After spending over 8 hours in a car yesterday delivering signs, the last thing Rich really wanted to do today was drive somewhere too far away in order to go for a hike so instead we stayed close to home and took a walk through our own neighborhood.
It’s familiar. Maybe even a bit too familiar (especially after this past year) because most of the time when we go for a walk in the neighborhood we aren’t paying too close attention to the beautiful things surrounding us like we do when we are on a hike, and too be honest you really can end up missing lots.
I think we take many of those beautiful things, the ones right in our own backyard, for granted.
We both needed to refuel today.
And right away our normally very familiar walk felt very unfamiliar today because we actually took our time to notice the beautiful things surrounding us.
And we took the time to point out and share those beautiful things we noticed with each other.
The clear blue sky above us.
The pretty lilacs on the trees and grass too.
The love birds perched on a fence singing to one another.
The fearless dogs chasing a ball in a big open field.
The sound of laughter coming from the children playing in the park.
Friends enjoying a picnic lunch together, catching up with one another and smiling from ear to ear.
I didn’t capture any of these moments with my camera today but instead I just breathed them all in.
It was a beautiful #summerofrich day in the neighborhood!
Next time you go for a walk in your neighborhood try and notice at least five beautiful things surrounding you.
Is it pretty safe to say that if you are a parent you have probably doubted your role as one at one time or another?
You are not alone.
Parenting is hard work, it’s a huge responsibility and quite possibly the most thankless job ever, yet it also comes with the greatest rewards.
As a parent we find ourselves second guessing every decision we make or questioning each and every behaviour of ours which only escalates further doubt.
We worry we will somehow screw up our kid’s lives forever.
We worry that they won’t love us or that they will actually grow to hate us.
This has been a daily battle of mine over the past seven years and I blame my illness.
It makes me believe all the doubt and lies.
Even though I have three amazing kids (more like young adults actually) who are all very busy these days discovering who they are and what they need in order to become their best self.
They are finding their place in the world.
They are chasing their dreams.
In fact I’d say they are all killing it right now despite my feeling like I have failed them in every way possible, despite my feeling like my illness has taken away a big part of their innocence, despite my feeling like I’m the worst parent ever, despite my feeling like I’m a complete burden to them, despite my feeling like I have scarred them for life and despite my feeling like they hold so much hate and resentment toward me.
It’s been a really difficult week for me. I’m beyond overwhelmed right now and in a pretty bad headspace, (see blog .https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/05/24/suicide-can-be-a-silent-killer/) but despite all that it’s moments like the one we had on Sunday evening that remind me that maybe I haven’t failed them after all, maybe I haven’t actually screwed them up completely and maybe, just maybe I’ve even played a role in them becoming those amazing, generous, loving, kind young adults.
Maybe I need to be more aggressive when I try telling my depressed mind to fuck off.
I’ve needed a few days to process the emotions that overcame me on Sunday evening when my kids excitedly presented me with an early birthday present (they wanted to give me enough time to prepare for it).
They handed me an envelope and before I opened it they told me that they wanted to get me something they knew I’d cherish forever and something that I crave more than anything else in the world.
As I anxiously opened the envelope I could not imagine what it could be. I unwrapped the piece of paper inside and saw a picture of a cabin on a lake.
Their gift to me was exactly what they said it was as they handed me the envelope to open. They had wanted to get me something they knew I would cherish forever and something that I crave more than anything else in the world so as they so eloquently put it, they gave me the gift of time; quality family time that is.
They have rented a cottage for all of us for the weekend of Father’s day, just days before Hannah “hopefully” heads off to camp for the summer and just days before my 50th birthday.
There will be canoeing, campfires, roasted marshmallows, self-care, sunbathing on the dock, laughter and a special #summerofrich “Father’s Day” adventure included in our weekend away but most of all there will be picture perfect memories made that we can all cherish forever.
I love you to the moon and back, forever and a day.
I, like millions of its viewers was not ready for it to end.
I’ve been watching “Mom” every Thursday night (and in reruns) since its first episode aired 8 years ago.
The show centered around a group of ladies from all walks of life who develop the most unlikeliest yet deepest of friendships and the most unbreakable bonds brought together by one common goal; sobriety.
The writers of “Mom” spent time building this strong and very relatable group of characters and brought us along on their unique journeys, cheering on their many triumphs and saddened by their many setbacks with new storylines each week depicting the real-life struggles of people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction; something so many of their fans could relate to and a very relevant and critical mental health discussion today.
This has rarely been seen before in a half hour sitcom but “Mom” managed to do so by sensitively tackling very difficult topics and using humour to keep the audience coming back for more.
It gave us an inside look at what recovery looks like.
