Overwhelmed With Gratitude

*Warning: Could be potentially triggering to some*

This Thanksgiving weekend I have so much to be THANKFUL for and I am overwhelmed with such GRATITUDE right now from the outpouring of kindness and love and support that has been shown to me and my ENTIRE family in SO many DIFFERENT ways.

I am slowly learning to embrace the help I so desperately need right now and accept that it’s okay. 

Sometimes it takes a village in order to do so. 

But that’s okay too.

And by learning how to let go of one’s pride and embrace the kindness and love and support of so many wonderful friends, family and truly an entire village has aroused so many super important conversations over the past few days and it has also afforded me the privilege of making many new and some really special connections as well; it’s truly been such a HUGE BLESSING. 

I am THANKFUL and overwhelmed with GRATITUDE.

As many of you probably know by now I have been doing all that I can to survive for weeks now and by Thursday evening I honestly felt like I was about to take my last breath.

The build up of everything I’d been feeling just became too much and I could no longer allow myself to be a burden anymore, to anyone.

I’d hit rock bottom. 

After dinner as I began to spiral further I told Rich that I was cancelling the Ketamine treatment. I just wanted to die rather than live with the guilt I felt. I became angry, mostly at myself and then eventually inconsolable. Rich suggested he take me to the hospital. I gave it some thought for a moment but instead I turned around, went into my bathroom, closed the door behind me and sat on the floor in the dark, crying. 

Rich came in and tried to console me. I asked him to please leave and let me be. He did as I asked, but not for long. When he returned again he found me still sitting on the floor, still crying, still in the dark but by now there was an open bottle of Tylenol on the counter and a pair of tweezers tightly clutched in my hand. I was desperate to find whatever means I could to end my pain once and for all.

As soon as Rich realized what was happening he grabbed the tweezers from my hand, picked me up off the floor and held me until I was calm enough to lay down and try and get some rest.

Thursday I’d hit rock bottom. Or so I thought. Then Friday morning arrived. 

I went to sit outside on the front porch. It was 8 am. Rich followed me outside. It was decision day. My treatment had to be paid for in full by end of day. We spoke about what had transpired the evening before. For the first time in a very long time I understood that I truly couldn’t keep living like this, that WE couldn’t keep living like this and that my kids DEFINITELY didn’t deserve to live like this. We both knew that we had to find whatever means we could in order for me to do this treatment. We both felt so desperate. But suddenly for a brief moment I felt a sense of calm come over me and then Rich blurted out, “I lost my job yesterday and I haven’t been able to find the words to tell you”.

Fuck. Poof. Goodbye calm. Hello tornado.

But Rich wasn’t giving up; not on me, not on us and certainly not on our family. Nothing had changed for him in that moment. In his mind this was not going to be the end. It had to be the start of a new beginning. So he swallowed his pride, left his ego on our front porch and went to work creating a “Go Fund Me Page” to help us pay for the 6 initial treatments and for whatever other expenses we have been told by my Psychiatrist we are likely to incur over the coming months for the maintenance of treatment.

Today happens to be “World Mental Health Day” and it’s theme this year is “Mental Health in an unequal world.” This couldn’t be a more fitting theme given the unfair treatment gap, discrimination and many other barriers that so many people like myself face every day by not being able to have the same advantage or accessibility to affordable mental health care. We all deserve the same fighting chance.

But today, thanks to the kindness and love and support of my village, I have been given a fighting chance. 

Today I am THANKFUL and overwhelmed with GRATITUDE. 

https://gofund.me/39f62d61

#Thanksgiving #worldmentalhealthday #ketaminetreatment #gofundme #mentalhealth #endthestigma #treatmentresistant #depression #anxiety #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #youarenotalone #suicideprevention #suicideawareness  #grateful #thankful #blessed #ohcanada #happythanksgivingcanada

Trust Me, I know

It takes alot of energy to worry all the time. 

Trust me, I know.

It’s exhausting.

Trust me, I know.

There’s this sense of impending doom.

Trust me I know.

You feel helpless and powerless.

Trust me, I know. 

It’s nearly impossible to concentrate on anything else in your life when you always feel like something catastrophic is about to happen. 

Trust me, I know.

It’s an overwhelming force that has the ability to suck the joy right out of your life.

Trust me, I know.

You feel its presence everywhere you turn. 

Trust me, I know. 

Others try and convince you that these are just irrational thoughts but they can’t see what you see or hear what you hear or feel what you feel. 

Trust me, I know.

No matter how hard you try to distract them, they just never seem to go away.

