Rich made a promise to me 26 (plus) years ago that he would take me on a magic carpet ride as we danced to our first song as husband and wife on our wedding day.
Today, on International Self-Care Day we hiked a section of the Oakridges Moraine called Jefferson Climb: Magic Carpet Ride, Upper Ridge Trail.
As we were hiking the trail I began to quietly sing the lyrics to our wedding song “A Whole New World” in my head (I wouldn’t dare sing out loud as we may have become prey to some dangerous wildlife species 🐻).
As soon as we got back to our car (without getting lost this time) I played the song for Rich on my phone (there may have been some tears in the mix).
This song had a great deal of meaning to the both of us when it came time for choosing our wedding song. After all, we started dating while working together in a video store, we both loved Disney movies and Aladdin had quickly become among one of our favourites that we’d watched many times together during our courtship (and we were also first in line to see the live action version when it was released to theaters a couple of years ago; hmmm when I think about it now that may have actually been the last movie we saw in a theater!).
The song has become our anthem and as we hiked the “Magic Carpet Ride” trail today and as I quietly chanted the lyrics to myself and then replayed it for Rich on our car ride home I heard a whole new and even more meaningful version of the song this time.
It may be a bit off key now but it will always be our song.
What was your wedding song?
What did you do to celebrate International Self-Care Day today?
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.
Watching the chaos unfold in Washington today is beyond comprehensible. It’s sad, it’s pathetic and it’s downright scary that a President could allow this to happen or should I say, could encourage this to happen.
But no one can be or better yet, should be shocked that this is happening. I mean lets face it, the entire world has been watching this President come unhinged for the last four years and he needs to finally be held accountable for his actions but first he needs to be helped for an illness that some may argue is not actually a mental disorder.
But in clinical terms the President of the United States suffers from a mental disorder which falls under the umbrella of “Personality Disorders” called Narcissism.
A “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” is a “mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” (Definition as per Mayo Clinic)
It goes on to describe an individual with a “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” as someone who may be “generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.”
People who suffer from a “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” often display many of the following symptoms: (Mayo Clinic)
Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerate achievements and talents
Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
Take advantage of others to get what they want
Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Be envious of others and believe others envy them
Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office
“Narcissistic Personality Disorder” is a very complex disorder and many people who suffer with one are often unable to seek proper therapy or treatment because well, for starters, they don’t think anything is truly wrong with them.
There are no words to describe what a sad day it is in American history today but I think we can all agree, even those of us sitting by the sidelines from across the world that our hearts are breaking for you and with you as we watch your beautiful Nation destroying its democracy at the hands of a man who clearly needs psychological help.
Hopefully though he won’t get too lost in the system while serving time in prison and that he finally gets the proper treatment and therapy that we all as human beings deserve.
How is it that I have never lost any sleep over Canadian politics yet for the last month I have literally been glued to the tv watching CNN (just ask my family) and refreshing my Twitter feeds (and tweeting the President of the United States) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week due to an out of control level of anxiety and sadness over an election I’m not even eligible to vote in!
This election is no longer about whose policies or campaign promises are better anymore, its simply and sadly about a country so divided by fear and hatred.
I hope today will be a “Great” day for my American friends and family and that of the millions of ballots cast it will decidedly bring with it a shift in mindset and a spirit back to the America that the rest of the world once looked upon with fondness and “Great” envy.
Vote today (if you haven’t already) like your life depends on it because it does, and frankly so does ours!! And also seeing as our borders are still closed for who knows how long it’s gonna make it so much harder for you to gain access to all the “Greatness” our glorious Country has to offer (I know we ain’t perfect but…)!
Your vote matters!
