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.
Living with a severe anxiety disorder like I do can literally make anyone do crazy shit. And if there is one thing I know for sure it’s that my anxiety makes me feel out of control and will often paralyze me with fear and worry when it comes to, well, just about everything.
Over the last few years I’ve been taught several helpful tools that I can turn to when I’m feeling anxious and I have found, through some trial and error, many of them to be quite useful at times.
As I’ve also mentioned many, many times before, I rely heavily on CBD oil (Full Spectrum, with NO THC and preferably peppermint flavor!) to give me an almost immediate relief of certain physical symptoms like severe heart palpitations and nausea. But when the physical symptoms go beyond my everyday normal symptoms I’m lucky enough that my dear friend “Dr. Google” is always there to advise me.
“Dr. Google” is my “go to” Doctor when my own Doctor is unavailable for consultation, you know, like in the middle of the night when many of these symptoms seem to unexpectedly show up and you need a medical diagnosis, STAT.
But I should probably also mention here how much I avoid calling my Doctor to begin with because I just can’t bring myself to pick up a phone to call her or I get worried that I’m just bothering her (yup that too is a symptom of my anxiety).
I know that all probably sounds a bit crazy to some of you (I told you that anxiety can make you do crazy shit) and I also know that “Dr. Google” is probably NOT the most reliable resource when it comes to making a proper diagnosis (trust me I know) but I also know that I’m probably not alone.
The internet makes it so easy these days to look up just about anything your heart desires but when you suffer with extreme anxiety and major depression, my advice to you would be to stay as far away from “Dr. Google” as you possibly can because before you know it your anxiety/panic attack at 2 am has somehow just been diagnosed as a rare and incurable disease.
Just like the one I diagnosed myself with last evening after describing to a friend an extremely sharp pain I had been having on and off for the past couple of days in one particular area of my body, a pain I have never experienced before. She tried to reassure me it was probably nothing too serious and that I should call my Doctor in the morning but before she could finish her sentence (we were actually texting) I cut her off because “Dr. Google” was already telling me the complete opposite of what she was saying, and quite frankly, like come on now, who are you actually gonna believe?
Well seeing as it’s now after 2 am as I write this and stare at my “Dr. Google” diagnosis you can probably figure that answer out all on your own! And trust me, “Dr. Google” is just as quick and informative when it comes to helping me self diagnose my kids ailments too!
Who else turns to Dr. Google for their regular check ups?
Watching the chaos unfold in Washington today is beyond comprehensible. It’s sad, it’s pathetic and it’s downright scary that a President could allow this to happen or should I say, could encourage this to happen.
But no one can be or better yet, should be shocked that this is happening. I mean lets face it, the entire world has been watching this President come unhinged for the last four years and he needs to finally be held accountable for his actions but first he needs to be helped for an illness that some may argue is not actually a mental disorder.
But in clinical terms the President of the United States suffers from a mental disorder which falls under the umbrella of “Personality Disorders” called Narcissism.
A “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” is a “mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” (Definition as per Mayo Clinic)
It goes on to describe an individual with a “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” as someone who may be “generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.”
People who suffer from a “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” often display many of the following symptoms: (Mayo Clinic)
Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
Exaggerate achievements and talents
Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
Take advantage of others to get what they want
Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Be envious of others and believe others envy them
Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office
“Narcissistic Personality Disorder” is a very complex disorder and many people who suffer with one are often unable to seek proper therapy or treatment because well, for starters, they don’t think anything is truly wrong with them.
There are no words to describe what a sad day it is in American history today but I think we can all agree, even those of us sitting by the sidelines from across the world that our hearts are breaking for you and with you as we watch your beautiful Nation destroying its democracy at the hands of a man who clearly needs psychological help.
Hopefully though he won’t get too lost in the system while serving time in prison and that he finally gets the proper treatment and therapy that we all as human beings deserve.
There truly is no better feeling in the world than knowing that you are worthy, that you are appreciated, that you are cherished and that you matter; right?
But ever since my battle with depression and anxiety began I have found it so difficult to understand the worthiness I add to this world or why anyone would possibly appreciate or cherish me in any way, shape or form and I definitely cannot for the life of me comprehend how I possibly matter. I mean come on, let’s get real!
Yet friends, loved ones, acquaintances and strangers alike continue to try and prove me wrong at every turn and there truly isn’t a better feeling in the world.
I’ve been feeling beyond defeated and broken the last while and just when you think this year can’t get any worse, POW, somehow it does but having such an incredibly supportive and caring community surrounding me who want nothing more than to make me feel like I am worthy, appreciated, cherished and that I do in fact matter truly inspires me when I’m feeling really alone during those tough, dark days.
A new study conducted by Dalhousie University shows that even though many have put on the “Pandemic Pounds” over the past year, our priorities have changed (with good reason) and what was once the number one New Year’s resolution to make dieting a first priority come January 1st has now taken a back seat in order to show others that they take precedence when ranking those resolution goals.
