“Breaking Brave” Podcast

This afternoon I was given the opportunity and honour to be a guest speaker on a Podcast. 

My first one ever.  

I felt like a movie star. 

I was introduced to the host Marilyn Barefoot about a month or so ago through a mutual friend who thought that I would be a perfect fit for Marilyn’s Podcast called “Breaking Brave” so she connected us via email and we set up a time to “meet” and get to know one another later that week.

Our conversation was so easy. 

It was heartfelt and inspiring. 

I felt like we’d known each other forever.

Right from our opening dialogue I could feel Marilyn’s energy and compassion shine through.

She is a natural born speaker, motivator and innovator both in her chosen field and on her Podcast. 

But once Marilyn was given the green light from her Executive Producer a few days later to schedule me in for an actual recording of her Podcast it wasn’t too long afterwards when my negative self-talk kicked into full gear. 

Brave? Me, brave? 

How do I foster bravery in my mental health journey?

I gave this a great deal of thought. 

I know that being vulnerable and honest about my personal struggles with mental illness is brave.

I know that by educating others and helping them to understand the many depths of mental illness is brave.

I know that being so transparent about my own mental health is helping to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and that is brave.

I know that the more I talk about my illness allows others to feel more comfortable and less ashamed or alone about their own struggles and that is brave. 

I know that getting up each and every day and fighting for my life and advocating for the lives of so many others just like me is very brave.

I know that I have inspired many because of my willingness to share my story and that too is brave.

Being brave about your own mental health struggles should be contagious but it also doesn’t have to include writing a blog, publishing a children’s book or baring your heart and soul on Social Media either.

For you, “Breaking Brave” in your own personal mental health journey right now may mean taking that first step to ensure you get the help you need, however it is you feel most comfortable doing so, just so long as you do it! And I would be honoured to help take that first step with you!

A special thank you to Marilyn and her Executive Producer Rebekah for allowing me to share my story with your audience today and for showing me how truly brave I am. I am grateful for this experience and for your kindness and compassion.

My episode will likely be aired in a couple of months (I will keep you posted!). To listen to previously recorded episodes of Marilyn’s Podcast go to: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/breaking-brave-with-marilyn-barefoot/id1555760904 . “Each episode, find out how innovators and trailblazers from every walk of life broke through in their chosen or created fields. A podcast meant to inspire, invigorate, inform and uplift.”~Marilyn Barefoot

#breakingbrave #podcast #fosterbravery #startaconversation #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #endthestigmatogether #yourmentalhealthmatters #firststep #suicideprevention #blogger #author #mentalhealthadvocate #wheredidmommyssmilego 

It’s Still Raining On Prom Night

I wrote this blog a year ago today (https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/04/18/its-raining-on-prom-night-2020) after learning that Rachel’s High School Prom and Graduation ceremony had been officially cancelled. As I read it again this morning I started to cry.

I felt a flood of emotions come over me when it hit me that nothing has really changed since then and to be perfectly honest, it actually feels a thousand times worse right now. 

My girls are both less than ten days away from finishing their school years; Rachel being in her first year of University for Interior Design and Hannah is about to earn her four year Undergraduate Degree in Communications. 

To say I am proud of these two young ladies would be an understatement. They have both worked their butts off this year despite the many challenges and limitations they’ve had to face by having to work completely remotely, completely online; and completely from home. 

Rachel was robbed once again of so many exciting new experiences from the start of her University career. Instead she has spent the past year at home learning new skills, building and creating incredible projects and making new friends from across the world all from our living room floor (which she turned into her own personal art studio last summer before the start of the school year). 

And now Hannah too has been robbed of so many of her own  opportunities, rites of passage and exciting new experiences that would normally accompany her throughout this, her graduating year. 

But they did it! It hasn’t been easy or fair or kind at times and it’s been so painful and mentally exhausting to watch as a parent at other times. But like so many of us who have lost so much over the past year, its ok to acknowledge their pain from the disappointment and anger and frustration and sadness that they have had to endure; that we have all had to endure. 

In a way, I guess we have all been experiencing a steep learning curve this past year, just so desperately trying to forge our way forward.