It showed us that recovery is never a straight line.
It showed us that recovery is a lifetime journey.
It taught us to persevere.
It taught us that we all make mistakes and that it’s okay to fail sometimes.
It taught us to keep getting back up again after we fall down.
And it taught us that there is always a “solution”.
I often found myself relating to so many of the storylines and felt such a strong connection to my own mental health journey.
These ladies taught me the importance of sharing my story and to keep on sharing it again and again.
They taught me about forgiveness.
They taught me about hope.
They taught me that life is filled with endless possibilities.
They taught me that recovery is possible.
And they taught me that with the right people in your corner you will never be alone.
I’m sad it’s over and I had a good cry during the closing scene. I’m really gonna miss seeing these ladies each week at their AA meetings and coffee dates afterwards where they shared more than just a piece of pie. It’s where they celebrated “love, friendship and laughter” and it’s where I always felt like I had a seat at the booth right there alongside them.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has caused serious disruptions and added stress to all of our lives since it began a year ago which has also led to an even bigger mental health crisis, especially among our youth.
Between dealing with the constant disruptions in their routine, being isolated from their friends, fearing that they or someone they love will get sick and the added financial stressors that many families are now facing, it is quite understandable.
These concerns (and many others) that our youth are facing right now is making them more vulnerable than ever before to Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Addiction and Suicidal Ideations.
Kids who have never exhibited signs of a mental health disorder or mental distress prior to Covid-19 are taking their own lives at alarming rates and many of them sadly choose to stay silent, most likely feeling alone and scared that their life will never get better.
Communication and connection are critical for our young people. Parents need to be even more vigilant than ever when it comes to their children’s mental health. We know our kids best.
Talk to them. Ask them how they are doing, and then keep asking them. Check in with them, check in with them often and then listen. If something feels off, always trust your Mama and Papa Bear instincts because not everyone who thinks about Suicide will willingly want to talk about it.
Signs to look out for:
Making suicidal statements.
Being preoccupied with death.
Giving away belongings.
Having aggressive or hostile behaviour.
Neglecting personal appearance.
A change in personality.
Intense sadness and/or hopelessness.
Not caring about activities that used to matter.
Social withdrawal from family, friends, sports, social activities.
Inability to think clearly/concentration problems.
Declining school performance.
Changes in appetite.
***Boston’s Children’s Hospital***
If you or someone you know is in crisis or in need of immediate help please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital. Or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1.833.456.4566 or Kids Help Phone at 1.800.668.6868
I have always been very inquisitive and intuitive about the world around me (which has also helped me to become a better writer over time).
I like to ask a lot of questions (just ask my kids if you don’t believe me!).
Asking questions (especially open-ended ones) affords us the opportunity for learning, clarity, awareness, productivity, growth, curiosity and creativity.
I probably should’ve pursued a career as a Detective or a Talk Show Host maybe?
How can we learn, gain clarity, awareness, productivity, growth or be curious and creative about life if we don’t ask questions?
We encourage children to ask questions from the time they are able to speak. And even though it may feel like a nagging sensation pulling at your sleeve sometimes or a big pain in the ass at other times; what would the world be like if we discouraged our kids from exploring the wonderment of their surroundings or seeking the curiosity from their growing minds?
I’ve been made to feel ashamed for asking questions and when I was growing up I oftentimes felt too shy, too fearful, too embarrassed or too much pride to ask a question out loud.
Asking questions should always be encouraged. It opens up important dialogue and no one should ever make you feel shame for asking too many questions.
I only wish more people felt okay to ask me more questions about mental illness. My mental illness is a big part of who I am today. I will never stop encouraging others from asking even the most difficult questions about mental illness especially those who may have a hard time believing how real it truly is.
It means the world to me to be able to help others and in order to keep the dialogue surrounding mental illness moving forward I must also be able and willing to answer the difficult questions with an open and honest heart so that others can learn, gain clarity, grow and become more aware.
Just because we are adults now doesn’t mean we should ever stop learning or be unwilling to expand our want for knowledge each and every day. And keep in mind that there is no such thing as asking a stupid question!
I know that Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
But what if your problems keep adding up and what if they no longer feel temporary?
But what if you can no longer shake off those unrelenting thoughts?
But what if you believe that suicide is your only option in order to feel any kind of relief or be at peace?
But what if you feel like your mere existence is hurting those around you, especially the ones who love you the most?
But what if the pain in your heart is too intense and overwhelming to stand for one second more?
But what if you’ve made a plan and just want to figure out a way to execute it?
But what if you can’t close your eyes at night because you’re too afraid of what you might see?
But what if you’re anxiety is paralyzing you with fear and keeping you from living? From breathing? From loving? Or from finding hope?
