What’s the Point?

**Triggering content**

Not everyone around you will understand your journey and maybe not everyone is truly capable. 

I’ve had to accept this within my own personal journey. 

It’s destroyed many close relationships of mine.

But I know that my willingness to share my most vulnerable and intimate thoughts and feelings with all of you has helped bring about awareness to the many others who do want to understand what it’s like to live with Chronic and Treatment Resistant Depression, a debilitating Anxiety Disorder and Suicidal Ideations Every. Single. Day.

And I also know that by sharing my journey so openly and honestly has helped many more people feel less alone or ashamed. 

So then why do I suddenly feel like I should stop writing? Stop sharing my most intimate thoughts and emotions? Why at one of the most vulnerable points of my journey do I want to stop sharing my story all together?

Because well, it’s not like I Cancer you know. 

These were the words that I heard recently directed towards me during a conversation. Words that may not have necessarily been intended to be said with malice but words that can never be erased nonetheless. Words that dismissed the seriousness of my illness. Words that made me feel as though my need to create healthy boundaries and do what’s best for me are basically selfish because well you know, it’s not like I have Cancer.

Not everyone around you will understand your journey and maybe not everyone is truly capable. I’ve accepted this.

But I can no longer keep apologizing because of my “invisible” illness just because it can’t be detected through a body scan or an xray or a blood test and to be perfectly honest I’m just too damn tired to keep having to “defend” myself because I may not “look” sick. 

Depression is NOT a choice. Depression just is, just like Cancer or Diabetes just is. They can’t be rated on a scale of any kind and quite frankly they NEVER EVER should be. They are all just truly horrible illnesses and should be treated as such.

I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and that my purpose in life to raise awareness, educate and bring comfort to others has been overcome by even more pain and guilt and shame.

I know I should just “let it go” and try and focus on the many lives I do touch and those who appreciate me for who I am and what I have to offer but sadly, having the ability to just “think positive” when living with Depression or Anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles we face.

I’ve been inconsolable for days now and have been left feeling like what’s the point of writing, sharing my journey or living life?

#whatsthepoint #feelinghopeless #iquit #suicideawareness #feelingdefeated  #yourmentalhealthmatters #youarenotalone

Being Present In The Moment

Living with chronic depression and severe anxiety as I do it’s so easy to get caught up in both our past and our future, leaving us feeling very worn down, overwhelmed and vulnerable and often unable to live in the moment or be present in our own life. 

It’s been an incredibly difficult few days for so many of us who have been trying to come to grips with the cruel reality and accept the loss of a precious life that was taken from us far to soon. 

But Jesse, who was wise beyond his short life, left behind so many invaluable gifts for all of us to cherish and learn from, especially the gift of knowing how to embrace every moment by living in the moment and being present in our own life.

He taught us to appreciate life to the fullest and all of its encompassing beauty no matter what. He taught us to focus on the now and to relish life in the moment. He showed us how to be thankful for the small wins, however small they may seem.

He taught us that any random or spontaneous act of kindness can brighten someone’s day and that a smile or a kind word will take you a very long way. He taught us that worrying about our future can take away precious moments of our present day and he also taught us how to express gratitude right here and right now.

These are the kind of invaluable gifts that we all need to hold on tight to. So to honour Jesse’s memory today I’m asking that we all take a moment to be in the moment and to focus on what is right in front of us, surrender to your emotions, feel your surroundings and allow yourself to see something in your presence for the very first time 💙💙💙

#shabbatshalom #jessestrong #stayblessed #staybreezy #fuckcancer #beinthemoment #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mindfulness #depression #anxiety #yourmentalhealthmatters 

Stay Blessed, Stay Breezy

Today I had planned in advance to write a blog about the colonoscopy I had this afternoon which has been triggering my lifelong battle with an eating disorder all week but all that changed in an instant yesterday afternoon when I received a frantic and hysterical phone call from Jacob while he was at work, crying and gasping for breath, he uttered the words that no parent ever wants to hear and words that can never be undone. He shouted into the phone “Jesse just died”; his lifelong friend and our family’s friend had just suddenly passed away at the age of 22.

So today instead I want to pay tribute to our dear friend Jesse Benudiz who was taken from all of us way too soon. Jesse was the most loyal and generous friend to everyone who knew him. I can recall countless times he proved that to me and my family, including when he so generously hired Hannah for her very first lifeguarding job at the Fitness Club he managed, or when we smuggled Jesse into camp one Visitor’s Day after he had stopped working there and when approached by head staff as to what he was doing there he told them he came to visit his “cousin Rachel Fluxgold” and another special memory I can recall of Jesse was the time when he so selflessly spent many hours talking Jacob through some very personal life altering decisions of his own while he was struggling to find his path in life during his first semester of University. 

Jesse was also by far the most amazing and loving son and big brother to his twin brothers. I was lucky enough to witness this myself many times over with his mom KC, whom I am honored to call my friend and his incredible brothers Justin and Jamie. He was an inspiration and shining light to anyone who he met and he had the most empathetic and genuine heart of anyone I know

Last spring when the world was trying to cope with the onset of Covid-19, Jesse learned that he had a brain tumor and for the next six  months or so he began the fight of his life on an entirely different level. He spent countless weeks in hospital all alone due to Covid and underwent aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatments followed by brain surgery; always smiling through his pain, but a few short months ago Jesse got the best news of all; he was now in remission. 

Throughout the past year, Jesse continued to inspire us all, managing to finish his Degree, raising 20k for Princess Margaret Hospital (a world renowned Cancer Institute right here in Toronto and the same place that had saved his life just months ago), but he didn’t stop there. 

Now that he had beat Cancer’s ass he wanted to continue making his mark on the world and started a Podcast called “The Blessed and Breezy” where he talked about his own personal journey and struggles and discussed many of the challenges among youth and mental health today. And there were so many other endeavors on the horizon for him as well.

My entire family is truly heartbroken today and there are no words to describe our pain. He has left a void in our hearts.  We had a very special bond and even through his own struggles he would reach out to me regularly to talk, he would comment on many of my blogs with encouraging words, he would send me information on different podcasts or YouTube videos that he thought would be of interest to me and just last week we spoke about collaborating together on one of his upcoming Podcasts. 

No parent should ever have to go through this kind of loss, EVER and my heart breaks for KC and Max and the rest of Jesse’s family and his many, many, many friends. He was and will always be remembered as the shining light he has left behind for everyone who ever had the honour to know him.

RIP Jesse. You will be missed greatly.😥

#stayblessed #staybreezy #ripjesse #weloveyoutothemoonandback #fuckcancer #youareenough #youarenotalone 

Paging Dr. Google

Living with a severe anxiety disorder like I do can literally make anyone do crazy shit. And if there is one thing I know for sure it’s that my anxiety makes me feel out of control and will often paralyze me with fear and worry when it comes to, well, just about everything.

Over the last few years I’ve been taught several helpful tools that I can turn to when I’m feeling anxious and I have found, through some trial and error, many of them to be quite useful at times. 

As I’ve also mentioned many, many times before, I rely heavily on CBD oil (Full Spectrum, with NO THC and preferably peppermint flavor!) to give me an almost immediate relief of certain physical symptoms like severe heart palpitations and nausea. But when the physical symptoms go beyond my everyday normal symptoms I’m lucky enough that my dear friend “Dr. Google” is always there to advise me.

“Dr. Google” is my “go to” Doctor when my own Doctor is unavailable for consultation, you know, like in the middle of the night when many of these symptoms seem to unexpectedly show up and you need a medical diagnosis, STAT. 

But I should probably also mention here how much I avoid calling my Doctor to begin with because I just can’t bring myself to pick up a phone to call her or I get worried that I’m just bothering her (yup that too is a symptom of my anxiety). 

I know that all probably sounds a bit crazy to some of you (I told you that anxiety can make you do crazy shit) and I also know that “Dr. Google” is probably NOT the most reliable resource when it comes to making a proper diagnosis (trust me I know) but I also know that I’m probably not alone. 

The internet makes it so easy these days to look up just about anything your heart desires but when you suffer with extreme anxiety and major depression, my advice to you would be to stay as far away from “Dr. Google” as you possibly can because before you know it your anxiety/panic attack at 2 am has somehow just been diagnosed as a rare and incurable disease. 

Just like the one I diagnosed myself with last evening after describing to a friend an extremely sharp pain I had been having on and off for the past couple of days in one particular area of my body, a pain I have never experienced before. She tried to reassure me it was probably nothing too serious and that I should call my Doctor in the morning but before she could finish her sentence (we were actually texting) I cut her off because “Dr. Google” was already telling me the complete opposite of what she was saying, and quite frankly, like come on now, who are you actually gonna believe? 

