To Those Who Are Left Behind

Today is the last day of September and today is also the last day of “National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month” which is a month long campaign used to raise awareness on this very stigmatized and still very taboo topic. 

Although it may only be a month long campaign it doesn’t mean that it ends today. The conversation needs to continue each and every day. 

We MUST continue to keep the conversation going. 

We MUST continue to give hope to everyone affected by Suicide. 

We MUST continue to educate others.

And we MUST ensure that ALL individuals, families and friends have the same accessibility to the necessary resources available to give us all a better understanding on how to prevent suicide and seek help.

I’m not okay.  

I’m still having very intrusive and very real thoughts of suicide. It consumes me.

I’m reminded each and every day by friends, loved ones, acquaintances and even strangers what life would be like for those I’d leave behind. 

Trust me, I hear you. Your words echo in my head day and night. But sadly for many people suffering with a mental illness or suicidal ideations their pain can still become too much to bare.

One of those many reminders came to me recently by an old friend of mine who reached out to me to chat and I haven’t been able to get our conversation off my mind.

I was so honoured and grateful that she chose to share her overwhelming and very raw emotions with me as she tries to come to terms with the heart-wrenching grief and despair she’s been living with for months now after losing a loved one to suicide. 

I could feel her disbelief, her numbness, her shock, her anger, her confusion, her rejection and her guilt all wrapped together as she desperately tries to begin her journey toward healing and acceptance.

The aftermath of losing a loved one to suicide and finding ways to cope with the sadness, the feelings of helplessness and the overwhelming consumption of what ifs or what more could I have done can be very triggering and both mentally and physically exhausting.

Just know that you are not alone. 

Surround yourself with people who want to listen when you need to talk or who offer a shoulder to lean on when you just need to sit in silence. 

Remember there is no “proper” way to grieve any loss, especially ones which are so sudden and without closure. Let healing happen at your own pace and in your own time.

Seek out others who may be experiencing similar grief. Sharing your story with people who truly understand your pain can often help bring strength to your healing process. 

And lastly, find a mental health professional to guide you through your grief and help you adjust to life after suicide.

Yes, today may be the last day of September and the last day of “National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month” but today can not be the end to the conversation surrounding the many complexities of suicide.

Lets all make a promise to band together with more compassion and support to those who wake up each and every day battling very intrusive and very real thoughts of suicide, show kindness and empathy to those who are left behind after a suicide occurs and help them in any way you can to honour the memory of their loved one who has lost their battle.

*visit the Mayo Clinic website for more information.

*Suicide Prevention Helpline* 1.833.456.4566

#youarenotalone #nationalsuicidepreventionawarenessmonth #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #asilentkiller #keeptheconversationgoing #yourmentalhealthmatters #tothosewhoareleftbehind #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #mentalillness #mentalhealth

A Perfect Place For A Time-out

I spent this afternoon warding off a wicked headache while doing my best to relish in the final moments of my weekend “time-out”.

But when you live with Depression and Anxiety, often the simplest things or the simplest tasks feel way too overwhelming. 

Most of the things I plan for in my week honestly never get done, even the ones which bring me joy. 

Whether it be preparing a meal for my family, doing a load of laundry, a coffee break with a friend (I don’t actually drink coffee though) or making a quick trip to the grocery store has me crippled with fear. 

I become paralyzed.

Frustrated, angry, anxious, sad.

I tell myself I will try again tomorrow. 

I move things around on my calendar almost daily, even if it’s to remind myself to call a friend back who probably left me a message 3 days earlier. 

I promise myself I will do it tomorrow for sure. 

And then tomorrow comes and everything goes out the window once again and instead I end up reminding myself how worthless I am, how useless I am, how burdensome I am and how much better off everyone would be without me. 

Today there are no scenic  #summerofrich pictures of waterfalls or the beauty of nature to show off, instead today you are seeing a picture of me doing something else. 

Something else that brings me as much joy as going for a hike in nature or taking in the beauty of a waterfall. 

Something else that brings with it a sense of calm just like when I’m out exploring nature or taking in the beauty of a waterfall. 

