I’m feeling beyond overwhelmed today when I probably should be feeling excitement and joy knowing that in just a few short hours I will have the honour of witnessing my eldest nephew (who was the ring bearer at my wedding 26 years ago) marry his beautiful Bride-To-Be.
As you all know by now the past ten (plus) days have been some of the most trying and challenging days of my journey and my self-worth has sunk to an all time low.
I have next to zero self-compassion left in me and I have no clue whatsoever how to be kind to myself.
But I have learned the art of how to fake it til I make it in social settings.
I have learned the art of smiling through my depression and anxiety in social settings.
And I’m pretty good at engaging in some great conversation too.
Somewhere along my journey I have mastered these skills and learned how to present myself as “normal” in social settings, but I also know by now how much confusion this often presents for others.
In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me how great I seemed while in a social setting I’d be a very rich lady by now, but for now I just have to take it as an opportunity to open up important conversations (let’s never forget the many faces of Depression that Robin Williams and so many other famous people wore).
The truth is I may present myself in many social settings that way because I never leave home without my mask on, metaphorically speaking; and trust me when I tell you there have been plenty of bathroom stalls I’ve had to hide in while in the midst of a panic attack or worse, been in a fit of hysteria amongst a crowded room.
This is what scares me most about how I am feeling right now. I’ve been so vulnerable lately that even the most joyful moments will have me running to the nearest bathroom stall or worse.
Anyone living with a Social Anxiety Disorder knows how I am feeling today even though everyone experiences it in different ways, but no matter if you feel awkward engaging in conversations, entering a crowded room, making eye contact with strangers, going to a party or giving a speech in public most individuals with a social anxiety disorder have an overwhelming fear of being judged, embarrassed or becoming the center of attention; and many more, like myself will then spend days or even weeks afterwards depleting even more of their mental energy with negative thoughts, ruminating about how we presented ourselves in thus situation.
For now though I am just trying to focus on the moment, take as many deep breaths as needed and practice my grounding exercises (oh and have my CBD oil on hand at all times too). My mask, metaphorically speaking will be ready for whatever social distancing I may need tonight. And I know that no matter what, my family will be by my side just in case I need an extra layer of protection.
Do you ever feel like you’ve had “one of those days?”
I’m pretty sure you know what I mean right?
We’ve all experienced those days where no matter what, nothing seems to go your way.
Your day may start off seemingly “normal” but then something unexpected or presumably unwarranted happens which leads to a chain of events that quickly spirals into “one of those days”.
I kinda feel like I’ve been living “one of those days” for seven years now though and this week was no exception.
We can’t control everything that happens to us but on many of “those days” I keep trying my best to find a way to survive them.
I posted a pic yesterday on social media which many of you reading this may have seen. It captured the essence of a picture perfect afternoon I’d spent with a couple of friends boating at the lake and smiling through Depression.
What it didn’t show was how I almost didn’t go.
Like one of my friends was literally sitting in my driveway all ready to pick me up to head up north to visit our friend’s lake house for that picture perfect day on the water and I was frozen in panic.
All because of the chain of events which had started early morning the day before and continued into the wee hours the next morning when Maggie suddenly became ill in the middle of the night; just adding insult to injury.
It had been “one of those days” where nothing felt right. I’d just spent the previous 24 hours angry, panicked and crying and it was now trickling into the next day for me.
But I chose to go. I went knowing that if I stayed home I would be giving up even more control of my emotions which is something I absolutely hate feeling more than anything. That feeling leaves my judgment very clouded.
I knew I couldn’t change the events of the day before and that by going I was both acknowledging and accepting that.
I also knew that it would be good for me to go and try to get out of my head, even for just a few hours. I needed to go in order to prove to myself that I can be in control of some of my emotions and that I actually have the power to do so.
What do you try and do to take control of your emotions when you are having “one of those days”?
I started following a group on Facebook called “Ontario Hiking” soon after its conception last spring that has really helped me to find many new and exciting places to explore on our #summerofrich adventures.
It is run by Lauren Yakiwchuk who spends so much of her free time exploring our great Province and blogging about her personal experiences along her trails.
This group offers many fun and interactive experiences, great tips, lots of beautiful photos and so many helpful and honest reviews of places all over Ontario, some of which are very close to home for me and many more that are hundreds of kilometers away.
Throughout the last 4 years since the #summerofrich first launched (can you believe its been four years) I continue to add many new and adventurous places to my already very lengthy wishlist that I would love to explore one day.
It has become quite a long list and it just keeps on growing.
Each week I now refer to this wonderful and very informative group of close to 80,000 like-minded members who share my passion for nature, hiking and mental wellness in order to plan our day trips. **I was really hoping that this summer we could take a 5 day hiking trip to the most northern tip of our beautiful Province for my birthday but unfortunately there have been too many obstacles standing in our way this year.
One of the group’s most fun and interactive experiences I’ve enjoyed following most since the group launched last spring has been reading posts from other members who have participated in the quarterly hiking challenges.
These challenges occur every January, April, July and October. Participants are asked to complete 5 hikes (or walks) during that month. Once you have completed your hikes you can email the 5 locations you hiked during that month to a specific app in order to receive a “digital badge” for “bragging rights” and a chance to win prizes.
