Be Your Own Best Friend

“Noone is judging you harder than you already judge yourself.” ~ unknown

This is me in a nutshell.

It’s led me to feel defeated, hopeless, worthless and emotionally scarred for more than seven years now. 

I’m my own worst enemy. 

We all make mistakes.

We all experience failure.

We all have shortcomings.

All we can do is try our best to be our best.

We are only human.

We are all imperfectly perfect.

We should treat ourselves the way we would treat a best friend.

However, first I need to learn how to forgive myself, how to trust in myself more, how to see my full potential, how to be kinder and more compassionate with myself, how to be the loudest cheerleader in the room, how to be my biggest fan, how to embrace my flaws, how to stop judging myself and how to love myself unconditionally.

After all that’s what best friends do for each other.

I need to become my own best friend.

Are you your own best friend?

#beyourownbestfriend #loveyourselffirsst #unconditionallove #selfworth #selflove #selfcompassion #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness 

Good Mental Health is a Balancing Act

I’m overwhelmed. 

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Good mental health is a balancing act. 

It takes a lot of trial and error. 

I know my weaknesses.

I know my limitations.

I know what makes me happy. 

I struggle to accept help from others.

I struggle to set boundaries. 

I struggle to say no.

I’m overwhelmed.

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Balancing one’s mental health is “learning to find a way to do the things we have to do and the things we want to do without changing the hours in the day.”

I can’t find my balance right now. I’m tired.

I’m feeling hopeless.

Quick to anger.

Anxious.

Guilt.

Sadness. 

I’m an organizer, a fixer, a multi-tasker. 

But I can’t concentrate.

My brain is scattered.

I can’t complete a simple task.

I’m overwhelmed. 

No I’m like freaking beyond overwhelmed right now. 

I’ve reached my tipping point and I’m finding it real challenging to keep my balance in check.

Good mental health is a balancing act. 

It’s not something that can be achieved in a day.

My mental health depends on it and so does my mental wellness.

I’m deserving of both. So are you. 

But it may take a lot of trial and error in order to get there. 

How do you balance your mental health and wellness?

#mentalhealth #mondaymotivation #mentalwellness #depression #anxiety #balancingact #overwhelm #vulnerability #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #selfcare #hopelessness #suicideprevention #blogger #trialanderror

ATHLETES ARE HUMAN BEINGS TOO

Earlier this week, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka announced her decision to withdraw from the French Open. 

In doing so she has opened up some very important and very necessary conversations that need to be had. 

Athletes, whether in College or on a professional playing field are put on a pedestal, made to perform to perfection and always expected to be at the top of their game. 

That kind of pressure can certainly take its toll on anybody’s mental health and well-being, even that of a professional athlete. They may be our heroes but they are also human. 

I give Naomi (who at 23 years old is wise beyond her years) a standing ovation for her courage to step away from the podium and look after her mental health. A decision I’m sure that was not made easily. 

Why is it that when an athlete gets hurt on the ice, or on the field or on the court they are given all the time they need to heal but when their injury is invisible to the world they are criticized and made to feel as though they are weak?

Naomi is here to show the world that our mental health matters too.

Her courage to take a stand and step away from the podium for now in order to take care of her mental health and knowing that it could potentially destroy her career in doing so, I have no doubt in my mind that she is going to come through this stronger and better than ever.

She is showing the world that it’s okay to not be okay and that by choosing herself over her career, asking for help when needed and creating healthy boundaries in order to begin the healing process that she is a human being first; a perfectly imperfect one just like the rest of us.

*I’d like to give a special shout out to Nike and Mastercard, along with several other corporate giants who have sponsorship deals with Naomi for not hesitating to show their loyalty and support to her. Their statements to the press praising Naomi for her courage in sharing her struggles with depression and social anxiety boldly acknowledges that our mental health does matter. Thank you for standing with Naomi. I couldn’t agree more. 

