Depression is not something that you can just “will away”, or be “waited out”, recovery takes a lot more effort than just thinking or being told that “time heals all wounds” because I can tell you firsthand that none of those beliefs or notions are in any way, shape or form going to cure it.
Depression is also not like breaking your arm where you are fitted with a cast and your doctor can give you a rough estimate as to how many weeks your recovery may take, but similar to depression though, everyone’s recovery time may be different.
To be honest I actually don’t remember how it feels anymore to not suffer with depression and as each day passes I question if I ever will again. Depression is most definitely a treatable disease and for many individuals their symptoms can be managed by medication or different kinds of therapy but like many other diseases or even the after effects from that broken arm your symptoms may recur or continue to lurk over your shoulder for a lifetime.
The reason being is that depression is not one size fits all (see blog “Depression Isn’t One Size Fits All”; Oct 21, 2018) and there are many different factors to take into account when looking into what causes a person to become depressed in the first place. And I can also tell you that the road to recovery can feel extremely defeating and be very bumpy too with little to no guarantee that it will not rear its ugly head again and again over time. That in itself can bring additional fears and feelings of hopelessness.
Right now however I can’t worry about the relapses or the unpredictable return of my illness when I haven’t even been able to get through the first episode and not without lack of trying. I can’t even imagine what remission would feel like for me, what it would look like for me or if it’s even possible anymore for me? But a girl can dream, can’t she?
If you thought that depression and anxiety were the only things weighing me down you will be sadly mistaken. A couple (probably more by now but I’ve lost track of time) of years ago I developed a skin disease that I rarely talk about to anyone but it causes me a great deal of pain both mentally and physically. I have seen several doctors and dermatologists regarding it and once it was finally properly diagnosed a treatment plan was able to be put into place.
The treatment plan was always the same each time which included a course of antibiotics. I’ve tried several of them by now and each one has worked better than the next but the problem is that everytime I finish the antibiotics it just comes right back.
In September I began seeing a new doctor with a new set of eyes and a new course of antibiotics along with an action plan to be discussed further upon my return a few months later which was at the beginning of December. By this time I had now been taking a regular dose of antibiotics for 3 months and although it was keeping the flare ups and pain to a minimum it wasn’t enough so she decided to refer me to another specialist. This specialist however is someone who deals directly with this type of inflammatory skin disease and apparently the only one of its kind in Ontario and had recently opened her own clinic in one of the downtown hospitals.
Since I began suffering with depression my immune system has been completely out of whack and has caused me to suffer a great deal of inflammation throughout my body and because this skin disease is considered an inflammatory one there could very well be a correlation between the two and I was open to the idea of meeting with yet another doctor if it meant finding a treatment plan that would hopefully not involve a lifetime of antibiotics. The doctor told me that I should continue taking the medicine until my appointment with the new specialist and how naive was I to think this appointment would take place sooner rather than later.
Well this week was exactly 2 months since I last saw the doctor and now 5 months of taking an antibiotic daily and finally I received a call in regards to seeing the new specialist. Would you like to guess when that appointment was set for, keeping in mind it has already been two months since the referral was made? Okay, I hate guessing games too so I will just tell you; it was set for the last week of June (the day after my birthday for anyone who would like to continue the guessing game!) which by then will mean I would be taking the same dose of antibiotics for almost 10 months.
I won’t lie when I tell you that the phone call sent me on a downward spiral this week and my first reaction was to stop taking the antibiotics because no good can come from taking it for 10 months straight, right?. Well in less than 48 hours of me stopping the medication guess what happened? Yup, you guessed right (see you are good at guessing games) because the symptoms returned with a vengeance and the pain is excruciating to say the least. So now what? Do I live with the constant pain for the next 4.5 months which can be quite crippling or do I risk the development of more toxicity in my body or even the possibility of a future antibiotic resistance? Oh and ya I almost forgot to mention that things aren’t going so well with the whole Neurofeedback training (a topic for another day) and upon speaking with them this week regarding some of my concerns they too had concerns with the effect that a prolonged use of antibiotics could be having on my treatment. FML
Let me start by saying that I am a true “blue” fan of both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays. I don’t just hop on the bandwagon when they are winning because if that were the case I’d have probably given up long ago. I listen to the games on the radio in my car, I enjoy watching them on TV and I love nothing more than seeing both my home teams live and in action and only wish it were possible to do so more often (and in more cities).
