The Pathway To Purpose

Five years ago today on January 28, 2017 I posted my very first Blog to Facebook (I don’t think I had an Instagram account quite yet and I did not create my actual Blog website: youareenough712.wordpress.com until late summer that same year. In this first blog post I expressed some very personal details and asked myself an endless stream of difficult questions; many of which have still been left unanswered to this day and to be perfectly honest, probably never will be. I titled the Blog post “The New Norm”. 

I decided after re-reading through it several times last night that I didn’t feel the need nor desire to reshare it with you again today because I realized just how much of my journey has shifted and evolved since then and that so much of what I wrote at the time feels irrelevant as to who I am in present day. It’s been a very bumpy ride but thanks to the many, many hours and patience of my wonderful therapist over the past several years I’ve discovered parts of ME I never even knew existed before which has also afforded me an opportunity to find some critical answers to a few of those burning questions I asked myself in “The New Norm”.

But I would once again like to reshare with you another blog I wrote a few years ago on January 28, 2019 on the 7th Anniversary of Jacob and Hannah’s B’nai Mitzvah which took place on January 28, 2012. I can’t believe it’s been ten years already since one of the greatest nights of my life, my husband’s life and my children’s lives took place. (Check it out here for all the details: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/misty-water-coloured-memories/)

I was so happy that night ten years ago, trust me when I tell you, I was legit happy, living in the moment and beaming with pride. I’d spent countless months and hours leading up to that night planning and creating every last detail for our beautiful and super fun Simcha. Never once throughout the evening did I have to pretend I was okay, not for even one second did I truly believe in my heart that I was anything but fine because I was fine, except now, as I look back on those incredible memories I find myself feeling sad and vulnerable sometimes when I look at that person in those pictures because to be perfectly honest again, she no longer exists. She is gone. I don’t even recognize her beauty and confidence or her zest for life. A new version of ME stepped into her role of mom, wife, sister, daughter and friend just two short years later.

One of the many questions I ask myself in that first Blog “The New Norm” (and quite often since the beginning) was could I have somehow tried to stop the onset of my illness from happening? What could I have done differently?  I was happy, I was fine, I was okay but I know now that the one thing the old version of ME was missing in her life was purpose and maybe that meant I needed to take this path in order for ME to find it. #blogger #childrensbookauthor #mentalhealthadvocate #youareenough

#purpose #me #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #thenewnorm #wheredidmommyssmilego #depression #anxiety #suicideawareness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone

Feeling Understood

To be loved is one of the strongest human desires. It feels good to know that we are loved, appreciated and cared for but knowing that we feel understood can bring with it a much deeper sense of empowerment and an even more satisfying level of connection.

#pettherapy #adogspurpose #connection #understanding #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #desires #love #empowerment #youareenough #maggie

Keep Talking

“Don’t cover up your pain to make other people more comfortable.” Rachel Hollis 

Sharing our vulnerabilities and experiences builds trust and connection with others.

Oftentimes though we choose instead to mask our emotions simply because it’s how we were raised or perhaps someone close to you has reinforced the idea in you that we should cover up our pain or maybe it’s because we have a fear of being judged or we want to avoid getting hurt further or that we are afraid we will look weak or that it could potentially trigger negative and uncomfortable reactions from others. 

As many of you already know, today (in Canada) it is the 12th Annual “Bell Lets Talk Day” (January 26th, 2022). This year’s theme is focused on encouraging everyone (both in Canada and around the world) to “keep listening, keep talking and keep being there for ourselves and each other”, even when it’s hard. 

Don’t deny your experience or pain for fear of getting hurt. Keep being there. Keep validating others feelings. Keep making connections and opening up important conversations. Keep educating others. Keep sharing your truth no matter how uncomfortable it may feel. 

I am hoping that everyone will take a few moments today to join in on the conversation. By doing so Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long distance call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, every Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day videos, or simply by adding the Bell Lets Talk frame to your profile picture on Facebook. 

I learned a long time ago just how important it is to share my vulnerabilities and experiences in order to build trust and connection with others. It’s not always easy but you are not alone. 

