Wife Appreciation Day

Today happens to be “Wife Appreciation Day”. 

To be honest I am feeling very triggered right now ever since I came across this revelation earlier this morning because in my mind I don’t see myself as a wife deserving of appreciation, I just see myself as a burden to everyone, especially my spouse. 

My memories on Facebook this weekend have been flooded with one of the most incredible nights of my life two years ago when I was invited as the Guest of Honour at a launch party for my new children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?”. I was surrounded by so much love and appreciation. 

One of the memories that came up today happens to be the speech that Rich gave that night. I’ve read it probably ten times already this morning as I try to battle with the demons in my head who keep telling me that I’m not worthy of the love and commitment and appreciation others have for me, especially my spouse. 

I wanted to reshare those words with you today that were so eloquently spoken from the heart by Rich, to me, his wife in hopes that the demons in my head get the message!

P.S. For all of you reading this who have an imperfectly perfect wife, make sure you remind them today, tomorrow and forever how thankful you are to have them in your life; I may not always believe it but I am certainly one of the lucky ones because Rich never stops trying.

#wifeappreciationday #burdened #mentalhealth #mentalillness #mentalwellness #fromtheheart #suicideprevention #facebookmemories #triggers #childrensbook #appreciation #commitment #love #spouses

September 17, 2019

Good Evening

As most of you know I am by no means the writer in our home and my press secretary has been busy working on her own speech all week, so here goes nothing!!

I first met Kim when she was just 18 years young and she began working at the video store I was managing in Thornhill. She caught my eye right away but unfortunately there were MANY challenges standing in our way. Besides the fact that she had a boyfriend at the time and I was busy fending off some lovestruck sociopath, I was now her boss as well, but those didn’t even come close to the biggest challenge we were facing. Ya see, I was close to 9 years older than her (8 years, 7 months and 16 days to be exact). And now that I have 2 daughters of my own who are in and around that same age I can TOTALLY see that challenge from a very different perspective!

But with a combination of male ego, unyielding determination, mixed in with a spoonful of testosterone sometimes you just have to say Screw It and ignore what the haters may think or say and just go for it! By now Kim was just shy of her 20th birthday and had this been in some medievel time she would have likely been considered an old maid already so I saw this as my golden opportunity. But I am still waiting for that dowry!

We recently celebrated 24 years of marriage this past spring and have 3 beautiful kids to show for it, one of whom is busy drinking his way through Europe with some friends as I speak. And like in every marriage or as every parent can attest to there will always be challenging times along the journey which for us surfaced 5 and a half years ago when Kim first took ill.

I have known Kim now for 30 years and have watched her grow and change in so many ways but one thing that has never changed in all the years I have known her is that she has the kindest heart, and she has so much determination and so much will. I know that Kim no longer sees these incredible attributes within herself because of what depression has taken from her but lucky for her there are so many people in her life who love her enough to ensure that she can see what an incredible person she truly is.

I am so proud of you Kim. Jacob, Hannah and Rachel are so damn proud of you too. You may not see what we all see in you but I will keep reminding you of it every single day for the rest of our lives. You may not see that what you do for so many people by writing your blog and opening up to the world about what it truly feels like to battle with major (and treatment resistant) depression and SEVERE anxiety and panic every single day. You may not see how your vulnerability and honesty has helped so many others feel less alone and you may still not be able to call yourself an author and believe it to be true but you are an author, I mean City TV interviewed you for the six o’clock news last night if that isn’t proof enough!

But you know why you are an author…because you had a vision, because you have such a creative soul, because you are so kindhearted and because you have such an unyielding determination and innate will to help others. You have accomplished more than so many others because of all that. You have made your dream come true even through the darkest days of your life. You have found your purpose.

Look around the room tonight Kim and see all the love surrounding you, they aren’t just here for the free food and drinks! They are here to celebrate you!

Jacob Hannah Rachel and we can’t forget Maggie (our dog) and I love you to the moon and back! And now without further ado…let me introduce to you, my beautiful wife and best friend.. children’s author Kim Fluxgold!

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I appreciate you. 

I am truly blessed knowing how many people I have in my life who genuinely care about my well-being. 

I’ve read each and every message (both from my Social Media feeds and those who messaged me privately as well) probably a dozen or more times by now since sharing with you a very heartfelt and vulnerable blog I wrote yesterday.  

