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

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

Being Present In The Moment

Living with chronic depression and severe anxiety as I do it’s so easy to get caught up in both our past and our future, leaving us feeling very worn down, overwhelmed and vulnerable and often unable to live in the moment or be present in our own life. 

It’s been an incredibly difficult few days for so many of us who have been trying to come to grips with the cruel reality and accept the loss of a precious life that was taken from us far to soon. 

But Jesse, who was wise beyond his short life, left behind so many invaluable gifts for all of us to cherish and learn from, especially the gift of knowing how to embrace every moment by living in the moment and being present in our own life.

He taught us to appreciate life to the fullest and all of its encompassing beauty no matter what. He taught us to focus on the now and to relish life in the moment. He showed us how to be thankful for the small wins, however small they may seem.

He taught us that any random or spontaneous act of kindness can brighten someone’s day and that a smile or a kind word will take you a very long way. He taught us that worrying about our future can take away precious moments of our present day and he also taught us how to express gratitude right here and right now.

These are the kind of invaluable gifts that we all need to hold on tight to. So to honour Jesse’s memory today I’m asking that we all take a moment to be in the moment and to focus on what is right in front of us, surrender to your emotions, feel your surroundings and allow yourself to see something in your presence for the very first time 💙💙💙

#shabbatshalom #jessestrong #stayblessed #staybreezy #fuckcancer #beinthemoment #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mindfulness #depression #anxiety #yourmentalhealthmatters 

Stay Blessed, Stay Breezy

Today I had planned in advance to write a blog about the colonoscopy I had this afternoon which has been triggering my lifelong battle with an eating disorder all week but all that changed in an instant yesterday afternoon when I received a frantic and hysterical phone call from Jacob while he was at work, crying and gasping for breath, he uttered the words that no parent ever wants to hear and words that can never be undone. He shouted into the phone “Jesse just died”; his lifelong friend and our family’s friend had just suddenly passed away at the age of 22.

So today instead I want to pay tribute to our dear friend Jesse Benudiz who was taken from all of us way too soon. Jesse was the most loyal and generous friend to everyone who knew him. I can recall countless times he proved that to me and my family, including when he so generously hired Hannah for her very first lifeguarding job at the Fitness Club he managed, or when we smuggled Jesse into camp one Visitor’s Day after he had stopped working there and when approached by head staff as to what he was doing there he told them he came to visit his “cousin Rachel Fluxgold” and another special memory I can recall of Jesse was the time when he so selflessly spent many hours talking Jacob through some very personal life altering decisions of his own while he was struggling to find his path in life during his first semester of University. 

Jesse was also by far the most amazing and loving son and big brother to his twin brothers. I was lucky enough to witness this myself many times over with his mom KC, whom I am honored to call my friend and his incredible brothers Justin and Jamie. He was an inspiration and shining light to anyone who he met and he had the most empathetic and genuine heart of anyone I know

Last spring when the world was trying to cope with the onset of Covid-19, Jesse learned that he had a brain tumor and for the next six  months or so he began the fight of his life on an entirely different level. He spent countless weeks in hospital all alone due to Covid and underwent aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatments followed by brain surgery; always smiling through his pain, but a few short months ago Jesse got the best news of all; he was now in remission. 

Throughout the past year, Jesse continued to inspire us all, managing to finish his Degree, raising 20k for Princess Margaret Hospital (a world renowned Cancer Institute right here in Toronto and the same place that had saved his life just months ago), but he didn’t stop there. 

Now that he had beat Cancer’s ass he wanted to continue making his mark on the world and started a Podcast called “The Blessed and Breezy” where he talked about his own personal journey and struggles and discussed many of the challenges among youth and mental health today. And there were so many other endeavors on the horizon for him as well.

My entire family is truly heartbroken today and there are no words to describe our pain. He has left a void in our hearts.  We had a very special bond and even through his own struggles he would reach out to me regularly to talk, he would comment on many of my blogs with encouraging words, he would send me information on different podcasts or YouTube videos that he thought would be of interest to me and just last week we spoke about collaborating together on one of his upcoming Podcasts. 

No parent should ever have to go through this kind of loss, EVER and my heart breaks for KC and Max and the rest of Jesse’s family and his many, many, many friends. He was and will always be remembered as the shining light he has left behind for everyone who ever had the honour to know him.

RIP Jesse. You will be missed greatly.đŸ˜„

#stayblessed #staybreezy #ripjesse #weloveyoutothemoonandback #fuckcancer #youareenough #youarenotalone 

Could I Run A Marathon?

Last night I watched a movie on Amazon Prime called “Brittany Runs A Marathon”. My family has started rating the movies we watch lately by how much mom cries during them (especially the ending) which isn’t really a fair assessment to be honest because I cry while watching just about anything these days. But if we go with their rating system (maybe instead of Rotten Tomatoes we use Salty Teardrops?) this one was as close to a 10 as they come.