I will no longer hide my pain and I hope I can inspire you to do the same. 
Lets all keep talking today and every day and help create a future where everyone is comfortable talking about their own mental health or being there for others. 

#BellLetsTalk #keeptalking #keepsharing #keeplistening #keepbeingthereforothers #startaconversation #dontcoverupyourpain #maskoff #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youarenotalone #youareenough #itsokaytonotbeonkay #checkonyourlovedones 

Screening Process

Taking the next step today in the screening process with the hope that I will soon be able to secure my spot for the upcoming Psilocybin Assisted Therapy Clinical Trial.

Am I A WARRIOR Or Just A Glutton For Punishment?

#bloodwork #ecocardiogram #magicmushrooms #psychedelics #psilocybin #clinicaltrial #depression #mentalhealth #anxiety #mentalwellness #suicideprevention

Random Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

I realize that I divulge a lot of my personal anecdotes on you through my blogging and storytelling and that I share a large portion of my life’s journey with you that pertains to my mental illness as well but it’s probably fair to say that there’s still a whole lot that you don’t know about me and the person I used to be or the quirky parts of my personality I’ve never revealed. 

Afterall, isn’t life supposed to be about trying to build deeper connections with one another? So here are some random things about me that you may not know (in no particular order):

~When I was a tween, one of my favourite after school activities was taking baton twirling classes with a group of my friends. I remember feeling the glory of participating in a local Santa Claus parade, twirling my baton through the streets of Richmond Hill. It was really cold outside but I didn’t care. During my time as a baton twirler I was also named “Miss Congeniality” and won a trophy which was voted on by my peers. 

~I was so painfully shy as a child that my grade 4 teacher expressed concern to my parents as he thought that maybe I couldn’t speak. I was so blessed to have him as my teacher again in grade 5. He was my favourite teacher ever. By the end of grade 5 he couldn’t shut me up. 

~All three of my children (a boy and 2 girls) were delivered by cesarean section. The first two were unplanned. I mean the C-sections were unplanned not the actual pregnancy itself, well the first and third pregnancies were at least planned whereas our middle child we like to call a very happy surprise! Due to having two emergency C-sections back to back (just over a year apart) once we learned I was pregnant with our third child a few years later, we pre-scheduled her due date for a C-section many months in advance. 

~I once walked the streets of downtown Toronto dressed in a giant raccoon costume. I guess it could’ve been worse? 

~When I was about six years old I slipped and fell into a big fountain in the middle of Fairview Mall in Montreal. My brother was supposed to be watching me while my parents were shopping in a nearby store (if this had happened today CAS would likely be called in for leaving 2 children under the age of 10 unsupervised). I still remember the orange corduroy jumpsuit my mom bought me afterwards so that I didn’t go home sopping wet.

~When I was in grade one I won first place in an art contest I’d entered and received a cash prize and had my art work displayed at the local mall.

~I have a University Degree in Sociology as well as a Diploma in Early Childhood Education which I graduated with Honours from in the year after I got married; I’ve always wished I’d have become a hairdresser. I was the Queen of French braiding back in the day.

~I also dreamed of one day becoming a Veterinarian and owning horses. Too bad I really sucked at math and science. It’s just as well though because my heart could never handle such an esteemed career.

~I stopped eating red meat when I was 16 years old. A few years ago I reintroduced steak into my diet. Just steak. 

~I have never broken a bone or ever had stitches. 

~I loved reading Judy Blume books as a child and young adult.

~I played the role of Toto from the Wizard of Oz in a play one summer at overnight camp. I wish I could sing on Broadway. Perhaps in my favourite musical of all times “Mamma Mia” (which I’ve seen 9x). If only I could sing (hence the role of Toto!). But I can’t, like not even in the shower.

~I won $10,000 on a two cent slot machine 10 years ago at a local casino. I think my luck ran dry shortly after that.

~I have a great fondness for baseball and hockey which grew from watching my son play both sports for many, many years. I’ve always regretted never joining a baseball league in my adult life. 

~When I was a young child my grandparents sold their baby grand piano when they were moving into a condo and bought us an organ with the money. I took lessons every week. My teacher, Mr. Miami would come to my house. I could play row, row, row your boat blindfolded. Boy how I wished we had inherited the piano instead.

