Another Letter to No Frills About Another Offensive Ad

Dear No Frills,

Last week I wrote to you expressing my disappointment with one of your print advertisements that contained a derogatory term.

A Letter to No Frills About Offensive Ad

I’m disappointed that I did not receive a response.

This week, I wanted to let you know about another offensive print ad that I saw in the window of my local No Frills supermarket. The ad must be part of your “Perpetuating the Stigma Around Mental Illness” campaign.

Our Social Life Is Nuts
Advertisement in window of local supermarket

Now, I like eating nuts. Except pistachios, of course. One night when I was younger, I ate a lot of pistachios which led to an unfortunate bout of diarrhea. I haven’t eaten pistachios since. Anyway, other than pistachios, I like eating nuts. I do not, however, like seeing the word nuts being used in an offensive way.

I hope you consider pulling this advertisement. When it comes to the stigma around mental health problems, let’s try to reduce it, not preserve it.

A Letter to No Frills About Offensive Ad

Dear No Frills,

I’m happy that you sell bananas. I like bananas.

I once read that if you dress up as a banana and eat a banana, you are a cannibananabal. It’s true. I read it one day on my joke-of-the-day calendar.

Kidding aside, I’m writing to express my disappointment with some of your advertising. I saw this print ad outside of my local No Frills supermarket:

no frills bananas
Advertisement outside local supermarket.

I like the simplicity of your design. Unfortunately, however, your advertisement contributes to the stigma surrounding mental illness. The implied meaning of the word bananas in your pun is a derogatory term and hurtful to many individuals who experience mental illness.

I hope you consider pulling the offensive advertisement.

cra-zy

cra-zy
adjective
mentally deranged

At two distinct times in my life, I was non compos mentis, which in Latin means not having control of one’s mind.

Rest assured, I am totally compos mentis right now.

Yet every day I’m reminded of the agony of losing my mind. First off, people use the word crazy incorrectly. Each time, it reminds me of times of personal despair and anguish. Second, words like nuts, crackers, bananas, and loony are commonly used words that stigmatize people with mental illness. For me, they’re more reminders of the dark nights of my soul.

Work is crazy. The weather is crazy. That guy drives me nuts. That woman is bananas. C’mon, people! The English language is rich with alternate adjectives.

We need to stop using words that are harmful and make a conscious effort to refrain from using certain language.

Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and author, shares my beliefs. In her book The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius she offers a suggestion to society:

“Stop shaming those who are in the struggle, and banish words such as crazy and nuts from our speech.”

Hurtful words have become common in today’s vernacular. I wish I could change the world, but I can’t. I can, however, make thoughtful word choices in my own speech, and hey, maybe I can influence one or two blog readers to change their way of thinking.

On Depression

Last week I posted a poem I wrote on anxiety. I used it recently,  in conjunction with the following poem I wrote on depression, to initiate a discussion on mental health.

On Depression

Depression is a shadow, following me in remission.
He appears through the bathroom door, like a deranged Jack Nicholson, as I take my daily medication.
He pokes fun at me on my way to the therapist’s.
He reminds me of his power, nudging me toward the infinite abyss.

Depression is a light, guiding me in remission.
He appears on a street corner, like a transformed Jack Nicholson, as I kiss the woman I love.
He laughs with me on my way to work.
He reminds me of his power, nudging me toward the endless beauty.

On Anxiety

I am afraid of rolling balls and prowling tigers.
They are all around me.
I cannot breathe.

Every day, a child’s ball rolls in front of my car as I drive.
Every night, a saber-toothed tiger prowls as I sleep.

I am afraid of rolling balls and prowling tigers.
They are all around me.
I cannot breathe.

Do I deflate the balls and attack the tigers?
Or do I accept them and let them be?
I want to breathe again.

Reader’s Digest and my Worrying Mind

My wife makes fun of me as I pick up the latest issue of Reader’s Digest.

“You’re so old.”

“But I like Reader’s Digest.”

“Yeah, that makes you old.”

I think about this claim as I adjust my glasses.

“And those silver rimmed glasses make you look old.”

I worry about looking old. I worry about getting old. I worry about my life. I worry about my wife. Is she going through menopause? I worry about getting cancer. I worry about fake news. I worry about the amount of trash piling up in our country. I worry about earwax. What’s earwax for anyway? I wonder why I worry and how to stop.

Making the Beast Beautiful

The title of the book catches my attention: First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

Someone might look at the inside cover photo of the author, Sarah Wilson, and say, “It’s hard to believe someone who looks like this has so many issues.”

With an autoimmune disease and mental health challenges, Wilson has some issues.

But instead of seeing her issues as negative and detrimental, Wilson has come to discover that her so-called afflictions are helpful during her spiritual journey.

And maybe that’s why her photo radiates beauty.

She makes the beast beautiful and helps others see its beauty.

In the Pit

My friend tells me a story that goes something like this.

There’s a guy trapped in a dark, deep pit covered in the stuff that gets flung at Tim Hortons.

He calls for help.

A guy passes the pit but doesn’t hear him. Another person hears but ignores. Another person tries to help but is unsuccessful.

Finally, another guy jumps in the pit.

“You idiot! What are you doing? Now there’s two of us down here.”

“You’re right,” the guy answers. “But I’ve been here before. And I know the way out.”

I recently returned to the pit.
I didn’t want to go.

I knew it would be hard.
I knew it would be uncomfortable.
I knew it would be painful.

I recently returned to the pit.
I didn’t want to go.
But I did.

I had to.

And I will go back again.
Even though I don’t want to.
Because there are people down there.

I tell them
I’ve been here before.
And I know the way out.

Three Strategies for Coping with Anxiety

Before I met my soulmate, I must have scared off many potential partners with the number of self-help books on my bookshelf.

As I’m helping students deal with test anxiety as the semester winds down, I decided to grab a book off my shelf for some guidance.

Book by Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano.
Cover of the book Coping with Anxiety. Photo by M. Fleming

In Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear, & Worry, the authors surprisingly write about coping with anxiety and unexpectedly offer ten simple ways to relieve anxiety, fear, and worry.

I’d like to highlight three simple strategies outlined in the book.

First, I should note that I’m not trying to simplify the complex nature of anxiety, and I’m certainly not trying to minimize or discount the suffering of those who experience extreme anxiety or have anxiety-related disorders.

Here are the three strategies:

Meditate and relax. I recently purchased some guided meditations and relaxation music from iTunes, and I was amazed at how beneficial it was to my well-being.

Challenge your thinking. Recognize your anxiety-producing thoughts and challenge them. For example, the authors of Coping with Anxiety provide a strategy for challenging catastrophic thinking: identify it, question it, and replace it with a more realistic thought.

Simplify your life. Experts say that a great strategy to decrease stress is to simplify your life. I agree. Less clutter, less stress. I would add fish. More fish, less stress. I miss my pet fish.