Not everyone around you will understand your journey and maybe not everyone is truly capable.
I’ve had to accept this within my own personal journey.
It’s destroyed many close relationships of mine.
But I know that my willingness to share my most vulnerable and intimate thoughts and feelings with all of you has helped bring about awareness to the many others who do want to understand what it’s like to live with Chronic and Treatment Resistant Depression, a debilitating Anxiety Disorder and Suicidal Ideations Every. Single. Day.
And I also know that by sharing my journey so openly and honestly has helped many more people feel less alone or ashamed.
So then why do I suddenly feel like I should stop writing? Stop sharing my most intimate thoughts and emotions? Why at one of the most vulnerable points of my journey do I want to stop sharing my story all together?
Because well, it’s not like I Cancer you know.
These were the words that I heard recently directed towards me during a conversation. Words that may not have necessarily been intended to be said with malice but words that can never be erased nonetheless. Words that dismissed the seriousness of my illness. Words that made me feel as though my need to create healthy boundaries and do what’s best for me are basically selfish because well you know, it’s not like I have Cancer.
Not everyone around you will understand your journey and maybe not everyone is truly capable. I’ve accepted this.
But I can no longer keep apologizing because of my “invisible” illness just because it can’t be detected through a body scan or an xray or a blood test and to be perfectly honest I’m just too damn tired to keep having to “defend” myself because I may not “look” sick.
Depression is NOT a choice. Depression just is, just like Cancer or Diabetes just is. They can’t be rated on a scale of any kind and quite frankly they NEVER EVER should be. They are all just truly horrible illnesses and should be treated as such.
I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach and that my purpose in life to raise awareness, educate and bring comfort to others has been overcome by even more pain and guilt and shame.
I know I should just “let it go” and try and focus on the many lives I do touch and those who appreciate me for who I am and what I have to offer but sadly, having the ability to just “think positive” when living with Depression or Anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles we face.
I’ve been inconsolable for days now and have been left feeling like what’s the point of writing, sharing my journey or living life?
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.
Metaphorically speaking, sometimes when we fall down we may chip a little.
Sometimes we may even crack.
And sometimes we completely shatter into a billion pieces.
Seven years ago I completely shattered into a billion pieces.
I didn’t even see it coming.
It happened so fast and it feels like every day since I have been desperately searching for a way to mend those shattered pieces of my life.
For the first few years of my recovery I believed that the only way for me to truly heal was to find my way back to the life I was living before I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety.
So much has changed in my life in the past seven years, some for the better.
But as I began to slowly try and pick up those shattered pieces of my life and put them back to where they were before, I realized it was an impossible task and then I began to understand something else, that even if it were possible, I no longer wanted to go back.
I’ve come to learn more and more recently about the Japanese artform called “Kintsugi” and how it seems to relate so much to my journey.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pieces back together using gold. It’s built around the philosophy that as we learn to embrace both our past and imperfections, we become more beautiful as a whole.
It believes that no matter how broken we may feel at certain times in our lives, healing is possible and that by embracing both our past and our imperfections we will find hope and new meaning too.
It also shows us that we are no less valuable just because we may have a few chips or cracks in us.
I have spent the last many years desperately trying to figure out ways in which to mend my shattered pieces and turn them into a work of art, something that could be more meaningful and even more beautiful than before.
Maybe, without even knowing it I have somehow already adopted many of the Kintsugi practices into my healing process along my journey by continuously trying to show the world all my chips, cracks and shattered pieces instead of hiding them.
Now all that’s left to do is add a touch of golden highlights in order to give me the strength to believe that even when life feels like its been shattered into a billion pieces there is always hope in finding a way to mend them.
But the truth is that even though I may have recovered initially from my battle with Anorexia and Bulimia in my early 20’s it has never truly left me; it’s just transformed itself in other ways.
I never battled with my weight before the onset of my eating disorder, nor did I have any issues with my self-image.
It probably didn’t truly present itself again until I began having children in my late 20’s and early 30’s and it has especially spiraled out of control since my battle with Depression and Anxiety began seven years ago.
Right from the start of my mental health journey and my diagnosis I was treated with over 20 concoctions of antidepressants for a solid two years straight which eventually led me to a further diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression and also left me with a weight gain of close to 100 pounds.
And although half of that weight gain almost disappeared instantly when my husband and I finally made the decision together, along with the guidance of my Psychiatrist to wean me off all my medications, my weight has continued to be an uphill battle for me throughout my journey and just one of the many road blocks in my recovery. It all too often leads me back to those same destructive behaviours I exhibited as my 18 year old self battling an eating disorder.
I’m struggling alot these days with these tendencies and it seems to have magnified itself by a thousand this past week when I needed to go dress shopping for an upcoming family wedding and I had a panic attack and complete breakdown which left me crying in a sea of dresses on the floor of a department store changeroom.
