*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.
Many of you probably saw the pics I posted last night.
Our whole family out for dinner celebrating Rachel’s 19th birthday; the first time in a very long time.
Everyone smiling, laughing, eating, drinking, taking selfies and being present in the moment.
But the pictures didn’t capture everything. They just caught a glimpse of it.
What they didn’t capture was the very real and very painful reality of my illness. The reality and pain that follows me wherever I go no matter what the occasion is, especially lately.
My illness loves to suck the joy out of any occasion to be honest, even the happiest of ones.
By mid afternoon yesterday I could feel my anxiety becoming more and more intense and my sadness building deeper and deeper.
There was no reason for it really. None. Nada. Nil. Zilch. But my illness will tell you otherwise.
By the time we got to the restaurant and settled down at our table I had reached my breaking point. I was so completely overwhelmed with emotion.
Rich could see the build up happening from across the table but it was too late.
Just looking at the menu became incredibly burdensome.
There was nowhere for me to hide.
I did everything in my power to stop it from escalating into a full blown panic attack. I took several deep breaths. I reminded myself that everything was okay, that everyone was okay. I looked around the table and heard the sound of laughter. I noticed the biggest smile on my birthday girl’s face.
But none of that seemed to matter because moments later the panic erupted and before I knew it I was inconsolable. All eyes were suddenly on me.
My kids were left wishing they could somehow crawl under the table. I was left feeling like the worst mother in the world.
There was no reason for any of it really. None. Nada. Nil. Zilch. But for some reason my illness felt otherwise.
I’m in survival mode right now but I promised myself yesterday that I would treat this weekend as a “time-out” so today Rich and I went on a 3 hour #summerofrich “Fall Edition” adventure chasing several waterfalls, hiking up and down very rocky terrain, jumping through huge puddles, wading in creeks, walking along muddy trails and enjoying the beautiful landscape, change of seasons and the quiet and calm that surrounded us (except for maybe when we encountered 2 individuals who were wearing bright orange reflector vests and carrying a rifle).
We completed about 10 kms of the 28,000 km Trans Canada Trail which stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Artic Ocean. Only 27,990 km left to go!
We made it back to our car just as the skies opened up and drove part way from Bracebridge to home in torrential downpour but that didn’t stop us from making a pit stop at Webers to pick up dinner for tonight.
The rain eventually let up and we made it home just in time to shower the mud and sludge off and watch Martina Ortiz Luis (I’m obsessed) belt out our National Anthem to a stadium filled (well half filled) with loyal and very excited Leaf fans who have waited more than 18 months to see the puck drop at home. Go Leafs Go. Go Jays Go.
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.
To be honest I am feeling very triggered right now ever since I came across this revelation earlier this morning because in my mind I don’t see myself as a wife deserving of appreciation, I just see myself as a burden to everyone, especially my spouse.
My memories on Facebook this weekend have been flooded with one of the most incredible nights of my life two years ago when I was invited as the Guest of Honour at a launch party for my new children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?”. I was surrounded by so much love and appreciation.
One of the memories that came up today happens to be the speech that Rich gave that night. I’ve read it probably ten times already this morning as I try to battle with the demons in my head who keep telling me that I’m not worthy of the love and commitment and appreciation others have for me, especially my spouse.
I wanted to reshare those words with you today that were so eloquently spoken from the heart by Rich, to me, his wife in hopes that the demons in my head get the message!
P.S. For all of you reading this who have an imperfectly perfect wife, make sure you remind them today, tomorrow and forever how thankful you are to have them in your life; I may not always believe it but I am certainly one of the lucky ones because Rich never stops trying.
As most of you know I am by no means the writer in our home and my press secretary has been busy working on her own speech all week, so here goes nothing!!
I first met Kim when she was just 18 years young and she began working at the video store I was managing in Thornhill. She caught my eye right away but unfortunately there were MANY challenges standing in our way. Besides the fact that she had a boyfriend at the time and I was busy fending off some lovestruck sociopath, I was now her boss as well, but those didn’t even come close to the biggest challenge we were facing. Ya see, I was close to 9 years older than her (8 years, 7 months and 16 days to be exact). And now that I have 2 daughters of my own who are in and around that same age I can TOTALLY see that challenge from a very different perspective!
But with a combination of male ego, unyielding determination, mixed in with a spoonful of testosterone sometimes you just have to say Screw It and ignore what the haters may think or say and just go for it! By now Kim was just shy of her 20th birthday and had this been in some medievel time she would have likely been considered an old maid already so I saw this as my golden opportunity. But I am still waiting for that dowry!
We recently celebrated 24 years of marriage this past spring and have 3 beautiful kids to show for it, one of whom is busy drinking his way through Europe with some friends as I speak. And like in every marriage or as every parent can attest to there will always be challenging times along the journey which for us surfaced 5 and a half years ago when Kim first took ill.
I have known Kim now for 30 years and have watched her grow and change in so many ways but one thing that has never changed in all the years I have known her is that she has the kindest heart, and she has so much determination and so much will. I know that Kim no longer sees these incredible attributes within herself because of what depression has taken from her but lucky for her there are so many people in her life who love her enough to ensure that she can see what an incredible person she truly is.
