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
I listen wholeheartedly and often to stories from people in regards to our mental health system; and just how broken it truly is.
Maybe you don’t necessarily believe it or maybe you choose not to believe it if you have never experienced it for yourself or a loved one while desperately trying to advocate for them but I’m living proof that too many of the stories I hear are very real and beyond disturbing at times.
I myself have walked out of many psychiatrist’s offices and emergency rooms shaking my head in disbelief and left feeling even more defeated than when I first walked in which is why when someone shares their own personal anecdotes with me I can feel every ounce of their pain, sadness and frustration.
Recently a friend of mine confided in me about one such experience when she took her son to the emergency room after he came to her telling her that he had been having very intrusive thoughts of hurting himself.
Before I go any further I just wanted to first say BRAVO to this young boy for having the courage to confide in someone he trusted about how he was feeling. Many of you reading this may not realize just how much fucking strength that takes, like the kind of strength that only superheros are made of. BRAVO. BRAVO. BRAVO.
Hearing these words from anyone let alone your own child is beyond terrifying and I’m sure she probably felt very much alone at the time but also knew that the safest place for her son to be in that moment was in the trusted arms of a team of knowledgable, compassionate mental health professionals.
But sadly that is not what happened at all. In fact it was quite the opposite and instead as she stood pleading with the Psychiatrist on duty at the hospital that day to help her child he turned to this young boy and his mom and told them that he should go home. He continued by saying how lucky the boy was to be so privileged enough to not have to deal with the stresses of living on the street or in a third world country.
My heart broke in a million pieces as I heard her speak these words, words that I know are spoken all too often by ignorant folks who still believe that depression and/or suicidal ideations are nothing more than a chemical imbalance that can quickly be fixed by taking a pill or going for a long walk but when these words are spoken by a mental health professional and to an impressionable and vulnerable young mind no less, there are truly no words.
I know this is thankfully not the norm but it happens more often than it should because even one time is too many. I myself have had many amazing, incredible and compassionate experiences with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals (and thankfully I still do) to help me through the darkened days throughout my journey but those bad experiences can and will never be erased from my mind.
When seeking the help of a mental health professional try and watch out for signs that indicate that they are competent, invested in your wellbeing and most importantly a good fit for you.
Make sure they are not overconfident, dismissive or arrogant. Make sure that they are not quick to prescribe medication or diagnose you. Make sure they take into consideration your own unique circumstances. Make sure they do not threaten to use their power to treat you with unnecessary treatments that you are uncomfortable with. Make sure they properly inform you about the many side effects of the medications they do prescribe to you and that they also properly wean you off the ones that aren’t working for you (weaning off certain meds can be very dangerous and must be done slowly and cautiously) and make sure that they work together with you and for you and alongside your loved ones which should include regularly monitoring your progress, making a plan by offering up next steps and new or appropriate solutions and may at time also include them turning to colleagues or outside support for guidance so not to miss out on something.
Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself (or a loved one) and make sure to ask lots (and lots) of questions especially if something doesn’t feel quite right or you don’t understand something. It can be a very long and burdensome journey, trust me, I know, but it’s your journey and no one else’s and having the proper support behind you that you so deserve while on your journey towards healing can make a huge impact.
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 always try to hold on to my belief that we as a society are making progress in the area of mental health and the stigma attached to mental illness but today it just feels hopeless.
Instead today I am feeling both sickened and angry over the amount of criticism and skepticism that I have seen on social media or read in the news over the past 24 hours bashing Meghan’s shocking revelations.
I have seen comment after comment in many, many news feeds by people stating how it is not possible for someone as rich or as famous or as successful as Meghan to ever have anything to be depressed about?
I have written so many blogs about how mental illness does not discriminate. Do they need to be reminded about Robin Williams and Kate Spade or so many others who had fame and fortune who have died by suicide because I’ve got plenty of blogs in the archives all about these tragic losses?
But what truly makes me most sickened and angry from all of the ignorant comments I have been reading is how many of these same people are calling her a liar.
If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide; believe them.
These comments can be very detrimental to someone like me who struggles with daily thoughts of suicide. This blatant disregard for empathy could very likely cause someone reading those comments to follow through on their ideations believing that if they were to tell a loved one or confidant that they are thinking of ending their life they wouldn’t be heard or maybe they will be met with judgement instead, pushing them further to the brink.
If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide; believe them.
Let them know you are listening to them, show your support for them, encourage them to keep talking, ask them the difficult questions, follow their lead, suggest they seek professional help or find them the help yourself if you fear they are in immediate danger and most importantly let them know you will continue to be there for them.
