To Those Who Are Left Behind

Today is the last day of September and today is also the last day of “National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month” which is a month long campaign used to raise awareness on this very stigmatized and still very taboo topic. 

Although it may only be a month long campaign it doesn’t mean that it ends today. The conversation needs to continue each and every day. 

We MUST continue to keep the conversation going. 

We MUST continue to give hope to everyone affected by Suicide. 

We MUST continue to educate others.

And we MUST ensure that ALL individuals, families and friends have the same accessibility to the necessary resources available to give us all a better understanding on how to prevent suicide and seek help.

I’m not okay.  

I’m still having very intrusive and very real thoughts of suicide. It consumes me.

I’m reminded each and every day by friends, loved ones, acquaintances and even strangers what life would be like for those I’d leave behind. 

Trust me, I hear you. Your words echo in my head day and night. But sadly for many people suffering with a mental illness or suicidal ideations their pain can still become too much to bare.

One of those many reminders came to me recently by an old friend of mine who reached out to me to chat and I haven’t been able to get our conversation off my mind.

I was so honoured and grateful that she chose to share her overwhelming and very raw emotions with me as she tries to come to terms with the heart-wrenching grief and despair she’s been living with for months now after losing a loved one to suicide. 

I could feel her disbelief, her numbness, her shock, her anger, her confusion, her rejection and her guilt all wrapped together as she desperately tries to begin her journey toward healing and acceptance.

The aftermath of losing a loved one to suicide and finding ways to cope with the sadness, the feelings of helplessness and the overwhelming consumption of what ifs or what more could I have done can be very triggering and both mentally and physically exhausting.

Just know that you are not alone. 

Surround yourself with people who want to listen when you need to talk or who offer a shoulder to lean on when you just need to sit in silence. 

Remember there is no “proper” way to grieve any loss, especially ones which are so sudden and without closure. Let healing happen at your own pace and in your own time.

Seek out others who may be experiencing similar grief. Sharing your story with people who truly understand your pain can often help bring strength to your healing process. 

And lastly, find a mental health professional to guide you through your grief and help you adjust to life after suicide.

Yes, today may be the last day of September and the last day of “National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month” but today can not be the end to the conversation surrounding the many complexities of suicide.

Lets all make a promise to band together with more compassion and support to those who wake up each and every day battling very intrusive and very real thoughts of suicide, show kindness and empathy to those who are left behind after a suicide occurs and help them in any way you can to honour the memory of their loved one who has lost their battle.

*visit the Mayo Clinic website for more information.

*Suicide Prevention Helpline* 1.833.456.4566

#youarenotalone #nationalsuicidepreventionawarenessmonth #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #asilentkiller #keeptheconversationgoing #yourmentalhealthmatters #tothosewhoareleftbehind #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #mentalillness #mentalhealth

A Perfect Place For A Time-out

I spent this afternoon warding off a wicked headache while doing my best to relish in the final moments of my weekend “time-out”.

But when you live with Depression and Anxiety, often the simplest things or the simplest tasks feel way too overwhelming. 

Most of the things I plan for in my week honestly never get done, even the ones which bring me joy. 

Whether it be preparing a meal for my family, doing a load of laundry, a coffee break with a friend (I don’t actually drink coffee though) or making a quick trip to the grocery store has me crippled with fear. 

I become paralyzed.

Frustrated, angry, anxious, sad.

I tell myself I will try again tomorrow. 

I move things around on my calendar almost daily, even if it’s to remind myself to call a friend back who probably left me a message 3 days earlier. 

I promise myself I will do it tomorrow for sure. 

And then tomorrow comes and everything goes out the window once again and instead I end up reminding myself how worthless I am, how useless I am, how burdensome I am and how much better off everyone would be without me. 

Today there are no scenic  #summerofrich pictures of waterfalls or the beauty of nature to show off, instead today you are seeing a picture of me doing something else. 

Something else that brings me as much joy as going for a hike in nature or taking in the beauty of a waterfall. 

Something else that brings with it a sense of calm just like when I’m out exploring nature or taking in the beauty of a waterfall. 

But I didn’t do it alone, I couldn’t do it alone as much as I’ve tried to for many weeks now. It’s paralyzing. It’s as though my car is paralyzed too.

Over the last few years reading has become an important part of my self-care regime and call me old-school but I much prefer to go to a bookstore than order a book online. 

