Last Official Weekend of #summerofrich 2021

Doing what I can today to focus on the beauty that surrounds me;

One moment at a time,

One step at a time,

One breath at a time. 

#lastofficialweekendofsummerofrich2021 #fallisalmosthere #changeofseasons #beautywithin #atacrossroad #ontarioisourstodiscover #niagaraescarpment #chasingwaterfalls #beamermemorialconservation #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #justbreath #suicideawareness #itsoktonotbeok  #imnotokay #youarenotalone #youareenough

This is 22

Funny, smart, giving, genuine, sensitive and beautiful inside and out.

Happy birthday Princess Hannah Banana.

Your dad and I are both so honoured and proud to watch as you grow each and every day into a strong, independent, hard working, kind young woman with a heart of gold.

Keep reaching for the stars and never stop being you.

#happybirthday #twentytwo #ourprincess #ohtheplacesyoullgo #neverstopbeingyou #loveyoutothemoonandback #foreverandaday #middlechild #hannahmontana #hurricanehannah #keepreachingforthestars #thebestsurpriseever

Yesterday *Could be potentially triggering

Fact: Most people who take their own life don’t really want to die, they just want to stop hurting. 

So then what is the alternative when your pain is just too unbearable to handle and you feel so hopeless? Or helpless? Or empty inside? Or you can no longer live in the skin you’re in?

These are all questions I’ve asked myself over and over again for many years now. I’ve attempted suicide before and every time there has always been a voice inside my head begging me to stop or telling me that perhaps today may not be the perfect day to carry out my plan afterall and then they silently pray that I haven’t gone too far this time.

The last few weeks have been some of the most trying and horrifyingly scary days for me and for many of my loved ones as well.

I have been consumed with active thoughts of suicide, day and night and way more than usual. That voice inside my head has been watching me closely, as have the demons as well. The voice has been listening to me come up with a perfect plan and doing everything in its power to distract me from the demons in my head who keep egging me on while dangling a bottle of pills in front of its face. 

Yesterday felt too much, once again. I knew I felt unsafe and Rich could sense it. He asked Hannah to drive me to the hospital as she was the only one home with me at the time. I did what I’ve had to do many times before when the pain is just too unbearable. When I feel most hopeless and helpless and empty. I seek safety.

The emergency room doctor I spoke with was kind and supportive. She put me on a Form 1 which panicked me and meant that I could not leave the hospital for my own safety which also meant having security guards standing outside the room I was in for my own safety. 

After spending some time with the doctor she put in a request for the Psychiatric team to come talk with me further and figure out a plan.

The Psychiatrist was a gentle and very understanding soul. We talked in length about what’s been going on, some of my history and of course whether or not I should be admitted to the Psych floor for further observation. 

Here’s where things get more complicated for me and besides the panic of having my phone taken away from me while in-patient this is where I begin to tell myself again, it’s hopeless because I’m helpless. 

I have not been on meds for my depression for several years now. They have not worked for me, all twenty plus of them. Infact most of the meds caused further damage both mentally and physically. 

From my experiences with in-patient Psychiatric care it mostly comes down to medication and finding a balance that could potentially help me find my balance. I won’t do it again. I tried for many years and it just led to a further diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression. 

Since my last visit to emerg a few weeks ago (where I thought I’d give the new hospital close to my home a try, but never again!) I have been waiting for an appointment to see my Psychiatrist I’d been with since before the Pandemic began. In fact it was March 15th 2020 that I had a scheduled appointment to see him and for him to begin a new treatment with me. It was cancelled and I just stopped going. I got anxious about going especially to the one hospital in Toronto that was consistently on the news for the amount of Covid outbreaks they were having.

It’s now been over a year since seeing him, so I needed my GP to fax another referral to him. I haven’t heard anything as of yet and as I began to spiral even further over the past few weeks since my last visit to emerg I stopped caring because the hopeless feelings, the helplessness, the emptiness made me believe there was just no point anymore in trying because aside from all the medications, I’ve also tried probably 50 other types of treatments as well. You name it, I’ve done it. So why would this treatment be any different?

Well the Psychiatrist I spoke with last night came up with a plan with his team for me regardless of me telling him I’m helpless because he was certain that I’m not. He also told me that whenever I feel like I did yesterday or days previous that I am always welcome to come in just to sit in a quiet room and speak with their team and just get through the moment. 

