RE: Mental Health in Cohousing
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2002 14:43:01 -0600 (MDT)
We have a member who is open about being Bi-Polar, battling depression, 
and working (not always successfully) to balance medications in a way 
that helps, in addition to various physical-health challenges. 

This member is a very productive member of the community. Although our 
community lacks a wide spectrum of diversity in categories like race, 
education, and lifestyle, we do incorporate -- successfully-- diversity 
in physical ability, and in mental and physical health. 

One thing that has helped in this regard was having a series of Sharing 
Circles on topics of personal health, and philosophies and feelings about 
aging, disability, and dying. Although attendance was voluntary, and how 
much to share was voluntary, people were very open about their physical 
and mental health issues, and part of that was telling the rest of us 
what we could do to be supportive of them. It was interesting, and 

A member with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome appreciates being given tasks that 
don't have to be done at a specific time (ie in meal preparation, making 
something like a salad that can be made ahead of time). Those of us with 
fragrance sensitivities have mostly trained other members to avoid 
perfumed products. The member with depression has asked us not to drop in 
unannounced, nor to be surprised if they don't show up for something; 
this person also does well with tasks to do at home, or in a flexible 
time frame. 

In everyday life, it's not easy to know when and how to tell people stuff 
like "I had cancer but it has been in remission for 5 years and I don't 
worry about it now" or "I only have about 3 hours a day out of bed" or 
"I'm terrified of hospitals and would not want to be alone in one." By 
scheduling a forum for such sharing, it clears the air of lots of 
hearsay, conjecture, and uncertainty. I recommend it! 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend Washington (Victorian seaport, music, art, nature)

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