Update!

Hey everyone,

It’s been just over a month since I’ve last posted, so I thought I’d give you all an update on things I have been busy with. Aside from all the events, speaks, work, school, etc – I have also been having some issues with season change sickness. Here are just some of the few things I have been taking part this past month.

  1. United Way Winnipeg: Speaker’s Bureau- This year I decided that I wanted to volunteer my voice to the UWW Speaker’s Bureau. United Way has played such a crucial role in my life without me even knowing it. Shortly after We Day Manitoba last year I learned that some of the important after-school programs I was involved with are funded by United Way. So the thought of giving back to the organization that gave to me was definitely something I wanted to do. Through the Speaker’s Bureau, I was able to meet some of the biggest contributors to UWW, but also I was able to meet some amazing community leaders of Winnipeg. Such as Mayor Brian Bowman, Premiere Brian Pallister, City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan, etc.
  2. United Way Winnipeg: Council for Indigenous Relations- Another thing I have been busy with was the Council for Indigenous Relations. As the only youth on this committee, it is great to represent youth. It’s a wonderful way to get to meet new people, also a great way to contribute to making the world a better place. Connecting the Indigenous community with the non-indigenous community is interesting because it’s something I haven’t done before. So it’s a great new experience.
  3. NorWest Co-op Community Health: Youth Ambassadors for Mental Health- I have been part of this youth advisory committee for about 7 months and it has been the best 7 months so far. We have been helping plan an integrated youth space in the community of Inkster/ Seven Oaks area. Recently we announced that RBC has given us a generous donation of 100k – which we are truly honored and extremely thankful. We definitely know that youth are going to be helped with this new space. For more info on this committee, follow us on Twitter @NorWestYouthHub
  4. Unifor: Human Rights Conference- In September, I had the honor of being asked to sit on a Human Rights Panel in Port Elgin, ON. This conference was to get more people talking about Human Rights. There were over 150 Human Rights Activists present for this conference which was something that I will NEVER forget. The passion that was in one room was very amazing. I spoke about Aboriginal issues in Canada. One thing I left the delegates with was a challenge – to stop and think about something that they did to raise awareness on these issues. One highlight I have from this trip was meeting Susan Agulkark, she is one of my role-models because she proves that regardless of the stereotypes if you have a dream – just go for it!
  5. Peace of Mind 204: YAMIS- Youth Against Mental Illness Stigma is something that I 100% support. I believe that when we all add our voices together, we are heard and when we are heard, we are changing the world. When we speak up about our own experiences we can help other people raise their voices too – when more people talk about their experiences, we are ending the stigma for sure. One thing I am proud about this generation is how strong we actually are. Youth aren’t only the future, but the present too! I was able to speak with students in attendance about finding your spark, lighting it and keeping it going. Also to stay strong and never be ashamed of who you are, because you’re the writer of your story, so never stop writing – you never know if your story is inspiring others to keep writing theirs.
  6. Becoming a Future Politician- One day I went to the Legislative Building to get a tour, to meet some people, but to also sit through my first Manitoba Legislative Assembly meeting while at the same time honoring the life of one my role-models, Larry Morrissette. Larry was one of the four elders that founded the Bear Clan, a group that protects and patrols the North End helping protect our women and children. One of my biggest goals in life is to become a politician, ever since I was younger I wanted to be a Journalist and a Politician – so maybe one day I will be one.

These are just a couple of the things I have been busy with this past month. I didn’t include everything or the next few things I will be participating in. If you want to follow me with everything I am doing you can follow me on Twitter: @Shania_Pruden or follow my blog. I will definitely start writing more once I get more time to myself. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed! 🙂

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Stay positive, work hard and make it happen

Have you ever been so mad at someone that you felt like forgiving them was impossible? Here are three words that I try to live by when I cross paths with negativity.

Positivity is Key

It is definitely hard to be optimistic when negative things are thrown your way. But when you stop and think about it – you can finally get to see how much you can grow when you  turn negativity into positivity. People ask me all the time. “Shania, why aren’t you getting mad?” But then I ask them “Why not? Why would you rather spend most of the time angry instead of being happy?”

