Tips For Easing Back To School

Here we go again. 

Another school year is about to begin (well here in Ontario that is). 

Another school year in the midst of a Pandemic and now kids and parents are once again facing those same fears, stressors, uncertainties and anxieties they did at the start of the last school year (but maybe a bit wiser).

Parents are worried about their children’s health and if they will be safe in class or how long it will be until they receive that email from their school board letting them know that schools are shutting down ONCE AGAIN.

And many, MANY kids are feeling those same worries as well which is making the transition back into the classroom this year even more trying on their mental health and wellness.

Here are some tips that I wanted to share with you on how to try and make this year’s transition a little bit easier.

Get back into a routine, especially with your older kids. 

But give them time to adjust.

Change can be very scary.

Help them lay out their clothing, knapsacks ready and lunches made all the night before if possible. The less chaos there is in the morning the better. 

Check in with your child(ren) regularly. Daily, if not more. Ask them questions. Listen intently.

Let them know that what they are feeling is okay and that you are there for them. 

It’s been a very LONG time since many children have even seen the inside of a classroom or a school yard.

Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared and nervous.

Reassure them that they are not alone. 

The unknown of what’s to come can sometimes be the hardest.

None of us truly know for certain what is going to happen this coming school year.

Promise them though that you will get through this together. 

Focus on what is in their control right now.

Watch out for any sudden changes in their behaviour.

And lastly, if your child is dealing with any type of mental health issues, communicate this to their teachers or caregivers right away.

Working together from the start will help to ensure that your child’s needs are met and that their feelings are always validated and hopefully it will ease whatever bumps in the road that may lie ahead feel a bit less scary for everyone. 

Wishing all the teachers, caregivers, administrators, parents and students a safe and successful year ahead.

#backtoschool #mentalwellness #transition #change #herewegoagain #fuckyoucovid #mentalhealth #suicideawareness #communicationiskey #youarenotalone #youareenough #ouryouthmatter #childrensmentalhealth

Be Your Own Best Friend

“Noone is judging you harder than you already judge yourself.” ~ unknown

This is me in a nutshell.

It’s led me to feel defeated, hopeless, worthless and emotionally scarred for more than seven years now. 

I’m my own worst enemy. 

We all make mistakes.

We all experience failure.

We all have shortcomings.

All we can do is try our best to be our best.

We are only human.

We are all imperfectly perfect.

We should treat ourselves the way we would treat a best friend.

However, first I need to learn how to forgive myself, how to trust in myself more, how to see my full potential, how to be kinder and more compassionate with myself, how to be the loudest cheerleader in the room, how to be my biggest fan, how to embrace my flaws, how to stop judging myself and how to love myself unconditionally.

After all that’s what best friends do for each other.

I need to become my own best friend.

Are you your own best friend?

#beyourownbestfriend #loveyourselffirsst #unconditionallove #selfworth #selflove #selfcompassion #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #youmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness 

ATHLETES ARE HUMAN BEINGS TOO

Earlier this week, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka announced her decision to withdraw from the French Open. 

In doing so she has opened up some very important and very necessary conversations that need to be had. 

Athletes, whether in College or on a professional playing field are put on a pedestal, made to perform to perfection and always expected to be at the top of their game. 

That kind of pressure can certainly take its toll on anybody’s mental health and well-being, even that of a professional athlete. They may be our heroes but they are also human. 

I give Naomi (who at 23 years old is wise beyond her years) a standing ovation for her courage to step away from the podium and look after her mental health. A decision I’m sure that was not made easily. 

Why is it that when an athlete gets hurt on the ice, or on the field or on the court they are given all the time they need to heal but when their injury is invisible to the world they are criticized and made to feel as though they are weak?

Naomi is here to show the world that our mental health matters too.

Her courage to take a stand and step away from the podium for now in order to take care of her mental health and knowing that it could potentially destroy her career in doing so, I have no doubt in my mind that she is going to come through this stronger and better than ever.

She is showing the world that it’s okay to not be okay and that by choosing herself over her career, asking for help when needed and creating healthy boundaries in order to begin the healing process that she is a human being first; a perfectly imperfect one just like the rest of us.

