THE BIG BANG THEORY” DEFINES FAMILY

I had a good cry last night, it wasn’t just any cry, it was one of those really ugly cries. It was the kind of cry you have when you feel like you’ve just lost your best friend, which is kinda how I felt.

Last night was the series finale of “The Big Bang Theory” which is now one of the longest running Television Series in TV history and probably my most favorite of all. For twelve seasons I have watched “The Big Bang Theory” every Thursday night without fail (thank goodness for PVR’s) and I watch it regularly in reruns too (it might even border a bit on the obsessive side). I have undoubtedly seen the first 10/11 seasons at least a dozen times each by now (but who’s kidding who, it’s WAY more than that, right Rich?).

“The Big Bang Theory” centered around four socially awkward friends who in its very first episode befriends a beautiful aspiring actress/waitress when she moves in across the hall from two of them. They have absolutely nothing in common with one another yet somehow build relationships that many could only dream of having. Over time, several other key and supporting characters were also introduced into the mix and together over the course of twelve seasons we watched them grow into one big family.

Throughout the years “The Big Bang Theory” taught us so much about Science, Superheros and Star Wars but most of all it taught us so many important life lessons. It taught us that girls can be anything and do anything, it taught us that it’s okay to be different or quirky, it taught us about kindness, it taught us to reach for the stars, it taught us about acceptance and friendship and most of all it taught us the true definition of family.

Family can no longer be defined in the traditional sense of the word as two parents and children living together in one household because in today‘s complex world that is just simply unacceptable. And furthermore, who wants to believe that anyway.

Family also means a lot more than just being related by blood or marriage and “The Big Bang Theory” proved this to their audiences week after week right up until finale night. You know the old saying “You can’t choose your family”; well that is of course unless you redefine the word “Family” like these characters did.

The characters all had complicated and unconventional relationships with their parents and siblings which often made for some super funny episodes but who they relied on day after day as their confidants, who they spent holidays and birthdays with, who they shared their successes and failures with, who they reached out to whenever they needed a shoulder to cry on were their friends, the ones they chose to be their family.

I know what it feels like when friends become family. I have been lucky enough to know that feeling many times throughout my life. It’s the people in your life who want you to be in theirs, it’s the ones who accept you for who you are; imperfections and all, it’s the ones who go out of their way to make you smile and it’s the ones who love you no matter what. That’s what the true meaning of family is all about and that is what I will take away from watching all 279 episodes of “The Big Bang Theory”.

The final episode did not disappoint and it went out with a “Big Bang” and one last “Bazinga” but I’m still not ready to say goodbye. I’m really gonna miss tuning in each and every week to watch my Thursday night family continue to evolve but at least I know that they are just one click of a button away in reuns.

How do you define the word Family?

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My Favorite Mother’s Day Present

Last year on Mother’s Day I chose me. You may recall how last year the five of us escaped the city for an entire day and night and spent time hiking, picnicking in the park, enjoying some cross border shopping and then finished the day off with dinner together at a restaurant of my choosing (See blog: This Mother’s Day I Choose Me; May 11, 2018). This year the timing (and weather for that matter) won’t allow for a hike or a picnic in the park or some cross border shopping or possibly even dinner all together but today I’m still choosing me even if it means having to do so in shifts as the girls are spending the afternoon with their Buby at a play and the boy has his first Baseball game of the season this evening. But so long as I get a few uninterrupted, quality moments with my babies this Mother’s Day it will all be worthwhile.

Since becoming a Mom, Mother’s Day has never been about presents, except of course the ones that were created with love and sticky fingers but many years ago my kids did buy me a gift that over time has become a very personal collection of everything that is important to me, and tells a story, one that is unique to only me. Can you guess what it was? Okay, fine I will tell you…they bought me a bracelet from Pandora with a charm attached that simply read “MOM”.

Those three letters mean more to me than anything else in this world and those three kids who made me a mom are my reason “why”. They are also the reason why I never take my bracelet off my wrist. I find myself looking at it a lot lately, always touching it, examining it and fidgeting with every charm I have received since then. This bracelet l wear proudly on my wrist is my daily reminder of how much I am loved. I may only have seven charms on my bracelet but each one of them signifies a piece of me and the most beautiful and meaningful parts of my story but no matter what or how many I choose to display upon my wrist I probably don’t need to tell you which one truly means the most.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful mom’s out there who are blessed with having their own unique and meaningful story to tell.

Giving Back

As I continue to focus on Mental Health Week I was reminded just how broken the Ontario Healthcare System is. With that in mind I wanted to share a letter with you that I received in the mail the other day. We’ve all received similar versions of this letter before from various Hospital foundations, Alumni groups or Not For Profit organizations and whether we choose to support their cause or not we know that giving them our support is much appreciated and most often a worthy one. But as I opened this letter and read the very first line I was faced with a mix of emotions. At first I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry but quickly those emotions turned to anger and frustration.