Trust me I know.

It’s so damn debilitating.

Trust me, I know. 

You feel breathless.

Trust me, I know. 

You feel defeated. 

Trust me, I know. 

It follows you everywhere, like a dark cloud hovering over you. 

Trust me, I know.

You lose all sense of reality. 

Trust me, I know. 

It takes away your will to live.

TRUST ME BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND. 

#Iknow #iunderstand #iseeyou #ifeelyou #ihearyou #itsoktonotbeok #imnotok #youarenotalone #depression #anxiety #panicattacks #yourmentalhealthmatters #cantcatchmybreath #checkonyourlovedones

My Bedside Table

*Could be potentially triggering to some people*

My Psychiatrist prescribed me an anti-anxiety medication last week as part of my new treatment plan. It’s been several years now since I’ve taken any kind of prescription medication at all to help treat my illness but I agreed to try this in hopes of finding even the slightest bit of relief because asides from my symptoms of depression and suicidal ideations becoming increasingly more and more active and beyond my control over the past month, so too has my anxiety and panic (do you know what it feels like to want to climb out of your skin?).

I began taking them on Saturday morning. 

My doctor had told me during our Zoom call a couple of days earlier that I’d need to take one pill every morning and one pill before bed every night and to then increase the doses to two pills in the morning and two pills before bed after a few days. But just to be clear here, it was actually Rich he was giving the information to, not me, as Rich has been under strict instructions from any and all of my doctors to keep all of my medications out of my reach (like that of a toddler) ever since I began to abuse my use of prescription drugs several years ago. 

I thought I was okay with all this because this medication was not considered an antidepressant as I have made it super clear to every new Psychiatrist I’ve encountered over the past many years, whether it be in a hospital setting or in a Doctor’s office that I no longer wish to be prescribed any more antidepressant drugs, EVER, after experiencing the excruciating side effects they had caused both my body and mind over a period of several years of trial and error which ultimately led to my diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression.

So I thought I was okay with all this. 

But by Sunday morning when I awoke to another pill sitting by my bedside table which Rich had left there for me to take, I suddenly realized that I was not okay with it and by Sunday evening those feelings turned to rage as I went frantically searching throughout the house for his hiding spot in hysteria (he had stepped out of the house for a half an hour and I saw it as my golden opportunity).

To be honest though, I’m not really even sure what I was trying to accomplish had I found my stash of pills (including sleeping pills which I was also prescribed and has actually been helping me to get some sleep) but I became inconsolable and in that very moment all I could think of was finding the pills so that I could finally unburden Rich of me once and for all.

I didn’t find them.

It’s now 1:30 AM Tuesday morning as I write this. I could be fast asleep by now had I already taken my new sleeping pill that is sitting by my bedside table but instead I’m lying here in tears, scared and feeling like I don’t want to continue with our agreed upon plan, none of it. 

I’ve been laying here in the dark for hours just staring at the pills which Rich left by my bedside table deciding whether or not to take them. And the demons in my head are dancing around claiming their victory (kinda like the Liberal party in Canada is doing right now as well).

I did eventually shut down the demons bantering just long enough to take them. But I’m not okay with all this, even if I know in my heart it is for my own safety and for the good of my health.

#emotionallydefeated #cantdothis #imaburden #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #depression #anxiety #panic #mentalillness #mentalhealth #treatmentresistantdepression #medication #itsokaytonotbeokay #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough

Jackpot

Ten years ago today I was heading home from an appointment which happened to be right across the street from a casino. 

A little voice inside of me convinced me to make a quick detour inside. 

I didn’t frequent casinos, I’d never even been to Vegas (but I have since though). 

I went inside and looked around. I found a two cent slot machine that looked enticing. 

I sat down and placed a twenty dollar bill in the machine.

Moments later the unthinkable happened and suddenly people were gathered around me, cheering and shouting in excitement. I was in shock. 

I’d just hit the $10,000 jackpot.

There had been no strategy or skill involved whatsoever. It was just pure luck. 

Over the last many years I’ve felt a darkness looming over me. I tell myself that it must be true; bad things happen to good people. 

Life throws us curve balls sometimes; it’s our difficulties that help us learn and grow and build resiliency but right now it’s so hard for me to see that.

Instead my brain tells me that I don’t deserve good things, that my life has no meaning or purpose. 

Even though my heart tries to remind me daily that I hit the jackpot long before I walked into that casino ten years ago today. 