The movie is based on a true story (which usually ups the ante right there) about an overweight woman who feels dissatisfied with pretty much everything in her life and soon gets a wake up call from her doctor when he reveals to her that she doesn’t need Adderall like she hoped but instead needs to lose 50 pounds as her physical health had started to become unhinged too. And even though being the “fat girl” sidekick was always her safety net (or so she thought) she decides to take her doctor’s advice and eventually leads Brittany to take up running, eat healthier and stop using drugs and alcohol to numb her pain. 

The movie is about so much more than a weightloss journey though and runs much, much deeper than that. It was an inspiring, heartwarming, super funny, thought provoking and very, very relatable journey to me in so many ways even if I’ve never run a day in my life (or ever had the desire to!). 

The storyline brought with it lots of important life lessons (and plenty of stereotypes too), all of which resonated with my own journey through life. It was an emotional journey and one that proves just how hard it can be to fall in love with yourself. It taught us the importance of body positivity, learning to love the body we’re in and self-acceptance. It taught us about the hard work and difficult steps it takes toward achieving our dreams while continuously focusing on small yet attainable goals no matter what. It also showed us that it is perfectly okay to accept help from others, to never judge a book by its cover and that it’s more than okay to walk away from toxic relationships in our life that no longer serve us or who can’t see our worth.

I wrote a blog a couple of years ago (see link below) where I opened up about how I struggled with both Anorexia and Bulimia in my late teens and early 20’s. But truth be told my eating disorder has never truly left me and it continues still to this day to be a constant struggle in my life.

My self-hate is very strong-willed and even more stubborn. It has stopped me in my tracks many times over from believing in my dreams and achieving many of my goals. It very often stops me from loving myself or accepting help from others. My self-hate has also blinded me from seeing through some very toxic relationships over the years as well and learning to accept and love my body has been as torturous as learning how to love my mind except there is no where to hide from your body.

As most of you know who follow my journey regularly I love walking and hiking and way back at the start of the Pandemic in March I began walking several miles every day and hiking on weekends as much as possible (#summerofrich).  I even started exercising a bit from home as well and it felt empowering but as the weather began to change over the last few weeks I have basically stopped exercising all together and it has drastically increased those feelings of self-hate and brought with it many of the danger signs that accompany an eating disorder.

I also have a very poor relationship with food itself which has most likely stemmed from several childhood traumas surrounding food (see blog below) and it seems to have created a lifetime struggle with food and self-worth which is something that I am overwhelmingly conscious of  around my children as I never want them to have the same toxic relationship with food as I do. I just want them to love who they are from the inside out. 

Spoiler Alert: Brittany eventually runs a marathon (it is the title of the movie), the mother of all marathons no less. But the movie is not about how she reached the finish line of the New York City marathon (fun fact: they actually filmed the marathon scenes during the 2017 event!), it was about her incredible transformation (both physically and mentally) toward loving herself and kicking that “fat girl” sidekick to the curb that allowed her to get there. It was about how she kept tying up the laces of her running shoes, tripping over them from time to time as they came undone and learning to tie them back up again every time she fell down while running just one block at a time of the congested and mean streets of New York City and letting the people in her life who saw her worth cheer her on from the sidelines.

I loved watching Brittany’s journey toward finding self-love. She deserves to wear that medal around her neck, not for the weight that she lost but for running all those miles toward her own self-truth, without compromise.

Maybe one day I will be able to run that same marathon too?

Check out my blog about my journey with eating disorders https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/i-had-an-eating-disorder-and-it-still-weighs-me-down-everyday

#brittanyrunsamarathon #selflove #empowerment #selfcompassion #eatingdisorders #anorexia #bulimia #youareenough #youarenotalone #selftruth #endthestigmatogether #mentalhealthishealth #newyorkcitymarathon 

Not Suicide. Not Today.

*May Be Triggering To Some*

CAMH (which is Canada’s leading hospital in Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Research) has developed a new campaign that focuses on today by giving hope for a better tomorrow. 

I feel like I am knee deep in quicksand today and I find myself drawn in by this video. Hearing the words “Not Suicide. Not Today.” repeated over and over again may not seem like much to some people but for someone like myself who is struggling to breathe right now as the quicksand pushes me deeper below the surface and my thoughts of suicide keep urging me to end my life, listening to these words are serving as a gentle reminder that maybe it’s not actually my life I wish to end but just my life in this very moment instead. 

“Not Today” means not now and “when we all say ‘Not Today’ together, it’s easier to say it when we’re alone.”

I’ve attached the video below for anyone else who may need to hear these words today too đŸ€—â€

Thank you for always supporting my journey and reminding me “Not Today”.

#notsuicidenottoday #motivationmonday #wheredidmommyssmilego #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #checkonyourlovedones #endthestigmatogether #camh #mentalhealthishealth #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillness #suicideprevention #suicideawareness 

Taking A Page Out Of My Story

“Then gradually day by day my life began to change. And the mommy I once knew and loved became very sad and strange.” 

This could be any one of our children’s voices. It wasn’t too long ago infact that this was my own children’s voices being echoed after finding themselves scared and unsure while struggling to cope with and understand their feelings as they watched their mother become a stranger in their home.

