I want to give you silver ribbons.
Want to wrap you in them, all silky smooth, and keep you safe.
Since there’s no doing that, please permit me, instead, to shine a light on the Silver Ribbon Coalition. Please let us put our heads together and be mindful of the need for support of people with brain disorders and disabilities.
Why? Brain Canada reports, “One in three Canadians will be affected by a disease, a disorder or injury of the brain, spinal cord or nervous system at some point in their lives.”
In our global village, “More than 450 million people suffer from mental disorders,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “Many more have mental problems.”
This is not you?
Don’t be afraid. My friend, wherever you live and whoever you are, this has everything to do with you and me. This is us.
Do you ever wonder how we share the same dreams, you and I? Of falling or flying or losing our teeth? Ever wonder how, when you describe your hurt, I can feel your pain from afar?
There is a life alphabet full of suffering:
Addiction; Alzheimer Disease; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); Anxiety; Autism; ADD; Bipolar Disorder; Brain Tumour and Injury; Cerebral Palsy; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Concussions; Depression; Eating Disorders; Epilepsy; Fibromyalgia; Learning Disabilities; Migraines; Multiple Sclerosis; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Panic Disorder; Parkinson’s Disease; Phobias; Postpartum Depression; Post-traumatic Stress Disorder; Schizophrenia; Seasonal Affective Disorder; Sleep Disorders; Stroke; Stuttering and Tourette Syndrome are just some of the more common conditions.
In total, there are over 1,000 diseases, disorders and injuries related to the brain, spinal cord and nervous system.
It’s hard to fathom how such a little thing can cause such havoc. Weighing in at less than three pounds, the human brain is often described as the most complex living structure. Spongy like tofu, it’s loaded with neurons – about 100 billion of them – that communicate by way of biochemical signals in a network of synaptic connections. Imagine snap, crackle, pop – 24/7.
Movement, taste, emotion, memory, behavior, the capacity to reason – everything we can and can’t, we are and were – starts in that singular headquarters, tucked behind skull and skin and hair. Our brains are the boss of us.
No two are alike. (I’ve got one that doesn’t do math.) But they’re all delicate, vulnerable to disease and disorder, dysfunction, chemical imbalance and the stresses of life.
Our brains are the marvel of our existence, the brunt of our ignorance. They age and will fail us.
Mine got pickled, more than a few times, courtesy of wineskin concoctions and magnums of Baby Duck. (The neurons are officially thankful that, on various occasions, bottles froze and exploded in my friends’ parents’ freezers.) I’m also sure I was one of the countless kids who sucked on lead from cheap jewellery. Stress? Aspartame? Ouch. Brain cells shrivel.
A multitude of factors — genes, life circumstances, environmental toxins, infections, head injury, trauma, poverty and more — impact what goes on and goes awry upstairs. We are not immune, you and I.
Still, I think often, now, of the power of the internet to connect and enlighten us. To heal. When people such as Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), Allie, Nicki and others share their personal stories, the response is overwhelming and empowering.
There is much we can do, collectively, to eliminate stigma, raise public awareness and support treatment and research.
Together, we can CHANGE MINDS.