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Ups and Downs

by Jo Valenti, BSN, RN, Cumberland County Mental Health and Addictions Board
Charles Schultz, the famous American cartoonist, experienced sorrow and disappointments during the early part of his life and once described his life as one of rejection. His mother, with whom he was very close, passed away shortly before he left for the Army during World War II.
After returning from the war, he picked up where he had left off—drawing cartoons. He published in a few magazines with some success. The first Peanuts strip appeared on October 2, 1950, in seven newspapers nationwide. He wrote the cartoon strip for 50 years. Who of us cannot relate, at times, with Linus’ insecurities, Charlie Brown’s repeated rejections and Snoopy’s recurring flights of fancy?
While some have characterized Charles Schultz as a deeply depressed individual, a recent book, My Life with Charlie Brown, edited by comics scholar M. Thomas Inge, portrays Schultz as no more depressed than any of us. In fact, he seems to have dealt with the plethora of human emotions through the cartoon characters he invented, resolving them one way or the other.
What is the point here? Emotions connected with life’s ups and downs are not necessarily unhealthy. Learning how to deal with them and finding the resilience to not just endure but succeed is the goal we all should have. Regardless of what we each may face throughout our lives, recognizing our innate ability to cope and knowing when we may need additional help are key. Most of the time, we can reach inside ourselves, and the strength is within us. But there might be times when we need professional help to get through a problem. It is not a sign of weakness. It is actually a sign of health to recognize our need and to call for help. Our mental health is our own responsibility. Let each one of us be successful in achieving mental health.
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The Cumberland County Mental Health and Addictions Board actively promotes awareness of stigma and the need for public education regarding mental health and addiction. The Board meets monthly, and the public is invited to attend. Please refer to the meeting schedule on the Cumberland County website for meeting dates. The Board is also seeking new members. Interested persons should send a letter of interest and a resume to Melissa Niles, Cumberland County Human Services, 70 W. Broad Street, Bridgeton, NJ 08302 or
NAMI Cumberland County: During the pandemic, NAMI Cumberland County ceased activity. Efforts are now being made to re-activate this affiliate of NAMI. Please join us as we collaborate to bring back this important resource for support of those affected by mental illness and their friends and families. In order to re-activate NAMI Cumberland County, we need two people to be trained in group leadership and at least five persons to regularly attend NAMI monthly meeting. Those interested in assisting these efforts may e-mail NAMI at this address:

Minding Your Mind