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
Famed children’s book author Eric Carle recently passed away at the age of 91.
His timeless classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (written in 1969) became a must have in my classroom library when I was teaching preschool age kids many years ago.
Once I had children of my own I began reading it to them as well from a very young age and it quickly became a favourite in our home.
When my kids got a bit older and I was no longer teaching preschool anymore there were a handful of children’s books which I had collected over the years that I knew I wanted to hold onto in hopes of one day passing them down to my grandchildren.
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is one of those books.
It is a whimsical and playful book.
It’s illustrations are fun and bright and captivating.
But it also has many meaningful and teachable moments between each page.
It shows us the importance of transformation and growth.
It shows us the importance of finding our true self.
It gives us hope.
It shows us that in time and with patience we will all find our way in the world.
It shows us that we are all unique and beautiful in our own special way.
And it shows us that we all have the capability to emerge from our cocoon, spread our wings and learn how to fly.
(Oh and it also reminds us that when we eat too much candy we will probably get a stomach ache!)
Thank you so much Joy for inviting me to share my journey tonight and to talk about the importance of educating both children and adults alike on mental illness and the stigma surrounding it on your “Wellness Wednesday” segment on Instagram Live. And for also giving me the opportunity to read my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” as well.
You are a true inspiration to so many and have such a magical way of spreading joy and kindness to every life you touch.
Please follow Joy’s Instagram page @mrsbiswatchingme for her daily dose of love and light.
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.
I’m struggling to stay motivated these days but if I’m to be completely honest here (which is something I always try to do in my writing), it’s been an ongoing struggle of mine for the better part of seven years now.
Living with depression for as long as I have, I’ve become really well versed in what I am supposed to do to feel more motivated and even though I may try and practice many of the strategies and tools I’ve been given in order to do so, I more often than not find myself unable to focus or concentrate or stay on track for very long because, well in all honesty again, depression is very strong-willed and always seems to find a way to kill my motivation, distract me from my day to day tasks and completely suck away all of my mental and physical energy.
I just finished reading a book titled “So-Called Normal” by Mark Henick. I have been following Mark’s story for quite some time now and was very much looking forward to the release of his new memoir.
The book captivated me from start to finish, I hung onto his every word, especially as I learned more and more about his life as a young boy and awkward teenager where he grew more and more depressed.
I was first drawn in by his story several years ago when I happened upon a Ted Talk he did where he discussed the importance of talking about suicide and stigma after he had several attempts at suicide during his formative years.
His Ted Talk is now among one of the most watched Ted Talks around the world along with the story of his suicide attempt at the age of 15 that went viral after he began searching for the “faceless man in the light brown jacket” (available on YouTube) many years later who had so bravely and selflessly saved him from jumping off a bridge in his small town in Nova Scotia where he lived (he now resides in Toronto with his wife and three young children). It had not been his first suicide attempt but it thankfully did become his last.
Some may argue that reading a book about suicidal ideations and suicide attempts could be triggering, maybe even give someone like myself some new and innovative ideas on how to kill myself. But it’s not at all. In fact it’s just the opposite.
For starters, noone needs to put these ideas into my head; trust me when I tell you that they get in there all by my own doing and noone has ever put these ideas in my head; ever.
After Mark’s final suicide attempt he set out on a mission to prove to his High School’s administration team that by sharing his story with his peers was not going to encourage someone to attempt suicide if they weren’t already thinking about it in their own mind but could instead bring other’s hope. By not talking about it can and will just make others with those same thoughts in their head feel even more alone.
Since that fateful day back in 2003, at the age of 15 Mark has not stopped talking. He has kept sharing his story over and over again to platforms on both a National and International scale and has since turned it into both his passion and life’s purpose.
It’s probably what I have admired most about him for so long now and even more so since reading his story in full. He is so inspiring and has such strength and resilience which is why I felt I needed to share his story with you all.
With every page I turned or new chapter I read I began to feel more and more motivated to continue sharing my own journey; because if truth be told, my very strong-willed depression has been telling me alot lately that I should shut up and just stop talking.
There was one paragraph in particular that really stood out for me and really made me truly understand how important it is for me to keep motivated and to keep talking. It came about 3/4’s of the way into the book when Mark himself began questioning whether or not he too should continue sharing his story, the same story he’d been telling audiences all over the world for many years by now. It was on that day when someone said to him: “It might be your hundredth time saying it, but it’s probably someone else’s first time hearing it.” that he knew he couldn’t stop talking. Yup those words really resonated with me, like a lot.
