Wife Appreciation Day

Today happens to be “Wife Appreciation Day”. 

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.

#wifeappreciationday #burdened #mentalhealth #mentalillness #mentalwellness #fromtheheart #suicideprevention #facebookmemories #triggers #childrensbook #appreciation #commitment #love #spouses

September 17, 2019

Good Evening

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 Never Leave Home Without My Mask, Metaphorically Speaking

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. 

#thisisthefaceofdepression #depressionhasmanyfaces #anxietyhasmanyfaces #puttingonmymask #depression #anxiety #smilingdepression  #socialanxietydisorder #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #inthemoment #startaconversation #weddingbells #ringbearer #happilyeverafter

Stresstember

Can you believe it’s September already?

September can be a very stressful month for many. It often means saying goodbye to the mindset of carefree summer days.

Add in so many uncertainties surrounding the Pandemic into the mix and this September could likely be even more challenging for many more.

If you feel more stress in September, YOU are not alone.

With the kids heading back to school, changes in routine, jam packed schedules, many unknowns, a change of seasons, shortening daylight hours; anxiety and overwhelm are certain to play a big role in many of our lives during the month ahead.

September is also “National Self-Care Awareness Month”.

Self-care knows no boundaries, unfortunately neither do anxiety and overwhelm.

Everyone can benefit from practicing self-care. It’s not SELFISH!

So take advantage of it in the month ahead and make self-care an important part of your daily routine.

Pay attention to how you are feeling.

Communication is key.

Healthy boundaries are imperative.

Practice being kind to yourself and tell your guilt to fuck off.

How do you prepare for Stresstember?

How do you ease back into a routine?

What is one thing you look most forward to in September?

***Leave your emojis in the comments as to how you are feeling about the month ahead.

😖🥸😞😇

#September #stresstember #nationalselfcareawarenessmonth #stress #overwhelm #healthyboundaries #communicationiskey #bekindtoyourself #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #yourmentalhealthmatters #youarenotalone #youareenough

Nap Time

To chronicle my sleep patterns in a word I’d best describe it as haphazardly. 

In short, it lacks any type of direction, it’s random and very disorderly.

I’m up until all hours of the night wandering aimlessly, worrying and anticipating doom. 

My body seems to have made the necessary adjustments needed for someone living on minimal amounts of sleep each night but still it continues to urge me to get some rest when I can.

Most days it loses that argument because even a short catnap feels burdensome to me. My mind fights the urge to nap but certainly not for lack of trying that is.

Napping is good for your mental health. Experts will tell you that taking a short afternoon nap can help clear the chaotic thoughts and burnout from your mind, it can improve your cognitive ability and even boost your mental agility.

But still, napping gets a bad rap.

People perceive napping as laziness instead of seeing it for its many health benefits. 

I wish I could nap more often. I feel guilty as it is when I can’t get out of bed most mornings. But it’s okay to nap, or even lay in bed a little bit longer if that’s what your body and mind need. 

Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing we can do in order to recharge. It’s not a waste of time if your body and mind are begging you to do so.

Do you find having a quick catnap when you can rejuvenating?

Thank you to everyone who continues to reach out to me, check up on me and leave beautiful messages of support this week as I continue to try and get through this very difficult time*

#napping #catnap #recharge #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #negativethoughts #burnout #mentalagility #siesta

Jackpot

Ten years ago today I was heading home from an appointment which happened to be right across the street from a casino. 

A little voice inside of me convinced me to make a quick detour inside. 

I didn’t frequent casinos, I’d never even been to Vegas (but I have since though). 

I went inside and looked around. I found a two cent slot machine that looked enticing. 

I sat down and placed a twenty dollar bill in the machine.

Moments later the unthinkable happened and suddenly people were gathered around me, cheering and shouting in excitement. I was in shock. 

I’d just hit the $10,000 jackpot.

There had been no strategy or skill involved whatsoever. It was just pure luck. 

Over the last many years I’ve felt a darkness looming over me. I tell myself that it must be true; bad things happen to good people. 

Life throws us curve balls sometimes; it’s our difficulties that help us learn and grow and build resiliency but right now it’s so hard for me to see that.

