Can We Talk?

***Please Read to End***

In 2010 Bell Media began its impactful initiative called “Bell Let’s Talk” Day.  It is the largest corporate initiative in the country entirely focused on Mental Health and Wellness. Since its conception 8 years ago “Bell Let’s Talk” has raised millions of dollars for institutions and organizations across the country along with the aid of some government and corporations that have joined forces with Bell Media.  Its mantra is dedicated to moving the stigma around mental illness forward by promoting awareness and taking action through its four pillars; workplace health, research, access & care and anti-stigma.

As most of you know by now, many people struggling from a mental illness often suffer in silence for fear of being judged or ostracized.  They are afraid to seek help for fear that their friend, their boss or even their spouse may find out that they are suffering.  Bell Media decided 8 years ago that it was time for people to start talking and took their vision and resources to build a day entirely dedicated to opening up this very important conversation.  This was a very bold move given that at the time society wasn’t yet ready to talk.

Since its conception, “Bell Let’s Talk” Day quickly grew to celebrity status, literally.  Well known celebrity figures from across Canada jumped on board to share their own personal stories of living with a mental illness.  Six time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes became the first official spokesperson to join forces with Bell Media and open up the much overdue dialogue.   Before long many more familiar faces were standing behind Clara Hughes and taking action by starting their own conversations.  Michael Landsberg, a very well-known Canadian Sports Broadcaster has said that speaking publicly about his ongoing battle with depression is probably his biggest accomplishment and has since begun his own movement called #sicknotweak. He does a daily vlog which I listen to everyday where he discusses his struggles and assures us that suffering from a mental illness does not makes us weak.  Lastly, and probably the most famous face of “Bell Let’s Talk” is Howie Mandel.  He has been very open about his struggles with Mental Illness and continues to do so through an international stage.

This year on January 31st, “Bell Let’s Talk” has decided to take their initiative one step further in ending the stigma surrounding Mental Illness as they travelled the country interviewing a multitude of everyday individuals suffering and sharing their own stories.  Stories like these will ensure their goal becomes even more attainable with the help of Dr. Heather Stuart, the Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University who developed 5 simple methods to strive towards going ahead.  Her list is straightforward and uncomplicated, acknowledging that “language matters- pay attention to the words you use about Mental Health”; “educate yourself – learn, know and talk more, understand the signs”; “Be kind – small acts of kindness speaks a lot”, Listen and ask – sometimes it’s best to just listen”; and lastly, “Talk about it – start a dialogue, break the silence”.

Through my writing over the past year I have urged the importance of using these 5 simple techniques in order to break the stigma and even though it’s going to take a lot more than one day per year being dedicated to this action, it is definitely awakening our nation and beyond.  Each year on “Bell Let’s Talk” Day they have taken the social media world by storm by donating 5 cents to Canadian Mental Health programs each time you text or call someone on a Bell network, each time you tweet the hashtag #BellLetsTalk or view their “Bell Let’s Talk” video on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.  They will also donate 5 cents for anyone who changes their profile picture on Facebook to incorporate their “Bell Let’s Talk” frame.

You may think how will my 5 cents, 10 cents or even 50 cents help?  Well just like the saying goes, “every vote counts”, it truly will, as it is embarking on attaining its goal of raising 100 million dollars within the next few years, and just as importantly people are starting more and more conversations across the nation and beyond.  Are you ready to join the conversation?

A Guilt-Ridden Mind

Guilt is an emotion that can weigh anyone down, but when suffering with depression and anxiety I can tell you that it is a persistent feeling that gnaws away at your insides like when a lion is eating his prey.  Guilt is defined as being both a cognitive and emotional state wherein our conscience mind believes that we have done something wrong, true or not, compromising one’s morals and enduring a significant amount of remorse.  However, sometimes feeling guilt can be a good thing as it may help to protect us or keep us from making mindless or foolish mistakes unless it becomes excessive and infringes on unhealthy territory, keeping us from functioning a normal life.

