Mighty Minds: The Power of Space

This past weekend, I went to camp with 5- to 11-year-old Girl Guides. Our program revolved around mental health, focusing on what it is, how to be resilient, and how to end stigma using Girl Guides of Canada’s Mighty Minds Challenge.

It was a good way to end the month for me as I struggled to stay on top of things in my own life.

When February began, my doctor and I agreed to have one of my medications switched with a different one. Even with the tapering off, the discontinuation syndrome manifested as I eased off Pristiq. It was tough: Not only did I have to deal with the physical symptoms, but I also became over-reactive, sad, and overall unbalanced emotionally. I couldn’t focus. I felt my world ending as I slowly succumbed to the syndrome.

Three weeks felt like forever. I struggled with attending my commitments. On one hand, I only had one course to worry about and I had finished my project weeks early. So I powered through my classes and through the three days of placement I had at the childcare centre every week. On the other hand, I did not show up to any of the social events, personal development sessions, and peer support group to which I RSVP’d for the month. I felt awful.

It didn’t help that I had a throat infection, too.

However, as I started up Zoloft and finally ended taking Pristiq, the syndrome slowly went away and I felt better again. Best of all, this happened just before camp, the one I’ve been wanting to attend since we decided that mental health will be our theme for the weekend.

I was in charge of the programming for the 5- and 6-year-olds in attendance.

I could not be more excited as I picked out the suggested activities to introduce mental health, resiliency, and stigma to the girls. I could not believe how simple and fun the activities are and still have a lot to talk about.

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For instance, we made sock puppets to illustrate the power of self-talk.
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We did marble painting to show how we’re all different but we have the same needs (love, kindness, respect).
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We created power dice to help remind us of our good qualities when we feel sad, mad, lonely, or scared.
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Then we joined the rest of the girls and had a blast exploring the effects of stigma through bubble painting that stained our canvasses.

We closed the night with some Practice the Positive activities like colouring mandalas, creating our own stress balls, and practising several yoga poses.

The whole weekend was bookended with an activity called Building Blocks of Health, where the girls came up with ideas and concepts on health and staying healthy.

And as much as the camp was about the girls learning about mental health, I was fortunate to be a part of an amazing experience where I had an opportunity to explore my own mental health.

I faced a new situation, new challenges, and new circumstances. I essentially lived away from the familiar for two nights. And the literal, physical space between me and my usual environment has allowed me to take a moment for myself. No worries about school, placement, and concerns about friends. I felt freer to disconnect from the world for a while and focus on the present more than I could ever do in my daily life.

It was a busy weekend, but it was refreshing.

And I may not have done a lot of meditation, but I had the opportunity to be more mindful, to pay attention, and to be more purposeful.

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