#jackpot #badluck #Goodluck #mentalhealth #casinos #youareenough #vegas #familymatters

Update

* Content below could be very triggering for some people. Please do not read if you feel it could be of harm to you’re own mental well-being * 
 

The other day I expressed myself as best I could in a post/blog about what it feels like to struggle with thoughts of suicide. (See blog: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/08/23/what-does-it-feel-like-to-be-suicidal/)

My head has been completely cluttered by loud and intrusive noises that won’t fucking leave me alone no matter how much I fight back. I’m in such a fog that I easily lose my train of thought mid sentence (and I even forgot my own address last night). I feel as though I am holding on by a thread right now. I am vulnerable and scared and I’m not sure how much fight I have left in me anymore. 

My heart knows how loved and needed I am but I just wish my brain could get on the same page. Words can not express my endless gratitude for the overwhelming amount of support I’ve received since my post the other day. 

Every message has been exploding with overwhelming kindness and empathy (the 2 greatest traits any human can have) and it warms my heart knowing how many people care about my well-being, feel inspired by my courage and enlightened by my honesty and truth. I’ve received private messages from people I haven’t spoken to in 30 years who understand what I am feeling and others whom I met just weeks ago.

I am especially grateful to one friend inparticular who literally dropped everything she was doing yesterday to sit with me for over 3 hours after I experienced a breakdown earlier in the day.

Last night though my pain got to be too much to bare and Rich drove me to emerg. I was in such a panicked state that I was certain I was having a heart attack. I have panic attacks often but this one felt different. Once ruling out that it wasn’t in fact a heart attack my hope was that they would give me a script for some Ativan which is used primarily to treat anxiety disorders, trouble sleeping and severe agitation. All of which have been causing my downward spiral. 

It is also extremely addictive. I know this first hand because a few years ago I had an extreme addiction to the drug. I’d started hoarding bottles of them from doctors and other inpatient treatment facilities. I had 100’s of them in my possession and nobody knew, not even Rich. 

I was no longer taking antidepressants at the time after more than 20 concoctions and lots of horrible and dangerous side effects led me to a further diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression. But Ativan wasn’t giving me those side effects. Instead it was numbing my pain and helping me sleep more. So I took more. I just loved the clouded feeling I was getting from it without all the added and dangerous side effects from the antidepressants. 

I finally fessed up and came clean to my Psychiatrist at the time when my kids began voicing their concern to Rich that they were nervous being in a car with me. By now I had been taking 8 to 10 pills at one time every day. I truly don’t know how I was even functioning or still alive.

Now back to last night. Rich took me to the emerg at the brand new hospital nearby our home. It officially opened to the public only 2 months ago. It is affiliated with our other local hospital and I sadly recognized several familiar staff from the amount of visits to their emergency room over the years.

It was very clean. The floors and walls still looked fresh. I wanted so bad to come on here today and give this new hospital a glowing review but aside from the clean floors and fresh coat of paint I can’t really say anything positive from my own personal experience, especially given the amount of emergency rooms I’ve been to before to compare to this one during a crisis (and potential heart attack!). Even when I’ve been stripped of my belongings and my dignity left on the dirty floor or had security guards practically sitting on top of me I’d still put this experience below them all.

I was there for close to 7 hours and I observed a lot. I heard a lot too as they would call patients to the nurse’s station to give them their results before releasing them and I was in a room right across from it all (wouldn’t it be smarter to go talk to the individuals in their rooms, we are still in a Pandemic I thought and really do I need to hear everyone else’s diagnosis?). One of my most concerning observations though was when they called a lady to the desk (who’s mask was not on properly and they kept asking her to fix) to give her a script for an antibiotic and puffer to treat her pneumonia and then proceeded to tell the woman “but I’m pretty sure you probably have Covid”. Did they not test her for it? Did they not tell her maybe she should self isolate?  Rich and I looked at one another in complete disbelief. SMH

Anyways back to my night which I returned home from just before 3am. I had an ekg and blood work done to rule out any issues with my heart. The doctor spoke to me about what else was going on at the moment as well including if I had an intended plan of carrying out a suicide. I was visibly shaken and he decided to give me an Ativan to calm me down and then he put in a request for their crisis team to come talk to me further.

We discussed my prior issues with Ativan which is clearly stated in my file as well as any other one of my doctor’s files who had once prescribed it to me. We also discussed how dangerous and addictive it is and that he would give me the one for now but was not comfortable giving me anymore to go home with. 

The crisis worker eventually came to talk with me by which time the Ativan had kicked in and I was physically and emotionally exhausted and my mind was shutting down while trying to talk to her. By this time, Rich had left to try and get some sleep for a couple of hours. 