There is just one major problem; I suffer from extreme anxiety and panic whenever I go to a game (well over the last couple of years that is). Last summer while attending a Jays game with my husband, something I LOVE doing as I just mentioned, I suffered a sudden and uncontrollable panic attack while we waited in line for something to eat. Was it the crowd of nameless faces enclosing in around me that caused it to happen or was it really that difficult to decide between the nachos or a slice of pizza that could have struck me with a panic attack that included tears streaming down my face, leaving my husband standing there thinking to himself WTF while looking for the closest exit to run to? (yup he’s one lucky guy!)
Whatever the actual cause was I’ll never know for sure but it happened and it was very real. So last night when we were given the opportunity to attend a Leafs game I was excited and hoped things would go more smoothly. But right on schedule my anxiety began to escalate as soon as we left the house and maneuvered our way through rush hour traffic on the streets of downtown Toronto hoping to make it in time for the singing of the National Anthems (which I love) and puck drop which we did, but barely.
As we were driving, I took an extra dose of my CBD oil as we neared the stadium and that seemed to relax me and bring my heart rate down, but not for long. Once safely in our seats I practiced as many breathing and grounding exercises as I could and focused my attention on the game, desperately wiping away tears and trying to shutdown my negative, catastrophic thoughts and fears of lurking danger as best I could. Unfortunately the negative thoughts and fears took over from time to time throughout the evening and again if you ask me why, I cannot give you an honest answer (maybe it was Carlton the Leaf’s Mascot standing in front of me that did me in LOL). All I do know for sure is that it’s just another overwhelming and embarrassing symptom I have had to learn to live with as part of my illness. But hey, on a positive note, at least the Leafs made it all worth it!
I never really liked multiple choice exams in school. The answers were rarely straightforward and more often than not they were quite confusing even if the answer may have been staring you right in the face. We all make choices in our daily lives, some are more straightforward and less confusing than others but there are many choices that are actually out of our control no matter how much some ignorant or judgmental assholes may try and debate it.
You see, our sexual orientation, our gender identity, our race or the development of a disability, disease or MENTAL ILLNESS are all things that we do not choose in life but may sadly make our lives significantly more intolerable, oppressive and insufferable.
I know that mental illness is not a choice. You know how I know this? I know this because I have been battling with depression for the past 5 years and trust me when I tell you that nobody would ever choose to wake up every morning feeling broken or suicidal. I also know that I do not choose my thoughts, that my depression does that for me.
What I have also come to learn throughout my battle with depression is that because it is not a choice I understand that it is not “all in my head” therefore it is not something that I can just “snap out of it”. I do not choose to look weak to others, come across as being lazy or use it as an excuse either. Depression is very real and can seriously affect us all when our brains are in a constant feud with our heart.
And even though depression is not a choice, those suffering with it or any other mental illness for that matter do have a choice when it comes to finding some coping mechanisms to help you manage through it. This can often be one of the most difficult parts of your journey because many of us are too afraid to ask for help when mental illness is still so stigmatized and we put so much blame on ourselves for even having these thoughts and feelings in the first place.
But just remember that by choosing to open up to a loved one or by seeking professional help are both key to de-stigmatizing depression and enabling others to understand that the correct multiple choice answer would be: C) both A. and B. A) It is NOT a choice B) It is an illness.
💔 💚 Social Media has made it very easy these days for us to hide our true thoughts and emotions from the rest of the world. In reality Social Media has more often than not become an edited highlight reel of someone’s life, often concealing our true self especially when we add all those fun features and filters to our posts. I get it, it’s our natural instinct to want to post only the parts of our life that exemplifies our success and happiness but it can be detrimental to our mental health and wellness when we are struggling or feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. This week for me has been particularly challenging and emotionally exhausting but many of you may not see that when scrolling through my Social Media presence. I want any and all of you who may have also had a particularly challenging or emotionally exhausting week to know that #youarenotalone and that #itsoktonotbeok and that it’s also ok to sometimes show your vulnerable or overwhelmed true self(ie)to the world. 💔 💚
#mentalhealthcheckin #checkonyourlovedones #beyourself #speakyourtruth #courage #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #youareenough
Today is “Bell Let’s Talk Day” and for the last 10 years Bell Canada has been at the forefront of this advocacy program promoting “mental health education, research, awareness and ending social stigma”. Funds raised during “Bell Let’s Talk Day” (which is close to 100 million dollars since its conception in 2010) are distributed to a number of mental health organizations across Canada helping to make our great nation a stigma-free one.
