A BIRTHDAY POEM: A Very Happy 20th Birthday Jacob

This very handsome dude is the eldest of my brood, Who exists on very little sleep and oodles and oodles of food.

As you prepare to leave these complicated teen years behind you, I can’t help but wonder just where the time flew.

You’re turning 20 years old today and it’s so hard to believe, Just how much you have already accomplished and achieved.

There is just no denying just how witty and likable you are, And it shines through in your friendships from both near and from far.

You’re a superstar in our eyes both on and off of the ice, And your ruthless glove save is your greatest device.

Having two younger sisters can be a very challenging role, But you seem to thrive on the challenge with such ease and control.

We’re so proud of your strength and the resilience you’ve acquired, That combined with your perseverance, you are so truly admired.

As you enter this new chapter of your life today; I surely have no doubt, That you will triumph through with great success as you figure your 20’s out.

There will always be some bumps in the road as you continue to find your way, But never forget just how much love surrounds you each and every day.

#ILoveYouToTheMoonAndBack

I’m Truly Sorry, From My Depression & Anxiety

I’M TRULY SORRY, FROM MY DEPRESSION & ANXIETY

*Warning; Some Sensitive Content*

Lately I feel like maybe I should be wearing a sign around my neck that reads “I’m Sorry” because my illness has made me feel like I am constantly doing something wrong each and every day and I seem to be apologizing endlessly for my actions or words. An apology is an expression of regret or an acknowledgement of an offense or error. It may also be used when someone is unable to do something or attend an invited event. So you see, my need to incessantly apologize seems pretty darn relevant, right? Well if there is one thing I know for sure it’s that my illness most definitely would agree.

I have created an endless list in my mind as to why I always feel the need to apologize for my illness, a list which I have created out of guilt, remorse, regret and the belief that I am a colossal burden to everyone in my life; and for this I am truly sorry. My illness has not just left an enormous impact on my life but it has also left a significant impact on the lives of so many countless others. My intent has never been to maliciously set out to hurt these countless individuals but my illness seems to have a mind of its own; and for this I am truly sorry.

I’m sorry if you felt as though I somehow intentionally pushed you away or made you feel as though I no longer needed you because you were unable to help me so out of frustration you subtly and indiscreetly removed yourself from my life; the phone calls, the texts, the invitations, one by one slowly began to fade away. I’m sorry if I make you feel that your efforts are unwelcome or undesired when you have tried to send me positive energy and encouraging reinforcements and all I can do is allow my negative self-talk to intervene once again. Please know that my heart detects your genuine intentions and is truly disheartened and sorry.

I’m sorry if I have neglected you during your own sadness and pain or have been unable to be “present” (both literally and figuratively) to celebrate in your happiness or success. My own darkness often consumes me to the point that I am no longer aware of my surroundings and feel numb to the world around me. I’m sorry if I have hurt your feelings or made you feel as though your sentiments aren’t as important as mine but it is just too overwhelming for me much of the time.

I’m sorry if I may frighten you when I talk openly and honestly of suicide and wanting to end my pain. My words come from a place of hopelessness and from an illness that sincerely believes that I am both a burden and a liability to you. My illness tells me that I have nothing to give you in return except for anguish and sorrow and that by relieving you of this burden you will be much better off without me even though my heart may tell me otherwise.

I am especially sorry for those closest to me in my life, the ones who see me everyday and have had to bear witness to the destruction and havoc that my illness has caused our family unit, or the amount of times that it has disappointed, scared and frustrated them. I’m sorry for how my illness has treated you at times, I’m sorry for being distracted from what truly matters, I’m sorry for not always being there for you and I’m sorry for causing you sadness.

I know it may be difficult for you to understand at times, but please know that I am so grateful to everyone who has stuck by me and for loving me unconditionally. I know in my heart that I truly don’t have anything to be sorry for that pertains to my illness as I did not intentionally cause it to happen, but the guilt I feel, the remorse I detect, the regret that I endure and the belief that I am a colossal burden to everyone in my life makes it very tiresome to disregard and for that I am truly sorry.

