Erin's Journals

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Just a thought… Sometimes the only answer people are looking for when they ask for help is that they won’t have to face the problem alone. [Mark Amend]

By now you probably know that today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. This is its tenth year and I’d love to hope that it helps people like you – like me – to tell our stories to let others know they truly are not alone. And perhaps to add a little perspective.

First, Grief.

The death last Sunday of nine people on that ill-fated helicopter in Calabasas, California brought many people to tears. Others asked how it is that we can mourn someone we didn’t know, and I gave that some thought.

Having a perspective that allows me to know the kindness of many who have shared in our sorrow, I’m able to come up with some insight that I’d like to share now.

I believe it’s because we are able to search our hearts and find empathy for those who knew and loved them dearly, and who are left to try to put back together the pieces of their own shattered hearts. On a slightly different note, I think that when a celebrity dies, we grieve for the joy that knowing them just a little through their work gave us.

A movie star who dies at 88 and perhaps hadn’t made a film or given us any of themselves in their work in decades can still be mourned for the memories of the pleasure their work provided, or even for the moments in our lives that are so strongly entwined with that work.

I’ll use the example of the deep sadness that we felt when Robin Williams took his life. So much of his talent had brought us boisterous laughter and silent tears. We mourned for that loss and the knowledge that he’d never again give us those gifts.

When a singer, whose music made us hold each other closer, dance with more joy or feel that they’d written or interpreted a song that echoed our own sentiments, is gone, we grieve for the sweetness of the feelings their songs brought; what that music meant personally to us. It’s all right to feel sad about the death of people you didn’t know, for – through their work – they let us feel we did.


I’ve been amazed by the outpouring of honesty that has come my way in the wake of my talking about going into recovery last summer and dealing with the fact that I had no control over my drinking. One day there may be a book in me about it (no personal details about anyone else, of course) but I haven’t quite figured that out yet. I’m told that book sellers don’t want a follow-up to a memoir; people who see the book might say, “I’ve already read her story…” even though there’s so much more to tell.

All I know is that a whole LOT of people are suffering in silence, afraid to admit they have a problem with substance abuse or habits that are out of hand, and are looking for the strength to raise a hand and say, “Help me.”

I’m doing what I can, in just offering a hand when people reach out. I don’t offer advice, so much as support (although, yes, I can tell people what worked for me). Many say they’ll try and it’s not up to me to prod or push or convince them to take a path to wellness. All I know is that every single person has a different “basement” – some end up penniless or losing their families because they just couldn’t stop; others continue to work, have successful careers and outwardly “perfect” lives and then crumble when some of the support beams are either compromised or taken away.

It doesn’t make us weak; it makes us human. The only thing we can do to get better is to seek help. Yes, a few can quit doing what’s hurting them and those around them on their own successfully; after 10 years’ sobriety I thought I was one of those people. Then two of those supports – our daughter and my job – were suddenly gone from my life (the latter at my choice) and the roof caved in. There were no more duties and obligations, no more self-imposed rules or boundaries.

And so, after a time, I realized that I had to find a way to take charge by letting go, firing myself as CEO of my life and learning that a power higher than myself was going to have to be given the reins if I was going to survive. And here I am, one day at a time.

It all comes down to making that call. Simply doing the hardest thing, as much of an oxymoron as that is. And here’s another one: it takes great strength to admit you’re in trouble, to be vulnerable. This is the one day of the year in Canada where people actually come forth and talk about their weaknesses. I do it far more often, of course, but only as a way of letting others know that nothing, no one, no life is as it appears. And things can always be better.

I am sharing a list of ways that this day can become even the tiniest catalyst for change in your life. Don’t ever stop trying, no matter how many times you falter or fail. You are worth it – your life is worth living. It may not feel like it every day, but it’s the truth. Help is there for you and it’s not easy to ask. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. But please try. I’ll be back with you here tomorrow.

Rob WhiteheadWednesday, January 29, 2020