#naomiosaka #tennisanyone #tennis #grandslam #frenchopen #mentalhealthofathletes #athletes #professionalsports #endthestigmatogether #yourmentalhealthmatters #nike #mastercard #sponsorships #mentalwellness #selfcare #mentalhealth #depression #anxietyisreal #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok 

After The “But”

As my “Class of 2021” graduation initiative comes to a close this week I will have sold AND delivered over a thousand lawn signs since it began last spring and raised over $15,000 for youth mental health. 

During this time I’ve been blessed to meet so many amazing and kind people, some of whom I now call my friend. 

I’ve also made some incredible connections along the way. 

I’ve started relevant, much needed and VERY important conversations. 

And I’ve listened as many others have shared with me some of the most heart-wrenching struggles they’ve faced or are currently going through with their own mental health or that of a loved one. 

Overall this has been one of the most purposeful, meaningful and rewarding experiences of my life, especially knowing that I have helped bring smiles to so many faces (both young and old alike) and maybe even brightened up their day. And it also feels really good knowing that in some small way I am helping to make a positive change for our young people today.

BUT, (and there is always a “but” with me), there have also been many, many days throughout this process where the overwhelm of what I do behind the scenes and the hours upon hours I’ve spent making sure that my campaign is the greatest possible success takes a gigantic toll on my mental health. 

And this past week while already feeling vulnerable and defeated has been no exception. 

As many of you already know, I was placing my final order to go to print earlier this week. This included a sign for someone who had literally contacted me last weekend only hours prior to my twelve midnight cutoff. 

We ended up having a friendly chat back and forth for a good hour during which time she chose which sign she wanted to purchase for her son who is about to graduate grade 8 from the same elementary school that I attended, she gave me her address for delivery and before we signed off for the night (which was now midnight) she asked me if it was okay if she sent me her payment in the morning. I said sure, not a problem.

So, in good faith I put her order through with the rest of them first thing the next morning which she knew I would be doing. After our friendly chat the night before I saw no reason not to trust that she would pay me as she had promised (which I’ve done before for others).

Several days lapsed and my shipment would soon be arriving for delivery (which it did this afternoon) and I still had not received her payment so I followed up with a friendly reminder (people forget or get busy etc., I get it) and as though it was no big deal she told me that she had decided that she didn’t want the sign anymore and could I cancel her order. Like WTF! 

She knew I was placing her order first thing the next morning.

Did she just think the sign and me would miraculously disappear?

Did she not think it would’ve been a nice and simple courtesy to let me know she had changed her mind at some point before I would have possibly delivered it to her?

Does she not have a conscience?

Did she not care that the money from the purchase of the sign was being donated to charity?

In case you’re wondering, I confronted her and asked her those exact questions and guess what; she didn’t care! I’m sure you’re not surprised “but” I trust too easily I guess.

It really set me back even though this had been my first time experiencing this during my entire campaign so I guess that’s pretty good odds eh?

I was really trying through all of my upset and anger to remind myself of all the positive experiences I’ve encountered talking to well over a thousand people over the course of my campaign “but” instead there I went right down the rabbit hole again.

I wish that the word “but” didn’t even exist in my vocabulary and that I could finish both my thoughts AND sentences before the “but”; “but” it always feels like an impossible task. 

By connecting a sentence or statement with the word “but” for me is kinda like deflating a balloon with a sharp object. 

Those words before the BUT, you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones where I praise myself, see my strengths and acknowledge all the good I try and do for others just end up feeling completely meaningless. 

“But” I will argue that I have a really good excuse for it, I swear I do!

Or at least that’s what my depression and anxiety seem to want me to think.

#afterthebut #depression #anxiety #suicideawareness #gradsigns #mentalhealth #classof2021 #graduationday #stayathomeorder #lockdown #forouryouth #ouryouthmatter #campaign #initiative #lawnsigns #kindnessmatters #itsoktonotbeok #bekindtoyourself #selfcare #letitgo #selfdoubt #justbreathe #startaconversation #endthestigmatogether 

SUICIDE CAN BE A SILENT KILLER

*It may be triggering to some*

I’ve been really struggling a lot this past week and it’s been a struggle to write this. 

I get triggered easily. 

When you suffer with chronic depression and daily thoughts of suicide as I do, triggers are very common and sometimes they may even occur through positive life events as well.

