Jowita Bydlowska is a writer and mental health advocate. She’s the author of the memoir Drunk Mom and has also written for Elle, Salon and The Times Magazine. Her second book, GUY, is scheduled to come out next year. She will be on our panel Keeping Neighbours in Mind: Calgary’s Mental Health.
Tell us about your participation in the 2015 Spur Festival.
I’m one of the two speakers of the Keeping Neighbours in Mind: Calgary’s Mental Health event where I will be discussing resilience and positive change that can occur when we think of mental, physical and community health in a holistic fashion. I’m presenting with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Medical Director of Underserved Populations, Dr. Kwame McKenzie, and moderator and journalist Shelley Youngblut.
What do you hope Spur Festival attendees will take away from your session?
As a very passionate advocate for mental health, I hope that the attendees will get an insight into perceiving mental health issues as issues to be embraced and exposed rather than hidden and shame-inducing. Stigma is not just a trendy phrase—it is real and we need to fight it collectively.
What are you most looking forward to about the Spur Festival?
I’m looking forward to making new connections within the mental health community. I’m looking forward to meeting the attendees—I love hearing about other people’s experiences and I always welcome a nice challenge.
What is the one item you never leave home without?
I never leave home without my cell phone: I’m a parent.
Which book is currently on your nightstand?
Confidence by Russell Smith.
In the last year, what is the longest you have gone unplugged? No internet, no cell phone, etc.
I almost never go unplugged. I don’t really see the point: I enjoy technology and how it makes life easier.
Who was the last person you texted?
I text a lot and text a few people at once . . . probably my husband.
The animated show The Jetsons was set in 2062. Is there anything from their futuristic world that wish were a current reality?
I’ve never watched The Jetsons.
How do you prefer to communicate with colleagues: by phone, email, text or in person? How do you prefer to communicate with friends?
My professional communication (journalism) depends on what the interviewees are comfortable with: email or phone. I communicate with my editors via email. I communicate with friends via text or email. I communicate with my family via phone.
What are you looking forward to the most in Calgary?
I can’t wait to see Calgary again, this time, in the Spring! Last time I was there, was for the book festival (Wordfest) and it was cold and a little gloomy. I would love to be able to walk around downtown Calgary. I feel sentimental about the city, too—my father-in-law, Rowland Smith was a Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Calgary and I always think of him when I’m there. He passed away two weeks after I found out I was pregnant with my son . . . I was on the plane to attend his memorial service, heartbroken that we never got to tell him he was going to be a grandfather. For that reason, I like Calgary in a bitter-sweet kind of way. Very much looking forward to visiting again.