Random acts of kindness can go a very long way in proving to someone that they are worthy, that they feel appreciated, that they are cherished and that they matter to you and the best part is that showing someone you care about them, whether it’s in a really big way or a more simple smaller one, it doesn’t have to cost a penny to do so.
Thank you for always making me feel like I matter ❤
How have your goals/priorities changed this past year?
As my kids were growing up they were always super excited in anticipation of the first night of Chanukah and they especially looked forward to spending time with family and friends throughout the “eight crazy nights”, lighting the Menorah, making holiday crafts, eating and baking lots of traditional Chanukah treats, exchanging presents and of course receiving them too.
When they were younger we often gifted them with a small token gift each night of Chanukah after we lit the candles (not to worry, there were plenty of bigger presents to go around too). It may have seemed like they were super silly gifts, but seeing the excitement and joy light up their faces as they tore the wrapping paper from their new Dora the Explorer toothbrush or their funky new Chanukah pencil set is a feeling that will never grow old as a parent.
Tonight as we begin the celebration of Chanukah 2020 we will continue as always to honour the holiday by lighting the Menorah each night while enjoying the same traditional treats like sufganiyah (jelly donuts), homemade cookies and homemade latkes as well that smell up our clothes and home for days and days, but always totally worth it.
But this year the holiday season, whether it be Chanukah, Christmas or any other holiday traditions you celebrate are going to once again in good old 2020 fashion feel a whole lot different from years past.
Many of our traditions, celebrations or even vacations with friends and loved ones won’t be taking place this year and that is going to create a great sense of disappointment and a feeling of loss for many children and adults alike.
Maybe we can all try to create some new traditions or find different ways of celebrating the holidays instead this year as we focus our attention on the general theme of 2020 which is that “less is more”.
Maybe we can take some comfort in a more simplistic holiday season instead this year where we share our favourite memories of holidays past over a zoom call with loved ones or make holiday crafts to hang outside our door to brighten up the neighborhood or donate a toy to a child less fortunate.
However it is you choose to celebrate this year or as “grim” as the holiday season may feel for so many let us all be reminded that it is still the “season of giving” and the “season of miracles”.
And to all of us who will be lighting that first Chanukah candle tonight let it bring a “festival of light”, hope and unity for everyone around the world because that is truly all that matters this holiday season.
It was one year ago today when I made my very first ever appearance on a National Television Morning Talk Show. It felt like a dream come true for me, but as soon as it was all over I collapsed from mental exhaustion.
Leading up to that day I had been working my ass off nonstop for several months ensuring that my new children’s book got into as many hands as I possibly could imagine but when the show ended and I arrived home, I felt a sense of defeat and decided that I needed to take a step back from my whirlwind tour.
I had intended it to be a short break, just until the new year which by now was only a few weeks away and just long enough to get my mojo back but what came next noone could have ever predicted because way before the Pandemic hit in mid March my life took several other unforeseen turns.
New Year’s Day 2020 came quickly and as I had promised myself a few weeks earlier I began organizing my calendar for some new and exciting upcoming events on my “book tour” and I also began looking at what other avenues I wanted to explore in the coming months ahead as well. But no sooner was it than 24 hours later when I found myself in bed for the better part of January with a concussion caused by numerous fainting episodes on the early morning hours of January 2nd.
I soon became further defeated and on a downward spiral as I lay in bed feeling dizzy, exhausted and headachy, cancelling events and trying to reschedule others, most of which never ended up taking place at all because, well we all know the answer to that.
Many more unforeseen events and unfortunate mishaps continued to unfold in my life over the course of last winter and before I knew it I had not fulfilled one promise to myself from the previous December day when I decided I needed to take that short break.
But who knew what was waiting for us just around the corner right at the exact moment I was finally ready to get back to where I had left off all those months earlier, who could have possibly known? Noone could because noone truly knows what the future holds.
But there we all were, together, facing so much uncertainty and unknown and nowadays we spend so much of our time fearful of the “not knowing” and as someone who lives her life with a major depressive disorder and severe anxiety I’m not quite sure if the not knowing what the future holds (depression) is worse than always trying to predict it (anxiety).
My illness has caused me to look to my past with many regrets and when I look to my future it feels very purposeless and uncertain. But I know I’m not alone in my feelings of an uncertain future especially after what we and the rest of the world have been living through for the last nine months or longer.
2020 has become the year that nobody could have ever predicted and has crippled so many people with fear and uncertainty of what their future’s hold and has also created a sense of powerlessness in so many more, even those amongst us who may have once enjoyed a lifestyle of risk taking or living unpredictable lives.
