Wish Me Luck Because I Quit!

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since my fainting episode left me achy, bruised and concussed. I am slowly healing from the toll it has taken on both my body and mind. The morning it happened I had stepped outside my front door to have a cigarette before getting ready for an appointment when I began to have a panic attack; seemingly from the overwhelm I’d been dealing with through the night which carried over into the morning. I quickly put out my cigarette before heading back inside because I suddenly felt like I was going to throw up, I got very lightheaded as my heart beat out of my chest and a cloud of darkness overcame me. 

Ever since that day I have enjoyed smoking less and less and have started to smoke less and less. I’ve wanted to quit (and have needed to quit) for well…years and years now but have always used it as a crutch like so many smokers do. My doctor never bothers me about quitting because she knows it helps me deal with my depression and anxiety and that is what I need to focus on more. 

But I am no longer feeling the same way when I light up lately and maybe it’s because every time I do I begin to recall that morning in my head and I get an anxious feeling or maybe it’s because I have been nauseous for almost 2 weeks straight now and it makes it difficult to enjoy a cigarette or maybe it’s because I am really beginning to feel the effects of what smoking has done to me for over 30 years or maybe it’s a combination of all three. 

I can still picture that very shy and seemingly innocent 12 year old little girl sneaking off with my friend to the park behind my home carrying with me a tiny purse to conceal a pack of Cameo Menthol cigarettes that I “borrowed” from the fridge where my mom stored her cartons. I lit my very first cigarette that day, I smoked my very first cigarette that day (not sure if I inhaled though!) and I enjoyed my very first of many (I don’t even want to imagine how many it actually is) cigarettes that day. And now some 36 years later I have hopefully lit my last cigarette today, smoked my last cigarette today and somewhat enjoyed my last cigarette forever today. 

I want so much to make today the day. I’ve quit smoking before during my child bearing years so I know I can do it again, but I also know how quickly I returned to it too. I won’t make any promises today that I can’t keep but I am certainly gonna give it a try (it’s been 4 hours and counting). 
If there is one thing I know for sure today it’s that my kids and Rich would be over the moon and thrilled if I quit smoking and just think how many more hills I could hike up without huffing and puffing during the #summerofrich.  Who knows, maybe that hit to the head did finally knock some sense into it afterall!!

#iquit #nomorecigarettes #dayone #willpower #whoamikidding #courage #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #ichooseme #panicattacks #anxiety #depression #concussion #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #youmatter 


Is Relapse Inevitable?

I met a woman several years ago during one of my hospital stays. We became roommates and fast friends during our stay and although we may never have otherwise crossed paths in our lifetime (Fun fact: the home I grew up in from the time I moved to Toronto when I was 8 years old until my late teens was right next door to the home she sold just months before I moved in!) or had much in common at first, it turned out that our friendship ran so much deeper than our illness and we have continued to be a great support for one another ever since. 

Last year my friend began feeling better and living her best life ever. She started traveling for months on end, dancing up a storm (some nights) until dawn and engaging in joyful activities with her precious, young grandchildren. She was finally free from the horrible effects of her depression. It was no longer defining who she was or how she lived her life and the best part was that for the first time in several years she actually wanted to live; not for her children, not for her grandchildren but actually for herself. 

I think I felt a bit envious of her at first wondering when or if I too would ever feel the weight of my depression finally lift or if I would ever break free from it as well. I mean what had she done so differently to make it all just disappear as though it had never even happened? What was I still being punished for since we had tried so many of the same treatments and medications but nothing was helping me? 

I don’t have any of these answers and neither will anyone else to be honest because everyone’s journey is unique to them and everyone responds to treatments and medications differently and everyone finds their own path toward healing in their own time. But here is another question that pains me to ask; can depression truly be cured?

I’m asking this question today because well that same dear friend of mine who just last year was traveling for months on end, dancing up a storm until dawn and engaging in joyful activities with her precious grandchildren is now back in the deep throes of her depression.  What could have made her go from living her best life to now wondering if her life was even worth living?

Again I don’t actually have the answer but from the research I have read it seems likely that individuals with chronic depression (defined as episodes lasting two or more years) or with recurrent depressive episodes need to continue with maintenance treatment; not for months, not for years but for a lifetime. 

One major problem is that when a person’s depression goes into remission they may feel a state of euphoria, as though they are ready to conquer the world on their own but what many of us may not realize is that like with any other chronic disease that goes into remission, depression needs to be treated with the same ongoing support and care.

Just a few short months ago if you were to have asked my friend if she could ever imagine her depression would rear its ugly head again she would have probably said to you “What? Are you crazy?” (Ok just a little depression humour) but instead she is now left trying to understand why this is happening to her and feeling like she has somehow failed.

I know that I would feel the same way. I mean my illness literally seemed to hit me out of left field when it began close to 6 years ago (I want to throw up just at the thought that it’s been almost 6 years or maybe the nausea I’m feeling is just from the effects of my concussion). But through therapy I have learned that my illness probably didn’t hit me out of left field at all and I have been learning how to manage it ever since knowing now how quickly it can hit you. 