I decided near the end of June that instead of just following other members participating in the upcoming July challenge that I would join in on the #julyhikingchallenge for myself.
It’s not like we don’t hike several times a month anyways, especially during the summer and I knew that if I participated in the challenge for myself that it would push me (and Rich) on those days when one of us is just not up for it.
We both have such a feeling of accomplishment after our hikes and not only did we challenge each other in July to push through the 5 hikes, we surpassed the initial targeted goal and completed 7 of them instead. That for sure earned us both many bragging rights.
I just received my “digital badge” this morning via email for accomplishing the #julyhikingchallenge and although I may not have won any of the prizes this time around I feel like a baby bird today when they are first born and have no idea the power that their wings have or how determined they will become in order to learn to fly; and one day maybe even learn to soar.
Today’s post may have a very similar message to the one I wrote about Simone Biles yesterday but the more we hear these messages from public figures like Biles and Robin Lehner, the goaltender for the Las Vegas Knights speaking up and speaking out about their own personal mental health struggles the more we can begin to normalize it.
We can begin to see it as a sickness and not a weakness.
We can begin to understand that it’s okay to not be okay.
And we can begin to feel like we are not alone.
Robin shared a tweet the other day with his 97k followers where he listed the challenges he faces every day as a mental health warrior.
His statement was both honest and bold.
Suddenly there was a boomerang of retweets, giving his hundreds of thousands of followers permission to use his platform to open up about their own mental health challenges as well, which many, many did.
Many were everyday folks like you and I and others were from very famous or prominent public figures just like him, but either way it was truly inspiring to read so many honest and bold statements given by strangers who share a common bond.
Robin Lehner is a “Knight” in shining armour in my books.
So here goes mine:
Feel free to share your own statement too if you like 🥰.
Hi. My name is Kim Fluxgold and I have chronic depression, severe anxiety and suicidal ideations every day. I have a wonderful therapist who I see each week. Writing has given me purpose in my life by sharing my story and helping others feel less ashamed and alone. For over seven years now I have fought like hell to survive. I am forever grateful and truly blessed to have so much love and support every step of the way.
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?
By purchasing a hot/iced coffee or one of their camp day bracelets today, 100% of the proceeds will go towards helping to make a difference in the lives of our youth.
I loved camp.
I have so many amazing memories of camp.
My kids have been lucky enough to have also made so many of their own incredible memories from their years at camp too.
Camp builds leadership skills and confidence in kids.
It gives them courage and it teaches them resilience.
Resilience is a skill that we develop as we grow and if this past year has proven anything to us at all it’s that kids are so incredibly capable of being resilient beings.
Resilience is defined as “the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges or even trauma.”
Our youth have all faced varying degrees of stress, adversity, failure, challenges and even trauma over the course of the Pandemic.
As parents, teachers, caregivers or even camp counsellors, we all have a very important role in helping children develop the necessary skills to becoming resilient.
Acknowledging a child’s feelings, labeling their emotions, embracing their mistakes and failures, encouraging them to take “healthy risks” that may be outside of their comfort zone or teaching them valuable problem solving skills are just a few examples of how we can play a role in ensuring this skill is properly developed as they grow.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid stress in our lives from time to time but by giving children the skills and confidence necessary to become more resilient is definitely one of the best ways for them to cope with it.
Feel free to check out my blog below which I wrote a few years ago. It speaks volumes to what camp meant to me growing up and now my own children as well.
And don’t forget to drop by a Tim Hortons today (in Canada) to help “change a life one cup at a time”.
Metaphorically speaking, sometimes when we fall down we may chip a little.
Sometimes we may even crack.
And sometimes we completely shatter into a billion pieces.
Seven years ago I completely shattered into a billion pieces.
I didn’t even see it coming.
It happened so fast and it feels like every day since I have been desperately searching for a way to mend those shattered pieces of my life.
For the first few years of my recovery I believed that the only way for me to truly heal was to find my way back to the life I was living before I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety.
So much has changed in my life in the past seven years, some for the better.
But as I began to slowly try and pick up those shattered pieces of my life and put them back to where they were before, I realized it was an impossible task and then I began to understand something else, that even if it were possible, I no longer wanted to go back.
I’ve come to learn more and more recently about the Japanese artform called “Kintsugi” and how it seems to relate so much to my journey.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pieces back together using gold. It’s built around the philosophy that as we learn to embrace both our past and imperfections, we become more beautiful as a whole.
It believes that no matter how broken we may feel at certain times in our lives, healing is possible and that by embracing both our past and our imperfections we will find hope and new meaning too.
It also shows us that we are no less valuable just because we may have a few chips or cracks in us.
I have spent the last many years desperately trying to figure out ways in which to mend my shattered pieces and turn them into a work of art, something that could be more meaningful and even more beautiful than before.
Maybe, without even knowing it I have somehow already adopted many of the Kintsugi practices into my healing process along my journey by continuously trying to show the world all my chips, cracks and shattered pieces instead of hiding them.
Now all that’s left to do is add a touch of golden highlights in order to give me the strength to believe that even when life feels like its been shattered into a billion pieces there is always hope in finding a way to mend them.