“Breaking Brave” Podcast

This afternoon I was given the opportunity and honour to be a guest speaker on a Podcast. 

My first one ever.  

I felt like a movie star. 

I was introduced to the host Marilyn Barefoot about a month or so ago through a mutual friend who thought that I would be a perfect fit for Marilyn’s Podcast called “Breaking Brave” so she connected us via email and we set up a time to “meet” and get to know one another later that week.

Our conversation was so easy. 

It was heartfelt and inspiring. 

I felt like we’d known each other forever.

Right from our opening dialogue I could feel Marilyn’s energy and compassion shine through.

She is a natural born speaker, motivator and innovator both in her chosen field and on her Podcast. 

But once Marilyn was given the green light from her Executive Producer a few days later to schedule me in for an actual recording of her Podcast it wasn’t too long afterwards when my negative self-talk kicked into full gear. 

Brave? Me, brave? 

How do I foster bravery in my mental health journey?

I gave this a great deal of thought. 

I know that being vulnerable and honest about my personal struggles with mental illness is brave.

I know that by educating others and helping them to understand the many depths of mental illness is brave.

I know that being so transparent about my own mental health is helping to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and that is brave.

I know that the more I talk about my illness allows others to feel more comfortable and less ashamed or alone about their own struggles and that is brave. 

I know that getting up each and every day and fighting for my life and advocating for the lives of so many others just like me is very brave.

I know that I have inspired many because of my willingness to share my story and that too is brave.

Being brave about your own mental health struggles should be contagious but it also doesn’t have to include writing a blog, publishing a children’s book or baring your heart and soul on Social Media either.

For you, “Breaking Brave” in your own personal mental health journey right now may mean taking that first step to ensure you get the help you need, however it is you feel most comfortable doing so, just so long as you do it! And I would be honoured to help take that first step with you!

A special thank you to Marilyn and her Executive Producer Rebekah for allowing me to share my story with your audience today and for showing me how truly brave I am. I am grateful for this experience and for your kindness and compassion.

My episode will likely be aired in a couple of months (I will keep you posted!). To listen to previously recorded episodes of Marilyn’s Podcast go to: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/breaking-brave-with-marilyn-barefoot/id1555760904 . “Each episode, find out how innovators and trailblazers from every walk of life broke through in their chosen or created fields. A podcast meant to inspire, invigorate, inform and uplift.”~Marilyn Barefoot

#breakingbrave #podcast #fosterbravery #startaconversation #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #endthestigmatogether #yourmentalhealthmatters #firststep #suicideprevention #blogger #author #mentalhealthadvocate #wheredidmommyssmilego 

After The “But”

As my “Class of 2021” graduation initiative comes to a close this week I will have sold AND delivered over a thousand lawn signs since it began last spring and raised over $15,000 for youth mental health. 

During this time I’ve been blessed to meet so many amazing and kind people, some of whom I now call my friend. 

I’ve also made some incredible connections along the way. 

I’ve started relevant, much needed and VERY important conversations. 

And I’ve listened as many others have shared with me some of the most heart-wrenching struggles they’ve faced or are currently going through with their own mental health or that of a loved one. 

Overall this has been one of the most purposeful, meaningful and rewarding experiences of my life, especially knowing that I have helped bring smiles to so many faces (both young and old alike) and maybe even brightened up their day. And it also feels really good knowing that in some small way I am helping to make a positive change for our young people today.

BUT, (and there is always a “but” with me), there have also been many, many days throughout this process where the overwhelm of what I do behind the scenes and the hours upon hours I’ve spent making sure that my campaign is the greatest possible success takes a gigantic toll on my mental health. 

And this past week while already feeling vulnerable and defeated has been no exception. 

As many of you already know, I was placing my final order to go to print earlier this week. This included a sign for someone who had literally contacted me last weekend only hours prior to my twelve midnight cutoff. 