~I was extremely flexible as a child and had great balancing skills. I could contort my body into many different shapes. It was most beneficial when it came to ballet, figure skating and gymnastics. Nowadays I can barely even touch my toes.

~I loved tap dancing. 

~I am shamefully terrible with directions. If you spun me around three times I’d get lost two blocks from home. When I was 17, my best friend and our boyfriends decided to go to Buffalo for the day. I drove. They all decided to take a short nap and told me to wake them up when we got to the border. I realized by the time I’d reached Kingston Ontario we should’ve arrived at the border long ago. I’d taken the ramp going East instead of West! Oh well, it was their fault for napping. We did eventually make it to Buffalo by dinnertime! Thank goodness for the invention of GPS’S. 

Now it’s your turn. Go ahead and share something that I probably don’t know about you.

#sharingstories #storytelling #blogging #memories #randomthings #mentalhealth #thisisme #makingconnections #discover 

Euphoria

Rich and I have been binge watching the show Euphoria recently. Our kids who are all young adults between the ages of 19 and 23, had been talking incessantly about it amongst themselves and we both became very intrigued (I think they regret it now!). 

We just finished season one and are about to indulge in season two which began airing a couple of weeks ago. 

I’d first like to say that the cinematography in the show is nothing short of brilliant. 

The show though is filled with so much drama and very raw emotion. It’s dark, it’s deep, it’s messy, it’s heavy, it’s EXTREMELY graphic and explicit and overall I’d have to say very, very disturbing. 

The show centers around the lives of many young teenagers, therefore there is a warning at the start of each episode of the mature and explicit content you are about to watch and then follows up at the end of each episode with the contact information for Kids Help Phone (in Canada) in case you are in need of immediate and confidential support or someone to talk to.

Euphoria is quite honestly every parent’s worst nightmare(s) times a thousand and tackles very mature and deeply emotional subject matters but at the same time can provide for and open up many important conversations, deep discussions and teachable moments that pertain to many of the issues that our Gen Z’s are trying to navigate through in the world today.

I’ve been unable to watch most types of dramatic television shows for many years now because they often trigger me and I can have a very difficult time controlling my anxiety or separating my emotions when I do but here I am, ten episodes down of Euphoria, completely drawn in. It’s like waiting for a train wreck to happen; at times extremely difficult to watch, yet somehow unable to look away.

If you or someone you know is in need of immediate mental health support please call or text Kids Help Phone or Wellness Together Canada (or your local hotline). Please know that you are never alone and that someone is always ready and willing to listen. 

#Euphoria #generationz #producedbydrake #trainwreck #emotionalrollercoaster #mentalhealth  #drugs #addiction #genderidentity #sexualviolence #death #abandonment #itsoktonotbeokay #youarenotalone #youareenough #kidshelpphone #wellnesstogethercanada #cravetv

A Canadian Idol

Last night I watched the premiere screening of a very powerful Documentary online (due to the current Covid restrictions it was unable to be done in person). It was presented by Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating independent Documentary filmmakers. Following the 40 minute Documentary there was a live panel discussion as well. 

The Documentary was called “One Last Chance” and featured the courageous journey of Theo Tams. Theo (now 36 years old) was the winner of the 2008 Canadian Idol title (FYI “One Last Chance” is the name of one of his songs!). The event was sponsored by both Bell Lets Talk and SickNotWeak, two very prominent Mental Health Foundations in Canada. The evening was hosted and directed by sports media icon Michael Landsberg (and his son Corey who has also been very vocal about his mental health struggles). Michael is also best known today as one of the many celebrity voices behind Bell Lets Talk Day, an incredible mental health advocate and Founder of the non-profit organization SickNotWeak. (Here is the link to a blog I wrote 2.5 years ago when I got to personally meet Michael at one of his speaking engagements; it was an incredibly moving evening for me: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/my-evening-with-michael-landsberg/)