Many of you may recall a few months ago how I shared some of the most vulnerable moments of my journey thus far which included several visits to the emergency room that week including the one in which this letter is from, a hospital I was all too familiar with after spending many months in.

But that particular week they turned their back on me after opening up to them with pure, heart-wrenching honesty, telling them my thoughts of suicide. I also told them that I was no longer taking medication and I that I no longer wish to take medication for very good reasons, but I was not worthy enough to be helped unless I would agree to take medication and I was also told that their outpatient services could not help me either unless I again agreed to take medication. By the next evening I found myself in yet another emergency room after attempting to act on those thoughts.

I have given back plenty over the years to many causes and foundations and especially over the last several years for very obvious and personal reasons and I will continue to do so with some of the proceeds from my upcoming children’s book but certainly not to a place that made me feel even more unworthy than I already do.

Yes I came to you as a patient in need of help and yes I had profound trust in you, but you let me down when I needed you the most. I was at my most vulnerable and felt unsafe and you were unwilling to help me. And even though you may be a world renowned hospital who has been at the forefront of incredible research and development, much of which could not be possible without the help of generous donations, you left me a little more broken that day which I never knew was possible.

Please check out my blogs “My Grim Reality” (Nov 21, 2018); “Thank You From The Bottom Of My Heart ” (Nov 25, 2018) and “I Don’t Think I Can Get More Honest Than This” (Nov 30, 2018) for those of you who may have missed them. https://youareenough712.wordpress.com

One Day At A Time

This is my friend Lisa; okay let me rephrase that; this was my friend Lisa one year ago today. In this picture Lisa weighed just 84 pounds and was taken just before she began her lifesaving journey toward wellness after a 20 year battle with anorexia and bulimia.
To say this past year has been hard would be an understatement but nothing will ever compare to what her eating disorder took from her and her family for the last 20 years. She knew that day when she took this picture that if she didn’t take that first step forward toward recovery that she would likely die, and soon.
Eating Disorders actually have the highest mortality rate of all Mental Illness Disorders yet only 1 in 10 people who suffer with an eating disorder actually seek treatment. There are many types of eating disorders and often begin developing in adolescence or earlier, many of which can go unnoticed for years.
Today, one year later Lisa is in recovery and has been fortunate enough to achieve a healthy weight as she continues on her daily journey toward wellness. Recovery is not something that happens over night, it will most likely be a lifetime of good days and bad days for Lisa and many others struggling with an eating disorder but what truly matters is staying on that pathway to becoming happier and stronger every day.

Her family and friends are so proud of the strides she has made in the last year and I know she is too. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder and need someone to talk to Lisa has made it her life mission to be there to listen without judgment any way she can and has given many talks in the community and been featured in a video for CAMH as well. Feel free to reach out to her Facebook page SHYNZ Mission or follow her story at: https://wordpress.com/post/20yearsaprisoner.wordpress.com/8808

It’s Mental Health Week: Let’s #GetLoud Together

Today marks the beginning of CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) Mental Health Week. Every year since 1951 CMHA has been celebrating Mental Health Week beginning the first Monday in May and focuses on raising awareness to end the stigma surrounding Mental Illness while promoting good Mental Health in all Canadians.

One very important message that CMHA focuses on in its yearly campaign is to help all Canadians understand that everyone of us has Mental Health but that not everyone of us have a Mental Illness. Mental Health is the umbrella that covers our emotional, psychological and social well-being which basically affects the way we think, the way we feel, the way we handle stress, the way we relate to others, the way we make choices and the way we act overall through different stages of our lives.

A Mental Illness on the other hand can result from an obtrusion in our emotional, psychological or social well-being which has sadly become all too familiar and commonplace in today’s society, affecting 1 in every 5 Canadians at some point in their lifetime. Many of the more commonly diagnosed mental illnesses can make an individual lose their sense of self, their sense of purpose, their sense of belonging, their ability to contribute to society, their ability to feel joy or their ability to be resilient; all of which I have lived with for five years now.

CMHA’s campaign slogan #GetLoud continues to educate Canadians year after year on the importance of good Mental Health by using several different tools to help us all get in front of many of the signs that may be overlooked in someone suffering from a Mental Illness whether it’s your loved one, your co-worker, a member of your community or a student in your classroom. The campaign is more than just about promoting happiness, it’s about learning how to live a well-balanced life, one that we all deserve. It’s also about learning how to reach out to others, learning how to become more self-aware, learning how to be more proactive in our self-care and it’s about learning how to become a stigma-free society.

So let’s all #GetLoud this week and make a promise to continue to #GetLoud the other 51 weeks of the year as well, for anyone and everyone who is struggling with a Mental Illness until we are all able to find our sense of self once again, our sense of purpose once again, our sense of belonging once again, our ability to contribute to society once again, our ability to feel joy once again and our ability to be resilient once again in a non-judgmental, non-discriminatory STIGMA free society.