*picture attached is from the Origami Owl jewellry Collection
Last night I watched “The View” from earlier that day (yes I tape The View every day and once I even got to sit in their VIP seats for a live taping many moons ago!!!!). The ladies were discussing the tragedy that unfolded in Philadelphia earlier this week when Police Officers were called to the home of Walter Wallace Jr., a young black man who was in the midst of a mental health crisis. For those who don’t know, he was shot (many, many times) and killed by Police Officers because he was wielding a knife (not a gun!) and had ignored their pleas to drop it even after his mother was heard hysterically begging them to help him. This is yet another story of unjust in America today especially amongst the Black community but sadly the Police in many parts of America don’t have the necessary tools or training when it comes to deescalating a mental health crisis. Family members of this young man had called 911 to request an ambulance and medical assistance but instead the Police showed up with their guns drawn and ready for battle. As the ladies further discussed the tragedy itself and the imminent need for proper tools and training in police departments across America they then continued to support their cause by stating facts on how many other countries are so much better equipped to deal with these types of mental health crisises and how they have also taken the important steps forward to deescalate similar situations in a more humane way. I was most proud when Joy Behar gave a particular shout out to Toronto for having these tools and training in place. I have found myself in situations where 911 has needed to be called during a mental health crisis. And yes, I may not be black or living in America or have ever been in a state of psychosis or armed with a weapon for that matter to fully compare the two situations but when 911 is called during a mental health crisis here in Toronto (and its surrounding areas) I can tell you first hand that an ambulance will arrive on the scene and that a police officer will always be accompanied by a trained mental health professional. This very tragic outcome was also very preventable and should never have happened. Apparently since this tragedy just days ago, Police Officers in Philadelphia are now required to carry a taser with them (which they didn’t have on them at the time due to there being a shortage) when responding to mental health calls which could have made a difference between the life and death for this young man who deserved to live and get the proper help he needed, the help his family stood by begging for as they watched him be shot again and again and AGAIN. He was not a CRIMINAL, he was SICK and it’s time for America to take a page out of Toronto’s Playbook. #makesmeverysad #mentalillnessisnotacrime #mentalhealth #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youareenough #proudtobecanadian @theviewabc
Today is considered to be the holiest and most important day of the year in the Jewish faith. It’s a day where many Jews fast and while doing so are encouraged to atone for any wrongdoings and ask others for forgiveness in order to repair the wrongdoings from the past year.
But whether or not today you are observing this holiest of holidays or maybe it’s just another “Manic Monday” to you, take some time today to reflect not just on the wrongdoings you may have caused others but to reflect on the wrongdoings you have also done to yourself too because Yom Kippur is also about introspection and looking inside of your own mental and emotional state as well. Too often the person we find we need to atone to or ask forgiveness from the most is staring right at us in the mirror.
The “Summer of Rich” began a few years ago as nothing more than a silly declaration from Rich one early morning at the end of June as he waved goodbye to the kids (with tears of joy in his eyes) as they boarded a bus for the entire summer away at camp.
For Rich that moment meant he now had 7 glorious weeks ahead of him to catch his breath and push the reset button because as I have mentioned many times before that for the last 6 years he has had to take on both the roles of Mom and Dad, along with that of chef, maid, chauffeur, Psychologist, designated Schlepper and countless others too.
But this past May right after we found out the girls (Jacob now works full-time as an Electrician) would not be going away to camp this summer due to Covid-19 I wrote a blog titled “Should The #Summerofrich Be Cancelled Too?” (May 27, 2020) and what it meant for the #summerofrich this year.
Since its conception a few years back, the “Summer of Rich” has evolved in many different ways; it’s even got its own hashtag which often gets special shout-outs by its many “adoring fans” who seem to genuinely enjoy following our adventures; so how could we disappoint them?
I may have needed to make several amendments to our itinerary this summer and we definitely had to adapt to many other changes because of Covid-19 and having the kids home all summer which also meant that there was much less of an opportunity for Rich to have some well deserved time to breathe or a push of the reset button but through the many amendments and other changes this summer I truly believe that in many ways, the #summerofrich may have actually evolved into something much deeper and with an even more meaningful purpose.