**If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out for help immediately to a trusted friend, confident or loved one. There are also many online resources to help guide you. You are not alone. I am always here to listen❤.
I’ve been in a pretty bad headspace over the last few days and my negative thoughts and uncontrollable emotions seem to have me tumbling further and further down into a very dark rabbit hole, maybe for my own protection. Or maybe it’s something else. I’m not really sure how I fell so deep into this particular rabbit hole but I may have begun spiralling down it around the same time I awoke one morning earlier this week with severe and at times unbearable back and chest pain. I have found myself in tears too many times to count this week and I honestly have no clue why I’m even crying half the time anymore unless of course it’s from the unexplainable pain I’m in. I’ve tried climbing out of the rabbit hole many times before but I think that when I burrow further down inside that I feel a sense of protection and safety from any further harm or pain. Being inside the hole feels almost like a fortress and keeps me warm. Maybe the rabbit hole gives me a false sense of security but its okay because I know that anytime I am able to dig or claw my way out that there is always a colony waiting for me at the top, holding out their hand or ready to reach in and pull me out by my ears. #rabbitholes #safety #headspace #itsalrighttocry #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mindfulness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourlovedones #youareenough
Very early this morning (and after a big winter storm overnight) my youngest daughter had all four of her wisdom teeth removed (could there be any better way to spend your Reading Week/Mid Winter Break from school?).
Her brother and sister both had their wisdom teeth removed a few years back (a week apart) and my husband had his taken out early on in our courtship, but I on the other hand have never had the pleasure of having mine removed, mainly due to the fact that well, they’ve never actually grown in.
Wisdom teeth have been referred to as the “teeth of wisdom” from as far back as the seventeenth century because they most often don’t appear until a person reaches adulthood (somewhere between the age of 17 and 25 years old) “when a person matures into adulthood and is wiser than when other teeth have erupted”.
And wisdom teeth also signify that “the carefree days of childhood have given way to the responsibilities of adulthood.” (From an article written by “Dear Doctor” titled “Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?”).
So what does someone like myself, someone that is, who has the wonderful ability to turn every waking thought or action into a negative one? It’s a pretty easy answer; I tell myself that maybe if my wisdom teeth had grown in then maybe I could’ve been able to make wiser, more sensible or more insightful choices when I began my transition into adulthood.
Yup, you are probably shaking your head right now or even laughing at what sounds pretty darn crazy to most people reading this but to a depressed mind it may not.
I have joked half-heartedly in passing many times over the years as to how unwise I must be for having never developed my “wisdom teeth” but could there be some truth in there, afterall there is always some truth in jest. So maybe it’s not actually that “with age comes wisdom” but maybe it’s that “with wisdom teeth comes wisdom” instead?
**Oh and my apologies for not having any fun pics or videos to share as my husband wasn’t allowed in the recovery room with her! (Damn you once again Covid.)
A memory popped up on my Facebook page early this morning which reminded me that seven years ago today I had a minor surgical procedure done in hospital, but aside from some slight discomfort for a couple of days following, it was really no big deal.
This memory has popped up on my Facebook wall for years now and recalling it has also never been any big deal before, that was until today. Suddenly after all these years I became severely triggered by it and I really wish I could understand why.
It could’ve been because I had a particularly difficult day yesterday and was already in a very negative mindset when the notification came in on my phone shortly after midnight; which is also when the floodgates completely opened up and left me writing this at 4:30 am.
The above procedure I had happened to take place exactly seven weeks prior to “D” day. “D” day of course refers to the day in which my journey first began and reading this seemingly innocent memory this morning took me back, not to the actual day of my surgery but instead I began ruminating about all the events that took place leading up to “D” day.
I found myself ruminating about the new job I had just started literally a week or two before my procedure. I found myself ruminating about how I destroyed my entire world by choosing to leave another job to pursue this one. I found myself ruminating about all the scary conversations and dangerous situations I found myself in over the next six or seven weeks following the procedure, all at the hands of my crooked boss.
I began to beat myself up further for several more hours, replaying every bad memory, image and scenario in my head that literally occurred up until “D” day and literally all night long. And to think that all this was triggered from a memory on Facebook that once felt pretty disconnected from all of the above.
I’m beginning to think that maybe the procedure was a bigger deal after all, maybe I had more than just a minor surgical procedure done, is it possible I was given a lobotomy that day instead? I mean it certainly would all make perfect sense to me now. Yes? No?