SUICIDE CAN BE A SILENT KILLER

*It may be triggering to some*

I’ve been really struggling a lot this past week and it’s been a struggle to write this. 

I get triggered easily. 

When you suffer with chronic depression and daily thoughts of suicide as I do, triggers are very common and sometimes they may even occur through positive life events as well.

I don’t always know what triggers my downward spirals or even feel them coming on sometimes but this past week I am very much aware.

A few days ago I was told of not one, but TWO tragic stories of suicide, within a span of one hour. 

They were both someone’s father, brother, son, friend and husband. 

Hearing these stories and then quickly realizing that I knew one of the individuals who had taken his own life from when I was a teenager has all been too much for me to process.

It’s hit my surrounding community very hard and it’s hit very close to home. 

The more I learned about the pain and suffering of these two men and as more and more tributes began to fill my Social Media pages of the man I once knew, talking about what a truly amazing human being he was, the more numb I became. 

I saw myself in him. I felt every ounce of his pain and suffering. I’ve attempted suicide before. I could’ve been him. I could be him. Many of us could.

There are warning signs of an individual who may be considering suicide,  (https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior) but we want so much to believe that “it” won’t actually come to that place. But it does and sometimes there may not even have been any warning signs at all, leaving loved ones completely blindsided on top of their pain. 

Suicide can be a silent killer. What happens when there aren’t any warning signs? What happens when someone is too afraid to speak their truth because of the stigma attached to it? 

Suicide is still very much a social taboo. It’s also very hard to predict at times and very often it can be spontaneous or impulsive.

Sometimes it’s just easier for an individual to not talk about it. I have thoughts of suicide almost daily. I talk about them, but not always. The thoughts will often enter my mind when no one else is around, when I’m feeling most vulnerable and I think to myself, maybe now would be the perfect time?

We may think someone is okay.

Everything looks great to the outside world (and to the social media world of course). They may want you to think that because what you often see or what you want so badly to see is their happiness and excitement from a promotion they just got at work, or the upcoming vacation they booked that they had been dreaming about forever, or a wedding proposal from the love of their life or the all nighter they just pulled studying for a big test the next day or maybe they just received an acceptance letter to the post-graduate program at a prestigious University they’d waited their whole life for.

Living with a mental illness and suicidal thoughts is real life to so many. We need to continue to break down the barriers that may prevent someone from seeking proper care and treatment. We must let others understand that mental illness is a real illness and that it’s not a failure of personal strength or character. We must not forget to check on our strong friends and we must create safe, nurturing environments for everyone in order to break the silence.

My deepest sympathy and condolences go out to the families and loved ones who have been affected by the tragic loss of both these men. They are in my thoughts and my heart ❤.  

If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out to a mental health professional or confidant for help immediately.

#checkonyourlovedones #checkonyourstrongfriends #yourmentalhealthmatters #suicideisasilentkiller #suicide #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #mentalillness #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillnessisreal 

2021 Graduate Campaign

As many of you know, last spring I created a series of lawn signs to help honour our 2020 graduates after receiving the devastating news that my daughter’s high school prom and graduation ceremony were both cancelled. 

The initiative quickly grew in abundance and at the end of 6 short weeks I had hand delivered somewhere in the ballpark of 700 signs to the front lawns (and porches) of so many deserving Graduates across the GTHA from Pre-K to Post-Graduate education. 

With the help of so many generous people in our amazing communities together we raised over $10,000 for Kids Help Phone which is why I have decided to launch my campaign again this spring. 

Our class of 2021 (including my other daughter who is just days away from earning her undergraduate degree in Communications) are all feeling the same disappointment, anger, loneliness, overwhelm and sadness as so many deserving graduates did just one year ago. 

I don’t need to tell you just how difficult this past year has been on our youth especially, many of whom are now struggling with debilitating anxiety and depression issues along with other mental health concerns due to the devastation and impact of the Pandemic. 

Our youth need to know that it’s okay to not be okay and that they are not alone which is why I have also decided this year to spread the wealth around by donating the proceeds to several youth mental health initiatives instead of just the one I did last year as the need to support our youth mental health programs is so much greater than ever before. 