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This year has been my second year of Positivity. My main goal was to live life more positive and help inspire others to have a positive outlook on life. My motto for my these past two years has been Stay positive, work hard and make it happen Since I started this challenge I’ve definitely seen more growth and me and life has been way more enjoyable.

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision” -Dalai Lama

I would like to invite you to take on the Year of Positivity challenge. Just because it’s September, don’t let that stop you! Always remember that change starts with you. Just Stay Positive, Work Hard and Make it Happen. 🙂

Finding support

The number one thing that I’ve learned this past year is that support is good. Without the support that I have, I wouldn’t have been able to experience all that I’ve been able to. The definition of Supporters-  a person who approves of and encourages someone or something. So what I am going to do is support you. Here are some numbers that I can provide for you when you may feel down. I hope I can help you that way.

IMPORTANT NUMBERS

I want to let you know that I will always be there for you if you ever need someone to talk to. Just let me tell you that I am not a professional, I don’t have a degree, I can’t take away all your problems (Although I wish I could) Yes, I only just graduated highschool – but I promise if you ever need support with anything, I will be there and help you find some further support if you need. Take care and please seek support if you are feeling down or having thoughts of hurting yourself.

Turning Illness into Wellness

I cringe every time someone says “a Mental Illness isn’t a real illness” I do indeed believe that it is a real illness because I myself have struggled with one. One thing that happens is not being able to cope with the effects of dealing with a Mental Illness. People around you keep telling you that it’ll get better, but your mind keeps telling you that you aren’t good enough and that you will never get better. What also happens is that sometimes you forget to take care of yourself. That’s when we challenge ourselves to change the illness into wellness. What I find helps me is I do is follow a three-step challenge to keep well

  1. Realize that you want to become well. One thing that is important is knowing that you WANT to change by making yourself feel better. I know sometimes it isn’t easy finding that motivation when dealing with a mental illness. But if you push yourself to find it, you will eventually feel it.
  2. Make yourself a Wellness Plan. Now time to do the thinking part. It also isn’t easy thinking of things you enjoy when you may be feeling upset. So what helps is reading/listening to others peoples wellness plans. It gives you ideas and help you come up with your plan and it also helps you by seeing how their plan helped them, so it might make you feel better when making your plan.
  3. Follow your plan. Pushing yourself to do something that you may not be motivated to do is the first step to take on making yourself feel better. I really enjoy writing and drawing, but for awhile I stopped writing and drawing because I lost motivation and interest in them. But I kept telling myself “No, Shania! You love blogging and drawing. Don’t stop now.” and eventually, after telling myself that every day, I had the smallest motivation to write again and then I realized that writing helps distract me from all the stressful things in life. For you, maybe you love sports or singing you can add those to your wellness plan because you want to make yourself feel better. Leaving out your favorite hobbies won’t always help because maybe you really enjoyed them before you started feeling down.

One thing that I did for my last week for high school was helped my peers at school come up with a Wellness Plan for over the summer months when school services aren’t necessarily available:

  • No Guidance Counselors/ Teachers  to talk to
  • Not being able to see classmates/ friends every day
  • No school activities/ school sports to distract you

I gathered a group of my friends and we went into classrooms and handed everyone a Mental Health Wellness Checklist with ideas on how to stay Mentally Well over the summer months. I decided to do this because 1 in 5 Canadians are affected by Mental Health and if you put it into my school’s perspective there are 1900 students in my school, that would be 380 out of 1900 students would be affected by Mental Health. It’s crazy how many people are afraid to seek treatment, so I thought this wellness plan would help students stay well and possibly seek treatment if needed because I also included resources (websites, phone numbers and teen clinics) on the back of the wellness plan. I believe that everyone should be able to reach out to help when needed. I’m glad I was able to finish my high school chapter off on a strong note. Also, remember when we remove “I” from Illness and add “We” it turns into Wellness. Here are a few pictures of my projects I did this year to raise awareness on Mental Health this and how it is a real illness and my fight to end the stigma surrounding Mental Health. Thanks!