*I’d like to give a special shout out to Nike and Mastercard, along with several other corporate giants who have sponsorship deals with Naomi for not hesitating to show their loyalty and support to her. Their statements to the press praising Naomi for her courage in sharing her struggles with depression and social anxiety boldly acknowledges that our mental health does matter. Thank you for standing with Naomi. I couldn’t agree more. 

#naomiosaka #tennisanyone #tennis #grandslam #frenchopen #mentalhealthofathletes #athletes #professionalsports #endthestigmatogether #yourmentalhealthmatters #nike #mastercard #sponsorships #mentalwellness #selfcare #mentalhealth #depression #anxietyisreal #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok 

Our Youth Matter

I feel so grateful by the overwhelming response I’ve received in the past few days since launching my Class of 2021 grad sign campaign. Wow! The heartfelt messages of support and sincere words of appreciation for taking on this project again this year to honour our most deserving graduates yet is just beyond words.  

One of the organizations I wish to support in this year’s campaign through the generosity of your donations is “Phillips House”; home to North York General Hospital’s child and adolescent outpatient programs.

The redeveloped (and first of its kind in Canada) 15,000 sq. ft. Georgian-style mansion, located near the hospital has been transformed into a serene, healing space that promotes health and wellbeing. Their outpatient services and day programs focus on the treatments of mood disorders, ADHD, substance abuse, eating disorders and other mental health conditions.  

I first learned of Philips House by a mom I was introduced to online several years earlier who has since become one of it’s main contributors through her group called “The Maddie Project”. 

“The Maddie Project” is a volunteer based organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the mental health needs of children. They focus on ending the stigma surrounding adolescent depression and help to make mental health services more accessible and affordable to adolescents in need. 

“The Maddie Project” is named in loving memory of Maddie German Coulter, the daughter of the mom I spoke of above who lost her battle with depression in 2015 at the age of 14. Through the amazing commitment and support of the community they have raised over 3 million dollars to date which helped build “Maddie’s Healing Garden”, a 1.2 acre green space that now surrounds “Phillips House” and provides patients with a calming, natural setting for therapy, meditation and physical activity. 

Maddie’s story really touched my heart deeply. At the time of her death my 3 kids were all very close in age to her and it really hit home. I could feel the pain and sadness of her family, of her friends and of her community at large but as someone who struggles every day with chronic depression and understands just how unforgiving it can be, I felt her pain most. She was a young, beautiful, energetic, bright shining light with so much life ahead of her but I am grateful to “The Maddie Project” for continuing to shine her bright light on our community through healing, education, advocacy and giving hope to all the other “Maddies” out there.

I will be placing my order in a few short days so if you would still like to purchase a graduation lawn sign or make a donation to help make a difference in the life of a child or adolescent who may be feeling vulnerable and alone right now or in need of some extra support during these most difficult days still ahead please contact me today at: youthareenough@gmail.com.

Thank you again for all your kind words, continued support and encouragement throughout my campaign and throughout my journey itself. 

*Don’t forget to keep spreading the word!*

Please continue to follow my journey at: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com.  You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and my Facebook page youareenough123. 

#phillipshouse #themaddieproject #northyorkgeneralhospital #graduationday #grads #classof2021 #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #suicideprevention  #suicideawareness #checkonyourlovedones #lawnsigns #2021grads #ouryouthmatter #strongertogether #payitforward 

It Was Seven Years Ago Today: What My Illness Has Both Taken From Me And Taught Me Too

It was seven years ago today that I uttered the words “I want to die” for the very first time.

It was seven years ago today that I felt hopeless and alone for the very first time.

It was seven years ago today that my life no longer felt purposeful for the very first time. 

It was seven years ago today that I felt broken for the very first time. 

It was seven years ago today that I felt unlovable for the very first time.

It was seven years ago today that I lost my way for the very first time.

It was seven years ago today that I felt like the world was better off without me for the very first time. 

It was seven years ago today that I felt an abundance of sadness and shame come over me for the very first time. 

It was seven years ago today that my life was about to change forever and I felt too powerless and helpless to stop it.

It was seven years ago today that I peered outside my bedroom window hoping to find myself somewhere out there.

It was seven years ago today that suddenly I felt a disconnect from the person I once was and with each passing year she seems to fade further and further from my mind.