I look forward to brightening up our neighborhoods soon.

#graduationday #grads #classof2021 #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #lawnsigns #2021grads #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #payitforward #strongertogether

ALWAYS TRUST YOUR MAMA AND PAPA BEAR INSTINCTS 

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.

Substance abuse.

Sleep disturbances.

Risky behavior.

Inability to think clearly/concentration problems.

Declining school performance.

Increased irritability.

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

#youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #depression #anxiety #suicide #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #talktoyourkids

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 

Four Million Reasons Why

I read an article the other day whose title immediately caught my eye. It read:

4 million cries for help: Calls to Kids Help Phone soar amid pandemic.

As I continued on to read the body of the article my heart sank further. 

Since the onset of the Pandemic last March, Kids Help Phone has seen an upsurge in calls from young people. Statistics show that calls, texts and their many other online resources have more than doubled since the previous year and they are now receiving over 800 calls, texts etc. every day from all across Canada (with Ontario making up for approximately half of those calls received each day).

Callers have been as young as 5 years old with a good majority of the calls coming in between midnight and 4 am. Many of these call are related to feelings of isolation, loneliness, self/body image, virtual learning, missed milestones and an overall deterioration of their mental health. And of all the calls received by their large team of trained counsellors per day, there is at minimum, 10 calls where police are being dispatched for “active suicide rescues”. 

These stats are truly heartbreaking but I am so thankful at the same time that our youth have a safe place like Kids Help Phone to reach out to in order to help them survive a Pandemic. Knowing just how many of our young people have become so withdrawn, angry, frustrated, anxious and sad (and rightfully so) is beyond scary. 

I hear from speaking with so many concerned parents in my community (and beyond) how their kids are staying up all night gaming with friends online just to feel some sort of connection and how so many more have completely checked out from their daily routines, especially online learning. The concerns over the emotional and financial impacts that isolation and lockdowns are having on our youth are growing more and more concerning by the day and suicides among our youth are increasing at alarming rates. 

As spring quickly approaches, (at least according to Wiarton Willie, the adorable little Groundhog that is, who just yesterday predicted an early spring, yay), I had recently been giving a great deal of thought to starting another Graduation Initiative again this year for the Class of 2021. 

I will afterall in just two short months have another Graduate in my home, who as of yesterday received the disappointing news in an email from her University informing her (what we already knew in our hearts) that they will be postponing her Spring Convocation Ceremony until such time when large public gatherings can once again take place safely. 

I know how much disappointment, anger and sadness this reality caused my other daughter last spring when both her Prom and Graduation ceremony were cancelled, along with millions of other young people’s around the world but after reading the article and taking note of the imminent crisis our young people are facing due to the Pandemic I felt a great sense of pride knowing that the 10k that I along with the help of 100’s of incredibly generous and kindhearted people in and around my community helped raise and donate to Kids Help Phone last spring, that the money went to a very worthwhile cause.

I now feel as though I have at least 4 million more reasons to take on this initiative once again and who knows, maybe with the help of my amazing community we could double the amount of proceeds we raised last spring.

Services like Kids Help Phone are needed more than ever before and even though it may only be a stepping stone toward other resources or long term services for some, our young people deserve a fighting chance and are going to need all the help they can get long after the Pandemic is over because although many of the imminent issues at hand may one day dissipate, the lingering effects and fallout from the Pandemic are sadly going to affect much of our younger generations for many years to come.

If you or someone you know needs a safe and confidential place to start please call Kids Help Phone at: 1.800.668.6868 or text: 686868

#kidshelpphone #ouryouthmatter #helplines #lifelines #classof2021 #graduationday  #grads #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence 

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2021

Today is the 11th Annual Bell Let’s Talk Day. To date Bell’s Mental Health initiatives have raised more than 25 million dollars towards various programs and research projects by contributing 5 cents every time someone in Canada sends a text message, makes a phone call (Bell users only), tweets #BellLetsTalk or creates a Tik Tok video using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, views one of their videos on any of their social media platforms or uses Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame and Snapchat filter today.

Their message this year in the wake of Covid-19 is simple; “When it comes to mental health, now more than ever, every action counts.” 

