Fact: Most people who take their own life don’t really want to die, they just want to stop hurting.
So then what is the alternative when your pain is just too unbearable to handle and you feel so hopeless? Or helpless? Or empty inside? Or you can no longer live in the skin you’re in?
These are all questions I’ve asked myself over and over again for many years now. I’ve attempted suicide before and every time there has always been a voice inside my head begging me to stop or telling me that perhaps today may not be the perfect day to carry out my plan afterall and then they silently pray that I haven’t gone too far this time.
The last few weeks have been some of the most trying and horrifyingly scary days for me and for many of my loved ones as well.
I have been consumed with active thoughts of suicide, day and night and way more than usual. That voice inside my head has been watching me closely, as have the demons as well. The voice has been listening to me come up with a perfect plan and doing everything in its power to distract me from the demons in my head who keep egging me on while dangling a bottle of pills in front of its face.
Yesterday felt too much, once again. I knew I felt unsafe and Rich could sense it. He asked Hannah to drive me to the hospital as she was the only one home with me at the time. I did what I’ve had to do many times before when the pain is just too unbearable. When I feel most hopeless and helpless and empty. I seek safety.
The emergency room doctor I spoke with was kind and supportive. She put me on a Form 1 which panicked me and meant that I could not leave the hospital for my own safety which also meant having security guards standing outside the room I was in for my own safety.
After spending some time with the doctor she put in a request for the Psychiatric team to come talk with me further and figure out a plan.
The Psychiatrist was a gentle and very understanding soul. We talked in length about what’s been going on, some of my history and of course whether or not I should be admitted to the Psych floor for further observation.
Here’s where things get more complicated for me and besides the panic of having my phone taken away from me while in-patient this is where I begin to tell myself again, it’s hopeless because I’m helpless.
I have not been on meds for my depression for several years now. They have not worked for me, all twenty plus of them. Infact most of the meds caused further damage both mentally and physically.
From my experiences with in-patient Psychiatric care it mostly comes down to medication and finding a balance that could potentially help me find my balance. I won’t do it again. I tried for many years and it just led to a further diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression.
Since my last visit to emerg a few weeks ago (where I thought I’d give the new hospital close to my home a try, but never again!) I have been waiting for an appointment to see my Psychiatrist I’d been with since before the Pandemic began. In fact it was March 15th 2020 that I had a scheduled appointment to see him and for him to begin a new treatment with me. It was cancelled and I just stopped going. I got anxious about going especially to the one hospital in Toronto that was consistently on the news for the amount of Covid outbreaks they were having.
It’s now been over a year since seeing him, so I needed my GP to fax another referral to him. I haven’t heard anything as of yet and as I began to spiral even further over the past few weeks since my last visit to emerg I stopped caring because the hopeless feelings, the helplessness, the emptiness made me believe there was just no point anymore in trying because aside from all the medications, I’ve also tried probably 50 other types of treatments as well. You name it, I’ve done it. So why would this treatment be any different?
Well the Psychiatrist I spoke with last night came up with a plan with his team for me regardless of me telling him I’m helpless because he was certain that I’m not. He also told me that whenever I feel like I did yesterday or days previous that I am always welcome to come in just to sit in a quiet room and speak with their team and just get through the moment.
He made me promise to continue to reach out to my safety net as well when I am at my breaking point. He also said something to me that I haven’t been able to get out of my head right before he agreed to cancel my Form 1 and release me from the wolves standing on guard outside my door.
I had told him during our initial conversation how I have found purpose in writing and blogging and educating people on mental illness and advocating for others who are just like me to do whatever is needed to seek care. He told me it’s a wonderful thing that I am doing for others, and very selfless and important and much needed work but he then said “But now it’s time that you start advocating for yourself as well”.
This he said, includes (with the help of Rich and my GP) that I get in touch with my Psychiatrist immediately to reinvoke our plan from last year and that I make sure to follow up with my GP on the plan he will be forwarding to her today as well for her to distribute a new anti-anxiety medication to me and to refill the sleeping pills he gave me which Rich will once again be burdened with to keep in a safe place and distribute them to me.
Thank you all for your continued love and support. My apologies for not getting back to each one of you individually who took the time once again to comment on my posts or send me words of encouragement to me privately. I am overwhelmed right now and allowing myself to heal today in private.