When I enter a bookstore I feel like the world around me is put on pause. I’m suddenly in a world of imagination and make believe. I can get completely lost in the moment as I slowly stroll up and down each aisle, sifting through the pages of someone else’s story.

It’s such a magical way to spend a “time-out”.

#timeout #reading #bookstores #mentalwellnes #mentalhealth #metime inthemoment #yourementalhealthmatters #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok

My Bedside Table

*Could be potentially triggering to some people*

My Psychiatrist prescribed me an anti-anxiety medication last week as part of my new treatment plan. It’s been several years now since I’ve taken any kind of prescription medication at all to help treat my illness but I agreed to try this in hopes of finding even the slightest bit of relief because asides from my symptoms of depression and suicidal ideations becoming increasingly more and more active and beyond my control over the past month, so too has my anxiety and panic (do you know what it feels like to want to climb out of your skin?).

I began taking them on Saturday morning. 

My doctor had told me during our Zoom call a couple of days earlier that I’d need to take one pill every morning and one pill before bed every night and to then increase the doses to two pills in the morning and two pills before bed after a few days. But just to be clear here, it was actually Rich he was giving the information to, not me, as Rich has been under strict instructions from any and all of my doctors to keep all of my medications out of my reach (like that of a toddler) ever since I began to abuse my use of prescription drugs several years ago. 

I thought I was okay with all this because this medication was not considered an antidepressant as I have made it super clear to every new Psychiatrist I’ve encountered over the past many years, whether it be in a hospital setting or in a Doctor’s office that I no longer wish to be prescribed any more antidepressant drugs, EVER, after experiencing the excruciating side effects they had caused both my body and mind over a period of several years of trial and error which ultimately led to my diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression.

So I thought I was okay with all this. 

But by Sunday morning when I awoke to another pill sitting by my bedside table which Rich had left there for me to take, I suddenly realized that I was not okay with it and by Sunday evening those feelings turned to rage as I went frantically searching throughout the house for his hiding spot in hysteria (he had stepped out of the house for a half an hour and I saw it as my golden opportunity).

To be honest though, I’m not really even sure what I was trying to accomplish had I found my stash of pills (including sleeping pills which I was also prescribed and has actually been helping me to get some sleep) but I became inconsolable and in that very moment all I could think of was finding the pills so that I could finally unburden Rich of me once and for all.

I didn’t find them.

It’s now 1:30 AM Tuesday morning as I write this. I could be fast asleep by now had I already taken my new sleeping pill that is sitting by my bedside table but instead I’m lying here in tears, scared and feeling like I don’t want to continue with our agreed upon plan, none of it. 

I’ve been laying here in the dark for hours just staring at the pills which Rich left by my bedside table deciding whether or not to take them. And the demons in my head are dancing around claiming their victory (kinda like the Liberal party in Canada is doing right now as well).

I did eventually shut down the demons bantering just long enough to take them. But I’m not okay with all this, even if I know in my heart it is for my own safety and for the good of my health.

#emotionallydefeated #cantdothis #imaburden #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #depression #anxiety #panic #mentalillness #mentalhealth #treatmentresistantdepression #medication #itsokaytonotbeokay #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough

I Can See It In Your Eyes *May be triggering *

Our eyes don’t lie. 

They play a vital role in revealing our deepest thoughts and emotions. 

My depression knows it.

It waits for that perfect moment to make its move.

For me to give it a sign.

With the blink of my eye, a blank stare or a subtle wink it assures me its the right time. 

It closes in on me.

It feels the defeat in my eyes and plays off my fears.

It thrives on my weaknesses. 

It tells me what I long to hear.

It reassures me that it’s okay.

It seems to know what’s best for me when it looks in my eyes.

It tells me to stop procrastinating.

It knows I procrastinate alot.

It sees the tiredness and hopelessness in my eyes.

I stare back into its eyes. They look angry, agitated. 

I give it a look of despair.

It senses I may distrust its judgment. 

So it tells me to rest my eyes for a while, promising to never leave my side.

I lay there in silence, feeling alone and afraid, with one eye open, hoping it won’t notice.

#inyoureyes #theeyesofdepression #icanseeitinyoureyes #suicideawareness #depressionkills #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough

What Does It Feel Like To Be Suicidal

*May be triggering*

I think about suicide, like ALOT. 

If I’m being honest, it probably crosses my mind at least once per day, but most days I am able to distract it or change the subject. 

