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We all have a time when we are feeling down when we are facing another troubling time in our lives. For students there is the ongoing threat of tests and exams where they have to explain to their parents why they did not do well.

For parents there are employment issues while at the same time having to care for their ageing parents. Having young children and elderly parents there is the "sandwich dilemma" of how to try and juggle child rearing and caring for the different generation gaps at the same time.

With all of the tensions the care givers can feel constant pressure that sometimes seems too much to bare. Sometimes the problems can wear you down and you want it all to go away and leave you in peace. You hope that to-morrow the sun will shine on you and all of the problems will vanish into thin air. Sorry, the travails of life will not magically disappear and you will not become the super moms/dads with the high expectations set by society.

So how do you learn to cope? Studies have been done for people with depression where prescription drugs were prescribed by the family doctor did not help the long term problems. When troubled people were able to access counseling along with physical activities they felt a whole lot better.

Over the many years I have counseled thousands of students and their parents. I am a proud father of two children, four grandchildren, stayed married to the same women for over 40 years and I am for the most part pretty sane and happy.

I have had the pleasure to counsel a very diverse group of students over the years. Tough tech boys who remember me by my nick name, "25". If they got into trouble in my class they would drop to the floor and do 25 push ups.

Rich kids from London North who would ask me: "do you know who my father is?" when they argued about their marks.
Working through the drug scene with students dropping Acid or shooting Speed was very troubling. Family frictions that started with divorce seemed to last for ever after the final court decrees were signed. The disruption in the home often times hurt my students who showed their anger by acting out by skipping classes and failing their courses to try and punish their parents. I have never met a student I did not like but I have to admit that some where more amenable.

Having a large nose for perceiving emotional concerns for my students I was most fortunate to have never lost a student to the dreaded word - suicide.

When I had a troubling time at school it was off to the Y to recoup. Jogging 10k up and down Meadow Lilly hill was challenging. All sweat, I would drop into the weight room to pump some iron followed by a long, long decadent hot shower.

The problems of the day seemed to disappear as I drove home to my wife and children.

Some of my associates some of whom were teachers, psychologists, Children’s Aid counselors who opted to go to the bars for a drink to try and wash away the troubles of the day, but it did not seem to help. They did not admit that there were problems and soon they were not crying for their students but for their lack of their ability to cope. Depression, job dissatisfaction family discord and divorce seemed to take over their lives.

To survive and enjoy life we have to acknowledge that it is not a perfect world and we are a long way from perfection. That is why they have the delete key/spell check on the computer when we are in need of help.

Take the time to be good to yourself by setting aside an hour every day to recharge your batteries. A brisk walk in Victoria Park at lunch or join with swimmers at five thirty in the morning to get into the pool, hot tub showers at the Y helps to relieve the stresses of the day.

The stats show us that one in five Canadians suffer from some form of mental illness. Please do not become another statistic. Take good care of yourself. You will last a whole lot longer and finish a whole lot stronger.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com