We ended up having a friendly chat back and forth for a good hour during which time she chose which sign she wanted to purchase for her son who is about to graduate grade 8 from the same elementary school that I attended, she gave me her address for delivery and before we signed off for the night (which was now midnight) she asked me if it was okay if she sent me her payment in the morning. I said sure, not a problem.

So, in good faith I put her order through with the rest of them first thing the next morning which she knew I would be doing. After our friendly chat the night before I saw no reason not to trust that she would pay me as she had promised (which I’ve done before for others).

Several days lapsed and my shipment would soon be arriving for delivery (which it did this afternoon) and I still had not received her payment so I followed up with a friendly reminder (people forget or get busy etc., I get it) and as though it was no big deal she told me that she had decided that she didn’t want the sign anymore and could I cancel her order. Like WTF! 

She knew I was placing her order first thing the next morning.

Did she just think the sign and me would miraculously disappear?

Did she not think it would’ve been a nice and simple courtesy to let me know she had changed her mind at some point before I would have possibly delivered it to her?

Does she not have a conscience?

Did she not care that the money from the purchase of the sign was being donated to charity?

In case you’re wondering, I confronted her and asked her those exact questions and guess what; she didn’t care! I’m sure you’re not surprised “but” I trust too easily I guess.

It really set me back even though this had been my first time experiencing this during my entire campaign so I guess that’s pretty good odds eh?

I was really trying through all of my upset and anger to remind myself of all the positive experiences I’ve encountered talking to well over a thousand people over the course of my campaign “but” instead there I went right down the rabbit hole again.

I wish that the word “but” didn’t even exist in my vocabulary and that I could finish both my thoughts AND sentences before the “but”; “but” it always feels like an impossible task. 

By connecting a sentence or statement with the word “but” for me is kinda like deflating a balloon with a sharp object. 

Those words before the BUT, you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones where I praise myself, see my strengths and acknowledge all the good I try and do for others just end up feeling completely meaningless. 

“But” I will argue that I have a really good excuse for it, I swear I do!

Or at least that’s what my depression and anxiety seem to want me to think.

#afterthebut #depression #anxiety #suicideawareness #gradsigns #mentalhealth #classof2021 #graduationday #stayathomeorder #lockdown #forouryouth #ouryouthmatter #campaign #initiative #lawnsigns #kindnessmatters #itsoktonotbeok #bekindtoyourself #selfcare #letitgo #selfdoubt #justbreathe #startaconversation #endthestigmatogether 

What Does Suicide Prevention Look Like?

**May be triggering to some**

I’m in a pretty crappy headspace right now. 

It’s one of those weeks where I find myself tumbling further and further down a very darkened rabbit hole and can’t seem to find my way out. 

I’ve spent the last few days questioning whether I should even bother, asking myself if life is worth it, wondering why I should even try, telling myself I can’t do this anymore and convincing myself that I should just give up.  

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. 

1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness. So I know I am not alone.

It’s all around us and it’s more than likely that you know someone who may be struggling with one or more mental health challenges at this very moment. 

And it’s also sadly and quite plausible that many more are doing so in silence.

But we can’t ignore our mental health and we sure as hell can’t ignore mental illness either because no matter how hard you may try and hide from it, it will find you. It will catch up with you and at times it will make you question your self-worth, it will make you doubt yourself, it will tell you to stop trying and it could convince you to give up. 

As a society that is right smack in the midst of the worst mental health crisis ever we need to understand what suicide prevention really looks like and most importantly that it is everybody’s responsibility to play a role in it. 

As a society we need to understand that we all have a responsibility to take better care of each other because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to talk openly and honestly about mental health disorders and suicidality because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need more public awareness and education in order to destigmatize mental illness and suicidal behaviours so that those who may be most at risk can feel less alone, less fearful or less ashamed because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to accept each other’s differences because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to be able to openly and honestly express our feelings because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to help someone who may be in crisis and then follow up with additional support because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to make sure that we all live in an environment that is nurturing and safe because that is what suicide prevention looks like.