The Crisis Worker asked me a whole bunch of questions, all standard to someone who is in crisis. Do you have a plan and what is your plan was her main concern and focus. The one positive of the night was that she had actually taken the time to go through my (lengthy) file before coming to talk to me so it saved me a lot of catching up on my history over the past 7 years. 

My hope was still for her to let me have a few Ativans to take home with me so I can try and get some sleep and numb the severe and debilitating anxiety and desperate plans of suicide I’ve been experiencing. And to hopefully lift some of the fog. She spoke with the doctor and came back with a prescription for 5 Ativan for me but then she quickly regretted her decision.

She made me promise I wouldn’t go home and take them all at once or go to another hospital to get more. She also made me promise that I would call and speak with my Psychiatrist today and her last promise she had me make to her was that and I quote “don’t do anything stupid”. I know she meant it very lovingly!

I slept for a solid 3 hours last night within minutes of getting into bed thanks to the Ativan. That is huge for me, like Super Bowl huge. I have not gone to the pharmacy yet today (or gotten out of bed for that matter) to fill the script which I promise I will hand over to Rich who has been the keeper of all my meds for years as I am not sure I can be trusted right now to be perfectly honest. But a promise is a promise.

If you or someone you know is in crisis please seek help immediately. 

#promisespromises #ativan #incrisis #suicidal #depression #anxiety #reachoutforhelp #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #newhospital #emotionallydefeated #yourmentalhealthmatters #mentalhealth #mentalillness #youmatter #youareenough

Embracing the Brace

We took a rest today from any strenuous hiking after our grueling 3 hour hike yesterday where Rich injured his knee, most likely when he went tumbling down the side of a cliff.

His injury from the fall further intensified any pain and tenderness he’s endured in his one knee for like forever; I’m talking long before the #summerofrich ever began.

For years now he’s complained to me about muscle strain in his knee but no matter how much I’ve tried, has refused to speak with his doctor about it or at the very least try wearing a knee brace while hiking or doing any other strenuous activity.

But today he finally relented and took his knee brace for a test drive and a leisurely stroll with Maggie as well.

I’m not quite sure if I’ve ever told you this before, but Rich is the most stubborn person I know!! However, being stubborn isn’t always such a bad thing because stubborn people are often known to embody “strongly-felt” emotions and care more deeply for others; characteristics of Rich’s I wouldn’t change for the world.

Do you love a stubborn person???

#kneebrace #musclestrain #freefalling #stubbornness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #Maggie #adogspurpose #exercise #physicalendurance #caresdeeply #selfcare

A Magic Carpet Hike

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?

A Whole New World:

#internationalselfcareday #magiccarpetride #awholenewworld #aladdin #disney #oursong #summerofrich #selfcare #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #hiking #nature #beinginthemoment #beauty #spiritualhealing #summerofrichadventures #lostinthemoment #youareenough

Panic in the Pool

This past week I’ve felt very on edge, well more than I usually do I guess you could say.

I am feeling more nervous than usual,  more tense, more angry and very uneasy. 

Today the build up led to a panic attack right in the middle of my morning aqua fit class. 

I love my aqua fit classes. I look so forward to it twice a week.

They are such a wonderful and positive distraction for me. 

I work my butt off in class and I feel such a great accomplishment afterwards but today, given the week I’ve had, I just couldn’t seem to distract myself.

I tried to quietly slip out of the pool so not to make a scene as the panic erupted (it’s not like I’ve never made a scene before though!). 

I felt the tears fill my eyes and I could barely breathe. Figuratively, I felt like I was drowning. 

I just needed a moment to myself. 

I reassured everyone I was ok (quietly slipping out of the pool didn’t work).

I wiped my tears away with my towel, took a few deep breaths, a big swig of water from my water bottle and then before I slipped back into the pool I double checked my phone to reassure myself one last time that the world wasn’t about to end.

Fyi: It wasn’t!

#panicattacks #aquafit #pooltime #selfcare #mentalhealth #anxiety #distractions #funinthesun #ilovetoswim #summertimeselfcare #floaties

Sleep Is A Bloody Nightmare

Yesterday I did an hour long aqua fit class in the morning and then went on a two hour long hike in the scorching heat later that afternoon. 

This sounds like the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep, right? Well apparently not for someone like myself whose anxiety and depression really don’t give a flying fuck how exhausted you are. 

By dinnertime last night I could barely keep my eyes open but as soon as my head hit the pillow, that dream of getting a good night’s sleep once again turned into a nightmare, an anxiety infused nightmare. 