I am so proud of you Kim. Jacob, Hannah and Rachel are so damn proud of you too. You may not see what we all see in you but I will keep reminding you of it every single day for the rest of our lives. You may not see that what you do for so many people by writing your blog and opening up to the world about what it truly feels like to battle with major (and treatment resistant) depression and SEVERE anxiety and panic every single day. You may not see how your vulnerability and honesty has helped so many others feel less alone and you may still not be able to call yourself an author and believe it to be true but you are an author, I mean City TV interviewed you for the six o’clock news last night if that isn’t proof enough!
But you know why you are an author…because you had a vision, because you have such a creative soul, because you are so kindhearted and because you have such an unyielding determination and innate will to help others. You have accomplished more than so many others because of all that. You have made your dream come true even through the darkest days of your life. You have found your purpose.
Look around the room tonight Kim and see all the love surrounding you, they aren’t just here for the free food and drinks! They are here to celebrate you!
Jacob Hannah Rachel and we can’t forget Maggie (our dog) and I love you to the moon and back! And now without further ado…let me introduce to you, my beautiful wife and best friend.. children’s author Kim Fluxgold!
I have spent the better part of the past few days since my visit to emerg trying to process everything while still desperately figuring out whether or not I even have the strength anymore to keep going.
The Psychiatrist who was assigned to my care the other day was a very special and very rare find as far as any encounter I’ve ever had with a Psychiatrist in an emergency room before. He went above and beyond anything I have ever experienced during a visit to emerg and trust me when I say I’ve had my fair share of experiences.
You see, it’s very difficult to advocate for yourself when you don’t believe that you are worthy enough or deserving of.
Knowing how overwhelmed I was feeling and knowing how hard it is for me to even complete the simplest of tasks (scheduling appointments being one of them), Rich took it upon himself to help jump start the process of self-advocacy the very next morning, starting with making a follow up call to my GP’s office on my behalf, hoping that she could somehow escalate an appointment quicker to see my Psychiatrist.
That’s when he learned that the referral he’d requested 3 weeks earlier in order for me to make an appointment with my Psychiatrist because I hadn’t seen him in over a year had never been sent out.
She had been on vacation that week but Rich was assured it would be sent as soon as she was back in the office the following week.
Upon learning the disappointing news that it had never been sent out, Rich was assured again the other day that it would be taken care of right away. He waited a few hours to give my doctor’s office some time to fax it over and then he called the office of my Psychiatrist to make me that appointment. They still hadn’t received the referral and still would not make the appointment without it even though I was already his patient but just hadn’t seen him since last year when the new treatment I was scheduled to begin the week of March 15th 2020 was abruptly cancelled due to ya know, a Pandemic!
Feeling frustrated and desperate and very impatient by now, Rich said screw this bullshit and sent an email directly to my Psychiatrist himself to explain what’s been going on.
Within a few hours of sending him the email my Psychiatrist answered Rich’s pleas and copied his two assistants on the email asking that they schedule me in for an appointment to speak with him after hours the very next day on Zoom.
So late yesterday afternoon, feeling emotionally drained from the past few days and hungry from fasting all day being that it was Yom Kippur I finally reconnected with my Psychiatrist. A true gem and another rare find.
We spoke for the better part of an hour where along with Rich’s input a new plan was put into place immediately including a plan to pick up where we had left off last year and have his assistants schedule a first appointment at one of his other clinics to begin the treatment I was to start in March of 2020.
There have been many changes to the treatment’s protocols and the actual administration of it as well and not just due to Covid but several other factors that have come into consideration since then while conducting many clinical trials. The treatment itself has also evolved as well due to more and more research and scientific discoveries.
I’m still really overwhelmed and mentally exhausted right now to say the least and filled with so many mixed emotions today.
I’m so appreciative and grateful though for all the incredible support I have in my life (especially you Rich 💚), even if I may not feel worthy enough or deserving of it.
Fact: Most people who take their own life don’t really want to die, they just want to stop hurting.
So then what is the alternative when your pain is just too unbearable to handle and you feel so hopeless? Or helpless? Or empty inside? Or you can no longer live in the skin you’re in?
These are all questions I’ve asked myself over and over again for many years now. I’ve attempted suicide before and every time there has always been a voice inside my head begging me to stop or telling me that perhaps today may not be the perfect day to carry out my plan afterall and then they silently pray that I haven’t gone too far this time.
The last few weeks have been some of the most trying and horrifyingly scary days for me and for many of my loved ones as well.
I have been consumed with active thoughts of suicide, day and night and way more than usual. That voice inside my head has been watching me closely, as have the demons as well. The voice has been listening to me come up with a perfect plan and doing everything in its power to distract me from the demons in my head who keep egging me on while dangling a bottle of pills in front of its face.
Yesterday felt too much, once again. I knew I felt unsafe and Rich could sense it. He asked Hannah to drive me to the hospital as she was the only one home with me at the time. I did what I’ve had to do many times before when the pain is just too unbearable. When I feel most hopeless and helpless and empty. I seek safety.