Feeling guilty about something is a natural and human emotion that affects everyone at some point in their life, some more than others.  Occasionally we feel guilty because we ate that last piece of cake even though we had been dieting all week, or we chose to skip the gym that morning because we were too tired and just wanted to stay in our pajamas all day curled up on the couch watching Netflix instead.  Sometimes we find ourselves feeling guilty because we have been too busy working on a project at work and have neglected our loved ones or maybe we bought yet another pair of shoes we had been eyeing at the mall for weeks spending too much money unnecessarily.

These types of guilty feelings usually vanish within a few hours of its onset, leaving little to no damage or repercussions behind, but when it comes to depressive and anxious minds, guilt becomes so overwhelming and uncontrollable.  For me guilt has become a normal part of any given day, continually allowing my subconscious mind to blow things out of proportion, causing daily bouts of self-blame, self-doubt, low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness.  Guilt has caused me to be extremely indecisive, insecure and constantly laying blame on me with no justification or rationality.  It carries a heavy weight around with you, leaving you unable to reason or problem solve properly like an individual with a healthy mind.

I have been working a lot lately with the help of therapy trying to figure out ways to lessen the overpowering and forceful feelings of guilt by first trying to reprogram my brain into understanding that first and foremost, I did not choose to become depressed and anxious just like someone would not choose to have cancer or diabetes.  For many people suffering from depression, guilt can be very manipulative and darn right stubborn.  It further antagonizes and exasperates an already fragile mind when trying to shift the persistence of negative thoughts into more positive ones, or mastering our boundaries when it may risk disappointing others, or learning sometimes that the word “no” is actually a complete sentence which demands no further justification.

Guilt has become for me like a gift that keeps on giving, a very toxic and unrelenting one as I continue each and every day to find a way to understand how I got here, who I am, who I want to be and where I go from here.  The one thing I do know for sure is that the only way I’m going to find these answers is by squashing the guilt, one layer at a time, like peeling the skin off an onion.  It is only recently that I am learning through therapy how to peel those layers away and that in order to do so I need to choose ME.  So for now, as selfish as it may seem to some, and as guilty as I may feel…I CHOOSE ME.

100 Million Thank-You’s

Last week CAMH (Centre For Addiction & Mental Health) was entrusted with the largest donation ever for mental health in the sum of 100 million dollars by an anonymous donor.  CAMH is a teaching hospital as well as the world’s largest research hospital for mental health and addiction.  CAMH services both children and adults alike through assessments, interventions, both inpatient and outpatient programs, group interactions, continuing care and family support, none of which would be made possible without the aid of funding, grants and donations.

CAMH has stated that the donation of 100 million dollars will go toward developing cures for psychiatric conditions that affect millions and millions of people around the globe each year.  Their president and CEO, Dr. Catherine Zahn, says that the money will allow them to “foster research focused on understanding disease mechanisms, improving diagnosis, and new ways to predict, prevent and recover from mental illness.”

A donation of this magnitude is a defining moment for anyone who has ever been afflicted by any sort of mental illness whether it is themselves or a loved one.  It proves that voices are being heard and that a very taboo, stigmatized and much avoided topic are finally being embraced instead of passed over.  It is a demonstration that humankind is ready for change and ready for acceptance by putting hope back into a society that has been lost for so many individuals suffering from mental illness.

The Philanthropist who made this unprecedented, anonymous and beyond generous donation is just one of the millions of people who have been touched by the overwhelming grief and devastating impact that mental illness can cause on a person and their family.  It is paving the way for much needed open dialogue and de-stigmatization.  It is closing the enormous gap between donations that are normally made to other health-care related illnesses like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  There really is no way to describe the emotions that came over me when I first learned of this awe-inspiring gift, truly a gift made in good faith and with great confidence that an institution such as CAMH would take great care and consideration of.