Maybe now, after reading his book I can also find the strength and motivation to follow up with Mark from our last conversation we had back in September when he had reached out to me to be a guest speaker on his Podcast “So-Called Normal’.
At the time I was feeling quite intimidated by him, afterall here he was living his best life and making a difference in so many people’s lives and here I was just days past yet another visit to the emergency room feeling very suicidal and my strong-willed depression had me second guessing what I could possibly have to offer his audience.
But after reading his entire story in great length, I now know that he still has days where he struggles too or other days where something may trigger him as well, but he has learned through sharing his story that he can get through those urges and that gives me hope and a much deeper understanding of just how truly motivating it can be.
Today is the 11th Annual Bell Let’s Talk Day. To date Bell’s Mental Health initiatives have raised more than 25 million dollars towards various programs and research projects by contributing 5 cents every time someone in Canada sends a text message, makes a phone call (Bell users only), tweets #BellLetsTalk or creates a Tik Tok video using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, views one of their videos on any of their social media platforms or uses Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame and Snapchat filter today.
Their message this year in the wake of Covid-19 is simple; “When it comes to mental health, now more than ever, every action counts.”
So if you can take a moment today to talk, text or tweet (etc) #BellLetsTalk it really could make a difference in someone’s life and remember that every action taken is one step closer toward ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Our words matter, our actions matter and our mental health matters more than ever before and by simply showing a kind gesture to a friend or loved one who is feeling depressed today or by listening to a child who may be feeling super anxious and unsure right now or by asking a coworker or neighbor how you can help them because they are feeling extra stressed are just a few of the many ways that you can let someone know that they are not and that it’s okay to not be okay.
**If you would like more information on how to get a copy of my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” please feel free to message me directly. All proceeds from any book sales made between today and Sunday will be donated to #BellLetsTalkDay initiatives. And for more helpful tips and tools on mental health and self-care practices or to learn how Bell Let’s Talk initiatives have been impacting groups and communities all across Canada for the past 10 + years please check out their website @ https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/our-initiatives.
Did you have a favourite blankie or stuffed animal growing up? Did you sleep with it every night and take it with you everywhere you went? Did you feel a sense of panic if it was suddenly out of your reach? Was it loved so much that it became “real”?
One of my favourite children’s books growing up was “The Velveteen Rabbit”, a story that I passed down to my own children when they were very young hoping they would fall in love with it as much as I did and one day I hope that my grandchildren and great grandchildren will too.
The story was originally published in 1922 but it never seems to grow old. It’s a story of a young boy who receives many presents one Christmas morning including a beautiful stuffed Velveteen Rabbit. But the boy doesn’t take to the rabbit right away as he had so many new and shiny toys to play with all at once, until one day his nanny grabs the Velveteen Rabbit off the shelf for him to sleep with.
The rabbit had longed for this moment and had only one wish in mind which was to “become”. And “become” he did. The boy grew so attached to the rabbit that eventually “most of his hair had been loved off, his eyes dropped out and his joints became loose and very shabby”. It was at that moment that the Velveteen Rabbit knew he had finally become “real”.
As a young child I had my own “Velveteen Rabbit” only he wasn’t actually a rabbit but instead a fluffy gray haired dog who wore a big red plaid hat atop his head. Throughout my childhood and into my transition into adulthood that stuffed dog gave me a great sense of safety, predictability and comfort; something I know millions of children around the world during this past year have looked for more than ever before.
He “became” so real that his fur was also loved off, his eyes dropped out and his joints became loose and shabby too. He lost his big red plaid hat at some point over the course of my childhood and my grandma replaced it by knitting him a special red and white bow to wear around his wobbly neck to keep him warm.
His name was Sniffer and he saw me through the worst of times in my life and the best of times as well (he even made a surprise appearance at my wedding thanks to my brother!). A stuffed animal like Sniffer who becomes “real” are so much more than any old toy in a child’s toy box because when they “become” they teach a child about compassion, they teach a child how to love and they can teach a child to be gentle towards others. They also open up a world of imagination and pretend play for a child by giving them a name, a voice and a personality.
Sniffer did all that and more for me and nowadays he sits comfortably on a shelf in my closet as he is pretty old and fragile. He is also pretty much the only memory I have left from my childhood (a story for another time and place) so I will never just toss him away.