Covid-19 has added an immense amount of pressures and liabilities on millions of parents and families alike and many more are now finding themselves struggling with their own mental health issues, especially that of Anxiety and Depression.

I’ve said it many times before how my children were the inspiration for writing my book. It was through their strength and resilience that I was able to find a way to share their voices with other children who may also be in need of the comfort in knowing that they are not alone while learning to cope with their own feelings and to understand that they are safe, loved and most of all not to blame for their parent’s illness.

“Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go? is not only a heartwarming story of one family’s journey but it’s also a voice for millions of children everywhere.

To find out how you can get a copy of my book please message me or email me at:  youthareenough@gmail.com 

#wheredidmommyssmilego #childrensbook #author #blogger #advocate #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #familymatters 

Sometimes You Just Need A Good Cry

It doesn’t take much to make me cry and today was no exception. I felt a lot of tension and anger and sadness and frustration building up inside of me yesterday which carried over into the wee hours of the night and eventually turned into a full blown self-hating “Party For One” somewhere after midnight. 

Everything in my life right now feels like it’s coming unhinged and I don’t know how much more I can take. I’m sitting in my car as I write this, the doors are locked and I’m feeling trapped, without any way to escape.

I can feel the chaos of my life around me and it’s taking over my entire body. I am shaking in fear as the tears begin to well up in my eyes. I find the note in my phone that I wrote to myself late last night during my self-hating “Party For One” and the slow build up of tears quickly turns to a waterfall of emotions. 

I’m even more exhausted now while trying to read my note than I was when I first wrote it late last night and suddenly my eyes have become blurred from all the tears.

I put away my note and try to concentrate on my breathing instead. I can feel my heart palpitations and shakiness start to slow down with every breath I take and soon the tears begin to slow down as well.

Sometimes a good cry is all you need in order to help release your distress, calm yourself down, regulate your emotions and distract you from all the self-hate you have built up in your heart (and thank you to a good friend who happened to call me at just the right moment).

#tearsarehealing #itsalrighttocry #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #blogger #masksoff 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Canada. Statistics show that 1 in 3 Canadian women will experience domestic abuse from an intimate partner in their lifetime, but it does not stop there as it can affect people of all races, cultures, socioeconomic classes, religions, genders and sexual orientations.

Domestic violence is also a much broader epidemic than just that of physical abuse as it could likely include several other forms of abuse as well such as sexual, psychological and emotional. 

Since the start of the Pandemic, domestic violence has become a Pandemic within a Pandemic once the stay-at-home-orders came into effect and with a big surge in job loss, unemployment, economic instability, childcare instability, housing instability and travel restrictions it has made it more and more difficult for many victims who have been confined to their homes with their abusers to safely connect with the necessary services or outside help including reporting to authorities. 

Many victims are staying out of fear or because they feel trapped, both of which have been very likely scenerios even long before the Pandemic began. 

Although there are many signs that someone is being abused, they are not always as visible to outsiders, especially with so many of the current living circumstances for victims right now. 

It can also be very difficult to clearly see signs of abuse because most perpetrators learn the art of manipulation and control over their victim’s mind and emotions. 

Signs of Abuse:
-Bullying, threatening or controlling tactics 
-Controlling your money
-Cutting you off from your family and friends 
-Physical or sexual abuse

(Footnote: WebMD)

Keep an eye out for these signs if you think a loved one is a victim of domestic violence: 

-Excuses for injuries
-Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
-Constantly checking in with their partner
-Never having money on hand
-Overly worried about pleasing their partner
-Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
-Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises 

(Footnote: WebMD)

Lastly, if your gut is telling you that a friend or loved one may be a victim of domestic violence say something! Listen, ask questions and offer to help in any way you can. And remember, never judge another person’s situation or a decision that someone else may make unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. Empower them instead to give them the courage they may need to become stronger and more confident. 


#domesticviolenceawarenessmonth #empower #signsofdomesticviolence #youareenough #youarenotalone #noshame #startaconversation #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #dontsufferinsilence #speakyourtruth #advocate #courageous

“Humanely Euthanized”??

Over the last several weeks there has been a growing concern in our neighborhood due to a coyote who was becoming more and more aggressive with its prey. They had to close the local parks this week because several humans and pets alike had been attacked and Rich began carrying a stick with him while walking Maggie in the evenings and early mornings after he and Rachel and Maggie were chased home right to our front doorstep by that same coyote one evening last week.

The wildlife service officers have been camped out all week on the perimeter of the park near us waiting for the coyote to make its next move. They told us that people have been leaving their food waste by the forest where the coyote roams freely enticing him to keep coming back for more.

They also told us the other day that by law they are only allowed to move the coyote 1 km away from its home and that would only mean he would just keep coming back.

Well tonight we were just informed that they have “humanely euthanized” the coyote as it was the only option for the safety of the community at large. I find myself both saddened and relieved with the news.

We have invaded his space by building a community around his home and I don’t believe he deserved such a cruel ending to his life as moving him to a safer place away from communities where he could be free to roam and hunt safely would have been a much more humane option.

#wildlife #changethelaws #stopfeedingthewildlife #saddenedandrelieved