I cried alot.

I smiled too.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I know I am struggling alot right now and I’m finding it more and more difficult to cope with my very dark and overwhelming thoughts of suicide.

I want you to know that it’s okay to acknowledge that things may not be okay. That you may not be okay. 

Just know that YOU are not alone.

Yesterday one of the private messages I received from a friend was a short animated video clip written and narrated by Brene Brown (who I admire so much) after reading my blog because she thought it perfectly summed up what I had written. The clip emphasizes the important differences between empathy and sympathy and how showing empathy towards others “fuels” connections, whereas sympathy does not. Empathy is about feeling “with” people. It’s about reaching out to someone for help and having that person say “hey, here I am”. “You’re not alone”. It’s not about looking for the silver lining (a perfect example from my blog yesterday would be someone saying to you “well at least you don’t have Cancer” when you tell them you are feeling depressed). It’s about being honest and saying I’m glad you told me. It’s not about the response, it’s about the connection.

As difficult as this week has been for me I know in my heart that I need to keep writing and sharing my journey, probably now more than ever.

We all need to do our part to raise more awareness, educate others and help reduce the stigma; and yes we NEED to talk about suicide too. 

Asking someone about suicide will help break the silence and can save a life. 

Take a moment today to connect with someone who may be struggling right now. Let them know you hear them. You see them. You feel them. You appreciate them.

Start a conversation and then keep it going; today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that too. 

I also wanted to let you know that my book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” is now available for purchase at Batner Bookstore at 180 Steeles Ave. W. in Thornhill (or through me as well). They specialize in new and used textbooks, workbooks, study guides, course materials and literature. It’s a perfect addition to any classroom, library or children’s bookshelf especially as we begin another uncertain school year ahead and when so many children and caregivers are facing the worst mental health crisis of our lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my journey. The good, the bad and the ugly. I love you all so much. #shabbatshalom

#worldsuicidepreventionday #startaconversation #youmatter #youareenough #youareworthy #suicideprevention #mentalhealth #yourmentalhealthmatters #empathy #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone @the_batner_bookstore @brenebrown

Stresstember

Can you believe it’s September already?

September can be a very stressful month for many. It often means saying goodbye to the mindset of carefree summer days.

Add in so many uncertainties surrounding the Pandemic into the mix and this September could likely be even more challenging for many more.

If you feel more stress in September, YOU are not alone.

With the kids heading back to school, changes in routine, jam packed schedules, many unknowns, a change of seasons, shortening daylight hours; anxiety and overwhelm are certain to play a big role in many of our lives during the month ahead.

September is also “National Self-Care Awareness Month”.

Self-care knows no boundaries, unfortunately neither do anxiety and overwhelm.

Everyone can benefit from practicing self-care. It’s not SELFISH!

So take advantage of it in the month ahead and make self-care an important part of your daily routine.

Pay attention to how you are feeling.

Communication is key.

Healthy boundaries are imperative.

Practice being kind to yourself and tell your guilt to fuck off.

How do you prepare for Stresstember?

How do you ease back into a routine?

What is one thing you look most forward to in September?

***Leave your emojis in the comments as to how you are feeling about the month ahead.

😖🥸😞😇

#September #stresstember #nationalselfcareawarenessmonth #stress #overwhelm #healthyboundaries #communicationiskey #bekindtoyourself #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #yourmentalhealthmatters #youarenotalone #youareenough

Nap Time

To chronicle my sleep patterns in a word I’d best describe it as haphazardly. 

In short, it lacks any type of direction, it’s random and very disorderly.

I’m up until all hours of the night wandering aimlessly, worrying and anticipating doom. 

My body seems to have made the necessary adjustments needed for someone living on minimal amounts of sleep each night but still it continues to urge me to get some rest when I can.

Most days it loses that argument because even a short catnap feels burdensome to me. My mind fights the urge to nap but certainly not for lack of trying that is.

Napping is good for your mental health. Experts will tell you that taking a short afternoon nap can help clear the chaotic thoughts and burnout from your mind, it can improve your cognitive ability and even boost your mental agility.

But still, napping gets a bad rap.

People perceive napping as laziness instead of seeing it for its many health benefits. 