Canadians are asked to get involved in Bell’s initiative today by simply doing what most of us do on any given day using a variety of social media platforms like Twitter. By tweeting the hashtag #bellletstalk or watching one of their “Bell Let’s Talk” videos being shared on Twitter, Bell will donate 5 cents. If you use one of their “Bell Let’s Talk” frames on Facebook or watch one of their official videos on Facebook or Instagram, Bell will again donate 5 cents to their campaign. Bell also asks that while on Snapchat today and you snap a picture that you use one of their “Bell Let’s Talk” filters in order for another 5 cents to be donated (teenagers alone could raise 100 million dollars by the amount of “snaps” they send in a day!). And finally for all Bell Canada customers who make a phone call or send a text message throughout today they will also donate 5 cents each time. Sounds pretty simple??
As many of you know by now if you read anything I post or blog about it would come as no surprise to you how passionate I am when it comes to mental health and how crucial it is for society to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. And if “Bell Let’s Talk Day” can help jumpstart just one more conversation, give just one more voice the courage to share their story, educate just one more person to understand the signs of mental illness, teach just one more person the importance of language and the words you choose, show kindness and tolerance toward others or to just learn how to become a better listener and ask the right questions, together will make a difference in so many lives.
Throughout the past several years as this campaign has grown in leaps and bounds I have heard more and more controversy surrounding the Corporation’s true objectives. But for me today I just want the focus to be about the many faces (and masks) of mental illness and how it can and does affect us all. It may not affect you directly but it shouldn’t matter if it’s your loved one who may be suffering, your friend, your neighbour or even your co-worker, all that matters is that we break their silence, shatter the stereotypes and end the stigma together! Happy tweeting everyone.
Seven years ago today we celebrated big time and I beamed with so much pride the entire day. Seven years ago today we celebrated the B’nai Mitzvah of Jacob and Hannah; the added bonus for those of the Jewish faith, brave enough or dumb enough (just kidding) to have a son and a daughter 1 year apart! It truly was a magical day, filled with so much love and gratitude while being surrounded by all our family and friends. Seven years ago today I was ME, or so I thought I was. I loved everything about that day and all the planning that went into making sure it was the best damn day of their lives thus far. And that’s exactly what it turned out to be for all of us and no matter what no one can ever take those memories away.
But today as I think back to that magical day seven years ago I’m met with a lot of unwanted emotions and sadness knowing how just over two years later our lives changed forever and I still don’t truly understand the how’s or the why’s of how or why I lost that ME. That ME now instead reflects back daily to the exact day and time “it” all began to unravel and nearly five years later I am still left trying to put all the pieces of my life back together in order to become that ME again. The problem is though that I’m discovering day by day if in fact that was the ME I was truly meant to be at all.
I know it certainly doesn’t solve anything to be constantly living in the past, rehashing the what if’s, the how come’s and the why’s especially knowing what little control you have now and most of which you can’t change. But that is what depression does to a person’s heart and soul; it plays cruel and heart-rending mind games on you, breaking you down to nothing and leaving very little energy for the important and happy memories.
Today just so happens to also be another “anniversary” of sorts. Two years ago today I began sharing my story by creating a blog. I had never written a blog before and all the writing I had done prior to its conception was purely for my own enjoyment but since that day 2 years ago I have now written well over 100 of them, sharing the most personal and intimate details of my life with you. By writing my blog it has allowed me explore many parts of ME that weren’t working before that fateful day and find some strength to accept some parts of ME that I have lost forever. So as I continue to share my most personal and intimate feelings with you which may include rehashing the what if’s, the how come’s and the why’s through my writing maybe it will steer me toward the ME I am truly meant to be.
The main objective of my writing as you probably know by now is to tell my story in as open and honest a way as possible in hopes of helping others who may be suffering with similar symptoms or diagnosis to know that they are not alone and that it’s okay to not be okay. In doing so I am also trying my best to help end the stigma associated with having a mental illness while navigating our loved ones and society as a whole into becoming more tolerant and accepting of people who may be battling such a complex disease.
From time to time this has included my own personal testimonies about products or services that have been helpful to me and of course the not so helpful ones as well. In no way are 2 people’s journeys the same and what can work for one person may definitely not work for someone else (if that were the case that magic pill or hospital admission would have cured me long ago). But either way I feel I need to give my anecdotal accounts in order to help guide others in some sort of direction especially when feeling like traditional treatments are not enough.