Instead my brain tells me that I don’t deserve good things, that my life has no meaning or purpose. 

Even though my heart tries to remind me daily that I hit the jackpot long before I walked into that casino ten years ago today. 

#jackpot #badluck #Goodluck #mentalhealth #casinos #youareenough #vegas #familymatters

Update

* Content below could be very triggering for some people. Please do not read if you feel it could be of harm to you’re own mental well-being * 
 

The other day I expressed myself as best I could in a post/blog about what it feels like to struggle with thoughts of suicide. (See blog: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/08/23/what-does-it-feel-like-to-be-suicidal/)

My head has been completely cluttered by loud and intrusive noises that won’t fucking leave me alone no matter how much I fight back. I’m in such a fog that I easily lose my train of thought mid sentence (and I even forgot my own address last night). I feel as though I am holding on by a thread right now. I am vulnerable and scared and I’m not sure how much fight I have left in me anymore. 

My heart knows how loved and needed I am but I just wish my brain could get on the same page. Words can not express my endless gratitude for the overwhelming amount of support I’ve received since my post the other day. 

Every message has been exploding with overwhelming kindness and empathy (the 2 greatest traits any human can have) and it warms my heart knowing how many people care about my well-being, feel inspired by my courage and enlightened by my honesty and truth. I’ve received private messages from people I haven’t spoken to in 30 years who understand what I am feeling and others whom I met just weeks ago.

I am especially grateful to one friend inparticular who literally dropped everything she was doing yesterday to sit with me for over 3 hours after I experienced a breakdown earlier in the day.

Last night though my pain got to be too much to bare and Rich drove me to emerg. I was in such a panicked state that I was certain I was having a heart attack. I have panic attacks often but this one felt different. Once ruling out that it wasn’t in fact a heart attack my hope was that they would give me a script for some Ativan which is used primarily to treat anxiety disorders, trouble sleeping and severe agitation. All of which have been causing my downward spiral. 

It is also extremely addictive. I know this first hand because a few years ago I had an extreme addiction to the drug. I’d started hoarding bottles of them from doctors and other inpatient treatment facilities. I had 100’s of them in my possession and nobody knew, not even Rich. 

I was no longer taking antidepressants at the time after more than 20 concoctions and lots of horrible and dangerous side effects led me to a further diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression. But Ativan wasn’t giving me those side effects. Instead it was numbing my pain and helping me sleep more. So I took more. I just loved the clouded feeling I was getting from it without all the added and dangerous side effects from the antidepressants. 

I finally fessed up and came clean to my Psychiatrist at the time when my kids began voicing their concern to Rich that they were nervous being in a car with me. By now I had been taking 8 to 10 pills at one time every day. I truly don’t know how I was even functioning or still alive.

Now back to last night. Rich took me to the emerg at the brand new hospital nearby our home. It officially opened to the public only 2 months ago. It is affiliated with our other local hospital and I sadly recognized several familiar staff from the amount of visits to their emergency room over the years.

It was very clean. The floors and walls still looked fresh. I wanted so bad to come on here today and give this new hospital a glowing review but aside from the clean floors and fresh coat of paint I can’t really say anything positive from my own personal experience, especially given the amount of emergency rooms I’ve been to before to compare to this one during a crisis (and potential heart attack!). Even when I’ve been stripped of my belongings and my dignity left on the dirty floor or had security guards practically sitting on top of me I’d still put this experience below them all.

I was there for close to 7 hours and I observed a lot. I heard a lot too as they would call patients to the nurse’s station to give them their results before releasing them and I was in a room right across from it all (wouldn’t it be smarter to go talk to the individuals in their rooms, we are still in a Pandemic I thought and really do I need to hear everyone else’s diagnosis?). One of my most concerning observations though was when they called a lady to the desk (who’s mask was not on properly and they kept asking her to fix) to give her a script for an antibiotic and puffer to treat her pneumonia and then proceeded to tell the woman “but I’m pretty sure you probably have Covid”. Did they not test her for it? Did they not tell her maybe she should self isolate?  Rich and I looked at one another in complete disbelief. SMH

Anyways back to my night which I returned home from just before 3am. I had an ekg and blood work done to rule out any issues with my heart. The doctor spoke to me about what else was going on at the moment as well including if I had an intended plan of carrying out a suicide. I was visibly shaken and he decided to give me an Ativan to calm me down and then he put in a request for their crisis team to come talk to me further.