The emergency room doctor I spoke with was kind and supportive. She put me on a Form 1 which panicked me and meant that I could not leave the hospital for my own safety which also meant having security guards standing outside the room I was in for my own safety.
After spending some time with the doctor she put in a request for the Psychiatric team to come talk with me further and figure out a plan.
The Psychiatrist was a gentle and very understanding soul. We talked in length about what’s been going on, some of my history and of course whether or not I should be admitted to the Psych floor for further observation.
Here’s where things get more complicated for me and besides the panic of having my phone taken away from me while in-patient this is where I begin to tell myself again, it’s hopeless because I’m helpless.
I have not been on meds for my depression for several years now. They have not worked for me, all twenty plus of them. Infact most of the meds caused further damage both mentally and physically.
From my experiences with in-patient Psychiatric care it mostly comes down to medication and finding a balance that could potentially help me find my balance. I won’t do it again. I tried for many years and it just led to a further diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression.
Since my last visit to emerg a few weeks ago (where I thought I’d give the new hospital close to my home a try, but never again!) I have been waiting for an appointment to see my Psychiatrist I’d been with since before the Pandemic began. In fact it was March 15th 2020 that I had a scheduled appointment to see him and for him to begin a new treatment with me. It was cancelled and I just stopped going. I got anxious about going especially to the one hospital in Toronto that was consistently on the news for the amount of Covid outbreaks they were having.
It’s now been over a year since seeing him, so I needed my GP to fax another referral to him. I haven’t heard anything as of yet and as I began to spiral even further over the past few weeks since my last visit to emerg I stopped caring because the hopeless feelings, the helplessness, the emptiness made me believe there was just no point anymore in trying because aside from all the medications, I’ve also tried probably 50 other types of treatments as well. You name it, I’ve done it. So why would this treatment be any different?
Well the Psychiatrist I spoke with last night came up with a plan with his team for me regardless of me telling him I’m helpless because he was certain that I’m not. He also told me that whenever I feel like I did yesterday or days previous that I am always welcome to come in just to sit in a quiet room and speak with their team and just get through the moment.
He made me promise to continue to reach out to my safety net as well when I am at my breaking point. He also said something to me that I haven’t been able to get out of my head right before he agreed to cancel my Form 1 and release me from the wolves standing on guard outside my door.
I had told him during our initial conversation how I have found purpose in writing and blogging and educating people on mental illness and advocating for others who are just like me to do whatever is needed to seek care. He told me it’s a wonderful thing that I am doing for others, and very selfless and important and much needed work but he then said “But now it’s time that you start advocating for yourself as well”.
This he said, includes (with the help of Rich and my GP) that I get in touch with my Psychiatrist immediately to reinvoke our plan from last year and that I make sure to follow up with my GP on the plan he will be forwarding to her today as well for her to distribute a new anti-anxiety medication to me and to refill the sleeping pills he gave me which Rich will once again be burdened with to keep in a safe place and distribute them to me.
Thank you all for your continued love and support. My apologies for not getting back to each one of you individually who took the time once again to comment on my posts or send me words of encouragement to me privately. I am overwhelmed right now and allowing myself to heal today in private.
As ere of Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar) begins this evening I am praying to find forgiveness within myself and will take this time to reflect on today in order to find the beauty in tomorrow.
Another school year is about to begin (well here in Ontario that is).
Another school year in the midst of a Pandemic and now kids and parents are once again facing those same fears, stressors, uncertainties and anxieties they did at the start of the last school year (but maybe a bit wiser).
Parents are worried about their children’s health and if they will be safe in class or how long it will be until they receive that email from their school board letting them know that schools are shutting down ONCE AGAIN.
And many, MANY kids are feeling those same worries as well which is making the transition back into the classroom this year even more trying on their mental health and wellness.
Here are some tips that I wanted to share with you on how to try and make this year’s transition a little bit easier.
Get back into a routine, especially with your older kids.
But give them time to adjust.
Change can be very scary.
Help them lay out their clothing, knapsacks ready and lunches made all the night before if possible. The less chaos there is in the morning the better.
Check in with your child(ren) regularly. Daily, if not more. Ask them questions. Listen intently.
Let them know that what they are feeling is okay and that you are there for them.
It’s been a very LONG time since many children have even seen the inside of a classroom or a school yard.
Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared and nervous.
Reassure them that they are not alone.
The unknown of what’s to come can sometimes be the hardest.
None of us truly know for certain what is going to happen this coming school year.
Promise them though that you will get through this together.
Focus on what is in their control right now.
Watch out for any sudden changes in their behaviour.
And lastly, if your child is dealing with any type of mental health issues, communicate this to their teachers or caregivers right away.
Working together from the start will help to ensure that your child’s needs are met and that their feelings are always validated and hopefully it will ease whatever bumps in the road that may lie ahead feel a bit less scary for everyone.
Wishing all the teachers, caregivers, administrators, parents and students a safe and successful year ahead.