I know I’m not alone in my negative self-image or body-shaming thoughts and especially lately as we all begin to emerge from our cocoon that has left many of us bearing several extra “Pandemic Pounds”.
It’s no secret by now from all the pictures that I post how much I shy away from the camera. Seeing pictures of myself only sets off a destructive mindset and binge of body-shaming.
It’s a vicious cycle of bullying, negative self-talk, anxiety and suicidal ideations. Self-shaming or the act of body-shaming whether it be towards ourselves or someone else is a real and very dangerous problem which Social Media and the mainstream media have only made 10x worse.
My illness has pretty much destroyed any ounce of self-confidence I once had, it continues to tell me how worthless and helpless I am, it loves to focus on the negative and boy oh boy does it ever hate to hear compliments.
I wish I were able to squash my destructive mindset once and for all and begin to see the same beauty in me that others do; and to believe that I AM ENOUGH from the inside out.
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 had planned to give this as a gift to Rich for Father’s Day but (spoiler alert) I guess I just couldn’t wait that long, LOL!
I made it for him and in honour of him.
So from now on whatever trails our #summerofrich adventures lead us to Rich will always be well hydrated with his new, “one of a kind”, personalized and insulated water bottle that will keep his drinks really cold and refreshing no matter how lost we may get or how hot it is outside.
Every summer since its conception about five years ago now I like to give a brief synopsis of what #summerofrich is for any newcomers to my page who may be wondering what the heck it is exactly.
It began with a simple exclamation one (very) early Friday morning at the end of June as we stood waving goodbye to our three kids as they drove away on the bus to camp for the next seven and a half glorious weeks (I actually think 2 of them were staff at the time and may have already left for camp, but not important!).
They were barely out of the parking lot yet when Rich turned to me with the biggest smile on his face and shouted “It’s the Summer of Rich”!, and wasted no time at all getting started. Our first activity on the #summerofrich agenda that year (and every year after that until last summer) was already scheduled for later that morning. We were off to the spa for pedicures.
The #summerofrich meant that he now had a seven plus week break; a well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break from the burdensome (I use that term, not him) role he plays as both mom and dad, chef, psychologist, schlepper, grocery bagger and much, much more for the other forty something weeks of the year; a role which he has so selflessly taken on for the better part of seven years now.
Last summer when the devastating (yes it was devastating to many) announcement came that overnight camps would not be running due to Covid-19 I thought for a brief moment that we should cancel the #summerofrich all together seeing as Rich would not be getting his well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break. Then I realized that we don’t have to cancel it at all, we just needed to pivot somewhat, after all we no longer had all three kids away for the summer anymore anyways.
And tada, the #summerofrich 2.0 was born. This past year we pivoted a lot due to Covid restrictions. And although our summers may not be as carefree as they once we’re, the #summerofrich has become an incredible outlet for the both of us. If you were to tell me 5 years ago that I’d be enjoying the great outdoors, hiking trails all over our beautiful Province of Ontario and exploring the beauty of nature I’d have said you were crazy.
It’s now become the perfect way to take care of our mental health, have fun and discover places we never imagined before.
What a healthy outlet we have found to do together and I’m so glad that sharing our adventures brings so much joy to others as well. Hashtag #summerofrich has created quite a following!
I’m a planner and I love spending time researching and finding new and adventurous things for us to do. I take my job very seriously (hey, you never know but maybe one day we will even complete the entire length of the Bruce Trail, all 900 KMs of it!).
But most of all when we needed to pivot last summer, the #summerofrich 2.0 took on a whole new life of its own and has made many of our adventures that much more meaningful and memorable too. Our kids have even learned to embrace our passion in small doses, call it “Pandemic boredom” but hey, I’ll take it!
Yes, the #summerofrich may have started out as a well deserved, much needed and VERY much earned break for Rich during the seven or eight weeks that the kids were away at camp but it’s become so much bigger than that, so much so that as we pivoted this past year we also continued to discover even more adventures with every changing season. Me and winter do NOT get along but if you add the hashtag #summerofrich next to it then count me in! (And it’s a good thing that his new water bottle can also keep his drinks nice and warm as well!!)
Is it pretty safe to say that if you are a parent you have probably doubted your role as one at one time or another?
You are not alone.
Parenting is hard work, it’s a huge responsibility and quite possibly the most thankless job ever, yet it also comes with the greatest rewards.
As a parent we find ourselves second guessing every decision we make or questioning each and every behaviour of ours which only escalates further doubt.
We worry we will somehow screw up our kid’s lives forever.
We worry that they won’t love us or that they will actually grow to hate us.
This has been a daily battle of mine over the past seven years and I blame my illness.
It makes me believe all the doubt and lies.
Even though I have three amazing kids (more like young adults actually) who are all very busy these days discovering who they are and what they need in order to become their best self.
They are finding their place in the world.
They are chasing their dreams.
