It’s 1 am as I begin to write this. I just spent the better part of the past hour bawling my eyes out while Rich held my hand and Maggie tried to work her magic.
Right before this scene played out I had been lying in bed watching my mindless Sunday night Reality TV shows while texting with some friends.
I’d just had a “picture perfect” weekend which many of you may have seen from the #summerofrich pics I had posted on my Facebook and Instagram pages. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing the things I love; being outdoors, enjoying quality time with family and friends.
But as I lay there in bed watching my mindless reality TV and chatting with several friends, the highlight reel of my own reality started playing out in my head and the overwhelming disconnect I’ve been feeling from the world lately, even during these “picture perfect” moments left my mind spiraling out of control faster than the fan spinning beside my bed.
It felt like a big gust of painful emotions blew right through me.
And then I felt an emptiness inside of me as those “picture perfect” moments quickly got tangled up in the blades of my fan, leaving me in a ball of dust on the floor, convincing myself that maybe happiness doesn’t belong to me. That maybe I don’t deserve to feel joy and that maybe I’m truly not worthy of love or friendship or purpose afterall.
This is what living with Depression and Anxiety can feel like somedays.
If ever you feel like your “picture perfect” moments are getting tangled up in the blades of your fan please remember that there is always help available to slow down the speed when it starts spinning too fast.
I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I appreciate you.
I am truly blessed knowing how many people I have in my life who genuinely care about my well-being.
I’ve read each and every message (both from my Social Media feeds and those who messaged me privately as well) probably a dozen or more times by now since sharing with you a very heartfelt and vulnerable blog I wrote yesterday.
I cried alot.
I smiled too.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I know I am struggling alot right now and I’m finding it more and more difficult to cope with my very dark and overwhelming thoughts of suicide.
I want you to know that it’s okay to acknowledge that things may not be okay. That you may not be okay.
Just know that YOU are not alone.
Yesterday one of the private messages I received from a friend was a short animated video clip written and narrated by Brene Brown (who I admire so much) after reading my blog because she thought it perfectly summed up what I had written. The clip emphasizes the important differences between empathy and sympathy and how showing empathy towards others “fuels” connections, whereas sympathy does not. Empathy is about feeling “with” people. It’s about reaching out to someone for help and having that person say “hey, here I am”. “You’re not alone”. It’s not about looking for the silver lining (a perfect example from my blog yesterday would be someone saying to you “well at least you don’t have Cancer” when you tell them you are feeling depressed). It’s about being honest and saying I’m glad you told me. It’s not about the response, it’s about the connection.
As difficult as this week has been for me I know in my heart that I need to keep writing and sharing my journey, probably now more than ever.
We all need to do our part to raise more awareness, educate others and help reduce the stigma; and yes we NEED to talk about suicide too.
Asking someone about suicide will help break the silence and can save a life.
Take a moment today to connect with someone who may be struggling right now. Let them know you hear them. You see them. You feel them. You appreciate them.
Start a conversation and then keep it going; today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after that too.
I also wanted to let you know that my book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” is now available for purchase at Batner Bookstore at 180 Steeles Ave. W. in Thornhill (or through me as well). They specialize in new and used textbooks, workbooks, study guides, course materials and literature. It’s a perfect addition to any classroom, library or children’s bookshelf especially as we begin another uncertain school year ahead and when so many children and caregivers are facing the worst mental health crisis of our lives.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my journey. The good, the bad and the ugly. I love you all so much. #shabbatshalom
I recently watched a movie called “WILD”, starring Reese Witherspoon (2014).
It is based on a true story and the autobiography of Cheryl Strayed called “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”.
The movie takes place on the Pacific Crest Trail which spans 2,600 miles (that’s a shitload of kilometers!) in length and runs from the the Mexican/U.S border to the U.S/Canada border. To hike this grueling trail in its entirely would take someone between 5 to 6 months to complete.
In June of 1995 this remarkable young woman (age 26) decides on a whim to take a much needed time out from her life and ascends on a journey toward self-discovery and healing by hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail over a three month period.
At the start of her expedition, Cheryl had just recently divorced her husband and tragically lost her mother (she was only 45 years old when she died) but throughout the movie we also learn so much more about her traumatic childhood and reckless and destructive youth.
There were so many reasons why I wanted to watch this movie (which Rich discovered one night while channel surfing) and so many more reasons why while watching it I felt an instant connection to Cheryl even though our journeys are so vastly different.
Of course the movie centered around hiking which was a very big draw for me but what led her on that path (trail) in the first place is what connected me so deeply.
When I think of self-care it often includes alone time. Yes, being surrounded by other people is critical for our well-being but sometimes it can also create stress in your life as well (something I think many of us can relate to more than ever over the past year).
Taking time to be with yourself is both vital and beneficial in order to tap into our own thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Along Cheryl’s journey she met many interesting (and sometimes scary) people and was asked by one of them if she ever got lonely out there all alone but it was because of her time alone (and journaling) that she found the freedom to forge ahead and truly explore her own personal growth and development.