But someone new emerged in her place that day instead and even though she still feels all those same emotions today that she did seven years ago her new identity has taught her so much more than she ever thought imaginable about both herself and others. 

Her new identity has learned to embrace the difficult moments as a way to grow and co-exist with herself.

Her new identity has learned how to create more meaning in her life.

Her new identity has learned ways to stop running from herself by using the anchor she has been given when she needs a break. 

Her new identity has learned to recognize the pain and suffering in others with heartfelt compassion, empathy and kindness through the acceptance of her own pain and suffering.

Her new identity has learned how to ask for help and how to advocate for those who aren’t quite able to yet. 

Her new identity has found her voice, one that she no longer takes for granted. 

Her new identity has become stronger and more resilient than she truly realizes or gives herself enough credit for. 

Her new identity has learned the importance of making self-care her number one priority.

Her new identity has learned how to set limits and enforce healthy boundaries which has in turn created deeper, more meaningful bonds with the people in her life.

And she is grateful. Not for all that she has necessarily lost since that very first day seven years ago but for all that she has gained and learned since then. And it’s alot.

#itwassevenyearsagotoday #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfdiscovery #selfcare #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #checkonyourlovedones #bekindtoyourself #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #endthestigmatogether  

Nostalgia

Last night we watched the movie “The Last Blockbuster” on Netflix (a bit ironic I have to say). 

It’s a Documentary about the demise of the Blockbuster Franchise (and how they once turned down an offer to buy Netflix; boy do I pity the fool now!). It also highlighted the very last store still in existence today in Bend, Oregon. 

To be honest I was never a regular customer of Blockbuster but boy oh boy did this movie ever bring back like a Gazillion or more memories from my childhood and young adult life; so much so that I kept trying to pause the movie in order to share some of those exciting highlights with the kids and Rich as they popped into my head but if you can believe it, they were more interested in watching the movie than listening to more of my silly (and often tearful) nostalgia!

Seriously though, I would’ve thought my kids could’ve at least pretended to show some interest in my stories, I mean like after all, their parents actually met while working together in a videostore and what about my husband, I would’ve thought he’d have been all ears too seeing as he met his future bride over 30 years ago at a videostore as well!!!

They’re just lucky that they’d already gone to their rooms after the movie was over or I may have tried to take them with me on another nostalgic trip down memory lane when, shortly after the movie ended I became aware through Social Media that my favourite (or a very close second to Judy Blume) children’s book author from my childhood Beverly Cleary had just passed away at 104 years young. Boy did they sure dodge a bullet that time!

What triggers nostalgia in you?

#thelastblockbuster #memories #nostalgia #videostores #videoflicks #dvds #vcrs #newreleases #popcorn #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #ripbeverlycleary #judyblume #childrensbookauthors

These Boots Are Made For Walking

I bought these last March, one week before the world shut down.

At the time they felt like the perfect addition to my spring wardrobe.

Sadly, I can now count on one hand (if that) how many times I’ve actually worn them.

But every now and again I like to put them on so I can feel somewhat human again or maybe like I actually have some place to be.

~It’s easy to judge someone when you’ve never walked in their shoes~

#empathy #compassion #kindness #thesebootsaremadeforwalking #comfyshoes #alldressedupandnowheretogo #iftheshoefits #booties #selfcare #mentalwellness #mentalhealth

Down The Rabbit Hole

I’ve been in a pretty bad headspace over the last few days and my negative  thoughts and uncontrollable emotions seem to have me tumbling further and further down into a very dark rabbit hole, maybe for my own protection. Or maybe it’s something else. 
I’m not really sure how I fell so deep into this particular rabbit hole but I may have begun spiralling down it around the same time I awoke one morning earlier this week with severe and at times unbearable back and chest pain. 
I have found myself in tears too many times to count this week and I honestly have no clue why I’m even crying half the time anymore unless of course it’s from the unexplainable pain I’m in.
I’ve tried climbing out of the rabbit hole many times before but I think that when I burrow further down inside that I feel a sense of protection and safety from any further harm or pain. Being inside the hole feels almost like a fortress and keeps me warm. 
Maybe the rabbit hole gives me a false sense of security but its okay because I know that anytime I am able to dig or claw my way out that there is always a colony waiting for me at the top, holding out their hand or ready to reach in and pull me out by my ears.
#rabbitholes #safety #headspace #itsalrighttocry #depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mindfulness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourlovedones #youareenough 

Depression Is Not A One Day Sales Event

Today is “Blue Monday”. Every year the third Monday in January has been labelled as the most “depressing” day of the year. 