How Meditation Made Me Feel Like A Failure Once Again

HOW MEDITATION MADE ME FEEL LIKE A FAILURE ONCE AGAIN

*Warning: Sensitive Content*

So another “Summer of Rich” (as he has so lovingly pegged it) officially began at exactly 3pm sharp yesterday afternoon as soon as the bus drove away with our very excited CIT (counsellor in training) and her friends to join her siblings at camp for the next 7 weeks.  He didn’t want to waste a single moment of his much anticipated “break” and so we headed straight away to get our annual husband and wife pedicures (well his is annual).  The last few summers albeit very quiet and less demanding on one hand have also been met with some of our most challenging and difficult hardships to date and so while he was enjoying his soothing and relaxing pedicure it was wonderful to see from the gigantic smile on his face that he was breathing a much needed sigh of relief.

The last couple of weeks for me have been some of the most wearing and tiresome days I have had in a little while which of course only adds to my husband’s long list of tensions and worries (and enthusiasm for the kids to be gone all summer).  I only wish that I could have been breathing that same sigh of relief as my husband was feeling but I just couldn’t.  My mind has been in a complete state of chaos lately and my thoughts have become more and more vivid and scary.   Throughout my journey I have been given many tools to work with in order to turn these vivid and scary thoughts into a more positive and favourable vibe however right now it ain’t flying.

Last weekend when we visited the Healing Sanctuary on my birthday (which I wrote about last week), we were invited to attend a special one night, free meditation class being given by a woman who’s passion, insight and education toward understanding our mind, body and spirit led her to begin teaching the art of meditation two decades ago and has since worked with some of the most renowned spirit leaders in the world.  Although I have been taught some simple breathing exercises and listened to some mindful apps on my phone I have never actually been guided through a bona fide meditation which is something I have wanted to do for quite some time.  We decided that together we would attend the class (and I brought a friend along too) which we knew fell on our first evening of “The Summer of Rich”.  We both went with an open mind and heart in order to learn some inspiring meditation practices that we can apply to our daily lives.

Meditation can benefit anyone and everyone and I truly see its importance in helping someone to reduce stress, anxiety, depression or pain.  It may also assist someone in finding their inner peace, alter their perception of the world around them and in general open our mind’s up to a mentally clear and emotionally calm state; that is unless you’re me!  Last night instead of coming out of the class with a great big sigh of relief and some glimmer of hope that I had wished for (and long for more than anything), I was left feeling like I had failed once again.  Who knew that meditation could leave someone feeling like a failure or that it could actually do more harm than good?

Well I guess I learned something new last night either way because I’m pretty sure that a benefit of meditation is not to have acute heart palpitations or racing thoughts, but what made me feel somewhat at ease after the class was over was when I discussed my experience with the teacher and found out that I am actually not alone.  You see, meditation can be a very powerful tool for someone’s mental and physical wellbeing and when done properly (as it was last night) it can also magnify one’s own self-awareness which can be tremendously valuable to many but for me it simply awakened my current state of helplessness and left me once again feeling very discouraged as I continue casting further judgment upon myself.

I am also left asking myself if there really is such a thing as a light at the end of the tunnel?  Could a subtype of meditation (and mindfulness) techniques bring upon a different outcome for me?   Does practice really make perfect?  Would love to hear some of your experiences with meditation, thank you in advance and oh ya; ‘Namaste’ to you all.

Depression: “Anger Turned Inward”

Depression: “Anger Turned Inward”

*Warning: Very Sensitive Content*

When you think of a person with depression intuitively you may perceive that someone to be feeling hopeless, worthless or sad but most of us would not immediately think of that same person as having feelings of anger or even rage.  Well it’s true; it is a very real and common symptom of depression that will only reek further havoc on a person who is battling with depression.  In fact, Sigmund Freud often referred to depression as ‘anger turned inward’, and I myself am scared that the irritability I feel, the self-blame I harbour and the hopelessness I bear is keeping me from being able to fight this disease anymore because I have become so angry.

Sigmund Freud’s theory, although stated probably a century ago still holds true today and shows us that anger can and will worsen or exacerbate our symptoms of depression and the severity of the disease.  No matter what situation I face every day or how hurt and betrayed I may feel, the anger automatically turns inward and it has become increasingly more and more painful.  Depression makes me feel like I am having an out of body experience as if I have become detached from my own body and I am looking down upon the person I no longer recognize and definitely the person I no longer wish to be and this makes me even more angry.

