Submitted by Smart on Crime
It’s that time of year again. Time for that little film festival that grew. Time for “In The Mind’s Eye: Issue of Substance Use in Film + Forum”. Six years in and still unique in North America, In The Mind’s Eye is an insightful and eclectic look at issues of substance use. Free events combining films and workshops make it all real and relevant.
In The Mind’s Eye (ITME) kicked off in early October with Dr. Bernie Pauly’s presentation to a full house at Grand River Hospital on issues of stigma and discrimination in health care settings. This event was viewed remotely by 21 hospitals and community health centres around the province. The event was video recorded and should be available online in the coming weeks.
On October 19th, Tom Regehr joined ITME for a workshop entitled “Tomorrow Does Not Exist: Deep Insight into Trauma, Addiction and Homelessness”. The following is a reflection on Tom Regehr’s talk by Michael Parkinson, ITME Coordinator and Community Engagement Staff at the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.
“Tomorrow Does Not Exist”…. the title says it all for those who have been victims of (repeated) trauma and offers clues for service providers who work with people who seem “perpetually angry and profoundly stuck”. And for those in the know, well, we know that (childhood) trauma and neglect are one of the greatest predictors of later addiction, whether it is a socially acceptable addiction like work or sports, or less acceptable addictions like drugs, gambling etc.
Here is the short version of one of Tom’s exercises.
Think of 7 things you and/or other people highly value about yourself. Write them each down on a separate piece of paper and rank them. What’s on your list? Confidence? Kindness? Humour? Ability to relate to people? Organized? Generous and kind? Social?
Now, the thing about reality is this: reality doesn’t give you notice before something happens. You don’t get a letter in the mail saying tomorrow you are going to get cancer. You don’t get a voice mail saying tomorrow your mum or dad will disappear. You do not get an email to let you know that you will be brutally assaulted in 10 minutes.
So those 7 qualities…maybe one day reality takes one from you. Maybe it’s your number 5. How does that change your world and the way you relate? Think about it.
The next week it's number 2 and number 7. How does that change your relationship and ability to cope, to do your paid work, to parent or be a spouse.
Over time, if you sit and be present with this exercise, you might get some clues as to what it is like to be a trauma survivor. Or the mindset you might bring into work, or school or a social worker’s office. This is a big part of your new reality. And over time, you may find that tomorrow does not exist. One day it might, but for now, after repeated traumatic events and a descent into addiction, it is not about grieving and processing, it is about survival, sometimes self-medicating. It is not about yesterday or tomorrow- just today. One day at a time.
More than 90 people came out to hear Tom speak. To catch one of Tom’s widely acclaimed workshops, visit CAST Canada - Come and Sit Together.
The Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council has long recognized the role of substance use and addiction as a risk factor for crime. Indeed, half of the costs of the Canadian criminal justice system are related to issues of licit and illicity substance use. We believe a 'smart on crime' approach will work at both reducing the factors leading some people to become dependent on substances and the consequences that can come with problematic substance use.
To catch more In The Mind’s Eye events, tune into www.inthemindseye.ca. We feature films from around the world every Wednesday in October at the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank and every Tuesday in November at the Working Centre’s Queen Street Commons. All films start at 7pm and are free of charge. Join your community for a rare and real glimpse into issues of substance use.