CAMH first opened its doors over 150 years ago on Queen St (where its original location still remains today) and was known as the Provincial Lunatic Asylum.  Over centuries and decades the name has been changed several times, each time becoming less and less denounced in nature, but still a place where society shunned and avoided talking about.  When the hospital finally restructured in the late 1990’s and renamed once again to CAMH it became a safe environment filled with lots of aspiration, building upon its main goal of transforming the lives of mental illness sufferers through social change, education and recovery.

Over the past few years I have utilized several of CAMH’s services as many are offered through other hospitals and facilities in and around the Toronto area thanks to funding that is already in place, however, I have not come by it easily.  I have talked in length about the lack of support available, the wait lists for government funded programs, facilities, doctors, hospital beds and therapy, all of which have greatly impacted my recovery.  And lets not forget the burden I feel that I have put on my GP as each road block I hit, she is the one that is obligated to oversee my care, care that someone trained in mental health clearly should be facilitating.

So is it possible that we don’t only look to future research when strategically planning ways to use this incredible gift, but to maybe also consider taking a long hard look at the here and now.  The here and now can build upon or strengthen more facilities, more bed availability and more programs; the here and now can access more therapy and proper resources for patients in dire need and the here and now can alleviate some pressure from untrained doctors or facilitators.

Either way, I along with so many mental illness sufferers, whether vocally or silently, are beyond grateful for this donation.  Either way, 100 million thank-you’s will never be enough.

Cannabidoil (CBD OIL); My Personal Discovery towards Wellness


As many of you may already know, last year I decided to stop taking antidepressant medications after two (+) years of unsuccessful results.  In that two (+) years of trying at least 20 different combinations of drugs it further complicated matters as my immune system became weakened and in turn created so many additional problems.  When my husband and I approached my Psychiatrist at the time about our decision to stop my medications in order to give my body a much needed rest, he was not a willing participant however he agreed and began the difficult task of weaning me off all the drugs I was taking.

The process of weaning off many of these drugs can be a very slow and very painful one, but the damage they were causing my body was unfathomable in comparison.  Many of the physical symptoms that manifested over the two (+) years began to disappear as the detox took place.  What this meant for me was no more weekly or monthly visits to Rheumatologists, Dermatologists, Cardiologists, Gastroenterologists and a variety of other specialists.  What this also meant for me was the uncertainty of “now what”?   My Psychiatrist did urge me to try one more medication which ended in the same unfortunate result as all the prior attempts, including ECT and Ketamine during some of my hospital admissions.

Although I was no longer dealing with many of the physical issues anymore I was back to square one which led me to begin abusing my body in other ways to try and mask my depression and anxiety.  Over the past year (+) I have spent a great deal of time researching other methods of recovery by reading one self-help book after another, trying medical marijuana and several other non-traditional techniques which led me to the discovery of CBD oil.

CBD which stands for Cannabidioil is a cannabis compound that is said to have a significant amount of medical benefits, without leaving you feeling “stoned” or change your state of mind and is being used as an anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and antipsychotic remedy.  Researchers say that we are all born with cannabinoid receptors which are “located throughout the body and are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of physiological and central nervous system processes including appetite, pain sensation, mood, immune function, sleep, bone development and memory.”

CBD is quickly becoming a household name.  It is a welcomed source of pain management for people trying to avoid taking harmful and sometimes deadly opiates; it has also been known to manage epileptic seizures; and is being used more and more as a therapeutic approach to Cancer, Lupus, Autism, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, MS, along with Heart / Liver & Kidney Diseases.  Besides these amazing benefits CBD is also said to relieve inflammation in the body, digestive issues, fibromyalgia, nausea, migraines, skin conditions like psoriasis and acne, and many mental health conditions from OCD, ADD/ADHD, psychosis, bi-polar, depression & anxiety.

