Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Getting Through the Tough Times - Together

It has become the rather large elephant in the room now. While I have seen a lot of discussion regarding the price of oil, the downturn in the economy, the drop in house prices and the layoffs we have already seen and those we fear, I have seen far less discussion on the impact this is having on our collective mental health.

There is no denying that economic and financial stress creates an atmosphere of anxiety. It is almost palpable on occasion, and I think we tend to tiptoe around it as we are quite busy putting on our “warrior faces” and being brave in the face of adversity.
And we have every reason to be brave and proud, too, as we have continued to show the generosity of our community and our desire to help others, as evidenced by the amazing fundraising that has taken place here in the last few months. But to ignore the elephant in the room is to invite trouble, because there is no doubt there is fear in our community over the current state of things.

There are those who will likely think even acknowledging it is a mistake, as it could seem pessimistic when we need to remain optimistic. The truth is that I am very optimistic about our long-term future, but I also acknowledge we have gone through, and likely will go through more, rough patches on the way to that future. And we need to both recognize them and offer our assistance to those who are going through rougher patches than we are.
I am seeing a lot if it on social media. Moms worried about grocery bills and squeezing every dollar. Dads selling the recreation vehicles they acquired when times were good. And there is a sense of anxiety that underlies it all, a fear of the unknown or a dread of what we expect. It is contagious, too, as the uncertainty affects us all.

So, what can we do in times such as this?
It’s quite simple: be there for each other. This is the time to reach out to people even if you never have before. Check in with your family and friends to see how they are doing, of course – but go a bit further and reach out to your colleagues and your neighbours, too. It’s okay to not have a solution to their worries – they won’t have one for yours, either. But sometimes just having someone listen to our fears has the remarkable ability to lessen them, shrinking that elephant down to a manageable size. If they are truly struggling and their mental health is being affected perhaps suggest some of the many resources available to help. And maybe throw in a simple act of kindness; wheel their garbage bins back in place after the trucks have been by for instance, or shovel their sidewalk in addition to yours.

Right now, when people are fighting battles about which we may know nothing, the smallest acts of kindness may have deep and profound impacts we cannot even imagine.
Words of encouragement are never out of place. Try to be hopeful even in the face of darkness. Be the one who offers the kind word, be positive and just be there for the others in our community who are struggling. And if you are the one struggling? I am reaching out to you, and ask you to reach out to me, or someone else, and simply share what’s going on with you. Share that elephant with someone else and watch how it gets smaller. I promise it will.

I have always believed and still maintain that we live in one of the most remarkable communities in this country. Community strength is not judged by how we treat each other when times are good, though. It is determined by how we support each other when times are difficult. This is a time when we can truly show that strength, by being there for each other in ways both large and small. We can still be positive and optimistic and acknowledge the challenges we face – and help each other through them.
We live in a remarkable place. Now let’s be remarkable for each other. And let’s get through this. Together.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I am certain your words will be a comfort to those who may be wondering what to do next. :)