As a society we need to have proper funding in place to allow for everyone to access mental health supports and services because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

As a society we need to be there for a loved one, a friend, a neighbor or a coworker who may be experiencing the loss of their job, the loss of a relationship or loved one or some other major, life altering change in their lives because that is what suicide prevention looks like. 

Suicide prevention means knowing that it’s okay to not be okay. 

Knowing that it’s okay to ask for help. 

And together as a society we need to make it OK.

What does suicide prevention look like to you?

***If you or someone you know is in crisis please call Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 or go to your nearest hospital. 

#suicideprevention #suicideawareness #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #yourmentalhealthmatters #youmatter #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #itsoktoaskforhelp 

National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week: Let’s Change The Conversation Today

Each year the first week of May is recognized as National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week. It’s probably pretty obvious by now that I don’t need any excuse what so ever to raise awareness about either one of these two mental disorders or tell you how important it is to talk about the potential impact they can have on someone’s ability to function in their daily life. 

Depression and Anxiety are the two most common of all mental health disorders and over the course of this past year have become increasingly more and more debilitating to so many people’s lives. 

But then why is there still such stigma attached?

Why do so many people feel a sense of shame and guilt when it comes to their diagnosis?

Why is it still so hard for someone to open up about how they are truly feeling?

Well as someone who has probably heard it all by now, I get it, I get why so many people are afraid to open up about how they are feeling because I too have felt the impact of the stigma surrounding my illness too many times to count and I too have felt the shame and guilt that often comes along with my diagnosis. 

It’s important to remember that having a mental disorder is not something that a person chooses to have, they are actual medical conditions and need to be treated with medication and/or therapy; and that no one should ever have to justify their feelings to anyone. 

But too often the person who is suffering with Depression and/or Anxiety are left having to defend themselves against the actions and words of others. And even though their intentions may be coming from a place of love or out of deep concern for the individual who is suffering, those words or actions can end up doing more harm than good and leaving someone feeling attacked or hurt when we dismiss or minimize or deny or compare their feelings.

So can we all make a fresh start today and change the conversation? 

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety to “snap out of it”, “try harder” or to simply “cheer up”. 

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering  with Depression or Anxiety that they don’t look or sound “sad” or “depressed”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that everyone has “bad days” or that a lot of people “have it much worse”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that “it’s all in your head” and that they are acting “selfish”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety to “take a long walk” and you will feel better. 

And let’s never again tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that they just need to “think positive” and “happy thoughts”.

Let’s change the conversation today.  Somedays my life truly depends on it and I know that I’m not alone. 

#changetheconversation #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #checkonyourlovedones  #startaconversation #empathy #dontsufferinsilence #endthestigmatogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #bekind #whatdoesmentalillnessfeellike #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters  

Don’t Let A Few Bad Apples Spoil The Whole Bunch

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.

#brokensystem #youareenough #youarenotalone #youmatter #youthmentalhealth #ouryouthmatter #endthestigmatogether #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #speakyourtruth #courage #mentalhealthprofessionals #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #checkonyourlovedones

Your Story Isn’t Over Yet

I’m having a pretty rough day or to be perfectly honest it’s been a pretty shitty week all around and tonight I completely broke, crying my way through the entire evening and supper hour.

I’m sure the announcements made today by the Government haven’t helped my already emotional state I’m in and I know I’m not alone.

But just now (on the eve of World Semicolon Day) while in the midst of feeling like I can’t go on anymore I received a message from a woman who I’ve never met before nor ever had a conversation with and I was quickly reminded that my story isn’t over yet.

My semicolon which is etched in ink on my shoulder forever has also become a symbol of great strength for me.

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence but chooses not to. The author today is me and the sentence is my life.

Thank you for reaching out to me tonight  Rebekah just when I needed it the most and cheering me up with your kind heartedness, your appreciation and your strength in sharing your story with me and for also giving me a gentle reminder that my story isn’t over yet. (Please see pics attached)

Please remember that you matter!

#mentalwellness #mentalillness #yourmentalhealthmatters #depression #anxiety #guardianangel #grateful #youareenough  #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #worldsemicolonday #tattoo #author #blogger #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego

Give it Your Best Shot Too!