#anotheryear #firstyear #graduation #classof2020 #classof2021 #learningcurves #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #yourmentalhealthmatters #university #interiordesign #communications #wereallinthistogether #bekindtoyourself

Inspire Always

Thank you @marciaagius for creating @_inspirealways; such an awe-inspiring, safe space to highlight women and share in their strength and vulnerability.

Follow them on Instagram to read my story being featured today and to meet some pretty amazing women too!

#inspirealways #strength #women #empowerment #selfcompassion #youareenough #youarenotalone #bekindtoyourself #mentalhealthmatters

Empty Picture Frames

I’m not in a good headspace. It’s not like this is something new to me or unexplored before; but I’m just not “okay”. 

I’m feeling very unsettled and my heart is heavy. If it hasn’t already been difficult enough for me living each day of the last seven years feeling like I’ve lost a big piece of myself then how can I ever begin to shake off this heaviness I’ve felt for the last several weeks?  A heaviness that feels way bigger than just one piece of my life has gone missing. In a sense I feel like I’ve been robbed and to be completely honest, in a very real way I believe I have.   

I’m turning 50 in just a little over two months. I’ve never really been too hung up on the whole age thing and let’s face it, if I had been then I probably would’ve never agreed to go on a first date, let alone marry a man who’s close to nine years older than me. 

My social media feeds have been preparing me for my upcoming birthday since the beginning of 2021 as several times a week I witness one or more of my friends from my childhood and adolescence reach this special milestone. And it’s been kinda exciting and nostalgic to reminisce with many old friends, see old photos and feel part of this exclusive club; the one that significantly links me back to my childhood and adolescent years, a time and place that I have some of the fondest memories of with friends and extended family.

But a few weeks ago when one of my oldest and dearest friends was about to turn 50 I felt a trigger of emotions come over me and it hasn’t left me since. It feels heavy and unsettled and fills my heart with so much sadness, anger, resentment, hurt and emptiness. 

These triggers have taken me even further back in my life than just seven years ago, like way, way back; right to birth. 

You see I wanted so desperately to pay tribute to my dear friend with a walk down memory lane in the form of a photo collage and to be able to celebrate our nearly 40 years of friendship except, here is where the trigger of emotions really began to go off the rails for me because how can I make a collage of memories from an almost 40 year friendship without a single photo or memory from our younger years. 

I don’t want to get into too many details right now as to what actually happened to every single one of my photos and childhood memories I possessed before the age of 19 because well that’s where the triggers really start to go south for me. 

Let’s just say that if they had been lost in an accidental fire or went missing during a home invasion I could make room for forgiveness in my heart; but neither of those two scenerios actually played out.

There isn’t one photo of my first year of life to be found, not one school picture or memory from any of my birthdays to be found either. There are no photos of me sitting on my grandpa’s lap playing his trumpet or baking cookies with my grandma to be found. There are no photos of my childhood home in Montreal or Toronto for that matter, no photos of me from the many summers I spent at overnight camp as a camper (I do have a few pics though of my summer as a camp counsellor back in 1989). There isn’t the abundance of photos that were taken of my precious dog who meant the world to me during my adolescent years, no photos capturing the silly antics of me and my brother to be found, no photos of family outings, no photos of family friends or relatives and no photos of me and my besties growing up. It’s as though my childhood has been completely erased and sadly it all could’ve been prevented. 

The only photos I do have in my possession now (which I sometimes like to post) are the few that have been sent to me by old friends and family (please keep ’em coming!). 

My kids have begrudgingly posed for pictures and may get somewhat annoyed at times by my wanting to document every single milestone or seemingly insignificant moment from their childhood, adolescence and young adult lives but I see them, I see them periodically flipping through old photo albums and the hundreds of saved pictures on their computers. I see them laughing and reminiscing and looking back fondly at those silly memories and keepsakes and I definitely know now that one day they will totally thank me for it because memories may fade over time but a picture will tell a story for a lifetime!

Do you have a favorite photo from your childhood?

#memories #oldphotos #nostagia #lostmemories #feelinglost #fiftiethbirthday #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #friendship #family 

Sharing My Panic Attack

I had a panic attack today while driving home from my therapist. I needed to pull over so that I could calm down. I talked my way through it by asking myself a few simple questions that I have learned over the last many years to help me get through them. If you or someone you love suffers with anxiety and panic attacks have a listen.❤🤗

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=4191891124178675&id=100000734852540

#panicattack #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #speakyourtruth

My First Facebook Live

Today I did my first ever Facebook live presentation within a Facebook group called “Parents Unite” whose main purpose is to bring parents together while raising awareness on mental health concerns in both adults and children. 