I don’t always know what triggers my downward spirals or even feel them coming on sometimes but this past week I am very much aware.

A few days ago I was told of not one, but TWO tragic stories of suicide, within a span of one hour. 

They were both someone’s father, brother, son, friend and husband. 

Hearing these stories and then quickly realizing that I knew one of the individuals who had taken his own life from when I was a teenager has all been too much for me to process.

It’s hit my surrounding community very hard and it’s hit very close to home. 

The more I learned about the pain and suffering of these two men and as more and more tributes began to fill my Social Media pages of the man I once knew, talking about what a truly amazing human being he was, the more numb I became. 

I saw myself in him. I felt every ounce of his pain and suffering. I’ve attempted suicide before. I could’ve been him. I could be him. Many of us could.

There are warning signs of an individual who may be considering suicide,  (https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior) but we want so much to believe that “it” won’t actually come to that place. But it does and sometimes there may not even have been any warning signs at all, leaving loved ones completely blindsided on top of their pain. 

Suicide can be a silent killer. What happens when there aren’t any warning signs? What happens when someone is too afraid to speak their truth because of the stigma attached to it? 

Suicide is still very much a social taboo. It’s also very hard to predict at times and very often it can be spontaneous or impulsive.

Sometimes it’s just easier for an individual to not talk about it. I have thoughts of suicide almost daily. I talk about them, but not always. The thoughts will often enter my mind when no one else is around, when I’m feeling most vulnerable and I think to myself, maybe now would be the perfect time?

We may think someone is okay.

Everything looks great to the outside world (and to the social media world of course). They may want you to think that because what you often see or what you want so badly to see is their happiness and excitement from a promotion they just got at work, or the upcoming vacation they booked that they had been dreaming about forever, or a wedding proposal from the love of their life or the all nighter they just pulled studying for a big test the next day or maybe they just received an acceptance letter to the post-graduate program at a prestigious University they’d waited their whole life for.

Living with a mental illness and suicidal thoughts is real life to so many. We need to continue to break down the barriers that may prevent someone from seeking proper care and treatment. We must let others understand that mental illness is a real illness and that it’s not a failure of personal strength or character. We must not forget to check on our strong friends and we must create safe, nurturing environments for everyone in order to break the silence.

My deepest sympathy and condolences go out to the families and loved ones who have been affected by the tragic loss of both these men. They are in my thoughts and my heart ❤.  

If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out to a mental health professional or confidant for help immediately.

#checkonyourlovedones #checkonyourstrongfriends #yourmentalhealthmatters #suicideisasilentkiller #suicide #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #mentalillness #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillnessisreal 

And That’s A Wrap 😥

Last night I watched the series finale of “Mom”. 

I, like millions of its viewers was not ready for it to end. 

I’ve been watching “Mom” every Thursday night (and in reruns) since its first episode aired 8 years ago. 

The show centered around a group of ladies from all walks of life who develop the most unlikeliest yet deepest of friendships and the most unbreakable bonds brought together by one common goal; sobriety. 

The writers of “Mom” spent time building this strong and very relatable group of characters and brought us along on their unique journeys, cheering on their many triumphs and saddened by their many setbacks with new storylines each week depicting the real-life struggles of people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction; something so many of their fans could relate to and a very relevant and critical mental health discussion today. 

This has rarely been seen before in a half hour sitcom but “Mom” managed to do so by sensitively tackling very difficult topics and using humour to keep the audience coming back for more. 

It gave us an inside look at what recovery looks like.

It showed us that recovery is never a straight line.

It showed us that recovery is a lifetime journey.

It taught us to persevere.

It taught us that we all make mistakes and that it’s okay to fail sometimes.

It taught us to keep getting back up again after we fall down.

And it taught us that there is always a “solution”.

I often found myself relating to so many of the storylines and felt such a strong connection to my own mental health journey. 

These ladies taught me the importance of sharing my story and to keep on sharing it again and again.

They taught me about forgiveness. 

They taught me about hope. 

They taught me that life is filled with endless possibilities. 

They taught me that recovery is possible. 

And they taught me that with the right people in your corner you will never be alone.  