So you see depression not only makes a person feel hopeless, worthless and sad but it will also make them feel angry.  You see, for starters, depression keeps me awake late at night and up early in the morning.  It makes me toss and turn for hours on end and that lack of sleep causes me additional irritability and the inability to cope with my day-to-day struggles.  It has also made me feel disconnected from my loved ones, disinterested in activities I once enjoyed and I am continuously mourning an overwhelming sense of loss, loss that is of the person I used to be before the Depression set in, which too makes me undergo a great deal of anger.

I know the anger I feel is directed at my Depression itself and even though I know in my heart that it is an illness, I still continue to place blame on myself everyday while battling with an immense amount of guilt for burdening my loved ones with the responsibility of it.  Unfortunately my brain tells me that it’s all my fault, that I’m weak, I’m incompetent and of course that I’m a big fat failure; who wouldn’t feel angry and enraged if someone was constantly telling you all those things?

Depression has stolen four years of my life thus far and you know what, I’m so damn angry.  I have missed out on so much of life especially pertaining to my kid’s lives and I’m so damn angry.  I have lost my ability to find enjoyment in many of the little, yet important things in life and I’m so damn angry.  I have lost time to do the things I once enjoyed too and I am so damn angry.  I have lost friendships that once meant the world to me and I am so damn angry.  My anger is taking a toll on me like never before making me more and more irritable, frustrated and so damn angry!

I am only telling you all this because maybe if I can learn to express my anger outward instead of inward it will empower me to fight it off or try to battle it out.  Maybe if I can learn to stand up to the anger I feel it will allow the feelings and emotions to back down just like a cowardly bully may which is just driving me deeper and deeper into the abyss, formally known as Depression.  Hopefully it’s up for the challenge.

Another Birthday With Depression

Another Birthday With Depression

So I survived another birthday; well barely. I’m not gonna lie to you (why start now) but yesterday was harder than I imagined it was going to be. My birthday celebrations began a couple of days early as two of my kids were going to be at camp already on the actual day and they wanted to be a part of it somehow. They eagerly showered me with cards and presents and even insisted that my husband do so as well so they could see my reaction when he gave me my gift (all of which were filled with a lot of love and meaning behind them). After the gift giving portion of the evening was over we headed out to my favorite restaurant for dinner (which has become somewhat of a tradition) and I ate all my favorite foods, lots of it. The evening was really nice and a welcomed distraction leading up to the big day, a day that I once looked forward to celebrating.

Since my birthday fell on a weekend this year I think it only added to the stress and angst I was already feeling. I didn’t sleep much the night before (not that I ever do) and as the clock struck midnight the birthday wishes began lighting up my phone and Facebook page and continued to do so right through the entire next day. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly grateful knowing how many people actually took the time to think of me on my birthday (and there were LOTS), whether it was through Facebook, a text message or an actual phone call my emotions quickly became overtaken by my illness within the first hour past midnight.

I couldn’t look at my phone, answering it was definitely not an option and before noon I had cried at least three times. My husband wanted to take me for lunch which I had no desire to do as the thought of eating was making my stomach turn, but I agreed on the premise that we go somewhere ‘far away’ and so we went far enough away that my first birthday wish of the day came true; we didn’t see anyone we knew! After lunch we visited a healing sanctuary which was filled with so much spirituality, an area of my life I would like to focus more attention on so long as it is not God-Centered, but instead a place where I can somehow find an interconnectedness within myself which could lead me on a path toward health and wellness.

As soon as we walked into the store we both felt a sense of calm and peace and before we knew it we had spent an hour there browsing the 1000’s of items ranging from books, music, salt lamps, jewelry, crystals, aromatherapy, the list is endless; and they also offer many healing classes and courses as well. The owner was so welcoming and soothing from the moment we walked in and by the time we left she hugged me goodbye and gave me a gift for my birthday; an Energy Healing Bracelet, but she would only let me choose one that had absolutely no black whatsoever on it. I also purchased a couple of other small items including an aromatherapy birthday cupcake which is actually soap. I must keep it in my bathroom to gaze upon for the next 365 days, but not before making a wish upon it first. That was when my second wish for the day occurred.

When we returned home I was both emotionally and physically exhausted and had lost track of how many tears I had shed thus far, but I knew the day was not quite over and I still had dinner plans and my anxiety was already escalating again even though I knew we would be dining in an intimate and stress-free environment, with close friends by my side who I knew I could be myself with, laugh with and if needed, even shed a tear with.