I wish I could nap more often. I feel guilty as it is when I can’t get out of bed most mornings. But it’s okay to nap, or even lay in bed a little bit longer if that’s what your body and mind need. 

Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing we can do in order to recharge. It’s not a waste of time if your body and mind are begging you to do so.

Do you find having a quick catnap when you can rejuvenating?

Thank you to everyone who continues to reach out to me, check up on me and leave beautiful messages of support this week as I continue to try and get through this very difficult time*

#napping #catnap #recharge #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #negativethoughts #burnout #mentalagility #siesta

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

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

Story Time

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.

https://linksharing.samsungcloud.com/haEDOWm6rva4

#yourmentalhealthmatters #childrensbook #ouryouthmatter #wheredidmommyssmilego #mentalhealth #depression #startaconversation #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #youareenough #youarenotalone #wheredothechildrenplay #trentradio

A Work In Progress

Seven years ago I could never have pictured my life a certain way. 

None of us ever can.

But from very early on in my diagnosis I knew I needed to somehow paint another picture by accepting the tools I’d been given and embrace each one of them, one stroke at a time. 

These tools have helped me to understand that it’s okay if sometimes I colour outside the lines or splatter some paint on my shoes. 

I may still be a work in process but no matter what we are all a work of art.

Not everyone is ready to start painting a new picture right away.

It may take some time (maybe even years) before someone is truly able to put on a smock, pick up their paint brush and make that first stroke.

Some people need to ease into it at their own pace because they are too afraid to change their picture or ask for help in creating a new one.

The question is, how does a person truly know when they are ready? What makes someone ready? 

I’ve seen alot of people who struggle with this. They pick up their pencil thinking they are ready to start sketching their new picture. 

But then they place their half chewn and sharpened down to the nub pencil back in the drawer. 

They try again.

This time they start sketching an image but their picture gets smudged in the process so they desperately try to erase the smudges but the smudges just become more embedded deeper and darker into the paper the more they attempt to erase them.  

And before they know it they have just crumpled up their hundredth piece of paper to toss in the waste basket.

But then one day, maybe even after attempting to throw away that hundredth piece of crumpled up paper into the waste basket they realize that what they need the most is some actual guidance and direction or maybe even an entirely new perspective; one that is outside of their abstract view of what their picture should look like. 

It’s okay if you toss away a hundred pieces of crumpled up paper into the waste basket, using that stubby, chewed up pencil before you are able to create a new picture, one with more depth and composition. 

Because only you will know in your heart when the time comes that you are truly ready to pick up that paint brush, stand confidently in front of your easel and begin painting your new picture; this time using the most beautiful and vibrant colours. 

#acceptance #acceptinghelp #accountabilty #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #workinprogress #workofart #mentalhealth #paintedpictures #abstract

Panic in the Pool

This past week I’ve felt very on edge, well more than I usually do I guess you could say.

I am feeling more nervous than usual,  more tense, more angry and very uneasy. 

Today the build up led to a panic attack right in the middle of my morning aqua fit class. 

I love my aqua fit classes. I look so forward to it twice a week.

They are such a wonderful and positive distraction for me. 

I work my butt off in class and I feel such a great accomplishment afterwards but today, given the week I’ve had, I just couldn’t seem to distract myself.

I tried to quietly slip out of the pool so not to make a scene as the panic erupted (it’s not like I’ve never made a scene before though!). 

I felt the tears fill my eyes and I could barely breathe. Figuratively, I felt like I was drowning. 

I just needed a moment to myself. 

I reassured everyone I was ok (quietly slipping out of the pool didn’t work).

I wiped my tears away with my towel, took a few deep breaths, a big swig of water from my water bottle and then before I slipped back into the pool I double checked my phone to reassure myself one last time that the world wasn’t about to end.

Fyi: It wasn’t!

#panicattacks #aquafit #pooltime #selfcare #mentalhealth #anxiety #distractions #funinthesun #ilovetoswim #summertimeselfcare #floaties

Developing Resilience in our Youth

It’s #timscampday. 

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”.

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/our-last-visitors-day-all-good-things-must-come-to-an-end

#youthareenough #campday #timhortons #buyacoffee #resilience #courage #leadership #confidence #ouryouthmatter #campismentalwellness #changealife #onecupatatime