But what if your depressed mind keeps telling you that you are helpless? Worthless? And have no purpose?
But what if all this sadness and despair are so completely unbearable and feels as if it will last forever?
If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out to a trusting friend, therapist, counsellor, loved one or call Canada Suicide Prevention Hotline @ 1.833.456.4566/ Kids Help Phone @ 1.800.668.6868 Help is available 24/7/365
It’s no secret that there has been a sharp decline in many people’s mental health (probably millions by now) over the past year due to Covid-19, both in children and adults alike.
Signs of mental illness are manifesting themselves (more than ever before) into symptoms of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, thoughts of suicide and eating disorders just to name a few.
Sadly, many people though are still choosing to suffer in silence today due to the stigma attached to mental illness and in many cases, affordability to seek Professional care.
I am a HUGE advocate for therapy and I know firsthand that taking that initial step may be hard. I also know that finding the right fit for you may take many tiresome hours of trial and error.
Up until six (plus) years ago I had never been to therapy, it was never something that had ever been a part of my vocabulary before but shortly after I became ill in April 2014, my doctor highly recommended I speak to someone immediately and so I obliged.
The process of finding the right therapy though took me three grueling years of trial and error and left me shaking my head some days and feeling even further defeated on many, many more.
But I am here to remind you that it takes great strength, vulnerability and a willingness to find that right fit and build a good rapport (which goes both ways) in order to reap the many benefits of therapy, whatever therapy may look like for you.
People seek out therapy for all kinds of different and difficult reasons and although a therapist may not give you all the answers, a good therapist will always help you find them.
But you also have to be ready to put in the work; you have to be ready to be open and honest with both yourself and a therapist; you have to be ready to commit to setting aside the time and energy needed to invest in therapy and you have to be ready for whatever may come from talking about difficult things.
It’s okay to ask for help and although medication can help to reduce some symptoms of mental health conditions for many, the added benefits of therapy will go alot further in gaining insight into or help you to address some hidden causes of your illness and not just mask them.
Therapy may also be beneficial in helping you to learn how to create healthy boundaries for yourself and others, it can help you to better process some difficult life events, work through unhealthy relationships or habits, ease feelings of guilt, help you to achieve goals, gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of yourself and it can also be a place to vent your frustrations about the people in your life who won’t go to therapy themselves.
I see my therapist weekly and it is one of the most important and much needed self-care strategies in my life right now. I know I am safe when I am speaking with my therapist and that I can share anything with her without feeling judged or stigmatized.
If you are ready to take that next step I would be more than happy to help guide you toward the many available options; including the free and online ones.
Below is one such example that I was asked to share with you. It is a new service being offered through the Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region and South Simcoe Chapter. It’s a free telephone counseling service which operates weekdays from 8:30 to 4:30; there is no referral needed and no wait lists.
Watching the chaos unfold in Washington today is beyond comprehensible. It’s sad, it’s pathetic and it’s downright scary that a President could allow this to happen or should I say, could encourage this to happen.
But no one can be or better yet, should be shocked that this is happening. I mean lets face it, the entire world has been watching this President come unhinged for the last four years and he needs to finally be held accountable for his actions but first he needs to be helped for an illness that some may argue is not actually a mental disorder.
But in clinical terms the President of the United States suffers from a mental disorder which falls under the umbrella of “Personality Disorders” called Narcissism.
A “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” is a “mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” (Definition as per Mayo Clinic)
It goes on to describe an individual with a “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” as someone who may be “generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.”
People who suffer from a “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” often display many of the following symptoms: (Mayo Clinic)
Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerate achievements and talents
Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
Take advantage of others to get what they want
Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Be envious of others and believe others envy them
Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office
“Narcissistic Personality Disorder” is a very complex disorder and many people who suffer with one are often unable to seek proper therapy or treatment because well, for starters, they don’t think anything is truly wrong with them.
There are no words to describe what a sad day it is in American history today but I think we can all agree, even those of us sitting by the sidelines from across the world that our hearts are breaking for you and with you as we watch your beautiful Nation destroying its democracy at the hands of a man who clearly needs psychological help.
Hopefully though he won’t get too lost in the system while serving time in prison and that he finally gets the proper treatment and therapy that we all as human beings deserve.
Today I feel like I’m toast, burnt toast to be exact.
Some days I can pull myself together long enough to eat the damn piece of toast, some days I need to smother it with a thick layer of strawberry jam in order to cover up my pain and overwhelm, some days I try really hard to scrape away the black charcoal on my toast with a butter knife to show the world my true self and then there are days like today when all I want to do is throw away the piece of burnt toast in the waste bin because if truth be told, it feels too hopeless to even try and salvage it.