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog titled; “Stop Calling It Blue Monday” where I described the many formulas for which “Blue Monday” got its namesake and sure, on paper, today could very well look like it may live up to its name (see blog: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/stop-calling-it-blue-monday) but the campaigns which are associated with “Blue Monday” are commercializing on it (book a tropical getaway now) and therefore further trivializing what is a very serious, debilitating and often life threatening disorder for so many of us, including myself. 

This time of year can undoubtedly be difficult enough for so many of us as the bills start piling up from the holidays, new year’s resolutions are being broken, getting outside for fresh air has become more difficult due to the inclement weather in many parts of the world and for many others there is possibly an overall feeling of gloominess stemming from having less hours of daylight in our day.

But this year we have sadly added a whole other layer to what may be causing so many more individuals to be feeling even more stressed or S.A.D (see blog from February 2018:  https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/im-s-a-d-the-february-blues) this time of year, and even more so than in years past which is now better known as Covid fatigue. 

So when it is suggested to us that we should all feel somewhat depressed on one single day each year feels very belittling and almost condescending, especially this year more than ever. 

But I will give “Blue Monday” kudos for giving a voice to Depression. By talking about “Blue Monday”, by watching it being discussed on all the news channels today and by listening to many experts on the radio giving both advice and important resources available to you for tackling Depression head on is helping to further destigmatize it. It is allowing for many individuals who may be feeling very much alone right now to find the courage to ask for help and it’s letting you know that help is available. And most importantly it’s telling someone who may not know it yet but it’s okay to not be okay; yesterday, today and even tomorrow. 

***There are many free online programs and resources available and here is one that is now available through Shoppers Drug Mart in the Provinces of Ontario and Manitoba (ages 16 plus)*** https://shoppersdrugmart.myicbt.com/home?email=amVubmluZ3MuamFkYUBnbWFpbC5jb20%3D-%20A%20Badge%20-%20CBT-01

#bluemonday #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #checkonyourlovedones #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillness #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #mentalhealth

A Dog’s Sixth Sense

 

I’ve been living with a severe anxiety disorder on a daily basis for more than six years now (yup old news, I know) and I’m pretty certain by now that it’s something I will live with for the rest of my days. But I also suffer with a panic disorder and although I don’t experience panic attacks quite so often, they seem to be happening more and more frequently lately.

Many people think that anxiety and panic attacks are one in the same, but they are not. They often exhibit some similarities when it comes to symptoms (i.e: heart palpitations, chest pain, numbness or tingling sensations, shortness of breath and nausea), but unlike many of those regular symptoms that seem to follow me around on a daily basis, a panic attack will come on much stronger, often very suddenly and involve intense and overwhelming fear (panic). 

The other day I wrote a blog describing a panic attack that I had experienced the night before (https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/01/09/today-is-a-new-day) but what I left out was that I have not just been experiencing them more frequently, I have actually been experiencing them EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for the past week or so, and last night was no exception. 

As I lay in bed feeling anxious last night (surprise, surprise) my thoughts quickly intensified and without any further warning a feeling of panic and impending doom set in and before I knew it I was in the depths of a full blown panic attack, fearing that something very, very bad was about to happen. 

Rich lay helplessly beside me, holding my hand as tears ran down my cheek. I was hyperventilating and felt like I wanted to pull my hair out and jump out of my skin. The next thing I remember happening was Maggie laying on my chest licking my face. I truly believe that dogs can sense their human’s emotions and body language. They just seem to know when the right time is to snuggle up beside you or even help to wipe away your tears. It’s so much more than just a sixth sense and I’m really grateful to have this added layer of protection in my life when I need it the most.

#panicattack #panicdisorder #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #endthestigmatogether #youarenotalone #youareenough #courage #itsoktonotbeok #emotionalsupportdog #pettherapy #sixthsense