During my birthday over the past four years I had never really given much thought to my “I Choose Me” Mantra or ensuring I create healthy boundaries before, but this birthday I did and in the end I believe it’s those healthy boundaries and my “I Choose Me” Mantra that helped me to survive another birthday, tears and all, and by the end of the day I was still holding on to that one final wish which I am planning to save up for another day when I figure out what it is.

“Are You Ready For The Summer?” Well I’m Not!

‘Are You Ready For The Summer?’  Well I’m Not!

It’s that time of year once again when your kids excitedly begin emptying out their knapsacks full of textbooks in exchange for their beach towels and sunscreen.  It’s that time of year once again when the April showers (and ice storms) have allowed for the May flowers to bloom and the June sky to brighten our days for hours on end.  And in our home it’s also that time of year once again when my kids hop aboard the Greyhound bus to their happy place while their father sheds his happy tears and joyfully hugs them goodbye amid his happy dance.

Tomorrow begins the official start to summer for two of my kids (unfortunately the third child has another few days of exams to get through first before her official start to summer).  But nonetheless, the dog days are here and so is another full summer of making some of the most incredible lasting memories for them.  I myself went to sleepaway camp for most of my childhood and young adult life and I can definitely tell you that is where I made some of my most incredible lasting memories (and friendships) too, but last summer my illness made it very difficult for me to remember those incredible lasting memories while they were away.

I know in my heart that my kids are safe at camp (and keeping their campers safe too!) while having the best time of their lives and making those incredible lasting memories but you see there is one major hurdle; my illness prefers to wander down the dark and sinister highways instead of taking me on a relaxing and gratifying joyride through the tranquil and serene country roads.  I should be looking forward to our ‘break’ from one another because to be completely honest, we really, really need it, this year more than ever before.

Every year since I began struggling with depression and anxiety we have been met with many additional and unthinkable challenges and adversities which are regrettably a normal part of life, but as each year passes for me I have become less and less able to cope with them, let alone the daily grind.   As I have mentioned previously in other blogs I never really experienced anxiety as a child (or adult for that matter), that is outside of what is considered to be a conventional range (as everyone suffers with anxiety from time to time) and even when I think back to a few years ago it was nowhere near where it is today.

I really can’t explain to you in a way that you would fully understand what having an anxiety disorder or panic attacks feel like because truthfully everyone’s experience is probably a little bit different.  All I can tell you is that for me over the last year my senses have become extremely heightened to the point where it is affecting my entire life, my husband’s life and most definitely my children’s lives almost daily and even though it may seem illogical, unreasonable or inexplicable to them or others, it is oh so real to me.

Just try to visualize for a moment that you are physically ill with the stomach flu and have been puking your guts up all night long, in a darkened room, all alone and someone tries to tell you that you’re imagining it, that it’s all in your head, that you take things too personally, that you’re overthinking it, that you’re affecting other people’s lives in the process or that you are simply being overly dramatic.  This is what my life with anxiety is like and yes it seems illogical, unreasonable and inexplicable to many, but for me it’s just plain exhausting, scary and very, very lonely at times when you are always afraid of your feelings or emotions.

The last thing I want is to let my anxiety and depression affect my husband and kid’s summers ahead, or have an instant replay of last summer where emergency personnel needed to intervene.  I really hope my husband gets to enjoy his well-deserved ‘break’, (but I also hope his Fitbit is fully charged for all the hiking trips I have planned!), a break from the 100’s of things he is burdened with as he continues to play the role of mom, dad and caregiver each and every day (and he is certainly not shy about letting you know how much he can’t wait for them to get on that damn bus already!).   I get it, I get his excitement, I get the kid’s excitement, I truly get it all from the bottom of my heart, I just wish my mind could get it so I can also enjoy a relaxing and gratifying joyride through the tranquil and serene country roads too.

My Birthday Present To Me; A Brand New License Plate

My Birthday Present To Me; A Brand New License Plate

This Saturday I will be 47. As a child I always looked forward to celebrating my birthday; the presents, the cake, the parties, really what more could a kid ask for?  Once I had my own children my focus shifted to them and wanting to see that they got the same in return; the presents, the cake, the parties, all of it and more. I always loved planning their birthday parties especially coming up with a fun new theme each year and sometimes I even went so far as to create my own unique loot bag for all of their friends as a keepsake; doing so from scratch.  Those days have long since faded away and although they still want the presents and the cake, their party themes have sorrowfully veered away from Elmo and Dora The Explorer to Coors Lite and Vodka.

