Thank You For Your Service

With his wife and son away from home, he took a gun pointed to his head and like he had spoken, blew his own brains out.

Today is a day for remembering our veterans. Yet we often exclude and even look with shame on those who take their own live. The following is a different take, a brief story which can save our own lives and that of our loved-ones.

He was my cousin. He was my friend. He was a quiet and kind man, with an offbeat sense of humour.

He spoke with subdued meanness about the father he never knew. Perhaps that was a clue. Perhaps that was the beginning.


The last time I saw him, he had returned home from fighting America’s war In the land of Iraq. I asked him, “what are you going to do now that you are home”

He replied, “I want to go back and blow some brains out”

“You’re not serious,” I questioned, wondering if this was an ugly example of his warped sense of humour.  He didn’t respond. I don’t think he smiled.

In search of a more loving mood, I change the conversation. But I could not find his smile. I could not find his love.

The day I heard of his fate, I realized I had been speaking to a ghost; for the cousin and friend I once knew never returned from Iraq.

With his wife and son away from home, he took a gun pointed it to his head and like he had spoken, blew his own brains out.

Now I say tearful thanks to him for bringing greater attention to the mental illness that comes from the many wars of our lives.

His broken life sheds light on the millions of mentally ill living with sicknesses our eyes cannot see, struggling to cope with the ravages of life.

As mental illness spreads like a virus, we urgently see the need to learn how to love and how to save another mind, another lost loved-one.

To all desolate war veterans driven to take their own life, thank you for your service. Thank God for your life.

How To Deal With Anger & Insecurities “Surrender To Your Better Self!”

Have you ever done something out of anger or frustration; something crazy, which in hindsight you realized was kind of crazy? I have. The other day, I got up to make a report at a church council meeting and mentioned the pain on the stroke affected side of my body. I also inadvertently indicated that it was triggered by a few miserable people in the room (my judgement, of course).

My upset and my pain had more to do with the fact that I was in no mood to be there. For some time I had been feeling useless, ineffective and completely immobile.   So when the meeting seemed held-up by some church members who I felt were unnecessarily vigilant, I wanted to rip their mouths off (or maybe just pinch them into recognizing their foolishness, not recognizing that if anyone was really foolish, it was me).

When I saw my craziness, I could have just forgiven myself and say ‘I am only human.’ However as people who are striving to better human beings, we need to have a strategy for handling our craziness, especially when triggered by the perceived craziness of others. It’s not enough just to be quiet, and give off the air of spiritual maturity on the inside, when on the outside we are ready to crucify someone with our words and our thoughts. How can we actually feel and display the type of spiritual maturity, inside and out, which changes us and the world around us? Judge Lynn Toler has a brilliant answer.

World Mental Health Day



Many of us work hard to take care of our bodies. Few of us do the same for our mind and spirit. As a result, one in five North Americans suffer from mental illness, more in some other parts of the world. Moreover, mental health issues represent an increasingly alarming cost to people and organizations around the world.

Realizing the global mental health crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) started World Mental Health Day in 1992. What’s going on in your country, your community or your life?  Can you see the rising number of people around you, dealing with mental issues?

Just this past week, I spoke to 3 people who revealed their issues.  One admitted she was on medication for severe depression. Another told me she had tried to commit suicide several times and showed me the slash mark on her arm. Another was clearly out of touch with reality; she told me several fantastic stories that could have sent anyone into depression.

How can we help? We start by being real with ourselves, talking care of our mind and spirit, and inspiring those around us to do the same. What else?

How Healthy is Your Mind

All of us at sometime or another struggle to stay in balance.

As stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA):

Mental health is key to our well-being. We can’t be truly healthy without it. It involves how we feel, think, act, and interact with the world around us. Mental health is about realizing our potential, coping with the normal stresses of life, and making a contribution to our community. It may be more helpful to think of good mental health as thriving. Good mental health isn’t about avoiding problems or trying to achieve a ‘perfect’ life. It’s about living well and feeling capable despite challenges.

How healthy is your mind. Take CMHA’s mental health meter. Please share what you see.

Based on my  story, (available on Amazon), If I had taken this test, I would have seen the alarm bells. Thankfully, I now have the mindset and the tools to focus on my mental health and the well-being of my spirit.

Can you play a part in transforming the world from a place of mental health crisis into a mental health oasis?

Are you mentally healthy?

Depression, anxiety, suicide, bi-polar disorders, substance abuse, and so on – did you know the world in a mental health crisis?

Some 20% of Canadians and Americans and 25% of British people reported mental health/illness concerns. The correct figure is probably far higher than that – I for one, would never have reported a mental health issue. I didn’t know I was seriously depressed; and even if I did, fear of the stigma of mental illness would have stopped me from admitting it.

What about you? Take a look at the following chart, do you see yourself on one side or the other. Why?

Mental Health-1

Smiling Depression

Who would ever have thought that Robin Williams, arguably one of the greatest comedians ever, could have been depressed enough to take his life? Like Robin, many of us are seen by others as a bundle of joy and positive energy; yet, in reality we are slowly being suffocated by our gloom. Worst of all, we have no idea we are suffering?

Imagine my shock when I realized I had written a book, not about stroke but about mental health and depression. It started to become clear when working people, who had read my book Rising Like a Phoenix: When Life Cuts You Off at the Knees, started saying to me  things like “I thought you were talking about me!” Now I realize the real message to share.

There is a danger in being so good at masking the pain we feel as we face difficult situations at work or any place else. To many I was the most positive and optimistic person, yet I was fighting a war inside me. I felt a desperate need to leave my job, to leave my boss, in order to survive.

When I was let-go, I still kept smiling to the world, while dying inside. That was the cause of my stroke.  Nobody saw the depression, not even me.

How many others are aching in the workforce; yet showing their  happy disposition? They may not know they can fall into depression. They may not even know their condition of poor mental health.

Have  you ever experienced this? The first step is just to acknowledge your pain. It could affect your achievements. As I have learned, it could even save your life.