People tell me all the time how brave it is of me to be able to do so many live television/news interviews, radio gigs or other such presentations but here’s the thing, when I do these interviews, gigs or other such presentations I am (for the most part) being fed questions to answer by the interviewers so I’m not actually having to think about what I want to say or fill air time all on my own. 

But when you do a Facebook/ Instagram live it’s just you and your thoughts trying to make sense without seemingly rambling on about whatever message it is you are trying to get across to others. And whether it’s someone choosing to talk about something that is irking them or helping to grow their online business or wanting to talk about something on a more personal level, it’s not easy.

As envious as people may be watching me take center stage on live television or through the lens of a Zoom interview, I am actually the one who has been envious of others who seem to have the natural ability to just press the live button at any given moment and start speaking off the cuff.

I often think to myself as I scroll through my feeds or as I am writing a blog and especially while I am listening to someone speak live that maybe today, instead of writing my words down in a blog to post later on that I will open up my Facebook or Instagram page and speak to a live audience, straight from the heart, right into the camera, allowing others watching an opportunity to interact in the conversation live and giving way for even more raw and intimate experiences to occur.  But the fear of doing so and the thought of reaching outside my comfort zone has always stopped me. 

But today I reached outside my comfort zone (even after waking up with a sore back out of nowhere and as the day goes on I’m having trouble sitting and catching my breath). I spent about 30 minutes on a Facebook live sharing part of my journey with the Parents Unite community, reading my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” and discussing the importance of having open, honest and age appropriate conversations with children as young as preschool age who may be impacted by mental health issues somewhere within their family unit. 

Everything I spoke about today has become second nature to me. They are things I am extremely passionate about and well versed in but not having the ability to edit my thoughts was quite a scary feeling. 

As I mentioned above I have dreamed for several years now that one day I could stand (or sit) in front of an audience and speak off the cuff and from the heart with authenticity by allowing my vulnerabilities to do the talking. 

And even if I will beat myself up for how I spoke today, for what I said or didn’t say, it’s okay because at least I tried. At least I reached outside my comfort zone, I learned a new skill, I took a risk and I achieved a new goal.

Could I try a Ted Talk next?

https://m.facebook.com/groups/parents.unite18/permalink/871850973660675/  (link to Facebook live)

Or check out the Parents Unite group on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/parents.unite18/?ref=share

What is one topic you could talk about to a live audience for about 30 minutes without any preparation?

#facebooklive #speakyourtruth #fromtheheart #parentsunite #tedtalk #socialmedia #author #blogger #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #childrensbook #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok 

Perhaps It Was A Lobotomy?

A memory popped up on my Facebook page early this morning which reminded me that seven years ago today I had a minor surgical procedure done in hospital, but aside from some slight discomfort for a couple of days following, it was really no big deal. 

This memory has popped up on my Facebook wall for years now and recalling it has also never been any big deal before, that was until today.  Suddenly after all these years I became severely triggered by it and I really wish I could understand why.

It could’ve been because I had a particularly difficult day yesterday and was already in a very negative mindset when the notification came in on my phone shortly after midnight; which is also when the floodgates completely opened up and left me writing this at 4:30 am.

The above procedure I had happened to take place exactly seven weeks prior to “D” day. “D” day of course refers to the day in which my journey first began and reading this seemingly innocent memory this morning took me back, not to the actual day of my surgery but instead I began ruminating about all the events that took place leading up to “D” day.

I found myself ruminating about the new job I had just started literally a week or two before my procedure. I found myself ruminating about how I destroyed my entire world by choosing to leave another job to pursue this one. I found myself ruminating about all the scary conversations and dangerous situations I found myself in over the next six or seven weeks following the procedure, all at the hands of my crooked boss. 

I began to beat myself up further for several more hours, replaying every bad memory, image and scenario in my head that literally occurred up until “D” day and literally all night long. And to think that all this was triggered from a memory on Facebook that once felt pretty disconnected from all of the above.  

