A Thirst For The #summerofrich

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!!)

#twopointoh #learntopivot #insulatedwaterbottle #earlyfathersdaypresent #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #nature #hiking #getmoving #yourmentalhealthmatters #youareenough #family #relationshipgoals

SUICIDE CAN BE A SILENT KILLER

*It may be triggering to some*

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.

#checkonyourlovedones #checkonyourstrongfriends #yourmentalhealthmatters #suicideisasilentkiller #suicide #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #mentalillness #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillnessisreal 

50 days until I’m 50!  

Today marks 50 days until I’m 50!

I have a small favour to ask. 

Think of it as an early birthday gift to me.

I would love it if everyone could do one nice, thoughtful gesture for someone else every day for the next 50 days until my birthday. 

It doesn’t have to be anything too extravagant, after all isn’t it the thought that counts? The sentiment sure would mean alot to me and I bet it will mean even more to that someone else. 

Here are a few “gift” ideas for you!

Say good morning to a stranger.

Buy a cup of coffee for the driver behind you in line at the drive-thru.

Write a letter to someone using a pen and paper and then mail it to them.

Ask someone how their day is going; and then listen intently. 

Tell someone who could really use a good laugh a really bad joke.

Say “I love you” to someone you love.

Tell a child you are proud of them.

Send flowers, just because. 

Donate the clothes you don’t wear anymore. 

Drop off some dry/canned goods at a local food bank.

Say thank you to an essential worker.

Say thank you to a teacher.

Say thank you.

Say “I’m sorry” when you are wrong. 

Support a small business in your neighborhood. 

So, who’s ready for the challenge?What are some other gift ideas you have in mind?

Sometimes doing the smallest of gestures for someone else can be the most meaningful gift of all. 

I’d love to hear how it’s going and how many times over the next 50 days you make someone else smile. And feel free to share this with others because there are plenty of “gifts” to go around.

#turningfiftyinfifty #smallgestures #kindnessmatters #bekind #spreadkindness #birthdaygift #halfcentury #youareenough #youarenotalone #payitforward  #mentalhealthweek #mentalhealth #mentalwellness 

National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week: Let’s Change The Conversation Today

Each year the first week of May is recognized as National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week. It’s probably pretty obvious by now that I don’t need any excuse what so ever to raise awareness about either one of these two mental disorders or tell you how important it is to talk about the potential impact they can have on someone’s ability to function in their daily life. 

Depression and Anxiety are the two most common of all mental health disorders and over the course of this past year have become increasingly more and more debilitating to so many people’s lives. 

But then why is there still such stigma attached?

Why do so many people feel a sense of shame and guilt when it comes to their diagnosis?

Why is it still so hard for someone to open up about how they are truly feeling?

Well as someone who has probably heard it all by now, I get it, I get why so many people are afraid to open up about how they are feeling because I too have felt the impact of the stigma surrounding my illness too many times to count and I too have felt the shame and guilt that often comes along with my diagnosis. 

It’s important to remember that having a mental disorder is not something that a person chooses to have, they are actual medical conditions and need to be treated with medication and/or therapy; and that no one should ever have to justify their feelings to anyone. 

But too often the person who is suffering with Depression and/or Anxiety are left having to defend themselves against the actions and words of others. And even though their intentions may be coming from a place of love or out of deep concern for the individual who is suffering, those words or actions can end up doing more harm than good and leaving someone feeling attacked or hurt when we dismiss or minimize or deny or compare their feelings.

So can we all make a fresh start today and change the conversation? 

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety to “snap out of it”, “try harder” or to simply “cheer up”. 

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering  with Depression or Anxiety that they don’t look or sound “sad” or “depressed”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that everyone has “bad days” or that a lot of people “have it much worse”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that “it’s all in your head” and that they are acting “selfish”.

Let’s not tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety to “take a long walk” and you will feel better. 

And let’s never again tell someone who is suffering with Depression or Anxiety that they just need to “think positive” and “happy thoughts”.

Let’s change the conversation today.  Somedays my life truly depends on it and I know that I’m not alone. 

