To me family is always having someone in your life who has your back and sees your shortcomings yet still loves you unconditionally.
Family is showing love and support for one another even through the difficult times and having a strong connection with others who want nothing more than to lift you up and inspire you to be the best version of yourself.
Family is having a feeling of security, unity, acceptance and a mutual respect and understanding.
Being part of a family doesn’t have to mean that you are related by a bloodline or always having to share the same interests or opinions with each other either; it just means that you always feel a sense of belonging, a willingness to embrace your differences and the ability to value them no matter what.
“Love isn’t about how often you say I love you, it’s about how much you can prove it’s true.” ~ unknown ~
It’s easy to say I love you, they are just words; people can tell you anything they believe you long to hear but it’s their actions that will truly tell you everything.
There are many different kinds of love we will experience in our lifetime but just remember, that no matter what, the only kind of love you ever deserve, is the kind of love that doesn’t come with conditions, prerequisites or agendas attached to it.
I had a very restless and “catastrophic” evening last night. Somewhere between 10pm and 11 I began to have a panic attack of “catastrophic” proportions which soon morphed itself into an anxiety attack and lasted until the wee hours of the morning.
But if it weren’t for a few of my many incredible friends who just so happened to be checking in with me around that time, I’m not sure how I would have ever gotten through last night. They listened to me and distracted me with their own antics and funny memes well into those wee hours of the morning.
I am both incredibly lucky and grateful to have so many amazing people in my life who simply want nothing more than to be there for me no matter what, who don’t keep score, who always know how to make me laugh through my tears, who continue to make me feel empowered and who would unselfishly be there for me until the wee hours of the morning.
Two years ago today I wrote a blog called “What A Catastrophe” which just so happened to show up in my memories on Facebook this morning and I thought I would share it with you all again (and for anyone who may have missed it the first time) after the “catastrophic” night I had. It describes in length just how quickly a depressed and anxious mind can turn anything into a catastrophe in a matter of seconds, sometimes without any warning and often without any real triggers either.
After last night and with very little sleep, I knew that I needed to find an outlet today and definitely a change of scenery. One thing that has been a tremendous source of emotional wreckage for me lately has been the lack of time in the great outdoors. I really hate winter, like really really hate it but I have also really missed my long walks every day and hiking every weekend since the change in weather hit and so today I faced the dreaded winter air head on and went for a long and very challenging hike with Rich and my girls (Jacob was working but I’m pretty sure Football would have won over a hike either way).
The weather was perfect (I could have worn a t-shirt lol), the sun was shining so brightly on us and it felt like we were in a winter wonderland. It’s the moments like today that I hold deep in my heart and it’s moments like today that I need to imagine during my next big catastrophe. And who knows, maybe we can even start a new tradition.
I don’t remember the last time I was home alone for more than maybe an hour since mid February which is well before Covid-19 hit; and sadly there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight right now.
Over the last month both my depression and anxiety symptoms have made me feel even more overwhelmed and vulnerable than ever and my thoughts of suicide have become more and more vivid as well which has left me urgently begging for a break from all of the day to day chaos that has been erupting behind the scenes at home.
So first thing this morning Rich and the girls headed up north to spend the day with friends at their cottage (Jacob worked all day and then went to his baseball game), leaving me home ALONE for the whole day and night! And even though I had 2 appointments previously scheduled for this afternoon (one being the always enjoyable Mammogram) that I needed to go to I was still able to spend most of my day just being mindful.
I went for a long walk in the morning, I ate whatever I wanted (Fyi: Mac & Cheese for supper is still one of the best comfort foods around), I read, I did some writing, I went to both of my appointments and I enjoyed some much needed & very peaceful “me time”.
For the last 6 years I have felt as though I have failed as both a parent and a partner. I have spent all these years feeling like a burden to my family and I am consumed by guilt day in and day out. I blame myself for every bad thing that happens to the people I love and cherish the most and no matter how hard I try I feel completely worthless almost all of the time.