Recently I came upon a company in the States that was marketing CBD oil along with a number of other products, many of which contain CBD.  I reached out to several individuals in the company and began researching the products, their affects, its legality and then read probably hundreds of testimonies.  In the end, it was the testimonies that left me in tears and an even larger desire to try it for myself.  As I have mentioned recently, my resources have run thin and I have been told time and time again that I have treatment resistant depression, so I figured why not?

My husband also encouraged me to give it a try after he too spent a great deal of time researching the oil as well as the company itself.  It took about a week for the bottle of oil to arrive and that night I eagerly started taking it.  I was told to start with the 500 mg bottle (I ordered the peppermint flavor), taking 5 drops under my tongue in the morning and 5 drops before bed.  After a few days I began to increase it until I reached a therapeutic dose.  I have now been taking it for a month and decided that was more than enough time to give a fair assessment.  When I wake up in the morning feeling anxious, within minutes of taking my dose my heart palpitations subside and my nausea dissipates.  I have never had this happen to me before with any other medication I have tried, not even when I have abused a recommended dose given by doctors.  I am still taking it twice a day and take it more often when facing adversity or any type of social situation.  I ordered a second bottle last week and I am awaiting its arrival along with a spray to help with sleep.  I have increased it to the 750 mg bottle this time in hopes that it will begin to take control of my depression as well. my own personal website

The Law of Attraction

This time of the year often poses a heightened threat to my sense of purpose by getting caught up in a vicious web of distractions when the usual chaos of life is being forced out of sync.  It is a particularly challenging time of year, one where I compare myself to that of a hamster on his wheel, confined to a tiny cage, running around in circles, feeling unfulfilled, inadequate, empty, hopeless and uncertain.  This rush of emotions, much like the hamster on his wheel is always on autopilot, most of the time unaware of his efforts.

I have spent the past few weeks on autopilot, unaware of my surroundings and unaware of my efforts.  I have been struggling to write, struggling to spend time on my social media pages and struggling to focus on my purpose.  The magnification of these struggles has however led me to become aware as to how a person like me can begin to ‘live life on purpose’ by seeking some guidance towards self-empowerment.  Self-empowerment is made up of several components, and I know somewhere deep down, it resides within me.  It is first and foremost understanding your self-worth, which has been by far my biggest struggle to date.  It is a willingness to see yourself for who you are and know that you have the right to control your life and well-being on a spiritual, physical, emotional and mental level.  Self-empowerment is also finding the insight and inspiration to envision and generate a life worth living and in turn walking away from one that is not.

In order to live my life on purpose or give some clarity to it, I first need to find the strength, be able to express my true strength and finally take action through self-empowerment by developing a plan as to how I can gain that strength.  I have learned so much throughout my journey thus far, most of which not too many people could ever begin to understand or even relate to which is one of the reasons I began to share my story.  What this journey has taught me is that there is no quick fix, just like pixie dust or magic beans, there is no such thing as a magical pill to make everything better; no matter how much willpower someone has, it will not cure you; it is a myth that time heals all wounds, it may teach us how to live with the scars or cover up the pain, but it will forever be a part of you.  Simply put the direction I want to go all begins and ends with me.

With all that in mind and knowing I still have so many obstacles standing in my way, I am continually trying to evolve into a person who can live a life on purpose.  Just recently I returned to the gym where I have started swimming again and with the help of my husband, ensuring that this becomes a priority.  I am trying to figure out a way to have balance in my life and in doing so I am learning how to slowly let go of many toxicities in my life.  There is the belief that to be able to truly live your life on purpose one needs to be impacted by the “Law of Attraction” which uses the power of our mind to transcend our thoughts into reality when focusing on the positive.