I’m sad it’s over and I had a good cry during the closing scene. I’m really gonna miss seeing these ladies each week at their AA meetings and coffee dates afterwards where they shared more than just a piece of pie. It’s where they celebrated “love, friendship and laughter” and it’s where I always felt like I had a seat at the booth right there alongside them.

#momfinale #alcoholicsanonymous #addiction #friendship #triumphs #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #theresalwaysasolution

First Shipment

The first shipment of my “Class of 2021” Graduation lawn signs have just arrived and I couldn’t wait to install the very first one on my own front lawn and show off how proud I am of my “Awesome Grad”.

And thanks to the incredible generosity and support of so many families and friends in the community (and beyond) I have sold close to 200 signs thus far and I am looking forward to delivering each and every one of them to so many other “Awesome Graduates” and proud family and friends. Just knowing that we are all working together to achieve the same goal of helping all children and adolescents in the GTHA have better access to more affordable and attainable Mental Health services and supports that they so deserve warms my heart. 

It also just so happens that today is “National Child and Youth Mental Health Day” (May 7, 2021) so what better way to celebrate today than to help brighten up our neighborhoods, start some caring, stigma-free conversations in the community and let young people everywhere feel seen, heard and supported. 

If you would like to honour a very deserving “Class of 2021” Graduate in your life or help make a difference in the lives of so many other young people who may be feeling vulnerable and alone right now please email me at: youthareenough@gmail.com. 

*Proceeds to be donated to Youth Mental Health programs*

#nationalchildandyouthmentalhealthday #childrensmentalhealthawarenessweek #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #strongertogether #payitforward #mygraduate #middlechild #proudmama #classof2021 #ouryouthmatter #endthestigmatogether  #graduationday #youareenough #staysafe #empowerment #empathy #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #suicideprevention  #suicideawareness #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones

National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week: Let’s Change The Conversation Today

Each year the first week of May is recognized as National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week. It’s probably pretty obvious by now that I don’t need any excuse what so ever to raise awareness about either one of these two mental disorders or tell you how important it is to talk about the potential impact they can have on someone’s ability to function in their daily life. 

Depression and Anxiety are the two most common of all mental health disorders and over the course of this past year have become increasingly more and more debilitating to so many people’s lives. 

But then why is there still such stigma attached?

Why do so many people feel a sense of shame and guilt when it comes to their diagnosis?

Why is it still so hard for someone to open up about how they are truly feeling?

Well as someone who has probably heard it all by now, I get it, I get why so many people are afraid to open up about how they are feeling because I too have felt the impact of the stigma surrounding my illness too many times to count and I too have felt the shame and guilt that often comes along with my diagnosis. 

It’s important to remember that having a mental disorder is not something that a person chooses to have, they are actual medical conditions and need to be treated with medication and/or therapy; and that no one should ever have to justify their feelings to anyone. 

But too often the person who is suffering with Depression and/or Anxiety are left having to defend themselves against the actions and words of others. And even though their intentions may be coming from a place of love or out of deep concern for the individual who is suffering, those words or actions can end up doing more harm than good and leaving someone feeling attacked or hurt when we dismiss or minimize or deny or compare their feelings.

So can we all make a fresh start today and change the conversation? 

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety to “snap out of it”, “try harder” or to simply “cheer up”. 

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering  with Depression or Anxiety that they don’t look or sound “sad” or “depressed”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that everyone has “bad days” or that a lot of people “have it much worse”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that “it’s all in your head” and that they are acting “selfish”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety to “take a long walk” and you will feel better. 

And let’s never again tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that they just need to “think positive” and “happy thoughts”.

Let’s change the conversation today.  Somedays my life truly depends on it and I know that I’m not alone. 

#changetheconversation #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #checkonyourlovedones  #startaconversation #empathy #dontsufferinsilence #endthestigmatogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #bekind #whatdoesmentalillnessfeellike #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters  

Our Youth Matter

I feel so grateful by the overwhelming response I’ve received in the past few days since launching my Class of 2021 grad sign campaign. Wow! The heartfelt messages of support and sincere words of appreciation for taking on this project again this year to honour our most deserving graduates yet is just beyond words.  