But I didn’t do it alone, I couldn’t do it alone as much as I’ve tried to for many weeks now. It’s paralyzing. It’s as though my car is paralyzed too.

Over the last few years reading has become an important part of my self-care regime and call me old-school but I much prefer to go to a bookstore than order a book online. 

When I enter a bookstore I feel like the world around me is put on pause. I’m suddenly in a world of imagination and make believe. I can get completely lost in the moment as I slowly stroll up and down each aisle, sifting through the pages of someone else’s story.

It’s such a magical way to spend a “time-out”.

#timeout #reading #bookstores #mentalwellnes #mentalhealth #metime inthemoment #yourementalhealthmatters #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok

Time Out

I am beyond overwhelmed with so much gratitude from all the beautiful and heartfelt messages of love and support I continue to receive on a daily basis from all of you. And the check ins are so incredibly appreciated. 

I am especially grateful right now knowing that my platform is reaching so many people from all across the Globe and that by me sharing my personal journey with all of you is giving permission to someone else like myself to have a safe place to turn to when they are looking for support for themselves or may be in dire need of a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear; without judgment and some reassurance that they are never alone. 

Youareenough712.wordpress.com

But at the same time I am also so incredibly sad knowing just how many people, whether it be a stranger or someone I know that are out there suffering in silence.

But I love helping others and helping others really helps me too.

Even when I’m at my lowest.

This week has been excruciatingly painful for me as you probably know by now (if you missed my Vlog yesterday please feel free to check it out). 

I can honestly say that I have no more tears left in me. 

I am beyond overwhelmed, I feel empty inside and emotionally defeated. 

So I have made myself a promise that I am going to do my best to treat this weekend as a “time out” for myself and I guess the “timing” couldn’t be better because for the first time in over 18 very looooong months the kids will all be gone for the weekend.

Taking care of me will be my top priority this weekend which will include our first #summerofrich “Fall Edition” of the season but first up on the agenda tonight is also another “first” in over 18 looooong months; Date night with Rich at my favourite restaurant using the gift card I received for my birthday (which was 3 months ago already) from a couple of my many beautiful friends. I guess I’ve been holding on to it for that perfect moment.

#timeout #selfcare #youarenotalone #yourmentalhealthmatters #depression #anxiety #suicidalthoughts #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #iseeyou #ihearyou #ifeelyou #advocate #blogger #checkonyourlovedones

Hearing my own voice

*May be triggering*

Today I couldn’t get the words down on paper and so I thought maybe hearing my own voice could help remind me “not today” and help someone else feel hope that tomorrow could actually be a better day afterall.

If you or someone you know is in crisis right now please reach out for help immediately.

https://linksharing.samsungcloud.com/vY61ORv6yenj

#hearingmyownvoice #youareenough #youarenotalone #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #thesilentkiller

The Past Few Days

I have spent the better part of the past few days since my visit to emerg trying to process everything while still desperately figuring out whether or not I even have the strength anymore to keep going.

The Psychiatrist who was assigned to my care the other day was a very special and very rare find as far as any encounter I’ve ever had with a Psychiatrist in an emergency room before. He went above and beyond anything I have ever experienced during a visit to emerg and trust me when I say I’ve had my fair share of experiences. 

So I knew that when he finally agreed to release me later on that evening I had to respect his wishes and follow through on the many promises I had just made to him, beginning with the promise of self-advocacy; something that I struggle with a great deal (in case you missed my blog the other day please check it out here: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/yesterday-could-be-potentially-triggering/ ).

You see, it’s very difficult to advocate for yourself when you don’t believe that you are worthy enough or deserving of. 

Knowing how overwhelmed I was feeling and knowing how hard it is for me to even complete the simplest of tasks (scheduling appointments being one of them), Rich took it upon himself to help jump start the process of self-advocacy the very next morning, starting with making a follow up call to my GP’s office on my behalf, hoping that she could somehow escalate an appointment quicker to see my Psychiatrist.

That’s when he learned that the referral he’d requested 3 weeks earlier in order for me to make an appointment with my Psychiatrist because I hadn’t seen him in over a year had never been sent out. 