#changetheconversation #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #checkonyourlovedones  #startaconversation #empathy #dontsufferinsilence #endthestigmatogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #bekind #whatdoesmentalillnessfeellike #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters  

Zoomed in With Hadassah-WIZO

Thank you so much Rochelle for inviting me to speak to your Hadassah chapter tonight about my mental health journey. (Hadassah-WIZO is a “leading Jewish philanthropic organization dedicated to the causes of health, child welfare, education and youth aliyah in Israel”. Jewish women around the world liaise with other women in their community and volunteer for these worthy causes; myself included many years ago.)

I am truly so very appreciative for the opportunity and for the especially warm welcome by everyone. 

It was nearly a year ago now since we had to postpone my “in person” speaking engagement last May due to Covid-19. You did however at the time present me with an alternate option to speak to your group on Zoom instead. 

But to be perfectly honest I barely even knew what the heck Zoom was a year ago let alone how to navigate my way through it. 

The concept was so new to me (I had only just participated in my very first Zoom call ever during our Passover Sedar weeks before this which my kids had set up).

Presenting myself over Zoom felt very overwhelming and intimidating and so we decided that it was best to wait until they resumed their meetings again in the Fall when life would be back to “normal” and I could attend “in person”. 

Well as I look back now at our conversation last spring it seems we may have both been a bit too overconfident in our assumptions seeing as it is now one year later and life is still so far from “normal”.

But the good news is that I’ve had plenty of time to practice and learn many new skills since then which now includes navigating my way around Zoom.

It’s still a very far reach outside my comfort zone and I will certainly never claim to be an expert in the field any time soon but since this is as normal as life is gonna be for who the f*@k knows at this point I will take every opportunity I’m given to continue sharing my story with others, to keep educating people about depression and anxiety, to keep opening up important conversations about mental illness, to keep spreading awareness about suicide prevention and to help ensure that someone listening feel less alone. 

What is one new skill you have learned this past year?

#hadassahwizo #zoom #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #blogger #author #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #purpose #youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #startaconversation #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters 

Some days more than others I really need reminding.

#youareenough #inkedforlife #tattoo #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #checkonyourlovedones #depression #anxiety #suicideprevention  #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #masksoff

IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE; BELIEVE THEM 

As most of you probably already know by now, Meghan Markle revealed to Oprah Sunday night during their interview together that while she was pregnant with baby Archie she considered taking her own life (in case you missed my latest blog: The Life Of Royalty Isn’t Always A Fairy Tale, please go to: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/03/08/the-life-of-royalty-isnt-always-a-fairy-tale to catch up).

I always try to hold on to my belief that we as a society are making progress in the area of mental health and the stigma attached to mental illness but today it just feels hopeless. 

Instead today I am feeling both sickened and angry over the amount of criticism and skepticism that I have seen on social media or read in the news over the past 24 hours bashing Meghan’s shocking revelations. 

I have seen comment after comment in many, many news feeds by people stating how it is not possible for someone as rich or as famous or as successful as Meghan to ever have anything to be depressed about? 

I have written so many blogs about how mental illness does not discriminate. Do they need to be reminded about Robin Williams and Kate Spade or so many others who had fame and fortune who have died by suicide because I’ve got plenty of blogs in the archives all about these tragic losses? 

But what truly makes me most sickened and angry from all of the ignorant comments I have been reading is how many of these same people are calling her a liar. 

If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide; believe them.

These comments can be very detrimental to someone like me who struggles with daily thoughts of suicide. This blatant disregard for empathy could very likely cause someone reading those comments to follow through on their ideations believing that if they were to tell a loved one or confidant that they are thinking of ending their life they wouldn’t be heard or maybe they will be met with judgement instead, pushing them further to the brink.

If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide; believe them.

Let them know you are listening to them, show your support for them, encourage them to keep talking, ask them the difficult questions, follow their lead, suggest they seek professional help or find them the help yourself if you fear they are in immediate danger and most importantly let them know you will continue to be there for them.

**If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out for help immediately to a trusted friend, confident or loved one. There are also many online resources to help guide you. You are not alone. I am always here to listen❤.

#youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #blogger #author #theroyalfamily #meghanmarkle #suicideprevention #suicidalthoughts #suicideawareness 

The Life Of Royalty Isn’t Always A Fairy Tale

I’m pretty sure that last night’s interview between Oprah, Prince Harry (can I still call him that?) and his beautiful wife Meghan was met with great controversy and so many mixed emotions but I am here “on record” to tell you that I have adored Harry (I’ve even voiced it several times in my blog) and have been rooting for him ever since he was a little boy who tragically lost his mom. 

My adoration for him has only grown stronger and stronger over the years since he began living his true authentic life and even more so once he started opening up about his own mental health struggles and becoming an advocate for change.

I had been really looking forward to watching the 2 hour special with Oprah all week long and it did not disappoint. I thought the interview was both genuine and very real and it further validated for me what I had already felt about the royal family as an institution. I hung onto every word that both Meghan and Harry spoke but of course it will come as no big surprise to anyone which segment of the interview stood out most in my mind for me. 

Last night Meghan so bravely revealed to Oprah that not long after she married Harry she began to contemplate suicide and felt as though she just didn’t want to be alive anymore.

As Meghan’s thoughts of suicide grew stronger and more intense she knew that she couldn’t fight her urges any longer on her own and needed some help. Asking for help when you are feeling suicidal takes great strength and courage, even for a “Princess” but when Meghan reached out to the royal family for help, pleading with them to send her to a hospital she was boldly told NO because “it wouldn’t be good for the institution”. My jaw dropped to the floor. 

No one should ever be made to feel as though they are not worthy of living their best life or that their feelings are not validated and my only hope after watching Meghan tell her story last night is that millions of other people understood her message to the world as well. 

Too many of us are afraid to speak up when we are feeling as though we don’t want to live anymore. Meghan did speak up and although she didn’t get the response she deserved at first, she persevered until she did. 

Asking for help may look different for everyone but it is not a sign of weakness and even though she felt like a burden to her husband she knew he would listen attentively to her and with great compassion and most importantly without judgment. And boy was she right!

Whatever ill feelings some people may have of Harry for seemingly abandoning his duties as royalty he did what any good husband and great father would do for their own family. He did what he felt in his heart was right and what he had longed for someone to have done for his own mother all those years ago when she felt just as unprotected as Meghan did by the same institution who also denied her the help she too so desperately begged for.

No matter what comes next for the couple and their growing family, Meghan has definitely found her Prince Charming, Harry has definitely found his Princess and I have no doubt that their fairy tale will have a happy ending.

*If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out for help immediately to a trusted friend, confident or loved one. There are also many online resources to help guide you. You are not alone.
 

#youareenough #youarenotalone #endthestigmatogether #itsoktonotbeok #yourmentalhealthmatters #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #blogger #author #theroyalfamily #princeharry #meghanmarkel #oprah #suicideprevention #suicideawareness 

Keep Talking About Suicide

*may be triggering to some*

I’m struggling to stay motivated these days but if I’m to be completely honest here (which is something I always try to do in my writing), it’s been an ongoing struggle of mine for the better part of seven years now.

Living with depression for as long as I have, I’ve become really well versed in what I am supposed to do to feel more motivated and even though I may try and practice many of the strategies and tools I’ve been given in order to do so, I more often than not find myself unable to focus or concentrate or stay on track for very long because, well in all honesty again, depression is very strong-willed and always seems to find a way to kill my motivation, distract me from my day to day tasks and completely suck away all of my mental and physical energy.

I just finished reading a book titled “So-Called Normal” by Mark Henick. I have been following Mark’s story for quite some time now and was very much looking forward to the release of his new memoir. 

The book captivated me from start to finish, I hung onto his every word, especially as I learned more and more about his life as a young boy and awkward teenager where he grew more and more depressed.  

I was first drawn in by his story several years ago when I happened upon a Ted Talk he did where he discussed the importance of talking about suicide and stigma after he had several attempts at suicide during his formative years. 

His Ted Talk is now among one of the most watched Ted Talks around the world along with the story of his suicide attempt at the age of 15 that went viral after he began searching for the “faceless man in the light brown jacket”  (available on YouTube) many years later who had so bravely and selflessly saved him from jumping off a bridge in his small town in Nova Scotia where he lived (he now resides in Toronto with his wife and three young children). It had not been his first suicide attempt but it thankfully did become his last. 