Well seeing as it’s now after 2 am as I write this and stare at my “Dr. Google” diagnosis you can probably figure that answer out all on your own! And trust me, “Dr. Google” is just as quick and informative when it comes to helping me self diagnose my kids ailments too!

Who else turns to Dr. Google for their regular check ups? 

#drgoogle #selfdiagnosis #anxiety #depression #symptomsofanxietyanddepression #mentalhealthishealth 

It’s Movember: Change The Conversation

Today we welcome in the month of November and the good news is that means there are only 60 more days left until this year from hell will finally be over! But today also marks the beginning of Movember which also means that for the next 30 days men from all around the world will be growing a moustache in honour of their fellow men everywhere.  

Movember, which originated in Australia is now a celebrated movement that raises awareness and funds for men’s health issues but more specifically; Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Depression and Suicide.

As we watch men’s moustaches grow we are paving the way towards critical and possibly life saving conversations to occur and reminding men of the importance of early cancer detection, making time for annual check-ups, getting more active and essentially decreasing the amount of preventable deaths. 

From a young age some boys are taught (whether it be culturally, generationally or socially) that a “real man” shouldn’t cry, that a “real man” can’t show fear, that being compassionate is somehow a character flaw and that acting anything less than a tough guy is a sign of weakness. 

These untruths only feed more and more into the many toxic masculine aggressions and can also lead many men towards feelings of “self-reliance and emotional repression”,  both of which can very likely produce an increase in mental health problems such as Depression and Suicide.  

A man with such toxic character traits may also make it much less likely that they will seek medical and/or psycholgical help for themselves and could therefore lead to a much shorter life span. 

When I came upon this picture the other day (see attached) of the soon to be “President of the United States!!!” and his son Hunter Biden, I saw a picture of courage and strength, I saw a picture of acceptance and understanding, I saw a picture of forgiveness and I saw an unconditional love between a father and his son. 

This picture went viral but sadly it did so for all the wrong reasons. Some individuals (to remain nameless) mocked and shamed this portrait as a toxic portrayal of how a “real man” should act and they are sending a very misguided and scary message to the world; especially to the most vulnerable and most impressionable young men among us. 

I wish they could see what I see when I look at this picture and I wish that they could see how having the gift of a strong male role model in a young boy’s life could set the bar higher towards a society where men are embraced for their vulnerability instead of their toughness.  We could sure use more men like that in the world right now.

Let’s “change the face of men’s health” (Movember’s motto) and squash the stereotypes by supporting and encouraging all men to see this picture through that same lens.

#changetheconversation #endingthestigma #movember #changethefaceofmenshealth #youareenough #noshame #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #joebidenforpresident #iwishicouldvote

Remembering Terry Fox


Today we set out for a #summerofrich adventure in honour of Terry Fox who passed away 39 years ago today after his courageous and well-fought battle with Cancer that he so bravely united Canadians around the world with as he ran his Marathon of Hope across Canada with a prostetic leg, never allowing anything to get in his way of raising money for Cancer Research. 

Our #summerofrich adventure didn’t go as I had planned today (that is a whole other story) which left me feeling quite defeated but then I began to reflect back to that little 10 year old girl in me who still remembers the day in early July 1981 when I received a letter in the mail from my parents (while I was away at camp) telling me of Terry Fox’s death. I remember feeling a great sense of sadness (like so many other proud Canadians) upon hearing the news of his death as I had been following his remarkable and inspirational journey since the beginning. 

If I have learned anything from my own journey over the last 6 years it’s that life doesn’t always go as we plan and that sometimes we may feel defeated but Terry Fox’s strength, spirit, determination, courage and bravery has taught us that it’s ok to accept defeat sometimes and that we need to learn to forgive ourselves sometimes because somethings you just cannot avoid.
That reflection is what helped me to hold back many tears today as I honoured Terry Fox’s legacy, someone who still remains to be seen as one of the greatest and most prominent heroes in Canadian history as he reminds us that anything is truly possible if you try. 

#onthisday #marathonofhope #theterryfoxfoundation #terryfox #fuckcancer #youareenough #youarenotalone