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  • Writer's pictureMona Cooley

Lady with a Smile

I was waiting in line for the cashier to put my groceries through. The cashier stated that she was going to retire in 3 days. She was going to go full time with her dog grooming business and take care of her dog who was in the first stage of kidney failure. Congratulating her on being an entrepreneur, I said I was an entrepreneur. She asked me what I did. “I coach families on how to have honest conversations to manage difficult situations involving mental health problems.” I said. “That’s fantastic” she replied. The lady who was packing my bag told me that many people discriminate against her because of her mental health illness. “That is not acceptable” I replied. I repeated what my daughter’s psychiatrist said to her “The people who discriminate tell more about themselves than about you”. I told her that she has skills, talents and brilliance. Boy that boosted her confidence.

It helped that her family believed in her when she did not believe in herself. It empowered her when they asked her what she thought they needed to do. She was not feeling alone, saying “we” – it showed that she knew she had the support to help her problem solve.

Those who learn to understand, get over talking about the stigma and do more listening, taking the time to understand, and focus on “how to handle their challenges” have changed lives. Families who have recognized that it is a family issue, not an individual issue, and are willing to change what they need to change within themselves to support the one with a mental health issue flourish.

I admired this young lady, as she greeted me with a smile and asked how I was doing, then wished me a good day after packing my bags. Wow, it is amazing to have a great attitude even when dealing with discrimination. Interestingly, she said that she felt people were scared of what they did not understand. Wow, brilliant. This is exactly what is happening. The unknown is scary and fears stir up inside of you. The book ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers would be a great book for her co-workers to read.

Honest conversations are beneficial! And as this story demonstrates, they can happen anywhere, even in your grocery store. All it takes is someone willing to share what is happening in their life.

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