One of the biggest struggles I encounter on a daily basis (or nightly I should say) is due to severe anxiety which causes me to suffer from a massive amount of sleep deprivation and no matter what nothing seems to help. When I do eventually fall asleep it is not for long periods of time and it is usually disrupted hourly causing me to never feel refreshed in the morning. It has been suggested to me on several occasions by people in the mental health field that maybe I should purchase a weighted blanket to help regulate my sleep and nighttime anxiety.
I’ve been researching them online for some time now and I happen to follow many Hollywood influencers who promote certain brands of them as well but this week when someone actually took the time to give me their very own personal account backed up by the scientifically-based, therapeutic benefits of a weighted blanket did I decide that maybe it was time to try one for myself; afterall the information came directly from a real-life scientist. The underlying science behind these blankets is called Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) and by applying that deep touch pressure to one’s body helps increase the release of serotonin which promotes relaxation.
These blankets have become widely used for both children and adults alike suffering with Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Sleep Deprivation as well as many other mental and physical ailments. I just started using my blanket and can’t say for sure that it will actually cure my anxiety or sleep deprivation but I can tell you that the blanket is so soft and cozy (even though it weighs a ton) and just being wrapped in it helps put some of my anxiety at ease. I don’t know why it does and I certainly don’t know how but any comfort I can get even if it’s for a short while is worth every penny. And you better watch out Kardashians because I may soon become your direct competition as the next big Hollywood Marketing Influencer!
Today being the third Monday in January is also known as “Blue Monday” and through a mathematical equation formulated by a Psychology Professor in 2005, he believes that the third Monday in January should be labeled as the most depressing day of the year. His calculations make sense on paper but there is absolutely no scientific proof that today, the third Monday in January be the most depressing day of the year.
Sure today just happens to be the coldest day of the year thus far at a whopping -30 with the windchill, but keep in mind that it is certainly not that cold everywhere in the world. And sure those Christmas bills have now piled up on your kitchen table, but again it certainly doesn’t apply to everyone around the world. And of course let us not forget that being three weeks into the new year probably means that many of us have already broken nearly all of our New Year’s resolutions by now. So ya, on paper this mathematical formula may seem quite depressing to many but at the same time it is also quite misleading and possibly harmful to anyone suffering with depression.
Yes this time of year can cause a seemingly healthy individual to have feelings of depression due to the bitter cold, dreary weather or the shortened amount of daylight hours but categorizing the third Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year feels like a slap in the face to someone like me. It is quite common for someone to be affected by S.A.D or Seasonal Affective Disorder (please see blog “”I’m S.A.D, The February Blues”; Feb. 14, 2018) but again to say that today is the most depressing day of the year makes me SAD as depression is not a one day occurance like “World Chocolate Day” or “International Puppy Day”.
Take it from someone who is suffering with depression and know that it is an ongoing battle that can hit you at anytime and does not just come and go because we failed our attempt to start a diet on January 1st, or that by paying off our debt from Christmas will make your feelings of depression disappear. It unfortunately doesn’t work that way and when you research “Blue Monday” you will find out that it was actually created as a marketing strategy for travel companies to get people to book a vacation whether you need one or not. It’s strategy is kinda ironic though when your still drowning in debt from the recent holiday season, don’t you think?
Well either way, if anything positive can be taken away from “Blue Monday” maybe it’s another reason for people to talk about mental illness and anytime that happens it’s never a bad thing!
Today when my memory wall on Facebook popped up I was quickly reminded about one of the many memories in the last 4.5 years that I’d sooner forget. The pictures I have posted are from today, 4 years ago when I was released from my first full inpatient hospital stay which ended up being well over 3 months in total. The first post was for Rich and only Rich as he sacrificed (and still does) so much during that time in order for our kids to feel some sense of normalcy still. The second post was for the many, many friends and family who helped me and my family out during that time in ways that went above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Although I would sooner forget these and many other memories from the last 4.5 years, I am beyond grateful and thankful at the same time to be reminded today, four years later just how much love and support I still have surrounding me and my family and that four years ago many of you did not know what I was going through as I was not yet ready to let everyone in, but in doing so a couple of years ago that love and support is now overflowing. I have also made it my mission to let anyone in who wants in, to know that today is the best day to start that conversation, to share your story, to not suffer in silence anymore, to understand your own feelings better, that you are valued and that it’s okay to not be okay. #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillness