by Wally Doerksen
STEINBACH, Man.—On July 16 the group met at Dan and Helen Reimer’s for a pool party. There was the usual conversation and food and then one of the divers drew blood as a result of a dive. All turned out well, except for a bit of a headache for the diver. Just a small reminder of how potential accidents are around us and how easily one takes health and so many other things in life for granted.
A few weeks earlier Curt Reimer and his son Simeon spent four days hiking the Mantario trail with his brother-in-law and two nephews. They were out there in God’s country enjoying the woods and the lakes and so on, but his comment after the hike was, “I’ll never do that again.” (Seemingly there were flying insects and foot blisters present as well.) Apparently his older son, who was not on the hike, says he is interested in hiking the trail as well. Decision time, Curt.
In late April, at a brunch at Wally and Ruth Doerksen’s, Mark Reimer reported on his time in Puerto Lopez. He was with a work team that went to repair houses after the earthquake there last year. Mark retired from a lengthy teaching career at the end of January and is looking to spend a greater amount of his time in Puerto Lopez in the future. There will be another work team going out next February, which will include bricklayer Rob Wiebe from Kleefeld EMC and others.
Wally and Ruth Doerksen spent some time with a fellow cancer survivor and his family. He also has multiple myeloma and was going through the same procedures as Wally; and so we tried to be an encouragement to him and his family.
Ruth worked with them on some housing issues they had in May and in general we tried to be the neighbours that it is so important to be. The family has since moved to London, Ont., where they have family and the girls will go to university.
Also at the end of April, Dan Friesen spoke in the Mitchell Community Church as part of a group called Sharing Our Stories of Recovery sponsored by Manitoba Schizophrenia Society and Mood Disorders. Dan has lived with bipolar disorder since a teenager and knows well the efforts required to daily maintain mental balance.
Medication, counseling, mentors, and speaking on behalf of the society have led him to a useful and productive life. He is now in the process of a career change as he is attending the University of Winnipeg to obtain his Bachelor of Education with the goal of becoming a teacher.
The group was involved with a young couple where mental health issues led to a variety of crises. Mental health affects 20 to 25 percent of our society and should be taken as seriously as any other health issue. For too long it has not been spoken about except in hushed tones and that makes it difficult for those with mental health issues to talk about their situation to others, which, in turn, likely causes more potential issues.
I have lived with depression for over twenty years, and for me it is not something that “goes away.” Medication and counseling have also helped me, but daily and weekly I try to make decisions that will have a positive reaction for not only me, but the people around me.
Understanding family and friends are also helpful. There are so many varieties of mental illness that one should be careful not to lump people into a broad category. How we relate here as neighbours is as vital a part of what we do as Christians as anything else.