Last Official Weekend of #summerofrich 2021

Doing what I can today to focus on the beauty that surrounds me;

One moment at a time,

One step at a time,

One breath at a time. 

#lastofficialweekendofsummerofrich2021 #fallisalmosthere #changeofseasons #beautywithin #atacrossroad #ontarioisourstodiscover #niagaraescarpment #chasingwaterfalls #beamermemorialconservation #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #justbreath #suicideawareness #itsoktonotbeok  #imnotokay #youarenotalone #youareenough

Spinning Like A Fan *May be triggering*

It’s 1 am as I begin to write this. I just spent the better part of the past hour bawling my eyes out while Rich held my hand and Maggie tried to work her magic. 

Right before this scene played out I had been lying in bed watching my mindless Sunday night Reality TV shows while texting with some friends. 

I’d just had a “picture perfect” weekend which many of you may have seen from the #summerofrich pics I had posted on my Facebook and Instagram pages. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing the things I love; being outdoors, enjoying quality time with family and friends. 

But as I lay there in bed watching my mindless reality TV and chatting with several friends, the highlight reel of my own reality started playing out in my head and the overwhelming disconnect I’ve been feeling from the world lately, even during these “picture perfect” moments left my mind spiraling out of control faster than the fan spinning beside my bed.

It felt like a big gust of painful emotions blew right through me.

And then I felt an emptiness inside of me as those “picture perfect” moments quickly got tangled up in the blades of my fan, leaving me in a ball of dust on the floor, convincing myself that maybe happiness doesn’t belong to me. That maybe I don’t deserve to feel joy and that maybe I’m truly not worthy of love or friendship or purpose afterall. 

This is what living with Depression and Anxiety can feel like somedays.

If ever you feel like your “picture perfect” moments are getting tangled up in the blades of your fan please remember that there is always help available to slow down the speed when it starts spinning too fast. 

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1.833.456.4566

#imnotok #youarenotalone #itsalrighttocry #pictureperfect #mindgames #mentalhealth #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #suicideawareness #themanyfacesofdepression #itsoktonotbeok #vulnerability

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

Tips For Easing Back To School

Here we go again. 

Another school year is about to begin (well here in Ontario that is). 

Another school year in the midst of a Pandemic and now kids and parents are once again facing those same fears, stressors, uncertainties and anxieties they did at the start of the last school year (but maybe a bit wiser).

Parents are worried about their children’s health and if they will be safe in class or how long it will be until they receive that email from their school board letting them know that schools are shutting down ONCE AGAIN.

And many, MANY kids are feeling those same worries as well which is making the transition back into the classroom this year even more trying on their mental health and wellness.

Here are some tips that I wanted to share with you on how to try and make this year’s transition a little bit easier.

Get back into a routine, especially with your older kids. 

But give them time to adjust.

Change can be very scary.

Help them lay out their clothing, knapsacks ready and lunches made all the night before if possible. The less chaos there is in the morning the better. 

Check in with your child(ren) regularly. Daily, if not more. Ask them questions. Listen intently.

Let them know that what they are feeling is okay and that you are there for them. 

It’s been a very LONG time since many children have even seen the inside of a classroom or a school yard.

Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared and nervous.

Reassure them that they are not alone. 

The unknown of what’s to come can sometimes be the hardest.

None of us truly know for certain what is going to happen this coming school year.

Promise them though that you will get through this together. 

Focus on what is in their control right now.

Watch out for any sudden changes in their behaviour.

And lastly, if your child is dealing with any type of mental health issues, communicate this to their teachers or caregivers right away.

Working together from the start will help to ensure that your child’s needs are met and that their feelings are always validated and hopefully it will ease whatever bumps in the road that may lie ahead feel a bit less scary for everyone. 

Wishing all the teachers, caregivers, administrators, parents and students a safe and successful year ahead.

#backtoschool #mentalwellness #transition #change #herewegoagain #fuckyoucovid #mentalhealth #suicideawareness #communicationiskey #youarenotalone #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #childrensmentalhealth

My Tribe

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.”

#summerofrich #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mytribe #girlfriends #keepgoing #inthemoment #youarenotalone #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #suicideawareness #selfcare

I Never Leave Home Without My Mask, Metaphorically Speaking

I’m feeling beyond overwhelmed today when I probably should be feeling excitement and joy knowing that in just a few short hours I will have the honour of witnessing my eldest nephew (who was the ring bearer at my wedding 26 years ago) marry his beautiful Bride-To-Be.  