In fact I’d say they are all killing it right now despite my feeling like I have failed them in every way possible, despite my feeling like my illness has taken away a big part of their innocence, despite my feeling like I’m the worst parent ever, despite my feeling like I’m a complete burden to them, despite my feeling like I have scarred them for life and despite my feeling like they hold so much hate and resentment toward me.
It’s been a really difficult week for me. I’m beyond overwhelmed right now and in a pretty bad headspace, (see blog .https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/05/24/suicide-can-be-a-silent-killer/) but despite all that it’s moments like the one we had on Sunday evening that remind me that maybe I haven’t failed them after all, maybe I haven’t actually screwed them up completely and maybe, just maybe I’ve even played a role in them becoming those amazing, generous, loving, kind young adults.
Maybe I need to be more aggressive when I try telling my depressed mind to fuck off.
I’ve needed a few days to process the emotions that overcame me on Sunday evening when my kids excitedly presented me with an early birthday present (they wanted to give me enough time to prepare for it).
They handed me an envelope and before I opened it they told me that they wanted to get me something they knew I’d cherish forever and something that I crave more than anything else in the world.
As I anxiously opened the envelope I could not imagine what it could be. I unwrapped the piece of paper inside and saw a picture of a cabin on a lake.
Their gift to me was exactly what they said it was as they handed me the envelope to open. They had wanted to get me something they knew I would cherish forever and something that I crave more than anything else in the world so as they so eloquently put it, they gave me the gift of time; quality family time that is.
They have rented a cottage for all of us for the weekend of Father’s day, just days before Hannah “hopefully” heads off to camp for the summer and just days before my 50th birthday.
There will be canoeing, campfires, roasted marshmallows, self-care, sunbathing on the dock, laughter and a special #summerofrich “Father’s Day” adventure included in our weekend away but most of all there will be picture perfect memories made that we can all cherish forever.
I love you to the moon and back, forever and a day.
It was 30 years ago today that Rich and I went out on our first “official” date.
We had already been working together (he was my boss) for the better part of a year but our timing and circumstances just hadn’t quite aligned before then.
But maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, maybe it was how it was meant to be and maybe it’s how it should be because during the time leading up to our first “official” date we were building a genuine friendship.
We were getting to know each other, trusting and confiding in one another and learning things about each other that we may not have otherwise been given the opportunity to do.
By developing a true friendship and bond first before jumping right into a relationship took away all of our exceptions.
I can barely recall most days anymore what I did 5 minutes ago yet I can still remember every last moment of our first “official” date.
And maybe it’s because we could truly be ourselves around each other and not have to pretend to be someone we weren’t.
Or maybe it’s that friendship we developed first, the one with no strings attached that has helped us to grow together as a couple and has also enabled us to support one another through the most difficult and challenging times that were still yet to come.
I’d love to hear some stories from your best and worst first dates.
This picture (which popped up on my Facebook “Memory Wall” early this morning) not only captures Jacob’s goofy, loveable personality but it also captures the true essence of what passion, commitment, determination and hard work all look like as well.
Seeing it quickly reminded me just how much I miss watching him play hockey (even if being a goalie mom is one of the most stressful things ever lol) and it also reminded me of a piece I wrote (before I started my actual blog) near the end of Jacob’s last season in Minor League Hockey and well, I just felt like sharing it with you one more time.
**Spoiler alert: he has never stopped being part of a team since leaving the Minor League Hockey world; that was until stupid Covid forced him to take a break last Spring.
*Original Post: Feb 1, 2016*
For the past 12 years being a hockey mom has been a huge part of who I am. I still remember putting Jacob on the ice in his first year of House League all dressed in his hockey gear and hardly able to skate and then, BOOM; the goalie skated by him and they accidentally collided into one another and Jacob broke his wrist.
Fast forward 2 years, Jacob waiting patiently for his turn to play goalie in a tournament. He did such an amazing job and from that day forward Jacob’s dream of becoming a goalie was fulfilled.
One year later he joined a more competitive level team with his friends which has now become our family for the last 9 years. He has improved and worked hard to become a successful goalie since then through perseverance, training, coaching and his love of being a goalie.
Throughout the years hockey has defined our family dynamics, always working our lives around where the next game or tournament is; yes, being a hockey Mom has been a title I will hold near and dear to my heart forever. The ups and downs, I wouldn’t change a thing. But now what?
With only a handful of games left in what is Jacob’s final year of minor league hockey (and hopefully a few more if they make the playoffs), I am sure he will continue to play for many years to come in the adult world but what about the hockey Mom? Where does that leave me?
No more schlepping from one end of the GTA to the other, no more car stinking like a pair of dirty socks, no more cheering when the team scores the game winning goal and no more hockey family.
I have dreaded this day coming for a long time now but I know that Jacob’s commitment he has made to his teammates and coaches alike through the last 12 years will help to define him as he faces many new challenges ahead of him and well, as for me, I will always be grateful for what hockey has given him, and what he has given me; his “Hockey Mom” ❤