Tonight we celebrated Hannah’s Graduation from Ryerson University.
Her continued dedication, hard work, determination and commitment to succeed over the past four years not only earned Hannah a Degree in Communications but it also earned her a very well deserved placement on the Dean’s List for one last time this semester.
Dad and I couldn’t be more proud of all that you have accomplished and we can’t wait to see what awaits you this coming Fall (but first stop, CAMP!!!!) as you embark on the next chapter of your journey at Humber College in Event Management.
We know that whatever path you choose in life you are certain to shine.
~Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead ~ Nora Ephron
It was 30 years ago today that Rich and I went out on our first “official” date.
We had already been working together (he was my boss) for the better part of a year but our timing and circumstances just hadn’t quite aligned before then.
But maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, maybe it was how it was meant to be and maybe it’s how it should be because during the time leading up to our first “official” date we were building a genuine friendship.
We were getting to know each other, trusting and confiding in one another and learning things about each other that we may not have otherwise been given the opportunity to do.
By developing a true friendship and bond first before jumping right into a relationship took away all of our exceptions.
I can barely recall most days anymore what I did 5 minutes ago yet I can still remember every last moment of our first “official” date.
And maybe it’s because we could truly be ourselves around each other and not have to pretend to be someone we weren’t.
Or maybe it’s that friendship we developed first, the one with no strings attached that has helped us to grow together as a couple and has also enabled us to support one another through the most difficult and challenging times that were still yet to come.
I’d love to hear some stories from your best and worst first dates.
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.
Each year the first week of May is recognized as National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week. It’s probably pretty obvious by now that I don’t need any excuse what so ever to raise awareness about either one of these two mental disorders or tell you how important it is to talk about the potential impact they can have on someone’s ability to function in their daily life.
Depression and Anxiety are the two most common of all mental health disorders and over the course of this past year have become increasingly more and more debilitating to so many people’s lives.
But then why is there still such stigma attached?
Why do so many people feel a sense of shame and guilt when it comes to their diagnosis?
Why is it still so hard for someone to open up about how they are truly feeling?
Well as someone who has probably heard it all by now, I get it, I get why so many people are afraid to open up about how they are feeling because I too have felt the impact of the stigma surrounding my illness too many times to count and I too have felt the shame and guilt that often comes along with my diagnosis.
It’s important to remember that having a mental disorder is not something that a person chooses to have, they are actual medical conditions and need to be treated with medication and/or therapy; and that no one should ever have to justify their feelings to anyone.
But too often the person who is suffering with Depression and/or Anxiety are left having to defend themselves against the actions and words of others. And even though their intentions may be coming from a place of love or out of deep concern for the individual who is suffering, those words or actions can end up doing more harm than good and leaving someone feeling attacked or hurt when we dismiss or minimize or deny or compare their feelings.
So can we all make a fresh start today and change the conversation?
Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety to “snap out of it”, “try harder” or to simply “cheer up”.
Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that they don’t look or sound “sad” or “depressed”.
Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that everyone has “bad days” or that a lot of people “have it much worse”.
Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that “it’s all in your head” and that they are acting “selfish”.
Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety to “take a long walk” and you will feel better.
And let’s never again tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that they just need to “think positive” and “happy thoughts”.
Let’s change the conversation today. Somedays my life truly depends on it and I know that I’m not alone.
Last night Rich and I watched a movie on Netflix called “Words On Bathroom Walls” which is based on a book.
I cried. A lot.
My intention for the evening was to find a wholesome, mushy, lovey-dovey kinda romantic comedy to watch. It was gonna be a perfect distraction. I mean come on, who doesn’t love a good romantic comedy?? Well I’d probably have to start with Rich!! And now I know it was all just a rouse back when he was courting me!
As I began flipping through our endless options of wholesome, mushy, lovey-dovey kinda romantic comedies to watch I happened upon a movie that really caught my eye; and his too.
It had romance but it had a whole lot of substance too.
It was a movie about a boy named Adam who is diagnosed with Schizophrenia in his senior year of high school which he struggles to keep a secret from his new love interest at his new school.
“Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling”. (MAYO CLINIC)
For much of the movie we live inside Adam’s mind as he desperately tries to fight off his distortions from reality with medical intervention and therapy. We witness both the visual and audible effects of Schizophrenia come to life in the form of a black funnel cloud and deep threatening voices. You could see the distress and fear in his eyes and you could empathize with his pain and sadness.
I battle mental illness every day and even though I can’t tell you what it’s actually like to suffer with Schizophrenia I can tell you that many of his experiences and symptoms really resonated with me. Like alot.
Just like Adam’s character in the movie I too struggle with distortions from reality, I too struggle with extremely disordered thinking and behaviors, I too struggle with being diagnosed as treatment resistant, and I too have struggled for many years with a no win situation while experimenting with one concoction of medication after another which only caused me further mental and physical impairment.
But just like Adam’s character in the movie, I too have also learnt alot from my illness. Just like Adam’s character I too have learned over time that even though I have an illness, I am not my illness, nor should I ever be defined by it. And just like Adam’s character I too have learned over time how important it is to let others into my life and to share my thoughts and experiences with them because in the end I too have learned that by doing so people may really surprise you. And in a really good way.
The movie was genuine, sensitive, compassionate, insightful and real. It shed a very important and bright light on Schizophrenia and mental illness in general which is all too often seen in a very dark and vilified way.
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 am so excited to finally receive my very own copy today of the book I was so honoured to be published in a few months ago.
It’s a compilation of stories, poems and images from individuals around the world.
“The Corona Silver Linings Anthology” captures real life experiences, raw emotions, meaningful issues and life lessons that we have all been challenged by or have had to face in one way or another during this past year while looking for those silver linings.
“The Lifewrite Project” is a non-profit initiative which publishes anthologies “encouraging people to tap into their power to write and share their unique stories” while collaborating with different charities related to the topic at hand and raising funds for many initiatives in the process.
The proceeds from this book are being donated to a variety of charities including “The First Responders Children’s Foundation”.
Check out their website for details on any of their upcoming projects. After all there’s an inner writer somewhere inside of us all just waiting to share our own unique story with the world.
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!