Theo tells his harrowing tale of growing up in a fairly strict Christian home in a small town in Alberta, both of which were not very accepting of the gay community (he now resides in Toronto). By the age of 7, Theo began experiencing suicidal ideations after falling victim to sexual abuse at the age of 6 which continued until he was 9. By the age of 15 Theo spent his days and nights praying he would wake up “straight” and was convinced he would be going to hell if not (his parents have since become very open and accepting of the LGBTQ community and their son). And by his early 20’s Theo turned to alcohol to help numb his pain, which was also around the same time he auditioned and subsequently won Canadian Idol some 13 years ago. His addiction, which he kept hidden from his partner, his family and his friends for many years escalated at the start of Pandemic (like millions of others around the globe) until one day when he glanced at his reflection in a store window while out for a walk with his partner and their dog and realized in that moment that he needed help. He is now currently 13 months sober. Yay Theo!

It was such a poignant moment in his journey. It was in that moment where he started taking baby steps and setting small, attainable goals for himself. His message last night was super powerful. He told his audience to trust in those first steps, even as uncomfortable as they may be.

He reminded us that we are all a work in progress and made a promise that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

He never thought there could ever be a way out of his pain but he is living proof of it and after what feels like a lifetime of pain and mental anguish he is finally living as his true authentic self and has also learned how to be unapologetic for who he is.

I didn’t know who Theo Tams was before last night, nor was I exactly sure what to expect before sitting down to watch the Documentary but I can honestly say that I am now one of his biggest fans. He performed several of his songs live during the discussion period afterwards. Each one of them hit a “chord” with me. His music communicates the messiness and vulnerabilities associated with mental health and are an intimate look into his past sufferings. You can feel his pain, his self-sabbotage, his darkness and the chaos that surrounded him.

And as he continues to express himself through his beautiful and thought provoking music as he carries on his journey toward mental health and wellness I will be listening and cheering him on. 

He is an incredibly passionate and talented artist with a kind and gentle soul and a true inspiration.

By sharing his story with the world, Theo is helping so many other “Theos” who may be listening to feel less alone by letting them know that you don’t have to suffer in silence and that you don’t have to be afraid to share your story or your pain. 

And to all my Canadian friends and family, don’t forget to mark your calendars for this coming Wednesday (January 26th) for this year’s annual Bell Lets Talk Day.

It’s yet again another valuable reminder that we need to “keep listening, keep talking and keep being there for ourselves and each other” (this year’s Bell Lets Talk Day motto) in order to help put an end to the stigma. 

Oh and one last thing, today is National Hugging Day. A hug could be one of the most powerful things you can offer someone, even if it’s virtually. So I’m sending you all a great big bear hug from me to you today just in case 🤗 

#acanadianidol #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #addiction #recovery #anxiety #suicidalthoughts #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #keepsharing #keeplistening #keeptalking #hotdocs #michaellandsberg #nationalhuggingday #documentary #bellletstalk #sicknotweek #one last chance @sicknotweak @bell_letstalk @theotamsmusic @hotdocs

January 19th, 2015

I started to journal regularly when I was admitted to the hospital for Psychiatric care in October of 2014 at my Doctor’s urging. It was my first of several long-term stays. I was released over 3 months later on January 19th, 2015.

Every year on January 19th (today) I am reminded of the day I was finally discharged from that first (long-term) hospital stay thanks to my Facebook memories (even though the date will forever be embedded in my memory with or without Facebook). 

Those 3 plus months are still some of the most trying and difficult days of my entire journey which included many trials and tribulations with medications and a failed attempt at 8 sessions of ECT (Electroconvulsive Treatment). 

Today I pulled out my journal that I’d kept during my stay and re-read it from end to end. I hadn’t done so in quite some time. 

Reading it reminded me of just how trying and difficult a time in my life it truly was; not just for me but for Rich and my kids as well (which eventually led me to write and publish my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?”).

I became overwhelmed with sadness while reading it but it was also a beautiful reminder for me as to just how truly blessed I am for all the love and support I have in my life.
It also reminded me why I decided to slowly start sharing my journey publicly shortly after my discharge on January 19th, 2015.

I was now nine plus months into my journey thus far. Up til now only my inner circle truly knew what I’d been going through. 

During my inpatient stay I’d met so many incredibe humans (one of whom has since become a dear friend of mine). All of us on our own unique journeys, all of us with our own unique stories to tell, yet somehow we all shared a common bond.