So if you can take a moment today to talk, text or tweet (etc) #BellLetsTalk it really could make a difference in someone’s life and remember that every action taken is one step closer toward ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Our words matter, our actions matter and our mental health matters more than ever before and by simply showing a kind gesture to a friend or loved one who is feeling depressed today or by listening to a child who may be feeling super anxious and unsure right now or by asking a coworker or neighbor how you can help them because they are feeling extra stressed are just a few of the many ways that you can let someone know that they are not and that it’s okay to not be okay.  

**If you would like more information on how to get a copy of my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” please feel free to message me directly. All proceeds from any book sales made between today and Sunday will be donated to #BellLetsTalkDay initiatives. And for more helpful tips and tools on mental health and self-care practices or to learn how Bell Let’s Talk initiatives have been impacting groups and communities all across Canada for the past 10 + years please check out their website @ https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/our-initiatives. 

❤Thank you❤

#BellLetsTalkDay #bellletstalk #wordsmatter #youmatter #everyactioncounts #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation kindnessmatters #ohcanada  #endthestigmatogether #wheredidmommyssmilego #author #blogger

Going to Therapy is Cool

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.

https://www.yorkregion.com/community-story/10308811-canadian-mental-health-association-introduces-counselling-telephone-line/

Just remember that no matter what, going to therapy is cool!

#therapy #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #talktherapy #onlinetherapy #therapyiscool #benefitsoftherapy #endthestigmatogether #youmatter

Could I Run A Marathon?

Last night I watched a movie on Amazon Prime called “Brittany Runs A Marathon”. My family has started rating the movies we watch lately by how much mom cries during them (especially the ending) which isn’t really a fair assessment to be honest because I cry while watching just about anything these days. But if we go with their rating system (maybe instead of Rotten Tomatoes we use Salty Teardrops?) this one was as close to a 10 as they come.

The movie is based on a true story (which usually ups the ante right there) about an overweight woman who feels dissatisfied with pretty much everything in her life and soon gets a wake up call from her doctor when he reveals to her that she doesn’t need Adderall like she hoped but instead needs to lose 50 pounds as her physical health had started to become unhinged too. And even though being the “fat girl” sidekick was always her safety net (or so she thought) she decides to take her doctor’s advice and eventually leads Brittany to take up running, eat healthier and stop using drugs and alcohol to numb her pain. 

The movie is about so much more than a weightloss journey though and runs much, much deeper than that. It was an inspiring, heartwarming, super funny, thought provoking and very, very relatable journey to me in so many ways even if I’ve never run a day in my life (or ever had the desire to!). 

The storyline brought with it lots of important life lessons (and plenty of stereotypes too), all of which resonated with my own journey through life. It was an emotional journey and one that proves just how hard it can be to fall in love with yourself. It taught us the importance of body positivity, learning to love the body we’re in and self-acceptance. It taught us about the hard work and difficult steps it takes toward achieving our dreams while continuously focusing on small yet attainable goals no matter what. It also showed us that it is perfectly okay to accept help from others, to never judge a book by its cover and that it’s more than okay to walk away from toxic relationships in our life that no longer serve us or who can’t see our worth.

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago (see link below) where I opened up about how I struggled with both Anorexia and Bulimia in my late teens and early 20’s. But truth be told my eating disorder has never truly left me and it continues still to this day to be a constant struggle in my life.

My self-hate is very strong-willed and even more stubborn. It has stopped me in my tracks many times over from believing in my dreams and achieving many of my goals. It very often stops me from loving myself or accepting help from others. My self-hate has also blinded me from seeing through some very toxic relationships over the years as well and learning to accept and love my body has been as torturous as learning how to love my mind except there is no where to hide from your body.

As most of you know who follow my journey regularly I love walking and hiking and way back at the start of the Pandemic in March I began walking several miles every day and hiking on weekends as much as possible (#summerofrich).  I even started exercising a bit from home as well and it felt empowering but as the weather began to change over the last few weeks I have basically stopped exercising all together and it has drastically increased those feelings of self-hate and brought with it many of the danger signs that accompany an eating disorder.