Just knowing he is there if ever I need him gives me a sense of comfort and ease in an anxious moment. His sentimental value is also both soothing and calming in times of distress. I guess sometimes we all just need a trusting hug or cuddle from an old familiar inanimate object to give us a feeling that we too have “become” because once you “reach that point then no matter what happens to you, you can always be true to yourself” too.
Did you have a special toy or object that brought you comfort? Do you still have it today?
CAMH (which is Canada’s leading hospital in Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Research) has developed a new campaign that focuses on today by giving hope for a better tomorrow.
I feel like I am knee deep in quicksand today and I find myself drawn in by this video. Hearing the words “Not Suicide. Not Today.” repeated over and over again may not seem like much to some people but for someone like myself who is struggling to breathe right now as the quicksand pushes me deeper below the surface and my thoughts of suicide keep urging me to end my life, listening to these words are serving as a gentle reminder that maybe it’s not actually my life I wish to end but just my life in this very moment instead.
“Not Today” means not now and “when we all say ‘Not Today’ together, it’s easier to say it when we’re alone.”
I’ve attached the video below for anyone else who may need to hear these words today too 🤗❤
Thank you for always supporting my journey and reminding me “Not Today”.
“Then gradually day by day my life began to change. And the mommy I once knew and loved became very sad and strange.”
This could be any one of our children’s voices. It wasn’t too long ago infact that this was my own children’s voices being echoed after finding themselves scared and unsure while struggling to cope with and understand their feelings as they watched their mother become a stranger in their home.
Covid-19 has added an immense amount of pressures and liabilities on millions of parents and families alike and many more are now finding themselves struggling with their own mental health issues, especially that of Anxiety and Depression.
I’ve said it many times before how my children were the inspiration for writing my book. It was through their strength and resilience that I was able to find a way to share their voices with other children who may also be in need of the comfort in knowing that they are not alone while learning to cope with their own feelings and to understand that they are safe, loved and most of all not to blame for their parent’s illness.
“Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go? is not only a heartwarming story of one family’s journey but it’s also a voice for millions of children everywhere.
A big thank you to Founder @silkenlaumann (four-time Canadian Olympian Rower) and @unsinkablestories for sharing my story with your audience.
Unsinkable is a Not-For-Profit Organization whose mission is to “connect and empower people to achieve better mental, physical and spiritual health”. They “share stories, amplify voices and offer a community of support, resources and programs built with your wellbeing in mind”.
Feel free to follow them and their youth chapter (@unsinkableyouth) on Instagram and Facebook where my story is also featured: https://weareunsinkable.com/finding-my-purpose/
Here is my story below!
FINDING MY PURPOSE
It’s been a pretty bumpy few weeks for me which kind of feels like being on a roller coaster of emotions with many steep slopes and sharp twists and turns and has caused me so much pain and anguish leading to a mixture of scary and intrusive thoughts. The thing is though, I’m used to it by now because you see, I’ve been on this same roller coaster ride for the last six and a half years which equates to 2,372 days, 56,928 hours and approximately 3,415,680 minutes (so it’s no wonder why I feel nauseous all time).
It began on a beautiful Spring day in early April, 2014 when I headed out the door for work that Friday morning. It started out like any other seemingly normal weekday, but by five o’clock that afternoon my entire world came crumbling down and I have been trying to put the pieces of my life back together ever since.
That Friday morning, April 4, 2014, I was doing what I had been doing for several months; heading to a job that I hated. A job that made me doubt my self-worth. A job that made me uncomfortable. A job that made me question my integrity. A job that made me compromise my morals. A job that made me feel unsafe and a job that made me feel like I no longer had any purpose. Ok so it wasn’t so much the job itself that did all that, but in actuality it was a boss who did.
I was so excited when I started working for him earlier that year and I thought I had finally found a job that I could build into a thriving career but instead I fell head first into his trap (stupid, stupid me) and on April 4, 2014 after he asked me to do something that I felt was both morally and ethically wrong I packed up my belongings one last time and high-tailed it out of there. I got into my car shaking and completely terrified and by this point in time, completely broken and defeated. I drove around for hours on end as my entire family and many of my friends frantically drove around the city looking for me because the last thing I did after I left my office that afternoon was text my husband telling him I wanted to kill myself before turning off my phone.