As ere of Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar) begins this evening I am praying to find forgiveness within myself and will take this time to reflect on today in order to find the beauty in tomorrow.
Just got home from a long and very invigorating walk with our friends.
As we passed this tree in the forest my girlfriend stopped to point out to me the words which had been spray painted on the tree that read “keep going”. She was certain it was there as a reminder from God telling me that I must “keep going”!
Upon our arrival home from our walk there was a beautifully wrapped gift of self-care on my front porch which was left for me by another incredible girlfriend of mine.
I am overwhelmed and beyond grateful for my amazing tribe. I am truly blessed by all the love and support and kindness I have in my life.
It’s okay to not be okay.
“There is no exercise better for your heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
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*
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.
I started following a group on Facebook called “Ontario Hiking” soon after its conception last spring that has really helped me to find many new and exciting places to explore on our #summerofrich adventures.
It is run by Lauren Yakiwchuk who spends so much of her free time exploring our great Province and blogging about her personal experiences along her trails.
This group offers many fun and interactive experiences, great tips, lots of beautiful photos and so many helpful and honest reviews of places all over Ontario, some of which are very close to home for me and many more that are hundreds of kilometers away.
Throughout the last 4 years since the #summerofrich first launched (can you believe its been four years) I continue to add many new and adventurous places to my already very lengthy wishlist that I would love to explore one day.
It has become quite a long list and it just keeps on growing.
Each week I now refer to this wonderful and very informative group of close to 80,000 like-minded members who share my passion for nature, hiking and mental wellness in order to plan our day trips. **I was really hoping that this summer we could take a 5 day hiking trip to the most northern tip of our beautiful Province for my birthday but unfortunately there have been too many obstacles standing in our way this year.
One of the group’s most fun and interactive experiences I’ve enjoyed following most since the group launched last spring has been reading posts from other members who have participated in the quarterly hiking challenges.
These challenges occur every January, April, July and October. Participants are asked to complete 5 hikes (or walks) during that month. Once you have completed your hikes you can email the 5 locations you hiked during that month to a specific app in order to receive a “digital badge” for “bragging rights” and a chance to win prizes.
I decided near the end of June that instead of just following other members participating in the upcoming July challenge that I would join in on the #julyhikingchallenge for myself.
It’s not like we don’t hike several times a month anyways, especially during the summer and I knew that if I participated in the challenge for myself that it would push me (and Rich) on those days when one of us is just not up for it.
We both have such a feeling of accomplishment after our hikes and not only did we challenge each other in July to push through the 5 hikes, we surpassed the initial targeted goal and completed 7 of them instead. That for sure earned us both many bragging rights.
I just received my “digital badge” this morning via email for accomplishing the #julyhikingchallenge and although I may not have won any of the prizes this time around I feel like a baby bird today when they are first born and have no idea the power that their wings have or how determined they will become in order to learn to fly; and one day maybe even learn to soar.
By purchasing a hot/iced coffee or one of their camp day bracelets today, 100% of the proceeds will go towards helping to make a difference in the lives of our youth.
I loved camp.
I have so many amazing memories of camp.
My kids have been lucky enough to have also made so many of their own incredible memories from their years at camp too.
Camp builds leadership skills and confidence in kids.
It gives them courage and it teaches them resilience.
Resilience is a skill that we develop as we grow and if this past year has proven anything to us at all it’s that kids are so incredibly capable of being resilient beings.
Resilience is defined as “the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges or even trauma.”
Our youth have all faced varying degrees of stress, adversity, failure, challenges and even trauma over the course of the Pandemic.
As parents, teachers, caregivers or even camp counsellors, we all have a very important role in helping children develop the necessary skills to becoming resilient.
Acknowledging a child’s feelings, labeling their emotions, embracing their mistakes and failures, encouraging them to take “healthy risks” that may be outside of their comfort zone or teaching them valuable problem solving skills are just a few examples of how we can play a role in ensuring this skill is properly developed as they grow.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid stress in our lives from time to time but by giving children the skills and confidence necessary to become more resilient is definitely one of the best ways for them to cope with it.
Feel free to check out my blog below which I wrote a few years ago. It speaks volumes to what camp meant to me growing up and now my own children as well.
And don’t forget to drop by a Tim Hortons today (in Canada) to help “change a life one cup at a time”.