She had been on vacation that week but Rich was assured it would be sent as soon as she was back in the office the following week. 

Upon learning the disappointing news that it had never been sent out, Rich was assured again the other day that it would be taken care of right away. He waited a few hours to give my doctor’s office some time to fax it over and then he called the office of my Psychiatrist to make me that appointment. They still hadn’t received the referral and still would not make the appointment without it even though I was already his patient but just hadn’t seen him since last year when the new treatment I was scheduled to begin the week of March 15th 2020 was abruptly cancelled due to ya know, a Pandemic!

Feeling frustrated and desperate and very impatient by now, Rich said screw this bullshit and sent an email directly to my Psychiatrist himself to explain what’s been going on. 

Within a few hours of sending him the email my Psychiatrist answered Rich’s pleas and copied his two assistants on the email asking that they schedule me in for an appointment to speak with him after hours the very next day on Zoom.

So late yesterday afternoon, feeling emotionally drained from the past few days and hungry from fasting all day being that it was Yom Kippur I finally reconnected with my Psychiatrist. A true gem and another rare find.

We spoke for the better part of an hour where along with Rich’s input a new plan was put into place immediately including a plan to pick up where we had left off last year and have his assistants schedule a first appointment at one of his other clinics to begin the treatment I was to start in March of 2020. 

There have been many changes to the treatment’s protocols and the actual administration of it as well and not just due to Covid but several other factors that have come into consideration since then while conducting many clinical trials. The treatment itself has also evolved as well due to more and more research and scientific discoveries. 

I’m still really overwhelmed and mentally exhausted right now to say the least and filled with so many mixed emotions today.

I’m so appreciative and grateful though for all the incredible support I have in my life (especially you Rich ūüíö), even if I may not feel worthy enough or deserving of it.

#selfadvocacy #overwhelmed #blessed #grateful #mentalillness #depression #anxiety #suicidalthoughts #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough 

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

What’s the Point?

**Triggering content**

Not everyone around you will understand your journey and maybe not everyone is truly capable. 

I’ve had to accept this within my own personal journey. 

It’s destroyed many close relationships of mine.

But I know that my willingness to share my most vulnerable and intimate thoughts and feelings with all of you has helped bring about awareness to the many others who do want to understand what it’s like to live with Chronic and Treatment Resistant Depression, a debilitating Anxiety Disorder and Suicidal Ideations Every. Single. Day.

And I also know that by sharing my journey so openly and honestly has helped many more people feel less alone or ashamed. 

So then why do I suddenly feel like I should stop writing? Stop sharing my most intimate thoughts and emotions? Why at one of the most vulnerable points of my journey do I want to stop sharing my story all together?

Because well, it’s not like I Cancer you know.¬†

These were the words that I heard recently directed towards me during a conversation. Words that may not have necessarily been intended to be said with malice but words that can never be erased nonetheless. Words that dismissed the seriousness of my illness. Words that made me feel as though my need to create healthy boundaries and do what’s best for me are basically selfish because well you know, it’s not like I have Cancer.

Not everyone around you will understand your journey and maybe not everyone is truly capable. I’ve accepted this.

But I can no longer keep apologizing because of my “invisible” illness just because it can’t be detected through a body scan or an xray or a blood test and to be perfectly honest I’m just too damn tired to keep having to “defend” myself because I may not “look” sick.¬†

Depression is NOT a choice. Depression just is, just like Cancer or Diabetes just is. They can’t be rated on a scale of any kind and quite frankly they NEVER EVER should be. They are all just truly horrible illnesses and should be treated as such.

I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and that my purpose in life to raise awareness, educate and bring comfort to others has been overcome by even more pain and guilt and shame.

I know I should just “let it go” and try and focus on the many lives I do touch and those who appreciate me for who I am and what I have to offer but sadly, having the ability to just “think positive” when living with Depression or Anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles we face.

I’ve been inconsolable for days now and have been left feeling like what’s the point of writing, sharing my journey or living life?