We discussed my prior issues with Ativan which is clearly stated in my file as well as any other one of my doctor’s files who had once prescribed it to me. We also discussed how dangerous and addictive it is and that he would give me the one for now but was not comfortable giving me anymore to go home with. 

The crisis worker eventually came to talk with me by which time the Ativan had kicked in and I was physically and emotionally exhausted and my mind was shutting down while trying to talk to her. By this time, Rich had left to try and get some sleep for a couple of hours. 

The Crisis Worker asked me a whole bunch of questions, all standard to someone who is in crisis. Do you have a plan and what is your plan was her main concern and focus. The one positive of the night was that she had actually taken the time to go through my (lengthy) file before coming to talk to me so it saved me a lot of catching up on my history over the past 7 years. 

My hope was still for her to let me have a few Ativans to take home with me so I can try and get some sleep and numb the severe and debilitating anxiety and desperate plans of suicide I’ve been experiencing. And to hopefully lift some of the fog. She spoke with the doctor and came back with a prescription for 5 Ativan for me but then she quickly regretted her decision.

She made me promise I wouldn’t go home and take them all at once or go to another hospital to get more. She also made me promise that I would call and speak with my Psychiatrist today and her last promise she had me make to her was that and I quote “don’t do anything stupid”. I know she meant it very lovingly!

I slept for a solid 3 hours last night within minutes of getting into bed thanks to the Ativan. That is huge for me, like Super Bowl huge. I have not gone to the pharmacy yet today (or gotten out of bed for that matter) to fill the script which I promise I will hand over to Rich who has been the keeper of all my meds for years as I am not sure I can be trusted right now to be perfectly honest. But a promise is a promise.

If you or someone you know is in crisis please seek help immediately. 

#promisespromises #ativan #incrisis #suicidal #depression #anxiety #reachoutforhelp #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #newhospital #emotionallydefeated #yourmentalhealthmatters #mentalhealth #mentalillness #youmatter #youareenough

Robin Williams Remembered Today and Forever

Today marks the 7 year anniversary of Robin Williams’ suicide. 

I often still find myself recalling the events that were taking place that very same evening for me. Over and over again in my mind I replay the image of me sitting alone in my car, completely distraught and contemplating my own suicide just moments before the tragic news of his death even broke.

I have since written many blogs about the impact his death had on me and on society as a whole. I have used the impact his suicide had on the world as an opportunity to educate others on the stigma surrounding suicide, the mask that many people often wear who suffer with a mental illness as well as the importance of our words and language when it pertains to suicide.

I wanted to reshare one of those blogs here with you today (see below). Feel free to search for other “Robin Williams” tributes right here in the search engine of my blog site as well.

https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2019/08/12/mrs-doubtfires-mask/

#RobinWilliams #suicideawareness #themask #wordsmatter #endthestigmatogether #anniversary #depression #mentalhealth #mentalillness #youarenotalone #youmatter #youareenough #itsokaynottobeokay #checkonyourstrongfriends #carpediem

Monday Motivation: Badge of Honour

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.

#mondaymotivation #badgeofhonour #hikingchallenge #ontariohiking  #ontariohikingchallenge #hikingtrails #summertimeselfcare #spiritualhealing #ontarioisourstodiscover #nature #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #babybird #learningtofly #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #youareenough

Gold Medal Treatment

I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now coming from the Olympic world.

Simone Biles is probably one of the most recognized and celebrated Olympic athletes in the world today and a true mental health warrior in my eyes. 

I one thousand percent support and admire Simone’s decision to step away from the podium for now in order to focus on her mental well-being but her decision to do so has been met with so much ridicule by the naysayers who are sitting on their butts, most likely from the comfort of their couch, hidden behind their smartphone screens, tweeting out and calling her a quitter or worse. 