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Mental Health Month

May is my favourite month of the year! I love may because it’s Mental Health month and I am able to spread awareness on something I care deeply on. One thing I love doing the most is being able to do small acts of kindness to random people. (Just as a gift)

  • Health Minds Week, so my school participated in Healthy Minds Week and through this out goal was to make a “Stress-Free” week to everyone (students and educators) to enjoy. One thing that stuck out the most was a bulletin board that was set up. On this board there is a question “What does Mental Illness mean to you?” in the middle. Next, students were able to post sticky-notes onto the board with their answer. Another one that stuck out was having a group of enthusiastic students complimented their peers to school before classes started by giving them stickers and free hugs. There was also a lunch break where dogs were invited to come provide a stress-free time for students.

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  • Runway 204, is a fashion show to raise money for a Mental Health unit in Winnipeg. The cool thing about this is that everyone was welcome and there were also Winnipegger’s modeling the show. (How cool!) I was honored to have been asked to share a few words about Mental Health. One of my favorite things about the show was the outcome people had after I ended my speech. Seeing the reactions from people is the reason why I do what I do. I love inspiring others to take the first step into being change-makers.

I can’t wait until the others activities I am participating in for the month of May. I love spreading awareness on Mental Health and ending the stigma surrounding it by speaking up. You can also get involved in things such as these by starting your own campaign and taking that first step. Don’t worry if you think your impact isn’t big enough, there is no such thing as too little and too big when it comes to helping others. Remember that little things do add up into a bigger impact. Enjoy May! 🙂

Just think about it

So you want to kill yourself?

It’s 10:53 pm on a Sunday night. You’ve already said goodnight to your parents and siblings. Your door is locked and they think you’re sound asleep. You sit at your desk twirling a pen in your hand. You stare at the blank piece of paper as the tears refill your eyes for the fifth time tonight. You don’t want to do it without writing a goodbye letter. You want to make sure your family knows why you did it. The tears fall onto the paper and you can’t help the frustration as the droplets begin to ruin the paper. You crumble it up and break down even harder. You realize you can’t write the letter, so you look in the mirror once more & watch as your final tear falls. Only a couple moments later your heart stops and the blood escapes your body to create a puddle on the floor. But nobody is going to care, right?

It’s now 6:47 am Monday morning. Your mother waits downstairs in the kitchen to give you your lunch money. She’s already late for work but she doesn’t want you to stress about making lunch for yourself. She doesn’t know what’s taking you so long. She yells your name a couple times, but there’s no response. She has no idea your cold dead body is lying in your bedroom. She thinks you slept in, so she runs up the stairs and knocks on your door. But still, there is no answer. She opens the door and screams, horrified. She runs to you and holds your body. The tears seem like a waterfall, everlasting. She sits there with you cradled in her arms for a good hour, until she has the strength to get up and call your father. Your father rushes home, and they cry together. They pick up your siblings from school and try to explain to them what has happened. Your older brother runs out of your room and into his. He slams the door. He thinks it’s all his fault. He’s always picked on you, calling you names and starting arguments just to push your buttons. He punches his walls and allows the tears to pour out of him. Your little sister doesn’t understand. She asks if it’s because she always tries to steal your stuff or because she never leaves you alone when you have your friends over. It’s hard to explain something like this to a six-year-old. But she probably wouldn’t care anyways, right?

It’s now Wednesday and your mom finally goes to your school. She hasn’t left the house since you took your life, but she knew she had to go. She enters your classroom to only see the teacher sitting at her desk grading papers. It’s 12:19pm so your classmates are sitting in lunch. Your teacher greets her and asks where you’ve been. Your mother bursts into tears and your teacher automatically is astonished. She has no idea what’s wrong, but she tries to comfort your mother. Your mom begins to explain what had happened, and your teacher cries too. She begins to have flashbacks of all the times she yelled at you for not paying attention and not doing your homework. She thinks it’s her fault for being too hard on you. Your classmates return and are confused. A couple students recognize your mom and want to say hi, but they sense something is wrong. Your teacher calls the vice principal and principal in and your mom explains. Everyone in the classroom is now crying, Even the annoying boy that sat behind you and threw gum in your hair is crying, thinking it’s his fault. Even the popular girl that wouldn’t give you the time of day is crying, thinking it’s her fault. Even the nerd that wouldn’t let you copy his homework is crying, thinking it’s his fault. They’re probably all faking because nobody actually cares, right?