Unfortunately one of the biggest obstacles standing in my way of gaining self-empowerment or finding the ability to live a life on purpose is the incapability to control the way I feel or the truthfulness of my thoughts.  Each day is filled with doubt, indecision and hesitation as I continue to explore my destination.  Experts say that we have over 50,000 thoughts per day and that 70 percent of depressed or anxious brains are negative ones.  So is it true that the theory and physics behind the “Law of Attraction” is real, a theory that has been practiced for centuries, a theory that is telling me that all I need to do to survive, or become self-empowered and begin to live my life on purpose is to ask for what I want and be prepared (as prepared as a friggen boy scout!) to be handed it.

New Year’s Resolutions When Suffering With Depression

Every year on January 1st millions of people around the globe make a solemn promise to themselves that they are going to ‘turn over a new leaf’.  We promise ourselves that we are ready to leave behind an undesirable bad habit or behaviour, and for some, we believe we are ready to accomplish a new personal goal in order to change our lives for the better.  We have heard them all before; I’m going to start to eat healthy, lose weight and exercise more; I’m going to quit smoking or drink less; I’m going to improve my finances, start a new career, volunteer at my favourite charity or go back to school; I’m going to read more, relax more, take a vacation, study more or pursue a new hobby; I’m going to spend more quality time with my family and friends, less time on social media and improve upon my mental well-being.

We enter into each new year with great intent to follow through on our resolutions, however, statistics show that even with our great intentions, close to 90 percent of people fail to meet their goal, and quickly.  Maybe it was because we made too many promises to ourselves, or maybe we just got busy again with life and forgot that we even made these promises to begin with, or maybe we were just too drunk when we came up with the idea in the first place! (LOL)

At one time or another in my life when New Year’s Day rolls around, I have set out to accomplish many of these resolutions and for the most part I quickly become one of the many statistics who could not succeed in their efforts.  Nowadays, the thought of making any kind of New Year’s Resolution is met with very crippling emotions.  It is a simple reminder that another year has passed and I am still battling to overcome adversity.  It is a simple reminder that I am unable to feel triumphant and it is by far a simple reminder that I am still left feeling defeated in my efforts.

There is a great deal of pressure surrounding New Year’s and especially when it comes to resolutions.  A new year signifies a fresh start, reflecting on the year that we are leaving behind, a time for a rebirth if you may.  It is a time for tradition and rituals like sipping champagne or kissing your loved ones at midnight.  It is a time for us to celebrate, a time for reflection, a time to take control and it is a time for great promise.  Clearly it is a time for transformation.

Living with depression and anxiety looming over you 365 days in a row, threatening your will to live, your motivation and your purpose can impede greatly on your ability to make that transformation at the start of a New Year.  Trust me I have tried.  Instead I feel like I am a flying trapeze artist, with no safety net below, no safety harness attached to me, trying to hang on for dear life.  Each day I find myself trying to climb up that ladder to the trapeze, stepping on a very narrow platform, grabbing hold of the very cold bar dangling in the air and begin swinging, hoping something will finally catch me before I fall.  Each day as I swing from the flying trapeze I aim to soar across to the other side, embracing my future and devoid of the darkness in my past, clearly trying to find my transformation.

As 2018 quickly approaches I will not be making any New Year’s Resolutions this year as it is best to not overwhelm myself with more feelings of failure or disappointment.  I will not pressure myself into thinking that the start of a New Year will translate into a new me.  I have already lost three New Years to date and I have yet to find that transformation I so desperately need to survive this disease, not without lack of trying.  So for now as I enter the New Year, I will try to hang on to that bar, I will try to keep swinging and I will try to learn how to soar.

“Why Me?”, Finding Acceptance Within

At some point in your life you have probably looked at yourself in the mirror, fixated on the unrecognizable image staring back at you, preoccupied and possibly dazed, you whisper to the world, “why me?”  “Why me” is most often expressed at a time when you are left trying to understand why you have been put into a difficult situation, or why something bad has happened to you.  “Why me” limits your sense of hope and control and leaves you with more questions than answers causing extra unnecessary exhaustion while trying to balance your thoughts.

