture industry is no different. That stigma is there. And like I said, at the beginning of this video was the fact that I grew up on a farm. So I'm very much aware of the whole idea of what you could talk about and what you couldn't talk about. And, you know, struggling, dealing with mental health and all those things were all things that you did not talk about, for sure. What's interesting is that about 225 million farmers worldwide struggle with mental health and mental health challenges. 225 million. You know, and when I think back to the time that I spent on the farm, we didn't explore, you know, the numbers like that, because that would have helped us identify that there was a need to do something. So what are some of the factors that we need to be mindful of? And when we look at the agriculture industry, farming in general, and the first one that comes to mind is the financial uncertainty. And I know that we went through a time period where financially the farms struggled. That's probably the softest way to describe it. The farm did struggle. And there was a definite need for us to come up with a solution, which of course was we ended up selling the farm. What was interesting was that the farm was offered to me as the oldest boy on the farm. Farm was offered to me and I made a, what I think today is a rational decision to not stay on the farm. And I ended up moving away and starting a different profession or career. So financial uncertainty is definitely one and with the markets and everything being what they are today, that certainly would stand out. There's barriers to actually getting mental health services. So because of the rural proximity, the remoteness and all of that, there's definitely a challenge in getting those mental health services. I know when I was going through and I was an active law enforcement officer stationed in rural locations that I didn't have access to any support from, you know, mental health services, access to a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, all that. We had none of that. And the farming industry is, was and still is to some extent, not much different than that. There's a blurred distinction between work and home, home life. So, you know, it would be so nice if we could just kind of leave it, leave it at the office when in fact, you know, the farm becomes part of your life and things that happen out on the North 40 come back to the kitchen table at supper time for discussion. And sometimes it, you know, it, it raises issues that we need to be, to be looking at. And then one of the other things that I know, for a fact, and I've seen it in a couple different places is the fact that there's, there's easy access to firearms. So on the farm, you, you know, obviously for hunting and, and all of those things that you actually have access to a firearm. So it, it provides, it gives you the opportunity that if you did make a decision, that that's the path you're going to take, you have easy access, you know, to, to a firearm to be able to do that. What we need to do communities as a whole, organizations, all of those that, especially when it comes to the farming industry, agriculture in general, is we need to have a support structure in place that's going to be there for, for the farmers who are struggling with those mental health challenges, that support structure. It needs to be in each and every community that, you know, that we're talking about. And people that are part of that support structure, and even you as, as a listener to this video, you need to understand the symptoms of mental health. And you need to know where to go to get help. And we, you know, we've improved a great deal over the course of years and decades in that. So there are services available, but you just need to know where to go to, to get access to them. So that's something else that you need to, you know, be mindful of. And if you think this isn't a major issue, do some searches on the internet if you get a chance. And I was blown away this morning when I was doing a bit of research in preparation for this video was the how, what the statistics are for the number of people in the agriculture farming industry, what the statistics actually are for the number of people who, who death by suicide, and doesn't have to be that way. You know, all I have to do is just think back to growing up as a youngster and, and losing a family member to, to suicide because of, you know, no support structure. There's a stigmatism attached with reaching out and asking for help. And if there's nothing else that at the end of this video, if there's nothing else that you take away other than the fact that you need to reach out, you need to ask for help, and help will be there for you. But you have to take that step, you have to extend your hand and say, I need help. And if you do, there will be help available for you. And so when you get a chance, I hope you can listen to this. And like I said, it's well worth your time and effort to do some quick searches on the internet and search on agriculture, and mental health, and you'll be quite surprised at what you're going to come up with. So in closing, take care. Thank you for listening and God bless.

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How Important is My Mental Health? When it comes to our mental health, we need to be looking at it from a fact or fiction perspective. January’s third Monday, “Blue Monday”, is thought to be the most depressing day of the year. Spoiler: it isn’t. Our mental health should be something that we take care of on an ongoing basis and not because a day is proclaimed as the most depressing day of the year. Blue Monday is a myth Blue Monday is a PR stunt that was originally dreamed up to sell holidays. It is a myth, a false calculation based on things like the gloomy weather, post-Christmas debt, disappointment from not keeping new year’s resolutions, dissatisfaction about going back to work and general doom and gloom. We have allowed it to be driven by what is fiction and not fact. It provides for the opportunity to sensationalize what it is and to piggy back on the whole mental health story. No actual scientific studies have ever backed up any claims about Blue Monday. Mental health 'good and bad' days are individual to each of us It is pointless to try and identify what the most depressing day of the year is because it would be different for each one of us. It is also important to distinguish between temporarily feeling down, which we all relate to from time to time, and There is a difference between a temporary feeling of being down versus actually experiencing depression or a mental health problem that can be quite disabling for our day-to-day lives. This year, perhaps more than any other year in recent memory, there is a need and importance for us all to look after our mental health and support each other. There can be seasonal variations in our mental health However, despite the fact that Blue Monday isn’t real, there can be seasonal variations in our mental health. Some people might be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder with symptoms of depression that come and go in a seasonal pattern (and are usually more intense in the months with lower daylight). Bodily changes in the winter can affect our hormones and impact our sleeping and eating habits, as well as our mood. Things that are known to be good for our mental health, such as exercising and spending time in green and blue spaces, are harder to do when the days are short and nights are long. December is also a time when some of us may tend to eat and drink too much, run up debts, and then sometimes feel bad about these afterwards. We should be thinking about our mental health every day of the year Perhaps the true meaning of Blue Monday is that we all have mental health and that there are steps that we can take on every day of the year to try and protect it. POOR MENTAL HEALTH IS THE GREATEST PUBLIC HEALTH CHALLENGE FACING OUR GENERATION. TRIVIALIZING SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND OTHER MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS, UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF COMMERCIAL INDUSTRIES THAT WISH TO TURN MENTAL HEALTH INTO AN ON-TREND TOPIC FOR PROFIT, IS UNACCEPTABLE. OUR APPROACH SHOULD BE EVIDENCE-BASED, INVOLVE WHOLE COMMUNITIES AND PRIORITISE PREVENTION. As a starting point, I recommend some basic practical things we all can do to protect our mental health: • We could try and talk about our feelings to someone we know • We could try and keep active, eat well and drink sensibly, and ask for help if we are struggling We may find that we are not alone; people are there to help and so many are facing similar challenges. Mental health matters on every day of the year.

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