I have not yet felt the effects of being in remission but I do have a better understanding that if and when that day finally comes I will know that I can never let my guard down and that proper maintenance and continued love and support from others could help to ensure that whatever obstacles get in my way I will be ready for them and that I also have faith now that my friend will tackle this beast head on just like she had so bravely done before!

#depression #anxiety #mentalillness #mentalhealth #relapse #remission #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #friendship #isthereacure #treatmentresistant #maintenancetreatment #chronicillness 

Prince Harry: Becoming His True Authentic Self

PRINCE HARRY: BECOMING HIS TRUE AUTHENTIC SELF

I saw a quote recently which has really stuck in my head ever since. It read: “The best weight you will ever lose is the weight of other people’s opinions.”  I know that it’s difficult for most of us to not care what other people think or feel about us but I also know that it can take a toll on our mental health and wellness too.  We as human beings instinctively want to be accepted and need to feel desired by others but by allowing their opinions to matter more than your own intuitions is essentially giving away all your power to become your true authentic self.

By always looking for the approval of others instead of trusting your own judgment will without a doubt lead you down a path in which you will one day wake up and find that you have become a shell of yourself because you were always trying to be a “People Pleaser” and had lost the power to be your true authentic self amidst the need to please others. 

This week Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle sent an important message out into the universe (through Social Media of course).  Ok so maybe they went about it in the wrong way according to the Royal Family and of course all the trashy Tabloid Magazines but I read their message through an entirely different lens; a Mental Health one that is.  

Prince Harry has been very open about his struggles with Mental Illness and is a huge advocate and philanthropist for Mental Health.  We have watched him grow up in the public eye and although he was born into Royalty, it has seemed as though for many years now (long before Meghan ever entered the picture) that Buckingham Palace may not have been the home he would have chosen for himself. 

Maybe he had no choice but to obey the opinions of others for so long, knowing just how powerful his family was but now that Prince Harry (not sure how much longer we can call him that!) is married with his own child to love and protect he has recognized that the opinions of others have weighed him down far too long and he is ready to take his power back (well sadly he never had his own power) in order to discover his true authentic self.  

I say kudos to him for bravely stepping away from the comfort he has known his entire life and being able to finally say “I Choose Me”, and whatever path this journey takes them from here on in, I know that it will be one of true authenticity and growth which are both key to good Mental Health and Wellness. 

FYI: Baby Archie has spent the last week right here in Toronto with Meghan’s best friends Ben and Jessica Mulroney if anyone cares to get a sighting of the Royal baby!

#ichooseme #trueself #authenticself #othersopinionsdontmatter #yourmentalhealthmatters #selfcare #selflove #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #youareenough #itsoktonotbeok #princeharry #meghanmarkle #royalfamily #royalintheirownway #advocateforyourself #brave #courage 

Please continue to follow my journey at https://youareenough712.wordpress.com 

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

The Aftermath Of A Concussed Mind


I made a promise to myself that I needed to take several steps back during the last few weeks of 2019 in order to help me figure out how I could step forward into 2020 but here I am just over a week into the new year and I have spent most of it in bed with a concussion. 
It’s certainly not how I ever imagined the new year unfolding but I guess I have learned to “expect the unexpected” and it has been a very challenging week to say the least. The bumps and bruises on my body are physically beginning to heal but in turn I am now left dealing with even more bumps and bruises on my mind. 

In my most recent blog “My Safe Place; Feeling The Weight Of My Blanket” (January 5, 2020) I talked about how I needed to rest in order to heal and that spending all day and night last Saturday curled up underneath my weighted blanket was very comforting for me. Lets face it we could all use a day like that every so often but right now my safe place feels almost too safe and scary.

Since the incident last Thursday morning when I fainted again and again and AGAIN I have not left my house other than to see my doctor and visit the emergency room and although I have been doing exactly what the doctor’s ordered by getting lots of rest, I now feel like I am severely paying the price for it mentally.

When many of us imagine a person battling with depression they immediately imagine a person curled up in bed sleeping all day and night. Well I can tell you firsthand that this is not true for everyone and is even further from the truth when it comes to me. 

To begin with, I barely sleep! I will admit though that most of my days do not begin at sunrise (I am up at the crack of dawn, just not physically out of bed) and for my own mental health and wellness I avoid making too many commitments or appointments in the morning hours unless they don’t allow for it. I also know that in order to start my day off I must take a shower first (another great untruth that a person with depression doesn’t do).

But this week all I have wanted to do is lay in bed curled up under my blanket; doing absolutely nothing (yet still unable to sleep). I am especially finding that my concussion symptoms like headaches, dizziness and severe nausea are at their worst in the morning hours for some unknown reason; or maybe there is a reason and I’m just not up on all the concussion lingo and the thought of even taking a shower most days is painfully overwhelming too. 

I know I am probably being too critical of myself as usual and I am feeling so much guilt as though I somehow caused this to happen. I am also feeling more worthlessness right now than ever as I am unable to complete even the simplest of tasks and want nothing more than to lie in bed day and night until I heal my body and mind.