Me wanting and needing to have just one day to de-stress a bit and spend a day by myself so that I could try to loosen the noose around my neck (it’s a figure of speech!) seems selfish to some and probably makes me look like a bad mom and wife to others but I keep trying to remind myself how important self-care is (remember you should always put the oxygen mask on yourself first on an airplane) and even if one day won’t make everything better, it’s certainly a great place to start. And I’m pretty sure from the sounds of it that today was a pretty great day for some much needed rest and rejuvenation up north as well.
I’m going to go now and enjoy my last few hours of alone time while I get ready to watch “Big Brother” and “Married At First Sight” which are my Wednesday night favourites.
Do you ever feel like you have failed as a parent or as a partner? Does it consume you with guilt? Shame?
Today we got an early start to the day and drove up north (Jacob joined us for dinner after work 🧒) to spend the day at our friend’s cottage, something very familiar to us by now as we have been going there since our kids were very little.
Today’s visit came at a time when getting away from it all was critical for me as I mentioned the other day (Blog “Give Me A Break”; July 13, 2020). I have desperately needed to take a Mental Health break and a change of scenery is certainly a great benefit for your mental health.
Getting away from it all, even for the day can significantly help reduce your level of stress and calm your mind; and spending the day outdoors in the warm summer sun by the water, listening to the sound of the waves rolling by is definitely a perfect way to relax your body as well (and spending time with loved ones is just an added bonus).
So tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be turning 49 so no big milestone or anything of the sort but still it’s a birthday nonetheless and birthdays are meant to be celebrated.
Age has never been a “thing” for me and to be honest it still isn’t, not even as reality sets in that in 1 year from now I will be leaving my 40’s behind forever and entering into a whole new decade.
Yet for more than half of my birthdays in my 40’s, up to and including tomorrow, the anticipation leading up to my birthday and the actual day of have been super hard for me. For many people living with Depression, birthdays are hard enough to deal with but the thought of spending your birthday in quarantine adds a whole other layer of sadness and anxiety to the birthday blues. And what’s overwhelming me even more about my birthday this year are the extraordinary expectations that have come along with having a Covid-19 birthday celebration.
Millions and millions of people have celebrated their birthdays in quarantine already, both young and old alike and I’ve heard the same sentiments echoed from so many who have said that it was one of their best if not the BEST birthdays they’ve ever had.
Whether it’s the parades of cars driving by their home, the zoom parties, the serenades of happy birthday being heard from miles away, the bouquets of balloons and gigantic signs set out on their front lawns letting everyone in the neighborhood know that it’s your birthday, the homemade cards and giant cookiegrams being made with extra love, the presents left for them by the curb (who doesn’t love presents) and the extra meaningful and socially distant visits on their driveways have all helped turn an otherwise somber birthday into the most beautiful of days.
It sounds pretty picture perfect doesn’t it? I mean like just knowing how far your loved ones are willing to go in order to make sure that your already very memorable birthday does not go unnoticed is super awesome, right? But what if the pressure to make an otherwise somber birthday the BEST one ever is just simply too much for you to handle right now?
About a month prior to the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic I had registered my family to participate in a Walk for CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) in support of #MOBYSSinmotion; a confidential mobile Walk-in-Clinic for Youth and a wonderful resource for our young people who may be facing crisis right now.
CMHA has played an important role in my life over the last 6 years and I had donated some proceeds from my book sales last year as a thank you for the services they provide to both adults and youth in Canada which was why I wanted to participate in the event and why I didn’t want today to go unnoticed so I found a picture perfect place for us to enjoy a beautiful hike on our own in honour of the walk/run/bike event since it was of course cancelled.
Oh and I should also mention that it was 5 months ago today since I had my last cigarette!