He made me promise to continue to reach out to my safety net as well when I am at my breaking point. He also said something to me that I haven’t been able to get out of my head right before he agreed to cancel my Form 1 and release me from the wolves standing on guard outside my door.

I had told him during our initial conversation how I have found purpose in writing and blogging and educating people on mental illness and advocating for others who are just like me to do whatever is needed to seek care. He told me it’s a wonderful thing that I am doing for others, and very selfless and important and much needed work but he then said “But now it’s time that you start advocating for yourself as well”.

This he said, includes (with the help of Rich and my GP) that I get in touch with my Psychiatrist immediately to reinvoke our plan from last year and that I make sure to follow up with my GP on the plan he will be forwarding to her today as well for her to distribute a new anti-anxiety medication to me and to refill the sleeping pills he gave me which Rich will once again be burdened with to keep in a safe place and distribute them to me. 

Thank you all for your continued love and support. My apologies for not getting back to each one of you individually who took the time once again to comment on my posts or send me words of encouragement to me privately. I am overwhelmed right now and allowing myself to heal today in private. 

As ere of Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar) begins this evening I am praying to find forgiveness within myself and will take this time to reflect on today in order to find the beauty in tomorrow. 

#thankyou #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #advocacy #mentalhealth #depresionkills #anxietyisreal #suicidalthoughts #youarenotalone #youareenough #itsokaytonotbeokay #today #thebeautyoftomorrow #overwhelmed #reflection #yomkippur #forgiveness

Spinning Like A Fan *May be triggering*

It’s 1 am as I begin to write this. I just spent the better part of the past hour bawling my eyes out while Rich held my hand and Maggie tried to work her magic. 

Right before this scene played out I had been lying in bed watching my mindless Sunday night Reality TV shows while texting with some friends. 

I’d just had a “picture perfect” weekend which many of you may have seen from the #summerofrich pics I had posted on my Facebook and Instagram pages. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing the things I love; being outdoors, enjoying quality time with family and friends. 

But as I lay there in bed watching my mindless reality TV and chatting with several friends, the highlight reel of my own reality started playing out in my head and the overwhelming disconnect I’ve been feeling from the world lately, even during these “picture perfect” moments left my mind spiraling out of control faster than the fan spinning beside my bed.

It felt like a big gust of painful emotions blew right through me.

And then I felt an emptiness inside of me as those “picture perfect” moments quickly got tangled up in the blades of my fan, leaving me in a ball of dust on the floor, convincing myself that maybe happiness doesn’t belong to me. That maybe I don’t deserve to feel joy and that maybe I’m truly not worthy of love or friendship or purpose afterall. 

This is what living with Depression and Anxiety can feel like somedays.

If ever you feel like your “picture perfect” moments are getting tangled up in the blades of your fan please remember that there is always help available to slow down the speed when it starts spinning too fast. 

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1.833.456.4566

#imnotok #youarenotalone #itsalrighttocry #pictureperfect #mindgames #mentalhealth #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #suicideawareness #themanyfacesofdepression #itsoktonotbeok #vulnerability

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I appreciate you. 

I am truly blessed knowing how many people I have in my life who genuinely care about my well-being. 

I’ve read each and every message (both from my Social Media feeds and those who messaged me privately as well) probably a dozen or more times by now since sharing with you a very heartfelt and vulnerable blog I wrote yesterday.  

I cried alot.

I smiled too.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I know I am struggling alot right now and I’m finding it more and more difficult to cope with my very dark and overwhelming thoughts of suicide.

I want you to know that it’s okay to acknowledge that things may not be okay. That you may not be okay. 

Just know that YOU are not alone.

Yesterday one of the private messages I received from a friend was a short animated video clip written and narrated by Brene Brown (who I admire so much) after reading my blog because she thought it perfectly summed up what I had written. The clip emphasizes the important differences between empathy and sympathy and how showing empathy towards others “fuels” connections, whereas sympathy does not. Empathy is about feeling “with” people. It’s about reaching out to someone for help and having that person say “hey, here I am”. “You’re not alone”. It’s not about looking for the silver lining (a perfect example from my blog yesterday would be someone saying to you “well at least you don’t have Cancer” when you tell them you are feeling depressed). It’s about being honest and saying I’m glad you told me. It’s not about the response, it’s about the connection.

As difficult as this week has been for me I know in my heart that I need to keep writing and sharing my journey, probably now more than ever.

We all need to do our part to raise more awareness, educate others and help reduce the stigma; and yes we NEED to talk about suicide too. 

