Category Archives: Wellness

Where to get a down coat?

After examining the ratty-tatty winter coat I bought out of desperation in first year, I’ve concluded that it no longer protects me from the cold, and would like to replace it with a down coat (or something equally warm). The only problem is, I’ve never bought down anything and I need advice on brands, stores or general tips on selecting a good coat. Help?

The joy of being invalidated

People who know me well know that I love to make wishes — on stars, eyelashes, at 11:11 — anything will do. It’s not so much the expectation that something will happen so much as the act of wishing itself that makes me happy. As someone once said to me, it feels good to be honest about what you want.

Erica recently blogged about some care mail she recently received from her mother. Reading it put such a smile on my face, but I’ll be truthful and admit that I also felt twinges of envy and missing-people-sickness. My parents aren’t the type to send me mail.

Just before I could indulge in wallowing for long, though, look what I found!

London postcard of yellow car

Postcard from London

A friend who just moved from Toronto to London thought of me about a month ago. Except I didn’t really catch that thought until today because I get mail so infrequently that I only check my letterbox about once a month. And I only checked it tonight because I felt like wallowing and wanted evidence to back me up. Oops. Guess I’ll be doing a happy dance instead.

Not so secretly, I like it much better this way. This made my day. Thank you. ♥


Would you know what to do if someone you loved told you they were suicidal?

If you asked me in my first year at UBC, the answer would have been no. When I first came to Vancouver, I didn’t know anyone — personally — who had died by suicide. Two years later, I would know two. Add the people who attempted or had serious plans to attempt suicide, and we’re well onto counting off the fingers on my second hand.

Now I don’t think these figures are abnormal or that I happen to know more suicidal people than the average student. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 10 to 24 in Canada, yet hardly anyone talks about it in daily conversation, and even fewer people would say they feel equipped to support someone suicidal. Most people are visibly uncomfortable when the subject comes up and find it easier not to talk about it at all.

Yet I sincerely believe that not talking about suicide is our gravest mistake. Silence allows people to fall through the cracks, for the seemingly sudden, shocking acts that leave surviving friends and family grieving and asking themselves why they didn’t notice something sooner.

Because the truth is that suicide rarely happens without any warning. The problem is that few people recognise the signs for what they are or, if they do, fewer yet choose to do something because they don’t believe it’s serious, are afraid to act for fear of angering their loved one, or simply don’t know what they should do.

Maybe you know someone right now who is worrying you and you want to help them. Or maybe you don’t, but would like to be a little more prepared when — not if — you do.


Resources for suicide prevention

The UBC Mental Health Awareness Club is hosting a speaker on suicide prevention and awareness this Wednesday, 4:30-6:00 pm (IKB 157). Faris Atkinson will be speaking on ‘How to Help a Friend’. Admission is free for members and $1 for non-members. RSVP by email.

QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) is a suicide prevention program built loosely around the CPR model of providing immediate intervention until professional help can be accessed. Departments and student groups can email them directly to set up workshops.

Here to Help has an excellent fact sheet online that runs through some key, practical points to keep in mind when trying to support someone through a suicidal crisis.


If you are in crisis or are approaching crisis

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) is a 24/7 crisis line for anyone who is in distress or who is worried about someone who may hurt themselves. More than 100 languages are available if you prefer to speak in another language.

UBC Counselling Services is free for UBC students and is located in Brock Hall. All services are confidential. Appointments are by drop-in, unless you need an emergency appointment, which you can request at reception.

YouthInBC is an online service run by the BC Crisis Centre that includes a live, online chat with crisis volunteers from noon to 1 am everyday, professional email support, and crisis lines for all ages.

Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list and there is so much more that needs to be said. Suicide prevention and awareness is something I could write several posts on, but this is all I wanted to point out for now after being reminded tonight of how much I wish I’d known before I needed to know them.

I also apologise for the UBC/BC-centred nature of this post, as I’m well aware that this has very little helpful information for the non-BC resident. Nor do I say any of this with any pretence of being an expert: I’m not any more than a fairly regular student who speaks from personal experience, a little searching around, and a little training in suicide prevention through past volunteer work.

A completely necessary and important post to say…

Banana pancakes on a Sunday morning are the best thing in the world.

And maple syrup just made them even better.


Well, what do you know…

Sorting through my notes from last year to decide what to keep and what to discard, I found a few scribbled sentences from a mental health conference I attended in October. One that caught my eye was:

Helping someone else produces endorphins in the helper — helping others helps you cope with your problems.

While the happy feeling you get from helping someone else is not news to me, it’s interesting that helping others also increases your capacity to handle your own issues. (Unfortunately, I can’t place who said that or where that comes from, but I’m sure someone can correct this statement if it’s far off.)

Have you found anything lately that surprised you?

(And this was too good not to share…)

Character 1: "Hello. Oh, so you are angry? I know how to deal with grumpy people! Take this!" The two hug. Character 2: "I'm confused." Character 1 (while hugging): "Die, bitch!"

On another note, are you looking for well-paying jobs on campus? Find out about Work Study (for domestic students) or Work Learn (for international students) on the Career Services page, including eligibility criteria, and apply early through CareersOnline.

You can also take a look at the post I wrote last year on Finding Work On Campus for other ideas if you don’t manage to land a Work Study/Work Learn position (these are fairly competitive, after all).