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

Belly Flop

***May be triggering***

I’m a fixer, but not everything feels “fixable”.

Being a fixer is exhausting.

It takes ALOT of your energy.

And it creates ALOT of worry and stress. 

I realize that I can’t always fix everything or everyone.

Not everything or everyone is fixable, no matter how hard you try. 

And maybe that includes me.

Suffering with Chronic Depression and Anxiety is overwhelming. It’s overbearing. It’s unpredictable. It’s debilitating. 

It feels like it’s winning right now. 

I’ve tried to fix it. I’ve distracted it. I’ve told it to stop. I’ve suppressed it. I’ve used positive thinking to counteract my negative thoughts. 

It’s really not that simple though.

It feels like it’s winning and I truly feel unfixable right now. 

It follows me around twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. 

It won’t leave me alone. It won’t give me a break. It’s unrelenting.

It’s a never-ending thought loop that’s left me feeling vulnerable,  helpless and indefensible.

It’s like a belly flop. I feel the pain on impact. It’s a stinging pain. It leaves a bruise.

I’ve never perfected the art of diving. There are many techniques to learn in order to successfully complete the perfect dive.

The perfect dive can’t be rushed.

Sometimes you may need to keep your feet at the end of the diving board just a little bit longer to ensure you have the proper footing before you can jump.

Have you ever felt unfixable?

#unfixable #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #vulnerable #selfcare #suicideawareness #bellyflop #jumpfirst

First Shipment

The first shipment of my “Class of 2021” Graduation lawn signs have just arrived and I couldn’t wait to install the very first one on my own front lawn and show off how proud I am of my “Awesome Grad”.

And thanks to the incredible generosity and support of so many families and friends in the community (and beyond) I have sold close to 200 signs thus far and I am looking forward to delivering each and every one of them to so many other “Awesome Graduates” and proud family and friends. Just knowing that we are all working together to achieve the same goal of helping all children and adolescents in the GTHA have better access to more affordable and attainable Mental Health services and supports that they so deserve warms my heart. 

It also just so happens that today is “National Child and Youth Mental Health Day” (May 7, 2021) so what better way to celebrate today than to help brighten up our neighborhoods, start some caring, stigma-free conversations in the community and let young people everywhere feel seen, heard and supported. 

If you would like to honour a very deserving “Class of 2021” Graduate in your life or help make a difference in the lives of so many other young people who may be feeling vulnerable and alone right now please email me at: youthareenough@gmail.com. 

*Proceeds to be donated to Youth Mental Health programs*

#nationalchildandyouthmentalhealthday #childrensmentalhealthawarenessweek #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #strongertogether #payitforward #mygraduate #middlechild #proudmama #classof2021 #ouryouthmatter #endthestigmatogether  #graduationday #youareenough #staysafe #empowerment #empathy #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #suicideprevention  #suicideawareness #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones

Moment of Joy

I’ve been receiving an increasing amount of messages in recent days and weeks from both friends and strangers alike who are in need of some real emotional support for themselves or a loved one from someone who can relate to their feelings of debilitating anxiety, sadness and defeat; most of whom have never known or experienced these feelings before and they are scared and overwhelmed and vulnerable and unmotivated and lonely and helpless and stressed and angry and frustrated and sad and simply fed up. And they are not alone.

Covid-19 has affected us all in different ways and at different times throughout the Pandemic but living in Ontario right now (and many other beautiful places around the globe) it’s becoming increasingly more and more difficult to try and stay positive anymore or to find moments of joy in our life and it’s showing up in both our physical and mental health in one way or another.  

Can we even find joy in our lives anymore? 

I know that I for one could really use some joy in my life right now. 

This picture (posted above) is pure unadulterated joy. Having my kids receive their first vaccines this week (because we live in a “hot spot”, woohoo!) felt incredibly joyful and I even went so far as to tell them that it felt even more joyful than the day they were first born. 

Did I go too far? Was it too much? 

I mean given that we’ve been living through a Global Pandemic for more than 13 months now I felt like my feelings were pretty justified, no?

It almost felt like a rebirth or a revival and that in more than a year I could finally see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been trying so desperately to get through and even though it’s only a tiny light for now, any light is at least a start.

What has been your moment of joy this week, even if it was for only a brief moment in time? Comment below and spread some joy!