***Go to http://www.cmha.ca and check out more information on how to #GetLoud***
*** References http://www.cmha.ca ***

A Reminder To Keep Fighting

So the other day I wrote a blog which I hope you have had a chance to read but if not I’ll forgive you. I spoke of how I got to meet someone the other night who I have admired from afar for a long time now; Michael Landsberg. He was so incredibly kind and he truly is one of the greatest advocates for Mental Illness in Canada. He was also so genuine and focused as we spoke in length about my illness and the battles I have endured for 5 years now trying to find some relief while searching for that “one” treatment that may finally help me. He also reminded me that I can never stop fighting till that day comes, no matter what. He then reiterated this to me again in an email the next day where he recalled much of our conversation we had. As I also mentioned in my blog, Michael does a daily VLOG on his charity’s Facebook page and yesterday while I watched it I immediately felt as though he was talking right to me through the camera’s eyes, directly into my heart. I am so grateful to have met such an incredible man. Please take a moment to watch his video for me and for the millions of others just like me who are battling this deadly disease, who have lost hope and who just need a little reminder to keep on fighting.

#endthestigmatogether #youareenough #bekind #itsoktonotbeok #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #treatmentresistantdepression #sicknotweak #dailylandsblog

My Evening With Michael Landsberg

Last night Rich and I attended a speaking engagement at a nearby Synagogue in Toronto where the guest of honour was Michael Landsberg. This was just one of many speaking engagements Michael does throughout the year all across Canada and from all walks of life, but it was the first time I was finally able to attend. As many of you reading this may already know, Michael is a Sportscaster and former Anchor for TSN’s “Off The Record” and current host of an early morning radio show called “First Up” but to me he is so much more than all that. To me, and to so many others, Michael has become one of the most notable voices throughout Canada in the Mental Health community.

Through Michael’s own struggles with Depression and Anxiety over the last 20 years he has managed to turn his natural ability for public speaking toward helping others find their own voices. He became one of the first keynote speakers for Bell Let’s Talk Day at its conception and while at one of his speaking engagements about 10 years ago Michael declared, “Obviously I am sick, but I sure as hell am not weak. I am sick, not weak.” And from those very real words his not-for-profit organization #sicknotweak.com was eventually born in 2016.

#sicknotweak.com has many objectives but it’s main one is loud and clear. Michael wants the world to understand that mental illness is a sickness, NOT a weakness and he can be seen spreading this message and many other inspirational ones on his daily VLOG which he does 364 days per year (he takes 1 day off per year). He does his VLOG most days from the comfort of his own home in Toronto and is sometimes in the company of special guests like his own son who also openly discusses his struggles with mental illness too (and now his new puppy Wrigley makes a daily appearance as well and will bring a smile to your face no matter what kind of a day you are having).

I first started following Michael’s story a few years ago and I now look forward to listening to his short yet informative and heartfelt VLOG’s every day along with his many insightful posts and tweets at #sicknotweak.com and @heylandsberg. I feel very much a part of his community and I have even had several of my own blogs posted to their Facebook page in the past couple of years.

Yesterday was one of those days that my depression and anxiety were too much to handle for me (unfortunately lately I’ve been experiencing a lot more bad days than good ones) but I have wanted to see Michael speak in person for quite some time now and I have wanted to meet him even more than ever before and so last night with some much needed encouragement (from my therapist) I was able to do so and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

Before he began speaking to the crowd my husband and I were fortunate enough to meet him personally. I shared with him a brief look into my journey and told him how much I appreciate the work he does for the mental health community. He gave me a hug (of course he asked me first!) and we took our seats. He spoke for a good hour and followed it up with a question period from the audience where strangers shared personal anecdotes and struggles proving that TOGETHER we can end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

During the hour that Michael spoke he was witty, charismatic and beyond sincere in his message. EVERY single word that he spoke resonated with both Rich and I, almost as though we were the only two people in the room. After he finished speaking, much of the audience crowded around him to speak to him on a more personal level, some about sports and some about mental illness (he was missing the Raptor’s game for this, but it’s ok cuz they lost!). He had said to me when we spoke earlier that evening to come talk to him again afterwards and he really meant it because when it came to our turn he excused himself from the rest of the crowd and walked away with us to a more private area to talk some more.

As crazy as it may sound, I feel like I made a new friend last night, someone who I could reach out to if I ever need a little extra support from someone who genuinely understands my daily struggle and who genuinely understands what depression really feels like because sometimes speaking to someone who genuinely understands your very confusing, isolating and often frightening emotions can truly make all the difference in someone else’s day, I know it did for me.

Please follow #sicknotweak on Facebook and @heylandsberg on Twitter.