I also have a very poor relationship with food itself which has most likely stemmed from several childhood traumas surrounding food (see blog below) and it seems to have created a lifetime struggle with food and self-worth which is something that I am overwhelmingly conscious of  around my children as I never want them to have the same toxic relationship with food as I do. I just want them to love who they are from the inside out. 

Spoiler Alert: Brittany eventually runs a marathon (it is the title of the movie), the mother of all marathons no less. But the movie is not about how she reached the finish line of the New York City marathon (fun fact: they actually filmed the marathon scenes during the 2017 event!), it was about her incredible transformation (both physically and mentally) toward loving herself and kicking that “fat girl” sidekick to the curb that allowed her to get there. It was about how she kept tying up the laces of her running shoes, tripping over them from time to time as they came undone and learning to tie them back up again every time she fell down while running just one block at a time of the congested and mean streets of New York City and letting the people in her life who saw her worth cheer her on from the sidelines.

I loved watching Brittany’s journey toward finding self-love. She deserves to wear that medal around her neck, not for the weight that she lost but for running all those miles toward her own self-truth, without compromise.

Maybe one day I will be able to run that same marathon too?

Check out my blog about my journey with eating disorders https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/i-had-an-eating-disorder-and-it-still-weighs-me-down-everyday

#brittanyrunsamarathon #selflove #empowerment #selfcompassion #eatingdisorders #anorexia #bulimia #youareenough #youarenotalone #selftruth #endthestigmatogether #mentalhealthishealth #newyorkcitymarathon 

Mental Health And Covid-19

Recently I’ve received several notifications that my “STATS” are “booming” on my WordPress (blog) site YouAreEnough (https://youareenough712.wordpress.com). The last time I had such a huge spike in stats like this was on Christmas Day and although I have a great sense of pride knowing that people are reading my posts and hopefully finding some comfort in them, I also know that many more are finding my posts because they may be feeling more vulnerable than usual or overwhelmed due to our current world crisis. 

Today on the news it was reported that there has been an increase of more than 40% of people suffering with Mental Health challenges in Canada over the last month especially anxiety related. That is some super scary and super alarming statistics but not surprising at all.  For most of society we are living in unprecedented times and not only facing a super scary and super alarming economical downfall but a super psychological one as well.

Being forced into quarantine has no doubt caused a wide range of psychological fear and worry for even the most seemingly high functioning members of society. If nothing else, being in lockdown can cause an individual to have low mood swings or irritability for sure but mix in some insomnia with a dose of physical exhaustion, anger, anxiety and depression and suddenly you have a whole different crisis on hand.

I am surprisingly quite calm when it comes to the fear that I myself or a loved one will contract the virus itself so for me and many others the increase in psychological issues stem mainly from the uncertainty that lies ahead and when we will begin to resume our daily life again and more importantly; How?  For many individuals it’s also not having their regular support systems nearby whether it’s support from a loved one or being able to go to their office every day or maybe for others it’s not having access to places like the public library or the school yard where they feel most safe.

But whatever the reasons are that are causing a surge in Mental Health issues right now just remember that you are not alone. I encourage you to reach out to someone you feel comfortable talking to whether it’s a mental health professional or a trusted confidant or someone who understands what you are feeling and while you’re at it, make sure you are getting fresh air everyday if you can and try keeping to as regular a routine as possible however that may look.

#covid19 #pandemic #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #stats #youareenough #noshame #startaconversation #youarenotalone #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #depression #family #anxiety #masksoff #checkonyourlovedones #togetherapart #stayhome #flattenthecurve #physicaldistance

Go Ahead And Eat The Slice Of Cake

Hamantaschen

Remember it’s okay to eat that slice of cake or whatever the treat may be that brings you comfort after a long and stressful day, or on a hot summer’s eve to cool you off or maybe it’s a special Holiday treat that reminds you of a happy time in your life. Whatever the reason may be, go ahead and enjoy! Afterall isn’t it the simplest things in life that are often the ones to bring us the most joy even if for just a brief moment in time.

#happypurim #hamantaschen #eatthesliceofcake #nocalories #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #ichooseme #youarenotalone #joy #whatabagel

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