One of the organizations I wish to support in this year’s campaign through the generosity of your donations is “Phillips House”; home to North York General Hospital’s child and adolescent outpatient programs.

The redeveloped (and first of its kind in Canada) 15,000 sq. ft. Georgian-style mansion, located near the hospital has been transformed into a serene, healing space that promotes health and wellbeing. Their outpatient services and day programs focus on the treatments of mood disorders, ADHD, substance abuse, eating disorders and other mental health conditions.  

I first learned of Philips House by a mom I was introduced to online several years earlier who has since become one of it’s main contributors through her group called “The Maddie Project”. 

“The Maddie Project” is a volunteer based organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the mental health needs of children. They focus on ending the stigma surrounding adolescent depression and help to make mental health services more accessible and affordable to adolescents in need. 

“The Maddie Project” is named in loving memory of Maddie German Coulter, the daughter of the mom I spoke of above who lost her battle with depression in 2015 at the age of 14. Through the amazing commitment and support of the community they have raised over 3 million dollars to date which helped build “Maddie’s Healing Garden”, a 1.2 acre green space that now surrounds “Phillips House” and provides patients with a calming, natural setting for therapy, meditation and physical activity. 

Maddie’s story really touched my heart deeply. At the time of her death my 3 kids were all very close in age to her and it really hit home. I could feel the pain and sadness of her family, of her friends and of her community at large but as someone who struggles every day with chronic depression and understands just how unforgiving it can be, I felt her pain most. She was a young, beautiful, energetic, bright shining light with so much life ahead of her but I am grateful to “The Maddie Project” for continuing to shine her bright light on our community through healing, education, advocacy and giving hope to all the other “Maddies” out there.

I will be placing my order in a few short days so if you would still like to purchase a graduation lawn sign or make a donation to help make a difference in the life of a child or adolescent who may be feeling vulnerable and alone right now or in need of some extra support during these most difficult days still ahead please contact me today at: youthareenough@gmail.com.

Thank you again for all your kind words, continued support and encouragement throughout my campaign and throughout my journey itself. 

*Don’t forget to keep spreading the word!*

Please continue to follow my journey at: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com.  You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and my Facebook page youareenough123. 

#phillipshouse #themaddieproject #northyorkgeneralhospital #graduationday #grads #classof2021 #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #suicideprevention  #suicideawareness #checkonyourlovedones #lawnsigns #2021grads #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #payitforward 

Focus on the Road Ahead

I took this picture of Maggie yesterday afternoon. 

All I focused on in that moment was capturing the perfect shot of her cuteness overload which I did, even if my pleas to her to smile pretty for the camera were ignored over and over again.

I couldn’t wait to share the pic with Rich and the kids in our private family group on Snapchat. 

But later that evening something other than Maggie’s cuteness overload kept pulling me back to this picture.

I couldn’t put my finger on it right away but then suddenly it hit me.

Suddenly the picture took on a whole new, deeper meaning. 

Suddenly I saw past her cuteness overload. 

Suddenly I was fixated on a much bigger picture. 

Suddenly my mind shifted gears.

For much of my illness over the last seven years I have found myself focused on the past. 

I wish I could change a lot of things that happened to me in my past but I can’t, no one can.

At least though I have learned from my past.

So as I took a deeper, more meaningful look at the picture of Maggie as she stared mesmerized out the front window of my car I suddenly felt my presence in her place in that moment and that maybe my desperate unanswered pleas to get her to look at the camera and smile for mommy was by no means an accident.

Maybe she wasn’t actually ignoring my pleas at all but instead along with all that cuteness overload, deep down inside she was there to remind me in that moment just how desperately I too need to stay focused on the road ahead.  

My recovery depends on it.

There has to be a reason why the windshield is so big and the rearview mirror is so small? Right?

Afterall it’s not what you leave behind that truly matters, it’s where you’re journey is headed next that does. 

#stayfocusedontheroadahead #beinthemoment #adogspurpose #shesmorethanjustadog #infrontofyou #rearviewmirror #theroadahead #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #myjourney #blogger #author #advocate #snapchat #pictureperfect