Categories
Essays

My Talk on Mental Wellness at WordCamp Cape Town 2016

At WordCamp Cape Town this year, I gave talk on Mental Wellness, the WordPress Community, and You. An unusual talk for a tech conference, but one which needed to be spoken about – and I had no idea how it would go down.



Watch on WordPress.tv

Summary:

The main point of this talk was to raise awareness at the intensity, the struggle, and the seriousness of various Mental Wellness issues within our current space.

To raise the awareness of Employers who have Employees with issues, for Employees to understand their colleagues and employers better, for people to change the way they think about mental health in general.

To remove the stigma that mental wellness issues have, especially in the working environment, and even more so in our daily lives for those who live with it.

During my talk, I told my story. Maybe one day I will talk about it more here, but here are the main points I touched on:

  • We have too many people living in our midst who need help, but do not get it, and who are too afraid by the stigma to seek it and talk out.
  • I was one of them, I said the three hardest words during my talk: I have depression.
  • As a society, when someone breaks their arm, we run to sign their casts, but when someone has a mental issue we run the other way. We are okay with any body part breaking down, except our brains, our minds. This needs to change.
  • When you have a broken leg, you cannot leave it outside the office doors when you walk in in the morning – why do we expect this too of people who have mental health issues?
  • People should be as okay with speaking to someone on a regular basis, like a therapist, life coach, psychologist or psychiatrist. We should have subscriptions to these just as we have gyms subscriptions for our physical wellness.
  • Employers need to be more open and understanding, currently we are very far away from this.
  • Employees need to be more open with helping themselves, and seeking the help they need, or being supportive of their peers who need it.
  • We all need to be more open and understanding of the current state of Mental Wellness in the world.
  • When we ask people “How are you?” we need to starting caring about their truthful reply. When we are asked “How are you?” we need to start being more open and brave to give an honest reply. On the day of WordCamp, before my talk, I was asked sixteen times how I was, I lied sixteen times.
  • Started the WordPress Hashtag called #WPHugs, a way of sharing, appreciating and caring within the community.
  • I need you, you need us, we need each other. People need people.
  • When someone has an issue, in my case depression, people believe that its simply because of the things going on in their lives that are not going well. This is often furthest from the truth. In my case, life was at its best and I was depressed, absent, and in that time I started losing hold of life: Been through break-ups, losing friends, losing a home, feeling more hopeless, work performance dropped, and not being able to have any say or control of any of it. Those around me thought I was depressed, because these things happened. No, because I was depressed these things happened.
  • Depression is something that we know to be so common, yet know and speak the least about, as with all mental wellness issues. Its time this ended, I began the end of silence by telling the world my story, maybe you would be brave enough to tell yours? Or open enough to listen to anothers?
  • As an open source community that relies on the work of the people behind the scenes that make this possible, we need to also spread the idea of 5 for the future for ourselves, you cannot pour from an empty cup so before giving back, start giving within.
  • Stop the Silence, Remove the Stigma, Care.

After my talk, so many people opened their hearts out to me and for that I am extremely grateful. I was more than surprised at how well this was received and about how many people had been suffering in silence and are now brave enough to speak out.

Cory Miller, a very brave man told his story which inspired me to tell mine, will you tell yours? You can leave a comment or send me a link (Totally open to coffee too.)

Categories
Poems

Dear Mothers

Dear Mothers,
Please forgive us children who do not understand
That You offer only a helping hand.
A hand that has the strength to hold up the sky
and we reject you and we make you cry…
Please forgive us…

I have seen the love of mothers, of all mothers
with a love unmatched, unfathomable, unconditional.
A mothers love is love in its truest and purest form
given to all her beloved children.
You show love how love should be.

How cursed am I that God fashioned me into a man
for i shall never know the joys of being a mother.

The joys of carrying within me the life of another.
The joys of holding in my arms the life that has come
from within me.

The joys of having two souls occupy my body.
But I shall never know these joys as anything other than a witness,
a witness to the most beautiful thing in existence.
The Love shared between mother and child.

Kahlil Gibran said that Your children are not your own.

Yes, your children are indeed not your own,
They are the children of this world.
And Dear Mothers,
Although you may not have given birth to me,
You are my mother too –
all mothers to all children.

Dear Mothers,
We grow up believing you are invincible,
infallible and immortal – nothing can hurt our mother
because she is strong, the strongest being we know.
And yet, we forget that you are human too
and time will oneday take you from us
too soon… it will always be too soon.

And while you live in this mortal world
you nurture us, you feed us, you love us
and the moment we can do these things without you
Dear Mother, we forget you and all you have done for us.
We strive for “freedom and Independence”
We want to “make our own decisions”
We curse you and cast you away…

and yet, you never stop loving us.
Your love defines the word “Unconditional”
for in your every heartbeat we hear the rhythm
say, “No matter what you do, I will always love you!”
..da-dum…da-dum…da-dum…………………………

We have never stopped to think of the pain of our Mothers,
Who have children grow up to be ungrateful and uncaring,
and when their child hurts another, the mother sits crying
as if it was her fault the child was the cause of another’s dying.
We know that no Mother brings up their child to be murderers,
just as no mother brings up their child to be murdered…

We think we feel pain.
When we bruise our knees and hurt our elbows, mama kissed it better.
When we ‘grow-up’ we’re ‘too old’ for our mothers love because
no one could ever know our pain and our pain is great,
We curse you for always trying to help for it is the nature
of love to want to ease the pain of the object of love –
who loves more truly than a mother loving her child?
Yet we charge you for interfering.
“Leave me alone!”
“Stay out of my life!”
Never will we ever say such words we would do anything to be able to swallow.

But nothing compares to a mothers love
and nothing compares to a mothers pain.
To be unappreciated by ones own children,
or worse rejected and cursed…

What hurts more than a C-Section Birthing Dead Babies?

Thank God for not fashioning me into a woman
for I shall never know such pain as that of a mother.

My Dear Mothers,
I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.
Please forgive me,
I love you,
Thank you.

Categories
Curated

On loving and being loved

We talk of love as if it were just one thing:

in fact, it’s two very different moves, Loving and Being Loved.

You start to grow up when you stop focusing on the latter and get involved with the former.


Original: On loving and being loved

Categories
Essays

Surviving Suicide: Replying to my own suicide note.

A few years ago, I tried to kill myself (Don’t worry, that is far behind me now).

Categories
Essays

2015 Year in Review

This has been quite the year: I moved cities, spoke at some major events, started out in a fairly new industry, survived, had many ‘firsts’ and successes, as well as a lot of failures too.

Categories
Business

Presentation at Cape Town PHP Meetup Group on Efficiency in a Development Environment

Last night, 17th November 2015, I had the honor of speaking alongside Sarah Nicholson at the Cape Town PHP Meetup Group on the topic of ‘Efficiency in a Development Environment‘.

The evening was wonderfully organised by Shaun Morrow, who sets up these events in the PHP community in Cape Town as a wonderful way of giving back.