I’m beginning to think that maybe the procedure was a bigger deal after all, maybe I had more than just a minor surgical procedure done, is it possible I was given a lobotomy that day instead? I mean it certainly would all make perfect sense to me now. Yes? No?

#triggers #rumination #lobotomy #youareenough #youarenotalone #facebook #memories #itsoktonotbeok #sleeplessnight #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mindfulness #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #youmatter #ptsd

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

The Day I Came Out

Six years ago today I posted these two pictures on my Facebook page, both with words of gratitude and a special thank you attached to them. 

The first post I made was meant as an ode to Rich for his continuous sacrifice and unconditional love and the second post was meant as a special shout out to all my incredible friends and family who had been my pillars of strength over those last several months. 

It was on that cold winter’s day, January 19th, 2015 that I returned home from the hospital after spending an exhausting three (plus) months in the Psychiatric Ward at Sunnybrook Hospital; a time in my life that to this day I can honestly say are still some of the darkest days of my journey thus far, along with the many other hospital stays and emergency room visits that came before and have followed after. 

But it was also on that day as well, shortly after I posted those messages that I knew I was ready to share my journey with the world (well my Facebook world that is). Up until then I may have shared some cryptic captions or inspirational quotes on my Facebook page but for the most part I had been keeping very much to my inner circle since the start of my journey some nine months earlier.

I knew on that day that I never wanted anyone else to ever feel like they had to suffer in silence again or be too afraid to share their struggles with others because of the stigma attached to mental illness.

I felt a great weight lifted off my shoulders that day as messages of hope and healing poured in and I felt so much pride in my heart as one by one more and more people began reaching out to me in private to take that first step toward healing by sharing their own unique, yet very similar struggles of their own with me.

#itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #courage #endthestigmatogether #dontsufferinsilence #spiritualhealing #speakyourtruth #masksoff #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #acceptance #blogger #author #bekindtoyourself #youmatter #empowerment #purpose #empathy #vulnerability 

I Just Need To Vent

I belong to several neighborhood groups on Facebook. Overall I enjoy reading many of their daily posts and community updates as a way to stay informed. These groups are meant to be a safe place for “adults” (a term I use loosely nowadays) to have open dialogues or to give their opinions and suggestions to other group members in a non judgmental way but with tensions running so high these days it seems as though that is almost next to impossible.

You’re probably wondering why I don’t just leave these groups or scroll on past them in my feeds to avoid a possible anxiety attack or fits of anger but I guess it’s because, well to be perfectly honest here, I’m a glutton for punishment. 

Today there was a post made in one such group which I knew right away was going to cause a lot of tension and differing of opinions among community members and I also knew that if I scrolled through the comments I was likely to become anxious or better yet enraged. But because I’m a glutton for punishment I began reading every last comment (over 200 to be exact).

And yup, the more comments I read the more anxious and angry I became. We have been living through the Covid-19 Pandemic now for over 10 months and since day one we have all been doing our best to survive, the best way we know how and it has sadly taken an enormous toll on many (emphasis on many) of us both financially and mentally. 

I wrote a blog several months ago titled “We’re All In Different Boats” (https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/were-all-in-different-boats) where I spoke to this topic in length and although we are “all in this together” we are all doing so on many different types of “boats”.

So when I came upon one particular conversation and back and forth banter today while reading all the comments on this post I felt both sadness and anger all at once when one individual quickly dismissed another person’s concern for their children’s mental health and wellbeing right now as nothing more than an inconvenience. 

He continued on by telling this mom (whom he didn’t seem to even know) that her kid’s mental health couldn’t truly be suffering given that we live in a “pretty comfortable neighborhood” with “big homes” and plenty of room in our backyards to run around in to get some exercise and let off some steam.

I have no words to explain exactly how truly angry and saddened I felt as I read those ignorant and very damaging comments. Whether it’s our kids, our loved ones, our friends or others in our communities we are all suffering and doing the best that we can right now to ensure that we make it through these incredibly trying times and NOONE has the right to assume, to judge or to make someone feel this way, EVER because you never truly know what is going on in someone else’s boat.

Ok rant over!

#wordsmatter #kindnessmatters #stopjudging #mentalhealth #selfcare #mentalwellness #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #empathy #empowerment #socialmedia #facebook