Today I gave it my best “shot” at helping to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Today I gave it my best “shot” at protecting myself and those around me against serious complications from the Covid-19 virus.

It was a feeling like no other and although I am filled with overwhelming emotions right now (the tears began to flow as I pulled into the parking lot), I’ll be ready for my second dose when my turn comes at the end of July so go ahead and “hit me with your best shot”, hit me baby one more time”! 💉 #patbenatar #britneyspears

#grateful #givingitmybestshot #giveityourbestshottoo #vaccine #covidvaccine #herdimmunity #doyourpart #hitmebabyonemoretime #hitmewithyourbestshot #youareenough #youmatter #wereallinthistogether  #strongertogether #overwhelmedwithemotion

It’s a New Month

It’s a new month.

A blank slate.

Clear your head.

Write it down.

Fill the pages.

Make a commitment to your journey.

Trigger introspection.

Manifest your goal.

Give it a purpose.

Declare your intention.

What is one intention you have in mind for the month ahead?

#liveeachdaywithintention #april #selfcare #selflove #selfdiscovery #manifestyourgoals #settinggoals #declareyourintention #blankslate

Monday Motivation: The Importance of Smaller Steps

People often think that the only way to achieve a goal is by taking “big steps” but that isn’t necessarily going to get you there any faster or with any greater success. 

As someone suffering with depression and anxiety I can tell you firsthand that taking smaller steps toward any attainable goal can and will have a much greater impact. 

For starters, small steps help get you started and can feel far less overwhelming. 

But this past week I forgot all that while being faced with extreme overwhelm and instead I found myself trying to push away the overwhelm by taking too many “big steps” (ginormous is more like it) up my ladder and all at once. 

I should have known better that this idea would likely backfire on me and when I finally realized days later that what I was doing was in fact only causing me further overwhelm I was already in dire need to alleviate it. 

It was at that moment that I took a deep breath and stepped off the ladder all together which allowed me to find my footing once again and start back up the ladder using smaller more attainable steps. 

I was so completely overwhelmed that I misjudged how many rungs were on the ladder and that because they were all securely in place there should’ve been no reason for me to try and skip any steps as I began climbing up. 

My missteps could’ve been a recipe for complete disaster but when I regained my footing and began climbing back up the ladder using smaller steps it in turn added up to much “bigger” results. 

Taking smaller steps for me ensures greater success, makes many of my decisions much more manageable and can free my mind from those bigger distractions as well.

I know I have a much better understanding these days as to how critical it is to take those smaller steps (even if my illness tries to persuade me in another direction) in order to create momentum and improve my productivity and performance which can allow me to stick with a goal more easily.

What small steps would you like to take this week?

#motivationmonday #mondaymotivation #goals #simplifiedgoals #attainablegoals #smallsteps #youareenough #overwhelm #vulnerability #mindfulness #therapeutic #selfcare #selfdiscovery #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth

The Corona Silver Linings Anthology

I am so excited to finally receive my very own copy today of the book I was so honoured to be published in a few months ago.

It’s a compilation of stories, poems and images from individuals around the world.

“The Corona Silver Linings Anthology” captures real life experiences, raw emotions, meaningful issues and life lessons that we have all been challenged by or have had to face in one way or another during this past year while looking for those silver linings.

“The Lifewrite Project” is a non-profit initiative which publishes anthologies “encouraging people to tap into their power to write and share their unique stories” while collaborating with different charities related to the topic at hand and raising funds for many initiatives in the process.

The proceeds from this book are being donated to a variety of charities including “The First Responders Children’s Foundation”.

Check out their website for details on any of their upcoming projects. After all there’s an inner writer somewhere inside of us all just waiting to share our own unique story with the world.

#thecoronasilverliningsanthology #thelifewriteproject #author #writer #blogger #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #youareenough #silverlinings #grads #covid19 #coronavirus #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #yourmentalhealthmatters #kidshelpphone #lawnsigns #initiative #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #amazondotcom