Some may argue that reading a book about suicidal ideations and suicide attempts could be triggering, maybe even give someone like myself some new and innovative ideas on how to kill myself. But it’s not at all. In fact it’s just the opposite.

For starters, noone needs to put these ideas into my head; trust me when I tell you that they get in there all by my own doing and noone has ever put these ideas in my head; ever. 

After Mark’s final suicide attempt he set out on a mission to prove to his High School’s administration team that by sharing his story with his peers was not going to encourage someone to attempt suicide if they weren’t already thinking about it in their own mind but could instead bring other’s hope. By not talking about it can and will just make others with those same thoughts in their head feel even more alone.

Since that fateful day back in 2003, at the age of 15 Mark has not stopped talking. He has kept sharing his story over and over again to platforms on both a National and International scale and has since turned it into both his passion and life’s purpose. 

It’s probably what I have admired most about him for so long now and even more so since reading his story in full. He is so inspiring and has such strength and resilience which is why I felt I needed to share his story with you all. 

With every page I turned or new chapter I read I began to feel more and more motivated to continue sharing my own journey; because if truth be told, my very strong-willed depression has been telling me alot lately that I should shut up and just stop talking.

There was one paragraph in particular that really stood out for me and really made me truly understand how important it is for me to keep motivated and to keep talking. It came about 3/4’s of the way into the book when Mark himself began questioning whether or not he too should continue sharing his story, the same story he’d been telling audiences all over the world for many years by now. It was on that day when someone said to him: “It might be your hundredth time saying it, but it’s probably someone else’s first time hearing it.” that he knew he couldn’t stop talking. Yup those words really resonated with me, like a lot. 

Maybe now, after reading his book I can also find the strength and motivation to follow up with Mark from our last conversation we had back in September when he had reached out to me to be a guest speaker on his Podcast “So-Called Normal’.

At the time I was feeling quite intimidated by him, afterall here he was living his best life and making a difference in so many people’s lives and here I was just days past yet another visit to the emergency room feeling very suicidal and my strong-willed depression had me second guessing what I could possibly have to offer his audience. 

But after reading his entire story in great length, I now know that he still has days where he struggles too or other days where something may trigger him as well, but he has learned through sharing his story that he can get through those urges and that gives me hope and a much deeper understanding of just how truly motivating it can be. 

#motivation #socallednormal #memoir #tedtalk #markhenick #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #yourmentalhealthmatters #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocate #wheredidmommyssmilego #blogger #author 

“BE THE ADULT YOU NEEDED AS A CHILD” 

Since my diagnosis with depression and anxiety I have constantly worried that my children will one day grow to resent me (or maybe they already do) because of my illness. I fear that my inability to always be “present” in their lives or that the many boundaries I’ve needed to set in place for my own self-care could one day cause them to feel as though they were not good enough. 

I hope they know how much I love them and how much I beam with so much pride over each and every one of their incredible achievements and accomplishments but as their mom I can’t help but feel that I have failed them by not being the parent they deserved.

I stumbled upon this quote recently “Be the adult you needed as a child” ~Ayesha Siddiqui~ and it has been consuming me with so much guilt as I try to grapple with these feelings but not just from a parent’s perspective but from that of an adult child who grew up never feeling good enough.

I never want my children to feel this way or to carry with them the burden that I myself carry from my own childhood. I never want them to look back on their young adult years and feel accountable or take responsibility for my illness. I never want them to lack the confidence it takes to create their own healthy boundaries and I never want them to feel manipulated or consumed by guilt. 

I’m trying to be more gentle on myself, I’m trying to forgive myself more and I’m trying to let go of alot of the guilt that has being weighing me down from my own adolescence and childhood knowing in my heart that it’s not my weight to carry in the first place. 

Instead all I truly hope for is that my kids will always believe in me and know that I am trying my very best to be the parent they need and deserve and to ensure that no matter what, they will continue to grow and thrive by feeling as though they are more than good enough, because they are.

#youareenough #youarenotalone #selfcare #healthyboundaries #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #parentingplaybook #familymatters #mom #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #blogger #ayeshasiddiqui