I had never really concerned myself with the thought of what birthdays truly represent which is a basic acknowledgment that you are getting older.  I guess a big part of why I never fretted over my age much as I was growing up was perhaps because as the baby in my family I longed to be older so I could do more of the things my brother got to do first.  I also consider that another reason age was never such a big deal to me the older I got (when I turned 30 and 40 I didn’t even bat an eyelash) was due to the fact that I don’t look my age at all and never have (just ask the concerned bridal consultants when I was dress shopping for my wedding), or maybe it’s simply that I married a guy who’s almost nine years older than me!

Over the last few years however the significance of birthdays and getting older has impacted my mental wellness considerably.  Birthdays are supposed to be a happy occasion filled with celebration and hopefully a day for being pampered and spoiled by your loved ones, but instead nowadays as that day approaches for me I begin to feel more anxious and sadder.  Birthdays, although considered to be a happy occasion can also cause us to reflect, well at least they do for me.  Turning a whole year older now signifies another year that I am still battling with depression and anxiety, another year of reflecting on the ‘what if’s’, the regrets and the missed opportunities.  They are all neatly wrapped together in a tiny little box with a beautiful pink bow on top just like that birthday present you once longed for except this time as you tear away the layers of wrapping paper you are hoping it has a gift receipt attached to it because all you can see inside that box now are the ‘what ifs, the regrets and the missed opportunities.

This past weekend seemed to add further fuel to that growing fire.  Every year about six weeks before your birthday you receive a notification in the mail as a reminder that your license plate sticker needs to be renewed (well in Canada that’s how it works at least).  This year was a double whammy for me, actually it was more like a quadruple one because I not only needed to renew my license plate sticker which is quite simple and can be done so online, but I also needed to renew my actual license and health card too which for most individuals would not be such a big deal, just time consuming, but for me, well it’s a whole other story.

Needing to renew my license and health cards meant I had to go to the crowded license bureau itself and it also meant I would have to have my picture taken, yup just a few of the 100’s of things that would cause my anxiety to soar through the roof, driving outside my comfort zone nowadays, being alone in crowded rooms and last but definitely not least having my picture taken which I will have to look at for the next five years when all I want to do is erase any memories that represent this fractured part of my life.  To help avert part of the problem my husband agreed to take me and although he couldn’t resolve the issue of having my picture taken, he came to my rescue once again.

Over the past few months I have not been able to drive much due to my anxiety and panic attacks and will only do so within my comfort zone, but within that comfort zone I stand out like a sore thumb because for the last 30 plus years I have been driving around with a personalized license plate, and everyone who knows me or has ever known me, knows I’m coming from miles away. It was originally my mother’s plates which my family had given to her as a birthday present over 30 years ago but at some point in my late teens I became the sole owner and operator of her then baby blue Le Baron and the license plate too.  I was more than happy to keep the license plate as it was my dog’s name, and once my dog was no longer with us it meant even more, and believe it or not it still does today, however recently having a personalized license plate has been adding to my list of anxieties.  It may be difficult for someone to understand who doesn’t suffer from acute anxiety or a severe lack of self-esteem but when all I want to do is hide or drive through the neighbourhood with the least amount of resistance I needed to make that change.

It was by far a much more difficult decision for me than it seemed leading up to that moment as I stood speaking to the customer service representative at the license bureau asking her what I needed to do in order to change my plates.  After she finished telling me the simple steps it would take in doing so, she said, ‘so would you like to do this today?’  I hesitated and tears began to stream down my face (yup, that’s how life goes for me), and my husband who was waiting nearby saw my struggle and piped in and said, ‘yes, she would.’

You see it’s those simple and loving nudges I need in my life, the ones that help me look toward my future instead of sticking to my past.  I will never let go of that personalized license plate, rust and all, in fact my kids were actually a bit sad when we arrived home with my shiny new plates, so maybe when they buy their first car I will wrap up those plates for them with a beautiful pink bow on top, knowing that they will take as good care of them as I have, but this time there will be no need to attach a gift receipt inside.

Becoming A Butterfly

Becoming A Butterfly

“Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over…she became a butterfly”.