A week has gone by and it’s time for your funeral. Nobody has ever seen one this large. Almost every kid in your school and their families are there. Actually, almost anyone you’ve come into contact with has come. It’s like a pool of black as one looks over the people sitting in the chairs as your dead corpse lies in the casket. Everyone goes up to speak. And after every speech, everyone begins to cry even harder. Even the emotionless jock is in hysterics. The funeral lasts many hours; nobody wants to get up, to move on, to accept what has happened is real life. All of them are just too lazy to get up because they obviously don’t actually care, right?

It’s now been a month since your death. None of your family members have been in your room. The door remains shut. Your mom goes up to your dad and whispers, “it’s time”. Your dad looks at her with his lifeless eyes, nods, and slowly rises from the kitchen table. They enter your room slowly. Just stepping inside of it gives your mother the chills. Your father holds your mom as she begins to tear. He’s trying to be strong, but he can’t, soon the tears swell up in his eyes as well. They begin to pick up your clothes, dust your shelves, and make your bed. The stain on your carpet from your blood has been covered with a rug. Neither of them goes near it. They clean in silence for the next hour. They don’t care that you’re gone; they just didn’t want a messy room, right?

Another week goes by. Your brother passes your room and hears crying coming from inside. He opens the door to see your little sister sitting on your bed clutching your favorite pillow. He runs to her and they cry together. Soon your mother and father have joined them. Your father jokes, “this bed is not big enough for four of us” and everyone laughs. You know, that’s the first time your family has laughed since you died. The first time a smile has even crept on their faces. They hug each other and your mother says, “we’ll get through this, someday…” You thought nobody would care? Well, you were wrong.

Nobody wanted you to take your life. Nobody wanted to wake up and find your body. Nobody wanted this, wished for this, could have imagined this. Some people knew you’ve been down lately, but they never thought this would happen. They never thought this could happen. They never thought they would go through this pain. They never wanted to have to face the agony, the guilt, the frustration, the depression, & the heartache they have been forced to encounter.

Now, before you kill yourself just think about it. You matter so much to so many people. There are so many people that will miss you. Your smile, your laugh, the way your eyes light up when you’re happy. Do you want to take that away from everyone? From yourself? Never get to smile again, or see the person that makes your heart skip a beat, never get to live? Don’t do that to yourself. You have so much to live for. If you haven’t already, do you really want to miss the opportunity to meet your true friends? Have your first kiss? Fall head over heels in love? Get your heart broken time and time again? Go to college? Get an A+ on that final you studied for days on end for? Get married? Have your own children? What would you do if you walked into your 14-year-old daughter’s room and saw her lying there with no heartbeat, surrounded by a pool of blood. It wouldn’t be a big deal right? You’d shrug and clean up the blood with a smile on your face as you hum your favorite song that’s been in your head for the past couple days. No. you’d cry and clutch her lifeless body in your arms and cry. Cry, and cry and cry. You’d think it was your fault and a million thoughts would go through your mind. Why would she do this? Is it my fault? Why didn’t she tell me she was depressed? Why didn’t I stop her? How couldn’t I have known? But she was thinking the same thing you were as a child. You know, that nobody would care?

So before you slit your wrist, or swallow all those pills, or hang that rope about your neck and jump from the chair, think twice. Take a deep breath. You’re worth more than this. Nobody should have to think that taking their life is the best thing to do. Anything you’re going through is temporary; the feeling won’t last forever. You’ll get through this. No matter how long it takes you need to know, you will get through this, and you don’t have to face it alone. There are so many people you can talk to. Family, friends, neighbors, teachers, counselors, hotlines, me, etc. I’m only a nineteen-year-old student, I don’t know everything, and I don’t even really give good advice. But I will be here for you, no matter what. I will try my absolute hardest to help you. So please; do not ever, EVER, write that letter, or even think about suicide. Life is full of ups and downs for a reason. It makes us stronger, shows us what we can get through. It builds and shapes up into the next generation of parents, grandparents even. You might not see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but I promise it’s there. You just have to keep walking towards it. You’ll be okay, I promise you. -Shania 🙂