I knew then that I wanted to be able to continue connecting with others who share similar experiences. 

I knew then that I wanted to support others along their own journey and help them to feel seen and heard.

I knew then that I wanted to feel less alone and isolated. 

I knew then that I wanted to build community. 

I knew then that I wanted to raise awareness and help educate those who could not truly understand what it’s really like to live with a mental illness. 

I knew then that I wanted to create an outlet for myself by opening up, by speaking up and by documenting my journey and reminding others along the way that they are not alone, that it’s okay to not be okay and that your mental health matters.

If you would like some more information on “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” or need someone to talk to please reach out anytime.

#journaling #myjourney #mentalhealth #mentalillness #inpatient #psychiatriccare #itsoktonotbeok #startaconversation #youarenotalone #youareenough #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #wheredidmommyssmilego #childrensbook #author #blogger #mentalhealthadvocate #connection

Snow Monday

The third Monday in January has been deemed “Blue Monday”. 

I wrote a blog several years ago as to my thoughts on why labeling today “Blue Monday” is a slap in the face for someone like myself who battles with Depression every day of the year (see blog: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/stop-calling-it-blue-monday/). But still for many people experiencing the worst snowstorm we’ve had in years, I’m sure that today did feel pretty blue.

I hope though that you were able to find some beauty and calm in today and took time to refill your mental health cup by shutting down your computers and enjoying the day for what it truly was; a snow day, which means staying in your pj’s all day or playing outside in the snow and then warming up with a cup of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows (see blog I wrote yesterday: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2022/01/16/who-doesnt-love-a-snow-day%f0%9f%99%84/).

How did you refill your mental health cup today?

#motivationmonday #snowday #bluemonday #mentalhealth #mentalwellness.#snowstorm #snowman #refillyourcup #selfcare #selfdiscovery #itsoktonotbeokay #breathe #youarenotalone  




Who doesn’t love a snow day?🙄

I feel so much nostalgia on snow days. Remembering the excitement on my face when my mom would inform me that school was cancelled that day (even when in my early years living in Montreal my home was literally ten houses away from school), being able to stay in your pj’s all day while simultaneously watching TV and the snow falling from outside the window or getting all bundled up to go outside to build a snow fort or have a snowball fight and then coming back inside for some hot chocolate with mini marshmallows.

There is just something about snow days that brings a sense of comfort with it. There’s a feeling of calm and gentleness that comes from watching the snow fall. Its peacefulness and purity fills me with warmth inside and there is nothing more picturesque than seeing the beauty and wonder that comes following a snowstorm. It can be extremely mezmerizing and give your body, your mind and your soul a moment to just be in the here and now. 

We are expecting an epic snowstorm tonight and into tomorrow morning. The first one this season (it’s already the middle of January and there’s no snow on the ground!). Oftentimes we get all worked up about a big storm coming and then we awake to five flakes of snow and suddenly we get upset because deep down inside we were secretly praying for a snow day. Deep down inside we were wishing for a day where we could just stay in our pj’s, putting all our commitments and stressors on hold.

That was then but with the reality of what we have all been living through over the last two years, having a snow day tomorrow is the last thing our bodies, our minds and our souls need, especially for the many children excited to finally get back to school tomorrow and with this snowstorm on the horizon it has the potential to cause another day of school closures and bus cancellations. You really suck right now Mother Nature. 

The last two years have felt like one gigantic snowstorm, but not the kind that gives us that euphoric or nostalgic feeling of calm and serenity but the kind that puts our lives at a standstill. Staying home in our pj’s sipping on hot chocolate with mini marshmallows are no longer the best feelings in the world. Digging our cars out from under ten feet of snow or shoveling our way out the front door just so we can go somewhere, anywhere for that matter suddenly are though.

Wishing everyone, especially the many parents, teachers and little ones heading offline and hopefully back to school and work tomorrow a safe and picturesque day filled with so much beauty and wonder. ❄

#StaySafe #snowdays #wonderandbeauty #picturesque #yousuckmothernature #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #comfort #itsoknottobeok #youareenough

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