But then there are the days or even weeks when it decides it wants to fight back. 

It gets angry.

It uses scare tactics.

It bullies me.

And oftentimes it has pressured me into doing things I don’t want to do. 

For the better part of a week now I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to distract it. I do so for a while and try my darndest to change the subject but that only seems to be making it fight back even harder, and it seems angry. 

Which makes me even more vulnerable.  

The best way to describe what this feeling is like would be to compare its likeness to that of the antagonist in a horror film chasing after the heroic protagonist through the dark and foggy woods with a bloody butcher’s knife in hand.

You feel an adrenaline rush. You feel scared and alone.

You can barely catch your breathe.

You try running faster as you look back into the dark and fog filled woods. You can hear the rustling of leaves and you know that the antagonist is gaining speed. Then suddenly you lose your footing and collapse from exhaustion. You feel like you can’t run anymore.

*** I am needing to take a short break from social media. I’m at my breaking point. I have such an amazing community of support surrounding me which will never go unnoticed. I love and appreciate you all! xoxo 

*if you or someone you know is in crisis please tell someone immediately*

#suicide #depression #anxiety #mentalhealth #mentalillness #breakingpoint #socialmedia #takecareofyourself #selfcare #youarenotalone #dontsufferinsilence #youareenough

One of Those Days

Do you ever feel like you’ve had “one of those days?” 

I’m pretty sure you know what I mean right? 

We’ve all experienced those days where no matter what, nothing seems to go your way. 

Your day may start off seemingly “normal” but then something unexpected or presumably unwarranted happens which leads to a chain of events that quickly spirals into “one of those days”. 

I kinda feel like I’ve been living “one of those days” for seven years now though and this week was no exception. 

We can’t control everything that happens to us but on many of “those days” I keep trying my best to find a way to survive them.  

I posted a pic yesterday on social media which many of you reading this may have seen. It captured the essence of a picture perfect afternoon I’d spent with a couple of friends boating at the lake and smiling through Depression.  

What it didn’t show was how I almost didn’t go. 

Like one of my friends was literally sitting in my driveway all ready to pick me up to head up north to visit our friend’s lake house for that picture perfect day on the water and I was frozen in panic.

All because of the chain of events which had started early morning the day before and continued into the wee hours the next morning when Maggie suddenly became ill in the middle of the night; just adding insult to injury. 

It had been “one of those days” where nothing felt right. I’d just spent the previous 24 hours angry, panicked and crying and it was now trickling into the next day for me. 

But I chose to go. I went knowing that if I stayed home I would be giving up even more control of my emotions which is something I absolutely hate feeling more than anything. That feeling leaves my judgment very clouded. 

I knew I couldn’t change the events of the day before and that by going I was both acknowledging and accepting that.

I also knew that it would be good for me to go and try to get out of my head, even for just a few hours. I needed to go in order to prove to myself that I can be in control of some of my emotions and that I actually have the power to do so.

What do you try and do to take control of your emotions when you are having “one of those days”?

#oneofthosedays #takingcontrolofyouremotions #selfcare #acknowledgeandaccept #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #depression #anxiety #panicattacks #suicidalthoughts #suicideprevention #awareness #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough 

Monday Motivation: Crushing Your Dreams

Two years ago today, August 16th,  2019 was one of the happiest and most fulfilling days of my life when the first ever copies of my brand new, hot off the press children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” arrived on my front porch. 

I had just spent the previous year and a half working on it from start to finish which included writing, editing, working with my fabulous illustrator and finding the “perfect” and most patient company to help me self-publish it. 

For the next four plus months I worked non stop trying to get my book into as many hands as possible. I attended one event after another, reached out to  Mental Health Advocates on Social Media, got it on the shelves of some independent bookstores in Toronto, sold it at large retail chains, made several National Television and Radio appearances, was interviewed by local Newspapers, gave book talks at Preschooler/Mommy & Me programs and I had just begun filling up my calendar for the new year with book talks on Mental Health at Elementary Schools as well. 

And I had endless possibilities still up my sleeve.

I met so many incredible people along the way. I also had such incredible support from so many fantastic friends, family, acquaintances and strangers alike.

It felt like my dreams were coming true. I felt like I had purpose and I even felt like royalty somedays, especially when I attended my fabulous book launch party that Fall in my honour, hosted by a friend and her husband.  