The last few weeks have been exceptionally difficult for me and I have been struggling a lot.  There is never an easy answer as to why some days or weeks are harder than others even though I am very much aware of many of my triggers, but as I’m sure you all know, life is always full of surprises.  Over the past several years I have found that the month of June itself to be a very overwhelming and stressful month in general, but this one seems to be rising above the rest, and it’s only halfway through.  All of the healthy boundaries I have worked so hard to apply to my daily life recently seem to have all but disappeared.  Right now as I sit here writing this I am silently (well I guess it’s not so silently) wishing I could build a cocoon around me for protection from the world, at least that is, until I am able to become a butterfly.

The good news is, my husband has settled back into the workforce really well after a 16 month reprieve and he seems quite content.  Since he began working again just a few short weeks ago I have been trying to focus much of my attention on my creative soul.  From the time I was just a little girl I would spend countless hours writing and creating art but over the years it has become less and less of a hobby, especially once I had my own kids and they no longer showed an interest in doing art projects with me!  Being creative enables me to look at life in an entirely new perspective, it allows me to take risks and face some of my fears.  It gives me the opportunity to break away from my mundane routine and contort my thoughts toward something more positive and it also means challenging myself to attain a goal.

A lot of my inspiration nowadays comes from my journey itself (surprise, surprise) while keeping in mind that there can only be one destination in the end, so maybe by trying to rekindle my creative soul that somehow got lost along the way, then maybe, just maybe one day I will be able to become a butterfly.

Butterflies actually serve a purpose in our lives beyond their beauty; they also symbolize images of freedom, peace and life.  It’s ironic though because the only image of butterflies I have in my mind most days now are from the feeling I get when I am extremely anxious or nervous to the point where I have ‘butterflies in my stomach’.  But quite possibly this expression is really just a metaphor for what the butterfly is truly meant to represent, which is to help protect its environment, so maybe those butterflies flying around in my gut are simply just trying to protect me.

Those symbolic ‘butterflies in my stomach’ have been on this journey with me since the beginning, but everyone knows that in order for a butterfly to learn how to spread its wings and fly away it must first endure a very long and strenuous metamorphosis, much like my healing process.  The pain and struggle I have experienced over the last four years and as I continue to battle with my depression and anxiety can undeniably be compared to that of a butterfly’s life cycle.

The Larvae is the first stage of the life cycle which for me is very symbolic as it is representative of the uncertainty of my battle which also leaves me wondering daily how I somehow wound up here.  The next stage in a butterfly’s life cycle is that of the Caterpillar which clearly depicts my struggle of exhaustingly trying to figure out if there actually is a light at the end of my tunnel while continuously needing more from life and patiently fighting my feelings of being hopeless and worthless.  The third stage of the life cycle is called Chrysalis which is where my ‘I Choose Me’ mantra stems from as it is the stage that symbolizes self-awareness while trying to figure out how to emerge from my isolated and desolate life into a pathway toward health and wellness.

The final stage of course is that of becoming a butterfly.  As I think about the emergence of that butterfly in relation to me, I see it as scared, unbalanced, distressed and hurting.  The journey could not have been an easy one for the butterfly as upon its arrival it is still unsure as to where it belongs or where it should go or even how it will get there.  Its wings may be broken from its long and strenuous journey but when it finally finds that outstretched hand to perch its tired wings upon it will know that it is ready to break free from its cocoon and become a beautiful butterfly.

When Depression Smiles

*Sensitive Content*

When Depression Smiles

This has been a particularly turbulent week for me. Lots going on at home right now (which I will leave for another time), that combined with the uncertain state of Ontario’s future thanks to the circus of an election we just weathered through and to top it all off with my own state of mind when I awoke not once but twice this week to the devastating news that two prominent, influential and highly successful public figures in the media world had taken their own lives.

I have spent the better part of my week consumed with the media reports and all the backlash that seems to follow when a prominent, influential and highly successful public figure like Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain or Robin Williams take their own lives, without any warning, or so it seems to many of us. I have previously mentioned in other blogs what the news of Robin Williams’s suicide did to me, a person who spends a significant amount of time battling similar, incomprehensible demons in my own mind.