It’s what gave her the strength and determination to discover the power of healing.
Although I love to hike and I find it especially therapeutic for me and although I quite often need space away from others in order to help me heal I don’t forsee a three month hiking expedition anytime soon in my future.
For starters, I’d barely make it a mile before getting lost! Perhaps maybe a week alone at a spa would be a better place for me to start?
Where do you like to go when you need some alone time?
Yesterday I did an hour long aqua fit class in the morning and then went on a two hour long hike in the scorching heat later that afternoon.
This sounds like the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep, right? Well apparently not for someone like myself whose anxiety and depression really don’t give a flying fuck how exhausted you are.
By dinnertime last night I could barely keep my eyes open but as soon as my head hit the pillow, that dream of getting a good night’s sleep once again turned into a nightmare, an anxiety infused nightmare.
I have found myself tossing and turning more and more lately and I can’t seem to find a comfortable place to lay my head anymore which is probably because my brain and subconscious mind are too damn busy gearing itself up for its long night of torture ahead.
Sleep is meant to give both our bodies and minds time to recuperate from the stresses of the day but for the better part of seven years now sleep has been one of my biggest hurdles toward recovery.
As the night progresses and the house becomes more and more quiet is usually when the noises in my head become the loudest and most heightened.
My brain never shuts off, even when I do fall asleep. I can easily go from any state of sleep to waking suddenly by a trigger or a rush of adrenaline where feelings of impending doom kick in to high gear, leading to a full on panic attack about something that occurred earlier that day or that a loved one may be in danger, or worse.
“The act of forgiveness takes place in your own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person.”~ Louise Hay
Forgiveness is a gentle act and a gift of self love. I have learned over the last several years that holding on to anger I have toward someone who has hurt me only creates further pain.
Forgiveness means no longer feeling burdened by your past.
Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation, approval or making space to welcome someone back into your world, it just means choosing to rise above it by moving forward, free of bitterness and resentment.
Forgiveness allows you to put the situation behind you for your own well being and integrity. It means taking back the power and control you have over yourself.
The past few years I’ve had a big shift in the area of my relationships and whether it be a friendship, a family member or even an acquaintance; it can get very complicated.
Some shifts in my relationships have brought with it a sigh of relief, a feeling of anger and plenty of sadness but through my own personal journey toward healing and with time, they have also brought forgiveness.
I’ve learned that holding on to the bitterness and resentment is only hurting me.
Forgiveness doesn’t always happen right away. For some people or in some circumstances it can take a lot longer to forgive, but it’s never too late to learn the art of forgiveness.
As I move into this next chapter of my life I am now making a conscious effort and a very selfless decision when it pertains to my own mental health and well-being that I choose who I get to invite into my life.
I’ve always let people walk into my life very easily, sometimes too easily and I’ve done so without actually stopping to ask myself first if I really have the energy or mental capacity needed in order to have a healthy relationship with this person at this moment in time.
I’m a pretty open book (that’s an obvious one) and I wear my heart on my sleeve (also pretty obvious) which, at times has left me feeling very vulnerable and indefensible in some of my relationships and sadly it’s come back to bite me in the ass many, many times.
By learning how to forgive others who have held way too much unwarranted space in my heart for far too long has really afforded me the ability to make so much more room in my life for the people who genuinely want to be there and vice versa.
It’s opened up space to have real and honest relationships with people who can truly accept my limitations and vice versa, who see me as perfectly imperfect and vice versa, who don’t question my boundaries and vice versa, who support my endeavors and vice versa, who want nothing more than for me to be happy and vice versa, who are there to listen when I just need to talk, without judgment and vice versa and most of all, who love me for being my true authentic self and vice versa.
I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to the amazing relationships I have in my life right now. And whether you are a friend, a family member or even an acquaintance of mine I hope you know that you always have an open invitation.
You can see from these pictures that I experienced many, many treasured and genuine moments of joy and happiness over the weekend.
I will always be forever grateful for everything my kids did for me this past weekend, ensuring that I felt those moments of genuine joy and happiness, which I did.
Nothing will ever erase those feelings even when my mind tries to trick me into believing otherwise.
Yesterday was an extremely difficult day for me. The curtain closed abruptly on those feelings of joy and happiness and I crashed hard, real hard.
The darkness and pain is still surging through my veins today from many of the triggers I experienced yesterday afternoon and evening (none of which I am comfortable sharing at the moment).
As I lie in bed writing this, curled up in a cocoon underneath my weighted blanket and unable to face my final hours in my 40’s I am feeling very overwhelmed. I am confused. I am angry. I am sad. I am anxious. I am scared and to be perfectly honest I am all cried out at the moment.
This is just some of the many depths of depression and anxiety. You see the moments of joy and happiness in my life and wonder how I can experience them if I still struggle with depression. I totally get why it may be so difficult and confusing to understand it, but that’s what depression does, its puppet master finds immense pleasure in playing tricks on your mind.
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.
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.