Throughout my journey I have subconsciously found myself in front of that mirror too many times to count, fixated on the unrecognizable image staring back at me, preoccupied and dazed, whispering to the world, “why me?”  When looking in that mirror the most overwhelming emotion that comes to mind is how much I miss the person I used to be.  It is met with significant and intense pain, sadness and heartache as I have had to learn how to accept my fate for what it is because resistance and denial only deepen the wounds.

Acceptance of any kind can often be unfair, sometimes difficult and many times extremely challenging or downright impossible.  Learning to accept that I have a Mental Illness has been met with a great deal of opposition and a lot of trial and error.  It has taken on so many different faces as I have had to confront it head on and figure out how to acclimatize to it.  As I have been working toward my mental wellness, I have discovered many stumbling blocks along the way, and of late, finding myself moving two steps forward only to be quickly taken back three more.

Even though I have been able to accept the path in which I have been ushered down, I truly have given up on the hope that one day I will have some extraordinary metamorphosis or peace of mind.  It is difficult to accept something that is so taboo and stigmatized, but it’s a part of me, a part of who I am now.  Like it or not, this is my battle to win or lose, and with or without acceptance of it, I am the only person in charge of my own fate.  I know I cannot change the past or what has happened to me, I just need to play the cards in which I have been dealt.  So for now this is my acceptance.

In order to completely accept the journey I am on, I have begun to examine deep down inside myself.  I am trying to picture a reinvented future self and having to find the patience to do so knowing that it will be a slow, painful insight.  I have had to see things for what they really are, as inconceivable as they may seem.  I have also had to figure out and understand what works and what doesn’t work as my resources have become more and more of a challenge.  I know that a huge part of finding acceptance within is by surrounding myself with supportive, genuine people who can and do embrace all of me.  I need to be honest with myself and recognize that I cannot change the past, but most of all I need to learn how to stop punishing my present self.

So next time I find myself standing in front of that mirror, fixated on the unrecognizable image staring back at me, preoccupied and dazed, whispering to the world, “why me?”, I will try to see the more favourable part of my journey.  I will think about the acceptance I have given to others as well, by sharing my story over the past year, showing the real me, educating others who may be struggling themselves or have a loved one who is struggling to find their acceptance.  I will know that by learning to accept my mental illness, I am helping to end the stigma and in doing so I may even begin to recognize my purpose in this life.  They say that things happen for a reason, so maybe next time I stare at myself in that mirror instead of whispering to the world, “why me?”, maybe the best way to find acceptance within me is to instead shout out to the world, “WHY NOT ME?”

Make Your Bed

Recently I watched a commencement speech given by Admiral William H. McRaven, a retired U.S Navy Seal, in 2014 to the graduating class at the University of Texas.  I was so intrigued listening to his speech which recounted 10 lessons he learned from his 6 months of grueling, demanding, tiring and debilitating Navy Seal training.  These 10 lessons not only apply to life as a Navy Seal, but it equally applies to the challenges that each and every one of us endure as human beings living in an uncertain world.

After giving his speech in 2014, which went viral, Admiral William H. McRaven decided that he still had so much more to share with the world from his 37 year career as a U.S Navy Seal (which included the capturing of Saddam Hussein).  He felt a responsibility to expand on how those 10 simple lessons helped shape his life and did so by publishing a book a few months ago titled “Make Your Bed”.  It is a small but extremely powerful, compassionate and optimistic book that I was able to read with ease.  It is subtitled “Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World”.  That for me was what caught my eye as I am always looking for inspirational and relevant words that pertain to my life.