It brings us right back to the same place we keep ending up because had Simone broken her ankle during her Olympic performance we would not be having this conversation and instead we would all be empathizing with her and cheering her on as she rehabilitated and got back to the vault. But taking a step back to focus on her mental health never seems to be a good enough reason to the naysayers. 

Mental illness and PTSD can creep up on you ever so slowly and often out of nowhere. She deserves to be recognized for her strength and courage and not criticized and judged. 

You don’t get to the level that Simone Biles has without being mentally tough. She is far from a quitter. She is taking care of her mental wellness and that makes her worthy of an Olympic gold medal in my eyes.

And when she returns, and I believe she will, she will show all those naysayers sitting on their butts from the comfort of their couch what it takes to be a real winner. 

Many people may not fully realize or ever truly understand the trauma and possible triggers (including performing in the Olympics) that Simone has had to overcome being that she was one of MANY young athletes who suffered YEARS and YEARS of sexual abuse at the hands of their “trusted” Olympic Team Doctor “Larry Nassar” who is now thankfully serving a prison sentence of over 100 years for his crimes. 

Mental illness and PTSD are both VERY real and VERY serious. If she is not mentally strong enough to be able to focus on her performance then she could most definitely hurt herself physically and possibly destroy everything. 

Self-care is mental wellness and it doesn’t matter if you can’t physically see her injury; it still matters, even more. 

Sadly though, we live in a world where people judge others on how much money they have, what kind of career path they choose, how big the house is that they live in, how smart they are and even by the amount of medals they may have sitting on their shelf.

But what if for just one second we all took a “step back” and focused on a world where people didn’t see it that way and instead only cared that you are happy, healthy and kind. 

Don’t we all deserve that kind of gold medal treatment?

#olympian #tokyoolympics #mentalhealthwarrior #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #ptsd #endthestigmatogether #goldmedaltreatment #mentalwellness #strongertogether #usaolympian #gymnastics #kindnessmatters #itsoktonotbeok #bekindtoyourself #youareenough #selfcare #yourmentalhealthmatters #sexualabuse #selflove #mindfulness #youarenotalone @simonebiles

A Work In Progress

Seven years ago I could never have pictured my life a certain way. 

None of us ever can.

But from very early on in my diagnosis I knew I needed to somehow paint another picture by accepting the tools I’d been given and embrace each one of them, one stroke at a time. 

These tools have helped me to understand that it’s okay if sometimes I colour outside the lines or splatter some paint on my shoes. 

I may still be a work in process but no matter what we are all a work of art.

Not everyone is ready to start painting a new picture right away.

It may take some time (maybe even years) before someone is truly able to put on a smock, pick up their paint brush and make that first stroke.

Some people need to ease into it at their own pace because they are too afraid to change their picture or ask for help in creating a new one.

The question is, how does a person truly know when they are ready? What makes someone ready? 

I’ve seen alot of people who struggle with this. They pick up their pencil thinking they are ready to start sketching their new picture. 

But then they place their half chewn and sharpened down to the nub pencil back in the drawer. 

They try again.

This time they start sketching an image but their picture gets smudged in the process so they desperately try to erase the smudges but the smudges just become more embedded deeper and darker into the paper the more they attempt to erase them.  

And before they know it they have just crumpled up their hundredth piece of paper to toss in the waste basket.

But then one day, maybe even after attempting to throw away that hundredth piece of crumpled up paper into the waste basket they realize that what they need the most is some actual guidance and direction or maybe even an entirely new perspective; one that is outside of their abstract view of what their picture should look like. 

It’s okay if you toss away a hundred pieces of crumpled up paper into the waste basket, using that stubby, chewed up pencil before you are able to create a new picture, one with more depth and composition. 

Because only you will know in your heart when the time comes that you are truly ready to pick up that paint brush, stand confidently in front of your easel and begin painting your new picture; this time using the most beautiful and vibrant colours. 

#acceptance #acceptinghelp #accountabilty #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #workinprogress #workofart #mentalhealth #paintedpictures #abstract