This year has sucked big time for all of us. If I hadn’t already before 2020 hit, I have for certain by now lost so much faith in the kind of hopeful future that lies in wait for me and I am pretty certain that I have felt defeated more times than I think is humanly possible this year alone but as the year quickly comes to a close I can’t help but take note of the many valuable life lessons we have (hopefully) all learned as well.
Some of my thoughts:
Our relationships with family and friends must take precedence over all else
We are never to busy to make time for the people and things that matter the most to us and we must stop using it as an excuse
Taking care of our health needs to be a top priority
We CAN actually live without many of the “things” we once thought we “must” have in our lives in order to live a more fulfilling life
Saving money for a “rainy day” is imperative
It’s okay to take time to stop and smell the roses
Our definition of who is an essential worker has changed. Honour and respect them all equally as they continue to tirelessly (and with very little pay for some) take great pride in and care for all of us each and every single day
We are all human beings and we all deserve to be treated as equals
Tonight Rich and I participated in a spiritual healing service via Zoom with Rabbi Fryer Bodzin and some of her congregants from Beth Tzedec Congregation. The last time we participated in a service it was in person just 10 days prior to the lockdown in March.
We all long for some kind of connection in our life and many of us need that connection more than ever before but what we often forget is how important it is to make time to find that same connection within ourselves as well.
For the past few years I have been doing a lot of “soul searching” by trying to take a step back and re-examine my life in the hope of finding true and meaningful ways to replenish my soul and find strength in God.
Thank you Rabbi for giving of your time to allow for us to ask ourselves difficult questions and to find some strength, continuation and renewal within our soul.
Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? I have found myself pondering this question quite a lot, especially lately as I continue to battle many difficult setbacks in my life right now. Many of the setbacks I’ve been battling of late effect the wellbeing of my family too but many more of these setbacks have also led me to the brink of suicide for several weeks now.
According to the Greek Philosopher Aristotle everything does happen for a reason, always. He says that “Every experience in your life is designed to shape you and help you grow into the highest and mightiest version of yourself.”
Sometimes though when you are in the throes of a particularly difficult or painful period in your life it can be really hard to understand its purpose or to find any positive meaning behind it.
With the help of my wonderful therapist I have learned so much about myself in the last few years and I have gained a much better understanding of my past as well which has in turn given me the courage to let go of a lot of old wounds in order to heal.
I’ve been able to create an overall picture of myself in my head as I find the strength to let go of some of those wounds that have caused me great pain in my life and it is beginning to make perfect sense now.
And over the last couple of years I have also been taught many valuable lessons amongst all the chaos and sadness through quiet introspection. I have begun to accept that everything may very well happen for a reason but that it’s not always so easy to embrace it all of the time even though I know in my heart that it has been “designed to shape you and help you grow into the highest and mightiest version of yourself.”
The other day I posted a blog titled “Socially Distanced Holiday Traditions” where I talked about how difficult the holidays have become for me over the last many years and how this year many of those social pressures, obligations and expectations that so often make it difficult for me to enjoy the holidays in the first place had been decided for me due to Covid-19.
Sadly, it almost felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could actually take in the beauty of some of our holiday traditions this year without all the added anxiety from too many social pressures, obligations and expectations.
I felt way more in control and much less guilty than in holidays past and I was also looking forward to spending some (socially distanced) quality time with other family too, even if it meant having to freeze our asses off in the crisp Fall-like weather in order to do so.
But none of that ended up happening because just hours after posting my blog the other morning, Jacob came home from work feeling sick for the second time in just over a week (after being perfectly fine only hours earlier). This time though he had many more flu-like symptoms than the last time. He complained of body aches, chills, a dry cough and he felt warm to the touch so off he went again for yet another Covid test and then we waited, and waited some more in anticipation of his results while he lay locked away (again), alone in his room in the basement for what felt like an eternity (I’m pretty sure though it felt even longer for Jacob).
It was hard to think positively (or to think of much else) knowing what the outcome could be and knowing just how shitty he felt (I lay awake that entire first night convincing myself that I too had Covid! #anxietysucks). It was the longest 48 hours ever but thankfully once again his results came back negative.
The whole situation made me think of the Yiddish adage “Man Plans, and God Laughs” and just how much life is truly so unpredictable and how quickly unexpected changes can occur in your life; big or small (which is basically the journey I’ve been on for 6 years now!).
I had the best intentions and the best laid plans for the first time in many years when it came to a holiday celebration and as I mentioned above I was actually looking forward to a much less overwhelming Rosh Hashanah this year. In the end it may of still turned out to be another very overwhelming holiday while we waited for Jacob’s results but at least we got to enjoy some quiet family time together (with Jacob on Facetime) and lots of delicious festive food (I think Jacob is secretly starting to enjoy being waited on hand and foot 🙂 even if the first chance he got to be released from what’s beginning to feel like a dungeon he bolted for the nearest exit up the stairs and to the kitchen!).