And then, BOOM💥, 2020 hit and it hit hard. I got a concussion on day two of the new year which put me out of commission for close to a month and then the Pandemic hit us all in March and then in June of 2020 I found out, just by dumb luck that my Publisher had closed his business after 35 years, without any warning to his clients or a simple courtesy email or thank you.  Instead he disappeared without a trace and took with him, several thousands of dollars of Grant money which had been gifted to me by a prominent Mental Health Organization along with any additional inventory of mine they had held on to for safe keeping for my personal use and my Amazon account.  

To say I felt defeated is an understatement. One obstacle after another left me feeling purposeless again and very broken. It was the final blow. My dreams felt crushed.

I wanted to give up completely. I didn’t see any point in continuing.

How was I ever going to move forward from this especially knowing I now needed to somehow find a way to republish my book. We were in the midst of a global Pandemic and money was extremely tight.

But how could I give up on my dream that I’d worked so hard for and wanted more than anything? How could I let anyone dull my sparkle?

Surrendering to my current situation was difficult to accept. The “what ifs” controlled my every waking moment, making it even more difficult to forgive myself and somehow find the strength to move forward. 

I took some time to figure out if I could somehow save my dream even though it felt too crushed to repair. 

I leaned on my support system for encouragement and reassurement even more. I didn’t want to give up on my dream even if it felt crushed beyond repair and that my anxiety and depression had taken over my ability to pivot my way through this, especially during a global Pandemic. 

I began slowly trying to rebuild my dream by learning how to use technology I’d never even knew existed before in order to keep my book relevant. I knew that with each passing month of the Pandemic there were more and more people in need of my voice and my book.

I kept reminding myself this was not my fault. 

I am still actively looking to republish my book when I am ready and able to and this time I plan to take everything I have learned through this process into account when choosing a new publisher to work with. I am wiser now.

I am also so grateful to still have copies of my book in my possession which has allowed me to continue promoting it in the meantime. And of course with the help of technology and social media I’ve found so many new and innovative ways of doing so during a Pandemic through guest spots on Podcasts, Book Talks and Conferences on Zoom, pre-recorded story times, Google meet-ups with Non-Profit Organizations and Facebook/Instagram lives.

These obstacles I’ve endured since January 2020 have taught me many important lessons. My dream has never changed. My vision hasn’t either.

It may feel crushed beyond repair but like so many of us have had to do over the last 17 months, I am learning to pivot. Pivots in life do not equate to failure. Pivoting simply allows new doors to open and new dreams to come true.

#crushingmydreams #pivoting #childrensbook #author #dreamsdocometrue #selfpublishing #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #failure #mentalhealthadvocate #blogger #youareenough

I Have a Secret and It’s Weighing Me Down

We all carry secrets.

In fact science predicts that we are probably holding onto thirteen secrets right now that we have never shared with another living soul.

Holding onto secrets can sometimes be both stressful and harmful to one’s own mental health.

People reach out to me all the time in confidence and share many of their deepest and most intimate experiences and struggles with their mental health or that of a loved one. 

I don’t share a thing (unless of course they could be in danger of harming themselves or someone else). 

It’s not my story to tell. 

Instead I just offer up a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and some guidance if needed. 

I love that so many people, many of whom I don’t even know personally feel like they can come to me in confidence and share their intimate experiences and struggles. That is the reason why I continue to share my journey with you.

But last week someone came to me with a different type of secret and it has been weighing me down for the better part of a week now. 

The secret was shared with me without my consent and I wish more than anything that I could erase it from my mind.

Holding onto this secret and not being able to share it with anyone has taken a real toll on my own mental well-being this week. It should never have been shared with me in the first place.

The individual knew that by sharing this secret with me would be putting me in a very big predicament. But they went ahead and shared it anyways. It was beyond self-serving and selfish. 

The secret also came with a stern warning (after they blurted it out) that NOBODY else apparently knows about it and that nobody EVER could, especially of course the person that would be affected most by it if they ever found out. 

That somebody just so happens to be someone I respect deeply and is also a dear friend, but so was the person who shared the secret, or so I thought.

This secret has no direct impact on my own life whatsoever but it could potentially make a great impact on my friend’s life if they knew; for the better that is.

I’ve been so upset all week and don’t know what to do. It’s consuming me. It’s burdensome and my energy reserve has been depleted because of it. I’ve obsessed over it for almost a week now.

Many other people would’ve probably forgotten all about it by now but that’s just not how my overly anxious, compassionate and depressed mind works. 