Each of the 10 chapters recounts stories of perseverance, suffering, determination, courage and humbleness.  Even through all of the hardships he endured, he still finds a way to motivate and captivate his readers with his knowledge and experience.  He reminds us that life is not meant to be attempted alone, that we all need a strong team behind us, cheering us on and picking up the slack when times get tough.  He teaches us the importance of respect and to never ever caste judgement on others.  He conveys to us that life is not always fair and that sometimes bad things do happen to good people.  He proves to us that failure IS an option and it will only help build character and strength.  He shows us that we all must take risks in order to get through the toughest obstacles that may be standing in our way.  He tells us to never back down from our fears, that it is better to face them straight on in order to find the courage to move forward.  He emphasizes that no matter what darkness may be thrown our way at some point in our lives, and it will, make sure to find the hopefulness and power within us to never ever give up.

The title “Make Your Bed” which is in turn, the first chapter of the book is also the foundation for which all the other chapters are built on.  How many times as a child did your parents tell you to make your bed, and how many times as a parent yourself have you mimicked those words to your own children.  My kids can attest to this as I am constantly bugging them to complete this task, but I am continually let down in my efforts.

The Admiral drills into his reader’s heads how important it is to accomplish this task, no matter how small or senseless it may seem to many it can actually change the way you approach your day.  He believes that if you want to change your life or conquer the world, it starts by completing this task first thing every morning, igniting a positive tone for what challenges may be thrown your way that day.  It helps lay to rest the struggles you may have encountered the day before, giving you fresh opportunities to face another day productively and ensure you complete many more tasks throughout your day.  As silly as it may seem, developing this good habit can also help reduce your stress level and de-clutter your mind, as when you walk into your room with a well made bed the aura of cleanliness will always make you smile and not to mention the satisfaction you feel when you get back into your tidy bed at the end of the day.  Lastly, by completing this simple task at the start of every day can help to reinforce the importance that its the little things in life that truly matter and who in this world doesn’t need a healthy dose of that.  I for one do, and from now on, the start of every day (whatever time that may be), I will be completing this task, maybe with hospital corners and all…and maybe just maybe, it will inspire my kids to follow…ya right, who am I kidding?

*I encourage everyone to watch Admiral William H. McRaven’s commencement speech on YouTube…or read his book!*

Is There A Light At the End Of My Tunnel?


Suicide is complex. Suicide is taboo.  Suicide is irrational thinking.  Suicide is stigmatized.  Suicide is distorted.  Suicide is hopelessness.  Suicide is guilt.  Suicide is permanent.

Suicide is in no way a character flaw, nor does it make you weak, instead it is an overwhelming pain that you wish could go away right now.  Over the past few years thoughts of suicide have entered my mind…daily.  I’m not going to lie when I tell you that I think about dying more than I think about living.  It crosses my unconscious mind probably 10 to 15 times per day, and it can happen anytime or anywhere.  I can be waking up in the morning, I can be watching TV, I can be spending time with you, it really has no boundaries.  

The act of trying to end my own life has entered my mind, and has been attempted with an unconscious plan.  Suicide can be broken down into two ideations, the first being passive and the latter being active.  Having active thoughts of suicide means that someone has a strong desire to die and it is accompanied by a concise plan on how to carry out that plan.  Being passively suicidal also involves a strong desire to die however there is no concise or active plan in place to attempt or complete their plan.  

I have been asked by many Mental Health professionals if I have “a plan” and if so what is it.  I have never admitted to an active plan, only to my passive ideations.  I have also been asked by many Mental Health professionals what stops me from actively carrying out my passive ideations.  The answer is always the same…my kids and the repercussions it would have on their future.  They would forever be left with the burden, the guilt, the anger and the grief associated with the stigma surrounding my death.  

Unfortunately there have been many times over the past few years when I look at it from a much different perspective.  A perspective where I feel so alone, one where I feel like the struggle isn’t worth it, one where I feel defeated by this disease, one where the pain seems like it has exceeded my resources and one where my passive ideations become more active.  

