Education: a “12 Months of Kindness” campaign essential

Inspiration hits in unexpected places sometimes.

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Earlier this month, I spent a beautiful day at the Biltmore Estate (and the dog mom learned to keep our water separate). It’s spring in North Carolina. There are few things I enjoy more than being outside just taking in the sun, the breeze, and green grass under my paws.

It’s not unusual for people to stop me when I’m out and about. They want to know what I am (a poodle), how old (2), and “what do you call that color?” (red). There are usually lots of comments about how cute I am and how much I resemble a teddy bear. I’m not the cuddliest of dogs, but I’m always happy to welcome a friendly face with a grunt and a wiggle and if treats are involved I may even do a trick or two.

On this particular trip, a woman approached wanting to know if I shed. This is not an uncommon question either, but her reason for wanting to know caught my special interest. Her granddaughter has allergies and she had been researching “non-allergenic” dogs. You see, her son promised the 6-year-old a puppy if she could stop pulling her own hair out. I didn’t press for details, but it was clear from our brief conversation that her granddaughter was suffering; possibly from a mental illness.

Mental illness seems like a lonely thing to me.IMG_2656

I don’t know much about it and I suspect I’m not alone in that… which brings us to this month’s challenge in my “12 Months of Kindness” campaign: Educate.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders. Some horrific tragedies of late (like that in Sandy Hook) have put a spotlight on extreme conditions, but a great many people go undiagnosed and certainly misunderstood.

It seems to me one way to create a kinder world is to make an effort to understand each other. By educating ourselves and those around us, maybe people will feel less afraid to get the help they need. Maybe someone will more easily identify that their own child needs help. Or maybe our children will be less likely to make fun of a peer that is dealing with an illness. While you are online right now, please take a few minutes to research mental illness. This doesn’t cost you a thing and I’ll make it really easy for you: start with trichotillomania… the compulsive urge to pull out one’s own hair.

IMG_0916Shed some light on mental illness by posting a little tidbit about what you learned in the comments here on my blog or on my Facebook page. People may not read this whole blog, but they may take a moment to read your comments. You could be the inspiration someone needs.

Go now and spread the kindness friends!

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12 thoughts on “Education: a “12 Months of Kindness” campaign essential

  1. As someone who spent more than 30 years engaging in a behavior similar to trichotillomania and has read a good deal about it, I hope the grandfather understands that bribery is not the answer and judging her will only make it worse. I wish I was in a position to help her!

    • It didn’t sound like they knew much about it, and I knew even less. It was obvious that they love the little girl and want her to get better, so I’m sure they’ll find her the help she needs. Thanks for sharing your experience! I think the more we share these kinds of things, the more people will see how common it really is. Even if you can’t personally help this little girl, you may have just helped someone with your comment!

  2. I don’t know if you have seen it, but there is a page…Xena the Warrior Puppy, she had a very rough beginning but is now with a wonderful family and is making such a positive impact on Jonny, the son who has Autism , although it is not a mental illness it is a developmental disability that they are trying to understand. If you get a chance look up her page, she has given Jonny an opening. Dogs are amazing

    • I haven’t seen that page, but will certainly look it up! Autism is so common, but still very misunderstood. It’s delightful that this dog has been such a blessing to Jonny. 🙂

  3. One of my closest friends suffers with DID. So little is known about this horrific disease . Another point to research is psychiatric service dogs.

  4. I did some reading on panic attacks today Linus…Some people think it’s trivial, but for someone experiencing a panic attack it’s truly terrifying and it’s so important to provide support and understanding…Your photo representation of the loneliness of mental illness is so on point…Another great month LInus…Thank you

  5. You’re so creative with each month’s assignment! I saw this quote on the internet… “Before you judge my life, my past or my character. Walk in my shoes, walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrow, my doubts, my fear, my pain and my laughter. Remember everyone has a story.” There are 2 things I plan to do for this month. I’m going to do research on mental illness like you suggested. I would also like to do some reading on Lupus. My sister has lupus and its another disease that maybe people have heard of, but don’t really know what it is. I’ll be honest, I don’t even know. Which makes me kinda sad, because I’d like to understand my sister better. There are too many diseases that I don’t know about, but it would help me to understand some of the people around me a little better. Time to get started =)

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