#whatsthepoint #feelinghopeless #iquit #suicideawareness #feelingdefeated  #yourmentalhealthmatters #youarenotalone

My Tribe

Just got home from a long and very invigorating walk with our friends.

As we passed this tree in the forest my girlfriend stopped to point out to me the words which had been spray painted on the tree that read “keep going”. She was certain it was there as a reminder from God telling me that I must “keep going”!

Upon our arrival home from our walk there was a beautifully wrapped gift of self-care on my front porch which was left for me by another incredible girlfriend of mine.

I am overwhelmed and beyond grateful for my amazing tribe. I am truly blessed by all the love and support and kindness I have in my life.

It’s okay to not be okay.

“There is no exercise better for your heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”

#summerofrich #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mytribe #girlfriends #keepgoing #inthemoment #youarenotalone #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #suicideawareness #selfcare

Monday Motivation: Badge of Honour

I started following a group on Facebook called “Ontario Hiking” soon after its conception last spring that has really helped me to find many new and exciting places to explore on our #summerofrich adventures.

It is run by Lauren Yakiwchuk who spends so much of her free time exploring our great Province and blogging about her personal experiences along her trails.

This group offers many fun and interactive experiences, great tips, lots of beautiful photos and so many helpful and honest reviews of places all over Ontario, some of which are very close to home for me and many more that are hundreds of kilometers away.

Throughout the last 4 years since the #summerofrich first launched (can you believe its been four years) I continue to add many new and adventurous places to my already very lengthy wishlist that I would love to explore one day.

It has become quite a long list and it just keeps on growing. 

Each week I now refer to this wonderful and very informative group of close to 80,000 like-minded members who share my passion for nature, hiking and mental wellness in order to plan our day trips. **I was really hoping that this summer we could take a 5 day hiking trip to the most northern tip of our beautiful Province for my birthday but unfortunately there have been too many obstacles standing in our way this year.

One of the group’s most fun and interactive experiences I’ve enjoyed following most since the group launched last spring has been reading posts from other members who have participated in the quarterly hiking challenges.¬†

These challenges occur every January, April, July and October. Participants are asked to complete 5 hikes (or walks) during that month. Once you have completed your hikes you can email the 5 locations you hiked during that month to a specific app in order to receive a “digital badge” for “bragging rights” and a chance to win prizes.¬†

I decided near the end of June that instead of just following other members participating in the upcoming July challenge that I would join in on the #julyhikingchallenge for myself. 

It’s not like we don’t hike several times a month anyways, especially during the summer and I knew that if I participated in the challenge for myself that it would push me (and Rich) on those days when one of us is just not up for it.

We both have such a feeling of accomplishment after our hikes and not only did we challenge each other in July to push through the 5 hikes, we surpassed the initial targeted goal and completed 7 of them instead. That for sure earned us both many bragging rights.

I just received my “digital badge” this morning via email for accomplishing the #julyhikingchallenge and although I may not have won any of the prizes this time around I feel like a baby bird today when they are first born and have no idea the power that their wings have or¬† how determined they will become in order to learn to fly; and one day maybe even learn to soar.

#mondaymotivation #badgeofhonour #hikingchallenge #ontariohiking  #ontariohikingchallenge #hikingtrails #summertimeselfcare #spiritualhealing #ontarioisourstodiscover #nature #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #babybird #learningtofly #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #youareenough

The Voice of Depression

*May be triggering to some*

My emotions are running high and forever changing.

I’m irritable.

I can’t sleep.

I’m fatigued.

My anxiety is persistent.

I’m sad and overwhelmed.

My thoughts are dark.

This is the voice of Depression.

It makes me want to scream.

My efforts to drown out its voice is met with great resistance and gets louder and more intense the harder I try to resist it.

It wears me down.

It thrives on pain.

At times,

It can be very intrusive.

At other times,

Convincing.

I cannot let it win.

Not Suicide.

Not today.

If you or someone you know is in crisis text 45645 to connect with a counselor or go to your nearest emergency room.

#voiceofdepression #notsuicidenottoday #camh #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalhealth #keepfuckinggoing #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #suicideawareness #suicideprevention