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.
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.
Last week I pre-recorded a segment for an episode of “Where Do The Children Play” on Trent Radio 92.7 CFFF FM which aired last Thursday morning.
The show which runs 3 mornings a week was created for kids and features story time and fun kid’s music.
The station itself was established and is operated solely by the students of Trent University in Peterborough Ontario.
I read my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” to their listeners and spoke briefly afterwards about why I wrote it and the importance of not only talking to children about a loved ones mental health challenges but also reassuring them that they are safe, loved and not responsible or to blame for it.
I have posted the segment below if you would like to hear it.
Thank you again to Skye Vasey for allowing me to share my story and for all your hard work and dedication to this program.
Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to purchase a copy of my book for your classroom, school library, a preschool setting or for yourself or a loved one.
This afternoon I was given the opportunity and honour to be a guest speaker on a Podcast.
My first one ever.
I felt like a movie star.
I was introduced to the host Marilyn Barefoot about a month or so ago through a mutual friend who thought that I would be a perfect fit for Marilyn’s Podcast called “Breaking Brave” so she connected us via email and we set up a time to “meet” and get to know one another later that week.
Our conversation was so easy.
It was heartfelt and inspiring.
I felt like we’d known each other forever.
Right from our opening dialogue I could feel Marilyn’s energy and compassion shine through.
She is a natural born speaker, motivator and innovator both in her chosen field and on her Podcast.
But once Marilyn was given the green light from her Executive Producer a few days later to schedule me in for an actual recording of her Podcast it wasn’t too long afterwards when my negative self-talk kicked into full gear.
Brave? Me, brave?
How do I foster bravery in my mental health journey?
I gave this a great deal of thought.
I know that being vulnerable and honest about my personal struggles with mental illness is brave.
I know that by educating others and helping them to understand the many depths of mental illness is brave.
I know that being so transparent about my own mental health is helping to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and that is brave.
I know that the more I talk about my illness allows others to feel more comfortable and less ashamed or alone about their own struggles and that is brave.
I know that getting up each and every day and fighting for my life and advocating for the lives of so many others just like me is very brave.
I know that I have inspired many because of my willingness to share my story and that too is brave.
Being brave about your own mental health struggles should be contagious but it also doesn’t have to include writing a blog, publishing a children’s book or baring your heart and soul on Social Media either.
For you, “Breaking Brave” in your own personal mental health journey right now may mean taking that first step to ensure you get the help you need, however it is you feel most comfortable doing so, just so long as you do it! And I would be honoured to help take that first step with you!
A special thank you to Marilyn and her Executive Producer Rebekah for allowing me to share my story with your audience today and for showing me how truly brave I am. I am grateful for this experience and for your kindness and compassion.
My episode will likely be aired in a couple of months (I will keep you posted!). To listen to previously recorded episodes of Marilyn’s Podcast go to: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/breaking-brave-with-marilyn-barefoot/id1555760904 . “Each episode, find out how innovators and trailblazers from every walk of life broke through in their chosen or created fields. A podcast meant to inspire, invigorate, inform and uplift.”~Marilyn Barefoot
With another “Stay at Home” order in effect for Ontario now is the perfect time to delve into a good book.
Reading not only entertains us but studies have shown that it can also improve our overall mental health too.
Reading a good book is a great way for our minds to escape from our day to day stress or racing thoughts.
It can help us unwind and relax.
It keeps our minds sharp, improves our memory and cognitive skills and can help make our brains stronger.
For me personally, I love to read Self-help and Personal Development books; many of which are autobiographical accounts of someone’s victorious mental health journey.
They can be very inspiring, therapeutic and healing.
They can provide insight into our own limitations and help us grow stronger or become better humans.
Reading in general can feel very empowering, be very engaging and emotionally charging.
It can also enhance our creativity, productivity, outlook, competence and overall wellbeing.
So whether you prefer to curl up on the couch with a good self-help book, fiction, romance or something autobiographical, as you can see, reading has so many healthy benefits to it (just incase you were on the fence about taking up the hobby yourself!).