Vireo Karvonen, who has a Masters in Education, spoke candidly about her life experiences that led her to become a sacred and belief re-patterning life coach. That journey progressed to submitting 3,500 words to a compilation by 11 Alberta authors about mental health and ways to deal with it, titled 'From Shadows to Light: A Whole Human Approach to Mental Health.'
"(I was invited by) my close friend who was the compiler, and because it was focused on mental health and she knows that that's very dear to my heart as a subject especially having lost my own brother to suicide,” Karvonen stated as to why she was selected to participate in the book. “My brother, Ben Karvonen, actually died from suicide in 1992.”
Karvonen’s chapter, unofficially dedicated to her brother, is called ‘Transforming that Shame’ and focuses on the shame associated with mental health and seeking help.
“The problem, especially with mental health, is that there's so much shame around it, you’re not allowed to talk about it,” she said. “If your body is physically sick, no problem. You tell people you went to the doctor, but if you say you went to the psychiatrist, or you're mentally struggling, there's such a stigma.”
Karvonen went through her own mental health crisis a few years ago, saying the build-up of shame over the loss of her brother, her mother’s cancer diagnosis and bad personal relationships led to a breakdown and then a break-through.
"I had lost my brother to suicide, and then four years ago I had a complete mental nervous breakdown and was on medical leave at the time and mom was also struggling and dealing with colon cancer at the time,” she explained. “It was really my own transformation of coming to terms with myself and all that shame; all of the strategies that I learned helped with that.”
In the book, Karvonen shares tools, strategies and supports that helped her to transform that shame and one of them is nature.
"We are a society that is so disconnected from our bodies and from nature, and so a big part of transforming shame has been to deepened my own connection with nature and help (clients) because there's so much healing around that,” she said.
Karvonen said people, primarily women, often look outside themselves to fulfill themselves and when they can’t get the happiness they need, their brains can enter a fight-or-flight mode that freezes people in repeating patterns of self-destruction or depression.
“I work with a lot of women who have had sexual trauma abuse, and part of it is because that's what I've experienced,” Karvonen said. “So, I've been able to, as I say, make lemonade out of the lemons and compost out of the sh*t in my life. I can understand because I've been there. I'm on the other side of it (and) now I've got enough tools in my toolkit.”
Other chapters in the book include a doctor talking about brain health, a chapter on PTSD, Aboriginal mental health and a variety of resources. All the proceeds from the book are going to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Chapter. A hard copy of the book will also be available June 30.
“I'm super excited about it and I'm also feeling really vulnerable for sharing my story and I'm willing to share it because my intention is that it will open a much-needed conversation around mental health so that people don't have to feel like they're alone,” Karvonen said. “It's important that we shine some light on the fear and shame because when we actually talk about shame and fear it actually dissolves the shame.”
At the end of the day on May 30, the book was first in Hot New Releases on Healing and in Personal Transformation E-Books, fourth in Best Sellers in Healing and sixth in Hot New Releases in Health, Mind, Body.
You can buy the e-edition for June 10 download at https://www.amazon.ca/Shadows-Light-Approach-Mental-Health-ebook/dp/B088VXBXH1/
Karvonen encourages anyone going through depression, abuse or trauma to talk to someone:
- Alberta Mental Health 1-877-303-2642
- PRAAC - (780) 519-0577
- Healthy Families Healthy Futures/Thrive - (780) 307-2444 ext. 0
- Kids Help Line - 1-800-668-6868
- RCMP - 911