P.S. I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to practice self- care. 

P.P.P.S. Let’s all do our part to stop the spread of Covid-19. Wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance and when it’s your turn to get the vaccine, GO!

#momentsofjoy #shabbatshalom #lightattheendofthetunnel #joy #herdimmunity #vaccines #covidbegone #spreadjoy #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok 

Welcome Kindness

We all have a story to tell. 

We all have a different path to follow. 

But no matter our story or path we take, now more than ever we all need kindness.

A simple act of kindness can change someone’s day.

It can change someone’s whole life.

It can change everything.

We all need kindness in our hearts.

We all need compassion. 

We all need to stop assuming, to stop judging.

Kindness is contagious. 

Kindness is inclusivity.

Kindness is humanity.

Kindness is confidence.

Kindness is beautiful.

Spreading kindness matters.

Spread the word. 

Welcome kindness.

P.S. I want this welcome mat!

#spreadkindness #kindnessmatters #kindessiscontagious #asimpleactcanchangeeverything #youareenough #youarenotalone #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #welcomemat

The Three Stages of Covid Anxiety on the Road to Normalcy

A year ago today I wrote a blog just 24 hours after the WHO declared the Coronavirus a world wide Pandemic.

I remember those first few days that followed as though it was just yesterday. There may have still been so many unknowns at the time but one thing was for sure, the virus that had seemed so far from our reach was now here and action was abruptly taken. 

March Break was just getting underway here in Ontario and the sudden closure of the borders meant for starters that Rachel, who was scheduled to fly to Punta Cana in a couple of days for her once in a lifetime High School Graduation trip was no longer going to happen. 

Professional sports and Broadway productions were being shut down; students, teachers and parents were preparing for a “two week” extension of March Break and then one by one businesses, malls and restaurants were told that they too must close immediately. 

The sudden changes, the mixed messages and the fear of the unknown quickly began to take its toll on everyone, even those amongst us who had never experienced bouts of anxiety before were starting to feel anxious and scared. 

In my blog I shared a list of some simple yet effective ideas for how we could try and cope with this new type of anxiety (you know, the kind of anxiety that follows the declaration of a world wide Pandemic!). 

But now, one year in, those simple, effective ideas no longer feel plausible. Covid-19 and the fallout from it has created so many new barriers for many, devastation beyond repair for others and an increased amount of anxiety and other mental health concerns in almost everyone you speak to.

My anxiety had already been beyond crippling for me pre-Pandemic for the better part of six years by the onset of the Pandemic but Covid-19 has really magnified it in so many ways and I know that sadly I am not alone. 

But I also can’t believe that someone like myself who lives with chronic mental health issues on a daily basis, where carrying out the simplest of tasks and activities or attending any type of social gathering that could likely cause me to go into complete and utter panic and despair at any given moment (even those which involve close friends and family) finds myself actually craving many of these missed opportunities that so many of us once took for granted. 

For an entire year now I’ve been following the public health’s advice and guidelines by washing my hands regularly, wearing my mask, staying home as much as possible, social distancing and avoiding any direct contact with family and friends outside of those who live in my home, so like truly, who can really blame me? 

I can at the very least see a light now at the end of this very turbulent and dark tunnel with the vaccine rollout underway (even if it’s been a complete and epic fail here in Canada) but it still doesn’t change the fact that this past year has on a whole been the most difficult and trying year for many of us and after enduring months and months of Covid-fatigue has only added more fuel to the fire for someone like me who already had a very anxious mind beforehand. 

At first, once the initial shock wore off (although I still find myself often shaking my head in disbelief) we may have found some joy in staying home, spending quality time with our kids or taking a few weeks off from our hectic lives; I mean sometimes big changes in our lifestyles or behaviours can feel easy in the beginning, right? But this was never something any one of us ever wanted to get used to.

But we have all had to adjust and pivot in so many ways since then and so now, here we are, one year later still watching cautiously from the sidelines with some light at the end of the tunnel as life slowly (very slowly in Canada) begins to push toward some type of “normal” again except that now many of us are starting to face yet another very real anxiety; one that comes with a fear of what normalcy will actually look like, a fear of the future, post vaccination and a fear that we will never be able to get back to the way life was before the Pandemic because abnormal sure feels like the new normal to me.

Do you fear that life will never feel “normal” again?