It was on that day that I lost my will to live. It was on that day that I became overwhelmed and hopeless. It was on that day that I felt worthless. It was on that day that I realized I was a failure in every sense of the word and it was on that day that I discovered just how much of a burden I truly was. Something inside of me snapped that day or so it might’ve seemed like at the time, but what I didn’t know then was I had truly been suffering in silence for a very long time and didn’t even know it.
I have since learned so much about myself through the help of my wonderful therapist (who I have been seeing now for almost 3 years on a weekly basis) as I slowly began to delve further into my past with her and I now have a much greater understanding of my pain and suffering.
I’ve come to realize over the past few years through my weekly therapy sessions that many of the regrets I’ve had in my lifetime or the wrong paths I should never have taken or the lack of empathy and guidance I had during my formative years led me to that very moment. Over time these emotions built up inside of me and finally broke me that day back in April, 2014 which very soon after, led to my diagnosis of Major Depression and Severe Anxiety and a roller coaster of a journey toward Mental Wellness ever since.
My journey has been long and burdensome which has included daily thoughts of suicide, several attempts of suicide, numerous hospital stays (one of which was over three months in length). I’ve tried over twenty different concoctions of medication, all of which caused severe physical and mental side effects and a weight gain of 100 pounds, at which time I needed to stop taking traditional medications all together and was further diagnosed with Treatment Resistant Depression.
I completed 8 sessions of ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) back in 2015 during a hospital stay which proved to be unsuccessful and has left me with memory loss and other issues as well. Some other attempts at treatment have also included Ketamine through a clinical trial, Neurofeedback, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and the list goes on and on.
During my very first hospital admission back in the fall of 2014 I began to journal daily and I fell in love with it. I’d forgotten just how much I loved to write as a child and teenager and eventually through my writing I started to share my story on Social Media which I eventually turned into a Blog called YouAreEnough. Right away I received an overwhelming amount of support by so bravely sharing my journey and it has allowed me to identify my purpose along the way.
I’ve been given a voice (one that I do not take for granted) to help others understand that Mental Illness is not a weakness and has also allowed me the opportunity to become an advocate for change and help reduce the Stigma that still surrounds Mental Illness today.
Continuing to share my journey on a very regular basis has felt triumphant and has shown so many individuals that it’s okay to not be okay, giving them permission to start important conversations themselves about their own struggles with Mental Illness. My story has also allowed many individuals and their loved ones some much needed strength and courage to ask for help and to feel less alone.
Last summer I took my love of writing and my passion for helping others one step further by self-publishing one of my pieces of writing into a children’s book which helps guide parents, caregivers and loved ones how to help children cope with and understand their feelings when someone they love is suffering with Depression. It is titled “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” and it’s a labour of love. It’s a story that affects millions of families each and every day, including my own.
My children are now 22, 21 and 18 years old but six and a half years ago when I first became ill they needed more than anything to know that they were not to blame in any way for my illness and that they were safe and loved no matter what. The story was written (in rhyme) through the eyes of a young girl who like millions of other children may need to hear that they too are not to blame for their loved one’s illness and that more than anything, they are safe and loved no matter what, which are the three vows I promise to keep to my own children until the end of time.
Everyday is a learning curve for someone like myself and their loved ones when battling a Mental Illness and finding the right strategies and tools to help get me through the difficult moments in my day and reach mental wellness are imperative. I have had to accept the fact, as difficult as it is to follow through with sometimes, that taking care of myself first and creating healthy boundaries will help to minimize many of the stressors in my daily life.
Self-Care is not selfish, in fact, it’s selfless. I have learned that for me self-care includes writing, journaling, taking bubble baths, going for long walks, finding a safe place when I am feeling unsafe, always keeping open communication with loved ones as to my thoughts and feelings and having a great therapist to talk to on a regular basis who can give me important tools and resources to help with my daily struggles.
These strategies and tools allow me the strength to continue to fight but there are many, many other ways for individuals to make self-care an important part of their daily lives as well and below are just a few more to add to my list above: Regular exercise Proper diet Practicing good hygiene Getting a good night sleep Escaping in a good book Staying away from drugs and alcohol Reaching out to a loved one
Bio: Kim Fluxgold lives in Vaughan, Ontario with her husband, 3 children and her precious dog. She is a Blogger, the Author of the children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” and Mental Health Advocate. You can continue to follow her journey at: youareenough712.wordpress.com or on her Instagram (www.intstagram.com/kimfluxgold) and Facebook pages. If you would like more information about her book please email her at email@example.com.