Even though most of us don’t actually know any of these media moguls personally, we develop a pseudo-type of relationship with them when we buy their products, follow their brand, listen to their music or welcome them into our homes and our hearts through their big box office hits or television shows. So yes, believe it or not these types of relationships become very personal to many, and for me, an already vulnerable individual, I am left trying to figure out why someone like myself shouldn’t mimic their very tragic, harmful actions. I mean, come on, look at what they had to live for…

There is definitely an all too familiar commonality that many of these prominent, influential and highly successful public figures share. Watching them from the comfort of our homes, the news media or a magazine stand they all seem to have a life most people only dream of while being surrounded by their loved ones and more money than anyone could ever know what to do with in one lifetime. Yet, with all of their fame and good fortune they were still just human beings, many of whom felt compelled to smile through their tears.

Unfortunately the stigma associated with mental illness has led many of these prominent, influential and highly successful public figures the inability to use their platform to raise awareness or give them the ability to remove their mask before it becomes too heavy to wear any longer. Psychologists have actually named this simply as “Smiling Depression”. This defense mechanism is sadly how many of us who battle with mental illness live day in and day out for fear that others will find out that they aren’t actually living a perfect life.

Many people who live this way don’t want to burden or bother others with their problems quite possibly for fear of being rejected or for fear of showing their vulnerability to others, yet on the inside they are feeling empty, insecure and worthless which I know will only lead to an enormous amount of guilt and shame and suicidal ideations. For many individuals who are unable to remove their mask, it is that much more difficult for loved ones or professionals to recognize that an individual is at risk for suicide or in distress.

There really is an endless list of signs and symptoms of suicide but the reality is that many individuals, not just those in the public eye, can and will hide behind their smile so they don’t come across to others as weak. As I finish writing this blog I will leave you with this anonymous quote which can help educate others to the detrimental effects of mental illness which is that no matter how much a person may be smiling always try to “check on your strong friends, check on your quiet friends, check on your happy friends, check on your creative friends, always check on each other!

Is Suicide Selfish?

IS SUICIDE SELFISH? *Sensitive Content*

If you have ever walked inside of a Kate Spade outlet or been fortunate enough to own one of her signature bags or any of her many other creations for that matter you will know that her brand is unique and distinctive. Her brand beams with excitement and fun and is overflowing with bright, bold stylish patterns and designs. Much like her designs, Kate herself was recognized as a bright, bold, fun and unique individual to the outside world as well as a fashion icon and a very successful self-made businesswoman. She was also an inspiration to millions of young, like-minded girls around the world, but now, since the very first broadcast and publication of her suicide, speculation and rumours have quickly shined a whole new light on her. A light that is being overshadowed by discernment and the belief that she is to be remembered simply as cowardly and selfish.

The Internet and other news outlets are being inundated with ‘fake news’ and false pretenses about Kate’s suicide and the impact she left behind to those who looked up to her and especially to those who loved her. Unfortunately, as many of you know, suicide is excruciatingly difficult to fathom when you are standing on the outside looking in and even more so when someone who seems to have it all could be hurting that much. It becomes so easy for people to caste judgement on or anger towards another human being who has completed the act of suicide, but for someone like myself I only see the lack of awareness and understanding about how depression truly works.

Depression and many other mental illnesses can shatter even the strongest, most successful and most loving people you know. I know how depression feels and how easily and quickly it can manifest into self-destructive behaviour where your brain begins to overpower your heart. I know how suicide would impact on my family, but my depression tells me otherwise. My depression constantly tells me that I am a burden to those who love me, that I am just making things worse for them and that they would be better off without me.

My depression tells me lies each and every day from the moment I wake up until the moment I finally close my eyes late at night. It doesn’t tell me what my heart wants, but instead it tells me what my mind needs. It tells me I am hopeless and worthless and that all of my efforts in regaining some kind of normalcy again are pointless. It is constantly reminding me that this is as good as it’s ever gonna get and that I may not have physically left my family but emotionally I checked out a long time ago and there ain’t no going back. My depression also knows I have a lot to be grateful for in my life but my mind continues to play tricks on me, telling my heart I’m undeserving of any type of happiness, success or the love from my family.

Social media and other news outlets along with the general population will continue to speculate and spread rumours as to why Kate Spade chose to end her life and leave behind her young daughter to carry on the pain she left behind, but as I continue to find my place in this world as a person living with a mental illness I know that pain all too well. I can only hope that the millions of impressionable young girls who looked up to Kate and all those who deeply loved her will carry on her memory as the fun, bright, unique individual that she so boldly tried to emanate from both her mind and her heart.

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