I have found the need to emotionally detach myself from both parties because on one hand I’m angry and on the other hand I’m feeling so beyond overwhelmed with guilt knowing what I know.

I’m not concerned about the one friendship who clearly stepped over the boundary of trust and confidence by placing me in this predicament in the first place because that is not true friendship.

But what if I do decide to share this secret with the person I care deeply about, knowing how much they deserve to know and the next thing I know is there’s a hit put out on me!?🙂

Have you ever held onto a secret that completely weighed you down?

#secrets #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #friendship #trust #caughtinthemiddle #predicament #anger #sadness #overwhelm #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough

Invitation Only

“The act of forgiveness takes place in your own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person.”~ Louise Hay

Forgiveness is a gentle act and a gift of self love. I have learned over the last several years that holding on to anger I have toward someone who has hurt me only creates further pain. 

Forgiveness means no longer feeling burdened by your past. 

Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation, approval or making space to welcome someone back into your world, it just means choosing to rise above it by moving forward, free of bitterness and resentment. 

Forgiveness allows you to put the situation behind you for your own well being and integrity. It means taking back the power and control you have over yourself.

The past few years I’ve had a big shift in the area of my relationships and whether it be a friendship, a family member or even an acquaintance; it can get very complicated. 

Some shifts in my relationships have brought with it a sigh of relief, a feeling of anger and plenty of sadness but through my own personal journey toward healing and with time, they have also brought forgiveness.  

I’ve learned that holding on to the bitterness and resentment is only hurting me. 

Forgiveness doesn’t always happen right away. For some people or in some circumstances it can take a lot longer to forgive, but it’s never too late to learn the art of forgiveness.

As I move into this next chapter of my life I am now making a conscious effort and a very selfless decision when it pertains to my own mental health and well-being that I choose who I get to invite into my life.  

I’ve always let people walk into my life very easily, sometimes too easily and I’ve done so without actually stopping to ask myself first if I really have the energy or mental capacity needed in order to have a healthy relationship with this person at this moment in time. 

I’m a pretty open book (that’s an obvious one) and I wear my heart on my sleeve (also pretty obvious) which, at times has left me feeling very vulnerable and indefensible in some of my relationships and sadly it’s come back to bite me in the ass many, many times. 

By learning how to forgive others who have held way too much unwarranted space in my heart for far too long has really afforded me the ability to make so much more room in my life for the people who genuinely want to be there and vice versa. 

It’s opened up space to have real and honest relationships with people who can truly accept my limitations and vice versa, who see me as perfectly imperfect and vice versa, who don’t question my boundaries and vice versa, who support my endeavors and vice versa, who want nothing more than for me to be happy and vice versa, who are there to listen when I just need to talk, without judgment and vice versa and most of all, who love me for being my true authentic self and vice versa.

I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to the amazing relationships I have in my life right now. And whether you are a friend, a family member or even an acquaintance of mine I hope you know that you always have an open invitation.

#forgiveness #learningtoforgive #mentalhealth #wellbeing #inviteonly #theactofforgivness #mentalwellness #family #friendship #selfcare #selflove #rsvp #openinvitation #relationshipgoals #youareenough #mondaymotivation  

Good Mental Health is a Balancing Act

I’m overwhelmed. 

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Good mental health is a balancing act. 

It takes a lot of trial and error. 

I know my weaknesses.

I know my limitations.

I know what makes me happy. 

I struggle to accept help from others.

I struggle to set boundaries. 

I struggle to say no.

I’m overwhelmed.

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Balancing one’s mental health is “learning to find a way to do the things we have to do and the things we want to do without changing the hours in the day.”

I can’t find my balance right now. I’m tired.

I’m feeling hopeless.

Quick to anger.

Anxious.

Guilt.

Sadness. 

I’m an organizer, a fixer, a multi-tasker. 

But I can’t concentrate.

My brain is scattered.

I can’t complete a simple task.

I’m overwhelmed. 

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Good mental health is a balancing act. 

It’s not something that can be achieved in a day.

My mental health depends on it and so does my mental wellness.

I’m deserving of both. So are you. 

But it may take a lot of trial and error in order to get there. 

How do you balance your mental health and wellness?

#mentalhealth #mondaymotivation #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #balancingact #overwhelm #vulnerability #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #selfcare #hopelessness #suicideprevention #blogger #trialanderror