I have found myself tossing and turning more and more lately and I can’t seem to find a comfortable place to lay my head anymore which is probably because my brain and subconscious mind are too damn busy gearing itself up for its long night of torture ahead.

Sleep is meant to give both our bodies and minds time to recuperate from the stresses of the day but for the better part of seven years now sleep has been one of my biggest hurdles toward recovery. 

As the night progresses and the house becomes more and more quiet is usually when the noises in my head become the loudest and most heightened. 

My brain never shuts off, even when I do fall asleep. I can easily go from any state of sleep to waking suddenly by a trigger or a rush of adrenaline where feelings of impending doom kick in to high gear, leading to a full on panic attack about something that occurred earlier that day or that a loved one may be in danger, or worse. 

Sleep can be truly exhausting 😪

#sleepdeprivation #sleeplessnights #tossingandturning #nightterrors #nightmares #depression #anxiety #exhaustian #suicidalthoughts #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mindfulness #impendingdoom #panicattacks #youareenough #youarenotalone #yourmentalhealthmatters

A Thirst For The #summerofrich

I had planned to give this as a gift to Rich for Father’s Day but (spoiler alert) I guess I just couldn’t wait that long, LOL!

I made it for him and in honour of him. 

So from now on whatever trails our #summerofrich adventures lead us to Rich will always be well hydrated with his new, “one of a kind”, personalized and insulated water bottle that will keep his drinks really cold and refreshing no matter how lost we may get or how hot it is outside.  

Every summer since its conception about five years ago now I like to give a brief synopsis of what #summerofrich is for any newcomers to my page who may be wondering what the heck it is exactly. 

It began with a simple exclamation one (very) early Friday morning at the end of June as we stood waving goodbye to our three kids as they drove away on the bus to camp for the next seven and a half glorious weeks (I actually think 2 of them were staff at the time and may have already left for camp, but not important!).

They were barely out of the parking lot yet when Rich turned to me with the biggest smile on his face and shouted “It’s the Summer of Rich”!, and wasted no time at all getting started. Our first activity on the #summerofrich agenda that year (and every year after that until last summer) was already scheduled for later that morning. We were off to the spa for pedicures.

The #summerofrich meant that he now had a seven plus week break; a well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break from the burdensome (I use that term, not him) role he plays as both mom and dad, chef, psychologist, schlepper, grocery bagger and much, much more for the other forty something weeks of the year; a role which he has so selflessly taken on for the better part of seven years now.

Last summer when the devastating (yes it was devastating to many) announcement came that overnight camps would not be running due to Covid-19 I thought for a brief moment that we should cancel the #summerofrich all together seeing as Rich would not be getting his well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break. Then I realized that we don’t have to cancel it at all, we just needed to pivot somewhat, after all we no longer had all three kids away for the summer anymore anyways.

And tada, the #summerofrich 2.0 was born. This past year we pivoted a lot due to Covid restrictions. And although our summers may not be as carefree as they once we’re, the #summerofrich has become an incredible outlet for the both of us. If you were to tell me 5 years ago that I’d be enjoying the great outdoors, hiking trails all over our beautiful Province of Ontario and exploring the beauty of nature I’d have said you were crazy.

It’s now become the perfect way to take care of our mental health, have fun and discover places we never imagined before. 

What a healthy outlet we have found to do together and I’m so glad that sharing our adventures brings so much joy to others as well. Hashtag #summerofrich has created quite a following!

I’m a planner and I love spending time researching and finding new and adventurous things for us to do. I take my job very seriously (hey, you never know but maybe one day we will even complete the entire length of the Bruce Trail, all 900 KMs of it!).

But most of all when we needed to pivot last summer, the #summerofrich 2.0 took on a whole new life of its own and has made many of our adventures that much more meaningful and memorable too. Our kids have even learned to embrace our passion in small doses, call it “Pandemic boredom” but hey, I’ll take it! 

Yes, the #summerofrich may have started out as a well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break for Rich during the seven or eight weeks that the kids were away at camp but it’s become so much bigger than that, so much so that as we pivoted this past year we also continued to discover even more adventures with every changing season.  Me and winter do NOT get along but if you add the hashtag #summerofrich next to it then count me in! (And it’s a good thing that his new water bottle can also keep his drinks nice and warm as well!!)

#twopointoh #learntopivot #insulatedwaterbottle #earlyfathersdaypresent #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #nature #hiking #getmoving #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #family #relationshipgoals