As you all know by now the past ten (plus) days have been some of the most trying and challenging days of my journey and my self-worth has sunk to an all time low. 

I have next to zero self-compassion left in me and I have no clue whatsoever how to be kind to myself.

But I have learned the art of how to fake it til I make it in social settings. 

I have learned the art of smiling through my depression and anxiety in social settings. 

And I’m pretty good at engaging in some great conversation too.

Somewhere along my journey I have mastered these skills and learned how to present myself as “normal” in social settings, but I also know by now how much confusion this often presents for others. 

In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me how great I seemed while in a social setting I’d be a very rich lady by now, but for now I just have to take it as an opportunity to open up important conversations (let’s never forget the many faces of Depression that Robin Williams and so many other famous people wore).

The truth is I may present myself in many social settings that way because I never leave home without my mask on, metaphorically speaking; and trust me when I tell you there have been plenty of bathroom stalls I’ve had to hide in while in the midst of a panic attack or worse, been in a fit of hysteria amongst a crowded room.

This is what scares me most about how I am feeling right now. I’ve been so vulnerable lately that even the most joyful moments will have me running to the nearest bathroom stall or worse.

Anyone living with a Social Anxiety Disorder knows how I am feeling today even though everyone experiences it in different ways, but no matter if you feel awkward engaging in conversations, entering a crowded room, making eye contact with strangers, going to a party or giving a speech in public most individuals with a social anxiety disorder have an overwhelming fear of being judged, embarrassed or becoming the center of attention; and many more, like myself will then spend days or even weeks afterwards depleting even more of their mental energy with negative thoughts, ruminating about how we presented ourselves in thus situation. 

For now though I am just trying to focus on the moment, take as many deep breaths as needed and practice my grounding exercises (oh and have my CBD oil on hand at all times too). My mask, metaphorically speaking will be ready for whatever social distancing I may need tonight. And I know that no matter what, my family will be by my side just in case I need an extra layer of protection. 

#thisisthefaceofdepression #depressionhasmanyfaces #anxietyhasmanyfaces #puttingonmymask #depression #anxiety #smilingdepression  #socialanxietydisorder #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #inthemoment #startaconversation #weddingbells #ringbearer #happilyeverafter

Washing Away

Immersing myself in nature today.

I take in all of the beauty that surrounds me.

I close my eyes,

take a deep breath,

yearning to find the strength to make it up the hill.

Everything feels too much.

I hear the calm of the waterfall singing and I pray it will wash away my pain.

#summerofrich #waterfalls #hiking #brucetrail #hoggsfalls #nature #beauty #breathe #selfcare #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #silentkiller #youareenough

Update

* Content below could be very triggering for some people. Please do not read if you feel it could be of harm to you’re own mental well-being * 
 

The other day I expressed myself as best I could in a post/blog about what it feels like to struggle with thoughts of suicide. (See blog: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/08/23/what-does-it-feel-like-to-be-suicidal/)

My head has been completely cluttered by loud and intrusive noises that won’t fucking leave me alone no matter how much I fight back. I’m in such a fog that I easily lose my train of thought mid sentence (and I even forgot my own address last night). I feel as though I am holding on by a thread right now. I am vulnerable and scared and I’m not sure how much fight I have left in me anymore. 

My heart knows how loved and needed I am but I just wish my brain could get on the same page. Words can not express my endless gratitude for the overwhelming amount of support I’ve received since my post the other day. 

Every message has been exploding with overwhelming kindness and empathy (the 2 greatest traits any human can have) and it warms my heart knowing how many people care about my well-being, feel inspired by my courage and enlightened by my honesty and truth. I’ve received private messages from people I haven’t spoken to in 30 years who understand what I am feeling and others whom I met just weeks ago.

I am especially grateful to one friend inparticular who literally dropped everything she was doing yesterday to sit with me for over 3 hours after I experienced a breakdown earlier in the day.

Last night though my pain got to be too much to bare and Rich drove me to emerg. I was in such a panicked state that I was certain I was having a heart attack. I have panic attacks often but this one felt different. Once ruling out that it wasn’t in fact a heart attack my hope was that they would give me a script for some Ativan which is used primarily to treat anxiety disorders, trouble sleeping and severe agitation. All of which have been causing my downward spiral. 