Asking someone about suicide will help break the silence and can save a life. 

Take a moment today to connect with someone who may be struggling right now. Let them know you hear them. You see them. You feel them. You appreciate them.

Start a conversation and then keep it going; today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that too. 

I also wanted to let you know that my book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” is now available for purchase at Batner Bookstore at 180 Steeles Ave. W. in Thornhill (or through me as well). They specialize in new and used textbooks, workbooks, study guides, course materials and literature. It’s a perfect addition to any classroom, library or children’s bookshelf especially as we begin another uncertain school year ahead and when so many children and caregivers are facing the worst mental health crisis of our lives.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my journey. The good, the bad and the ugly. I love you all so much. #shabbatshalom

#worldsuicidepreventionday #startaconversation #youmatter #youareenough #youareworthy #suicideprevention #mentalhealth #yourmentalhealthmatters #empathy #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone @the_batner_bookstore @brenebrown

Tips For Easing Back To School

Here we go again. 

Another school year is about to begin (well here in Ontario that is). 

Another school year in the midst of a Pandemic and now kids and parents are once again facing those same fears, stressors, uncertainties and anxieties they did at the start of the last school year (but maybe a bit wiser).

Parents are worried about their children’s health and if they will be safe in class or how long it will be until they receive that email from their school board letting them know that schools are shutting down ONCE AGAIN.

And many, MANY kids are feeling those same worries as well which is making the transition back into the classroom this year even more trying on their mental health and wellness.

Here are some tips that I wanted to share with you on how to try and make this year’s transition a little bit easier.

Get back into a routine, especially with your older kids. 

But give them time to adjust.

Change can be very scary.

Help them lay out their clothing, knapsacks ready and lunches made all the night before if possible. The less chaos there is in the morning the better. 

Check in with your child(ren) regularly. Daily, if not more. Ask them questions. Listen intently.

Let them know that what they are feeling is okay and that you are there for them. 

It’s been a very LONG time since many children have even seen the inside of a classroom or a school yard.

Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared and nervous.

Reassure them that they are not alone. 

The unknown of what’s to come can sometimes be the hardest.

None of us truly know for certain what is going to happen this coming school year.

Promise them though that you will get through this together. 

Focus on what is in their control right now.

Watch out for any sudden changes in their behaviour.

And lastly, if your child is dealing with any type of mental health issues, communicate this to their teachers or caregivers right away.

Working together from the start will help to ensure that your child’s needs are met and that their feelings are always validated and hopefully it will ease whatever bumps in the road that may lie ahead feel a bit less scary for everyone. 

Wishing all the teachers, caregivers, administrators, parents and students a safe and successful year ahead.

#backtoschool #mentalwellness #transition #change #herewegoagain #fuckyoucovid #mentalhealth #suicideawareness #communicationiskey #youarenotalone #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #childrensmentalhealth

I Never Leave Home Without My Mask, Metaphorically Speaking

I’m feeling beyond overwhelmed today when I probably should be feeling excitement and joy knowing that in just a few short hours I will have the honour of witnessing my eldest nephew (who was the ring bearer at my wedding 26 years ago) marry his beautiful Bride-To-Be.  

As you all know by now the past ten (plus) days have been some of the most trying and challenging days of my journey and my self-worth has sunk to an all time low. 

I have next to zero self-compassion left in me and I have no clue whatsoever how to be kind to myself.

But I have learned the art of how to fake it til I make it in social settings. 

I have learned the art of smiling through my depression and anxiety in social settings. 

And I’m pretty good at engaging in some great conversation too.

Somewhere along my journey I have mastered these skills and learned how to present myself as “normal” in social settings, but I also know by now how much confusion this often presents for others. 

In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me how great I seemed while in a social setting I’d be a very rich lady by now, but for now I just have to take it as an opportunity to open up important conversations (let’s never forget the many faces of Depression that Robin Williams and so many other famous people wore).

The truth is I may present myself in many social settings that way because I never leave home without my mask on, metaphorically speaking; and trust me when I tell you there have been plenty of bathroom stalls I’ve had to hide in while in the midst of a panic attack or worse, been in a fit of hysteria amongst a crowded room.

This is what scares me most about how I am feeling right now. I’ve been so vulnerable lately that even the most joyful moments will have me running to the nearest bathroom stall or worse.