I received another shipment of “Class of 2020” lawn signs (over 200 to be somewhat exact). As last week wrapped up and I could barely see straight anymore and was feeling extremely vulnerable and overwhelmed I went to bed that night with a promise to myself that I had taken my last order. I tried reminding myself that delivering close to 600 lawn signs over the course of one month was an incredible feat (with several drives that were close to an hour North, South, East and West of the City) and I even tried to convince myself that I should be very proud of what I have accomplished by raising over $8000 for Kids Help Phone to date; and then before I knew it, morning had come.
You see, I have a very hard time feeling like anything I ever do is good enough, worthy enough or just plain old enough. And I also have a very hard time saying no, I want to say no, and I often need to say no but the guilt of saying no can far outweigh my ability to set healthy boundaries even if it means that I’m compromising my own mental and physical health for it.
I went to bed that night having set several healthy boundaries in my head. My plan was clear as day, I was not going to take anymore orders; no matter what!!! I needed to focus my energy instead on wrapping up my project and on the upcoming delivery, which included mapping out a very clear and concise plan as to how Rich and I were going to conquer the current deliveries with as little conflict as possible. I had also been preparing those who inquired about Grad signs last week and even part of the week prior (before I knew that I was going to appear on the evening news) that if they wanted to place an order they needed to confirm with me by Sunday evening because I would no longer be accepting orders after that (month end).
I know we can’t always please everyone and that creating healthy boundaries can help ease some feelings of guilt but when I woke up Monday morning and my inbox already had another dozen or so messages from parents and loved ones of a “Class of 2020” Graduate wanting to lift their spirits I just couldn’t say no.
Each sign I have sold has come with its own unique story and I have had the privilege of hearing many of these stories about so many AWESOME “Class of 2020” Graduates and many stories have also included how much Kids Help Phone has played an important role in their lives.
I wish that when I do say no that I can do so without guilt of course but also without feeling like I have to always apologize for saying no, or explain myself for saying no or feel like I’m being judged for saying no or that I’m letting others down for saying no and besides all that; didn’t Nancy Reagan teach us that it’s okay to “Just Say No!”?
Two years ago on Mother’s Day I Chose “Me” and for the first time since becoming a mom twenty years earlier I did Mother’s Day my way that year and it was the best day ever.
I planned the entire day’s events for just the five of us (if I’m gonna choose me I better make sure I’m doing what I want to do!!!) which included a gorgeous hike in the Niagara Escarpment, a picnic lunch in the park that we packed ahead of time, some cross Border shopping in the U.S of A and then we finished off the day before heading back home at one of my favorite restaurants in the States that closed down in Canada some 10 years earlier (I think it’s closer to 15 years by now).
This year Mother’s Day is going to look and feel a whole lot different for most of the world (that is if your part of the world actually celebrates Mother’s Day this weekend!) and when I reflect back on Mother’s Day two years ago it’s amazing and terribly dispiriting all at the same time to see that even if we wanted to we couldn’t replicate one single activity tomorrow from that day.
We won’t be able to go hiking as all of Ontario’s beautiful Conservation Parks are closed, we won’t be having a picnic in the park because it could cost us a hefty fine of $800 if we do, we won’t be crossing the Border into the U.S of A because well the Border itself is temporarily closed (thank goodness!!!), we won’t be able to stroll through a mall for our new summer wardrobe because well the malls are also closed (and who needs summer clothes anyways, it’s fucking snowing in May) and lastly we won’t be able to dine in at one of my favorite restaurants either (I wonder if Uber eats is allowed to cross the Border??🤪).
Well even though we may not be able to partake in one single activity from that Mother’s Day two years ago we are still lucky enough to be able to spend the whole day together, just the five of us (whether we like it or not right now lol). We are also lucky enough to still be able to create new memories to look back on from that Mother’s Day we spent in quarantine because of “that” deadly Coronavirus Pandemic. But, as we do one day reflect back on this Mother’s Day in the years to come I hope we will also remember it as the year that the world learned to be even just a little more grateful for all the richness that we have in our lives and that it was also in that same year the world learned to slow down and appreciate the little things in life that we once took for granted.