Having thoughts of suicide feels like nothing matters and that you are more of a burden to everyone by being alive, and that they would be much better off without you…maybe even happier.  I no longer recognize the once happy, outgoing, creative, and caring individual that I once was.  Instead I have become an empty, alienated, angry and tired shell of my former self.   Feeling suicidal is as though you are stuck inside a tunnel with no way out.  It’s dark, it’s scary, it’s lonely and you can’t see the light at the other end so it’s much easier to just give up.   

I am trying to refocus my healing process because I am running out of options.  Giving up I am told is not an option, so maybe as I refocus my healing process I will be able to one day reach that light at the end of my tunnel.

This To Me Is Unacceptable

Over the past several years I have spent countless hours in therapy, both one on one and in a group setting.  I have spent countless hours with Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Crisis Workers and Psychotherapists.  Many are covered by our Health-Care System and many more are not.  No matter what their title is or what the purpose for my visit is, one thing is always for certain, I become paralyzed with anxiety and panic leading up to my appointment.  It doesn’t matter if it is someone I have never seen before or someone I have seen numerous times, or even someone I see on a weekly basis, the results are always the same.  I go to bed the night before with heart palpitations, nausea and very negative self-talk, only to awake the next morning to continue the same cycle.  I stare at my phone desperately wanting to call and cancel my appointment feeling too sick and unable to drive.

This past week was no different.  My appointment was with someone I have being seeing quite regularly, but still I had a terrible night sleep as usual and the thought of getting out of bed was too much.  My husband drove me to my appointment which was at a hospital not so close to home.  I arrived at the therapist’s office which is in the out -patient mental health department of the hospital, so you can probably imagine how busy it is.  I check in with the receptionist as I do every time I go there, handing my health card to her to verify my information.  She thanks me and kindly tells me to have a seat while she lets the therapist know that I am there.  As I wait to be called in the feelings of anxiety and panic are only escalating.  What feels like an eternity, the receptionist calls me back over to her desk which was unusual.  She then informs me that she just found out upon contacting the therapist that he had called in sick that morning.  My feelings of anxiety and panic soon turned to rage.

It wasn’t as though my appointment was first thing in the morning and the day had just begun, yet no one seemed to have been informed of his absence.  I’m pretty sure that this would not have occurred if my appointment was in a private facility.  When dealing with an environment such as a mental health department where patients are already quite vulnerable this to me is unacceptable.

I get that as Canadians we are lucky that a visit to the hospital doesn’t involve paying out of pocket, but our healthcare system is failing us in so many other ways.  Have you visited an emergency room recently?  I have, and it’s a nothing short of a nightmare.  It’s overflowing with sick and elderly people.  People are lined up everywhere on stretchers sometimes waiting several days to be admitted to a room.  When making a visit to a hospital it’s usually no less than 4 to 6 hours of wait time. This to me is unacceptable.

I get that we as Canadians don’t have to pay to see most specialists, but at what cost?  I have been on wait lists for months.  I just realized recently that one such referral made by my GP close to a year ago to a specialized therapist has still not even scheduled my appointment.  When I had called in the past to find out when I should expect to hear from them, the answer is always the same and so I just stopped calling and put it out of head.  This to me is unacceptable.

What about when you do finally get a much anticipated appointment with a specialist.  I have had to go through the process several times with different types of doctors and although the wait times may have been unacceptable none have been more discouraging than the process of finding a new psychiatrist due to mine moving away last spring.  There is a lack of psychiatrists in Ontario, and I get that they are very busy, but from my knowledge, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who focuses on mental health and in many circumstances prescribes medication to their patients.  So why then have I been introduced to not one, but two psychiatrists who have met with me and made suggestions on medications and other things only to put the onus on my GP to look after my follow up care and prescriptions?  My doctor is not a psychiatrist nor has she ever claimed to be one, nor is she comfortable prescribing medication for mental illnesses. This to me is unacceptable.

There is really no right or wrong answer or the perfect System and it can be debated for days or months or even years, but from someone who has been living through the nightmares of our Health-Care environment I can tell you firsthand that this to me is beyond unacceptable.

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