Anyone living with a Social Anxiety Disorder knows how I am feeling today even though everyone experiences it in different ways, but no matter if you feel awkward engaging in conversations, entering a crowded room, making eye contact with strangers, going to a party or giving a speech in public most individuals with a social anxiety disorder have an overwhelming fear of being judged, embarrassed or becoming the center of attention; and many more, like myself will then spend days or even weeks afterwards depleting even more of their mental energy with negative thoughts, ruminating about how we presented ourselves in thus situation. 

For now though I am just trying to focus on the moment, take as many deep breaths as needed and practice my grounding exercises (oh and have my CBD oil on hand at all times too). My mask, metaphorically speaking will be ready for whatever social distancing I may need tonight. And I know that no matter what, my family will be by my side just in case I need an extra layer of protection. 

#thisisthefaceofdepression #depressionhasmanyfaces #anxietyhasmanyfaces #puttingonmymask #depression #anxiety #smilingdepression  #socialanxietydisorder #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #inthemoment #startaconversation #weddingbells #ringbearer #happilyeverafter

“Kids don’t need a perfect Mom. They need a real one.”

I may not be a perfect Mom but I’m totally real.

Besides which, perfection is overrated.

Yet I still struggle with this alot. 

Burdened by the guilt that I’ve let them down.

Taken away a piece of their childhood. 

A part of their innocence. 

They see me at my worst. 

Vulnerable. Defeated. Broken.

My kids don’t have a perfect Mom, no matter how hard I try.

And I do try.

They just have me.

Their loudest cheerleader.

Their strongest advocate.

Their biggest ally.

Kids don’t need a perfect Mom though.

They just need a real one.

Yet knowing this, I’m still left burdened by the guilt that I’ve let them down.

Taken away a piece of their childhood. 

A part of their innocence. 

But making real memories.

Lasting memories.

Celebrated memories.

It’s the real moments.

The lasting moments.

The celebrated moments.

It’s those moments, by far, that are the most perfectly imperfect Mom moments of all.

#tbt #cherishthemoments #mywhy #mythreereasonswhy #makingmemories #family #familymatters #icecream #perfectlyimperfect #nobodysperfect #beingreal #inthemoment #mentalhealth #mentalillness #yourmentalhealthmatters 

Story Time

Last week I pre-recorded a segment for an episode of “Where Do The Children Play” on Trent Radio 92.7 CFFF FM which aired last Thursday morning. 

The show which runs 3 mornings a week was created for kids and features story time and fun kid’s music. 

The station itself was established and is operated solely by the students of Trent University in Peterborough Ontario.  

I read my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” to their listeners and spoke briefly afterwards about why I wrote it and the importance of not only talking to children about a loved ones mental health challenges but also reassuring them that they are safe, loved and not responsible or to blame for it. 

I have posted the segment below if you would like to hear it. 

Thank you again to Skye Vasey for allowing me to share my story and for all your hard work and dedication to this program.   

Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to purchase a copy of my book for your classroom, school library, a preschool setting or for yourself or a loved one.

https://linksharing.samsungcloud.com/haEDOWm6rva4

#yourmentalhealthmatters #childrensbook #ouryouthmatter #wheredidmommyssmilego #mentalhealth #depression #startaconversation #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #youareenough #youarenotalone #wheredothechildrenplay #trentradio

Panic in the Pool

This past week I’ve felt very on edge, well more than I usually do I guess you could say.

I am feeling more nervous than usual,  more tense, more angry and very uneasy. 

Today the build up led to a panic attack right in the middle of my morning aqua fit class. 

I love my aqua fit classes. I look so forward to it twice a week.

They are such a wonderful and positive distraction for me. 

I work my butt off in class and I feel such a great accomplishment afterwards but today, given the week I’ve had, I just couldn’t seem to distract myself.

I tried to quietly slip out of the pool so not to make a scene as the panic erupted (it’s not like I’ve never made a scene before though!). 

I felt the tears fill my eyes and I could barely breathe. Figuratively, I felt like I was drowning. 

I just needed a moment to myself. 

I reassured everyone I was ok (quietly slipping out of the pool didn’t work).

I wiped my tears away with my towel, took a few deep breaths, a big swig of water from my water bottle and then before I slipped back into the pool I double checked my phone to reassure myself one last time that the world wasn’t about to end.

Fyi: It wasn’t!

#panicattacks #aquafit #pooltime #selfcare #mentalhealth #anxiety #distractions #funinthesun #ilovetoswim #summertimeselfcare #floaties