#ayearinreview #covidfatigue #willlifeeverfeelnormalagain #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #blogger #abnormalisthenewnormal #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters 

Were We Just Too Naive?

I wanted to reshare a blog with you that I wrote exactly one year ago today when, for most of us, our biggest fear at the time surrounding the Coronavirus was whether or not we had enough toilet paper on hand “just in case” we were forced into a 2 week quarantine.

None of us could ever have imagined how much our lives were about to be turned upside down or forever changed and we definitely could never have predicted we would still be dealing with the devastation from the Coronavirus in its entirety a whole year later.

Were we just too naive?

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/03/07/should-i-add-it-to-my-list

MONDAY MOTIVATION: MARCHING INTO MARCH

When I was visiting with a friend over the weekend (in a garage from 6 feet apart and freezing our butts off, but well worth the price of our sanity) I was being all like cool and optimistic and like a glass half full kinda gal when I told her that now that March 1st is upon us, it meant just one thing; we’ve almost made it through the winter. 

Yup, that’s right, it’s true, I was totally speaking with my glass half full (and from someone who despises winter beyond words) knowing that when March rolls around that we’ve made it through the worst of it and that spring is just around the corner, ready and willing to shine its bright sunlight on the melting snow.

But it never takes me long for my half full glass to evaporate into thin air or in this case freeze over into a block of ice when the real reality sets in that in less than 2 weeks from March 1st it will be exactly one year since the entire world was completely turned upside down.

The month of March has forever changed. It will forever be remembered now not for its promise of warmer days ahead where we spring forward into a new season or see Leprechans dancing in the street or children excitedly awaiting the Easter bunny’s arrival but instead March now feels more like an alien from another planet (which kinda makes perfect sense since March got its name from a Roman God named Mars!).

Ok so what if we turned this back around and what if my glass was still half full? What would March look like then? What if we approached the month ahead by dreaming of those Leprechauns dancing in the street and looked at March through the eyes of those children excitedly awaiting the arrival of the Easter bunny? 

What if we allowed ourselves to spring forward and “fall” back into our lives by reliving all the silver linings that have enabled us to get through what has undoubtedly been the worst year ever. (Feel free to revisit my blog “My Silver Linings Playbook of 2020” back in December) https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2020/12/26/my-silver-linings-playbook-of-2020

What if we welcomed March in with open arms like we’ve always done in the past by leaving the back gate unlatched for him? Let’s welcome March back into our lives as though nothing ever happened so he can get in and get his job done quickly and proficiently for those of us who have been stuck inside our homes (and garages) waiting to go for long walks, basking in the warm sunshine and taking some time to stop and smell some flowers along the way. How does that sound to you? 

What do you “normally” look most forward to about March? 

#mondaymotivation #marchmadness #springisintheair #marchingintospring #silverlinings #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #stopandsmelltheroses #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #glasshalffull 

Could Maggie Be Depressed?

Despite the fact that February is the shortest month of the year, for many humans though, February can often feel like the longest and most depressing one as well; and especially this year.

Aside from the most obvious reasons why February can feel like the longest and most depressing month of the year when it’s actually not is due in part to many of us having to suffer through bitter cold temperatures and shortened hours of daylight each day; most of which seem filled with grey skies and falling precipitation rather than sunshine and rainbows.  For others, February also feels long and dreaded because of holidays like Valentine’s Day that can bring with it a feeling of sorrow instead of love. 

Of course this year February comes with an added bonus. We are now eleven months into living in a Global Pandemic and that in itself is enough to make any month feel like its never ending and for any human to display some signs of depression. 

But what about our pets?  Can they feel similar effects due to the winter blues or maybe even the effects associated with living in a Global Pandemic? In short, yes they can and we have started to notice lately that Maggie seems sad and possibly even a little depressed. 

She has never been one to enjoy the winter weather or bitter cold temperatures (she’s just like her momma) but still it’s difficult to know for sure if that is what’s causing her sudden change in mood and several odd behaviours without first ruling out anything that could potentially be physically wrong with her because it’s not like she can really vocalize her sadness to us.

But once we have ruled out all other potential issues, I may have to call upon the world renowned “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan for some much needed help.

#dogsanddepression #pettherapy #sixthsense #maggie #februaryblues #dogwhisperer #cesarmillan #nationalgeographic #pandemic #overwhelm