It is also extremely addictive. I know this first hand because a few years ago I had an extreme addiction to the drug. I’d started hoarding bottles of them from doctors and other inpatient treatment facilities. I had 100’s of them in my possession and nobody knew, not even Rich. 

I was no longer taking antidepressants at the time after more than 20 concoctions and lots of horrible and dangerous side effects led me to a further diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression. But Ativan wasn’t giving me those side effects. Instead it was numbing my pain and helping me sleep more. So I took more. I just loved the clouded feeling I was getting from it without all the added and dangerous side effects from the antidepressants. 

I finally fessed up and came clean to my Psychiatrist at the time when my kids began voicing their concern to Rich that they were nervous being in a car with me. By now I had been taking 8 to 10 pills at one time every day. I truly don’t know how I was even functioning or still alive.

Now back to last night. Rich took me to the emerg at the brand new hospital nearby our home. It officially opened to the public only 2 months ago. It is affiliated with our other local hospital and I sadly recognized several familiar staff from the amount of visits to their emergency room over the years.

It was very clean. The floors and walls still looked fresh. I wanted so bad to come on here today and give this new hospital a glowing review but aside from the clean floors and fresh coat of paint I can’t really say anything positive from my own personal experience, especially given the amount of emergency rooms I’ve been to before to compare to this one during a crisis (and potential heart attack!). Even when I’ve been stripped of my belongings and my dignity left on the dirty floor or had security guards practically sitting on top of me I’d still put this experience below them all.

I was there for close to 7 hours and I observed a lot. I heard a lot too as they would call patients to the nurse’s station to give them their results before releasing them and I was in a room right across from it all (wouldn’t it be smarter to go talk to the individuals in their rooms, we are still in a Pandemic I thought and really do I need to hear everyone else’s diagnosis?). One of my most concerning observations though was when they called a lady to the desk (who’s mask was not on properly and they kept asking her to fix) to give her a script for an antibiotic and puffer to treat her pneumonia and then proceeded to tell the woman “but I’m pretty sure you probably have Covid”. Did they not test her for it? Did they not tell her maybe she should self isolate?  Rich and I looked at one another in complete disbelief. SMH

Anyways back to my night which I returned home from just before 3am. I had an ekg and blood work done to rule out any issues with my heart. The doctor spoke to me about what else was going on at the moment as well including if I had an intended plan of carrying out a suicide. I was visibly shaken and he decided to give me an Ativan to calm me down and then he put in a request for their crisis team to come talk to me further.

We discussed my prior issues with Ativan which is clearly stated in my file as well as any other one of my doctor’s files who had once prescribed it to me. We also discussed how dangerous and addictive it is and that he would give me the one for now but was not comfortable giving me anymore to go home with. 

The crisis worker eventually came to talk with me by which time the Ativan had kicked in and I was physically and emotionally exhausted and my mind was shutting down while trying to talk to her. By this time, Rich had left to try and get some sleep for a couple of hours. 

The Crisis Worker asked me a whole bunch of questions, all standard to someone who is in crisis. Do you have a plan and what is your plan was her main concern and focus. The one positive of the night was that she had actually taken the time to go through my (lengthy) file before coming to talk to me so it saved me a lot of catching up on my history over the past 7 years. 

My hope was still for her to let me have a few Ativans to take home with me so I can try and get some sleep and numb the severe and debilitating anxiety and desperate plans of suicide I’ve been experiencing. And to hopefully lift some of the fog. She spoke with the doctor and came back with a prescription for 5 Ativan for me but then she quickly regretted her decision.

She made me promise I wouldn’t go home and take them all at once or go to another hospital to get more. She also made me promise that I would call and speak with my Psychiatrist today and her last promise she had me make to her was that and I quote “don’t do anything stupid”. I know she meant it very lovingly!

I slept for a solid 3 hours last night within minutes of getting into bed thanks to the Ativan. That is huge for me, like Super Bowl huge. I have not gone to the pharmacy yet today (or gotten out of bed for that matter) to fill the script which I promise I will hand over to Rich who has been the keeper of all my meds for years as I am not sure I can be trusted right now to be perfectly honest. But a promise is a promise.

If you or someone you know is in crisis please seek help immediately. 

#promisespromises #ativan #incrisis #suicidal #depression #anxiety #reachoutforhelp #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #newhospital #emotionallydefeated #yourmentalhealthmatters #mentalhealth #mentalillness #youmatter #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