Today’s post is a little bit different and is on a topic I’m actually very uncomfortable discussing. However, after seeing so much of this living downtown Vancouver, I think it’s absolutely important and it needs to be addressed.
Let’s talk about mental health. We all know there are a lot of crazies (no offense meant) out there and if you live in Vancouver and take public transit, you are bound to run in to some unpleasant people from time to time. I’ll admit, I feel put off and sometimes annoyed by these types of people. In fact I’ve actually been yelled at, randomly for no apparent reason on the bus just because someone felt like it. Naturally, I was not impressed. If you are a regular commuter, this stuff gets to be completely normal and you become desensitized to the fact that some people are just a little bit, well, different.
I feel like this is the point where we stop being present and we neglect to evaluate the reality of what is around us. While on the bus today, a man who was no different than you and I, and I mean so similar that I couldn’t even pick him out of the crowd as I actively LOOKED around, started barking on the bus. That’s right, barking and it wasn’t some loud and obnoxious bark. – it was just barking. I actually thought someone may have brought a puppy on board. He barked at consistent duration for the entire trip from Granville Street to Kitsilano and you could tell by its consistent sound that it wasn’t something he could control. This time, I was more curious than unaware and I started to look around while he was barking and you know what? People hated it. People shook their heads and were mad at him a glared at him and there were points where he went silent for just a little bit longer than the first break of barks and it made me wonder… maybe he is forcing himself to suppress the sound for our sake, or for worse, to avoid judgement.
Instantly I felt sad for him and then I felt ashamed at myself for being the same person who would sometimes shake my head when someone bugged me, or yelled at me because maybe, just maybe, they didn’t know it or couldn’t control it.
This led me to remember another time, also on public transit where a homeless man came on to the train with two bags of cans and was crying, whimpering and hiding from the sight of everyone. He was legitimately afraid to be on that train with everyone looking at him and he was bawling, trying to turn his face away from their stares. This killed me. This killed me because I felt like I wanted to help him but couldn’t. As much as I wish I could help him, and help everyone, I cant. Maybe, just maybe, writing about it will help others to think twice about our judgments and maybe at those moments when we change our attitude towards someone who makes us feel uncomfortable, we can change our way of thinking and consider how uncomfortable THEY might feel being around us. Maybe they are acting out because they had a bad day, or maybe there is a bigger issue at works behind closed doors. Who cares what the problem is, we should just consider it even if it’s only for a second.
I just want to note quickly that I’m no expert in this area, but this is how I feel and I think this is something worth sharing.