I wish I was able to let go of the negative self-talk in my head in order to allow my body and mind to both heal properly but in the meantime my goal for today is to be able to try and make it out of my home in order to go to my appointment with my therapist because that would be some pretty big steps into 2020!

#babysteps #concussion  #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #selfcare #depression #anxiety #masksoff #blogger 

My Safe Place; Feeling The Weight Of My Blanket

So far I can’t really say that 2020 has started off exactly the way I had hoped for, but as you can probably guess by now, I wouldn’t have expected any less. I mean I have enough trouble feeling hope at the best of times and then add to it the unwritten rule that New Year’s is supposed to bring with it new beginnings may have actually been what threw both my body and mind into overdrive this week landing me with further bumps, bruises, aches, pains and a concussion to boot. 

I mentioned a few days ago that I’d needed to take several steps back over the last few weeks of December in order to figure out ways I can try to help myself move forward into 2020 as I am completely overwhelmed by so much in my life which in turn was probably just setting myself up for failure and further hopelessness (See Blog: What Is Your Proudest Accomplishment of 2019; January 1, 2020). Ironically I also wrote that in order for me to regain those baby steps forward I must first learn how to crawl again before I can learn to walk or run and on the second day of 2020 I found myself desperately learning how to crawl. 

It certainly wasn’t in the way for which I could have ever imagined it to be or what I meant when I said I needed to learn how to crawl before I can learn to walk or run, but it was ironically for my survival nonetheless.  I found myself in a very scary and traumatic situation the other morning (See Blog: A Big Bang; January 2, 2020) where I kept fainting and had lost complete control of both my body and mind and all I wanted to do was crawl my way back upstairs to my “safe place” before I fainted for a fourth time. I eventually did make my way safely upstairs and “crawled” back into my bed, threw my weighted blanket over top of me; thankful to be in my “safe place”.

Ever since I purchased my weighted blanket a year ago (See Blog: My Weighted Blanket; January 25, 2019) I’d have to say that it has become my “safe place” to be.  It brings me so much comfort and warmth (not in the “oh my God I’m gonna die from the heat” kind of way) but like the feeling you get from a warm and comforting hug. I can’t say that my blanket has brought me a better night’s sleep since I began using it but for some reason it helps me feel safe when it’s wrapped around me and the other morning after I was able to finally crawl my way back into bed it’s warmth and comfort allowed me to drift off to sleep for a full three hours straight which is nothing short of a miracle. 

The trauma for which both my body and mind had just gone through I really didn’t think I needed to be anywhere other than in my “safe place” comforted by the warmth of my weighted blanket even if my doctor who I saw later that day and the doctor I saw the next day in emerg both told me I probably should have called 911 right away so that I could have been better assessed in the moment; but I guess hindsight is 20/20. 

I have since taken the advice of the doctors who both told me that rest is my number one priority right now and so yesterday I spent the entire day and night curled up underneath my weighted blanket fighting off the aches and pains, the nausea, the dizziness and the feeling like someone is playing ping pong in my head. It was actually really, really warm and really, really comforting to spend time resting both my body and mind, something my illness never allows me to do and having a “safe place” to do so is such an added bonus. 

Please continue to follow my journey at: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com

#comfort #warmth #weightedblanket #concussion #safeplace #selfcare #selflove #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough

A Big Bang

2020 has started off with a real big bang! I feel like every day something else seems to go awry and today was no exception. I got out of bed this morning and like most days I felt exhausted from another sleepless night of fighting off the symptoms of my illness. My lack of sleep last night came with some additional anxiety which may have possibly triggered a severe panic attack this morning and like most panic attacks do, it hit me out of nowhere.  My heartrate became severely elevated and I became flushed, dizzy and very very nauseous and before I knew it I had fainted; and fainted again; and then again. All I wanted to do was crawl my way back upstairs to bed before I fainted a fourth time which eventually I did and I never made it to an appointment I was supposed to be at in about 15 mins by this time.

Lucky for me my girls were both fast asleep in their beds undisturbed by what had just happened except upon waking they both thought the bangs they heard earlier in the morning were part of a dream they were having. But not to worry because Maggie came to my rescue!

I’ve fainted several times in my lifetime but usually it was due to a medication I was taking (one of the many reasons I can’t take antidepressants) or a bad flu and whether it may have been a panic attack that caused it or something else I was examined this afternoon and had some tests done as well just to be safe.

I’m pretty banged up, extremely emotional and in alot of pain tonight from the impact of my falls and there’s a chance I may have a concussion too but maybe the impact of hitting my head several times could of knocked some sense into it??

#thisisreallife #itsoktonotbeok #depression  #anxiety #panicattacks #fainting #mentalillness #mentalhealth #youareenough #neveradullmoment

Please continue to follow my journey at https://youareenough712.wordpress.com

What is Your Proudest Accomplishment of 2019


I’ve had to take several steps back during the last few weeks of 2019 to try and figure out what I need most right now in my life in order to help me move forward into 2020. It’s been a very difficult year for both myself and my family but at the same time I certainly can’t nor won’t forget my proudest accomplishments and all the good things that have happened for me as well.

This past year has taught me so much about myself and as I enter into the new year (and decade) today and try to regain some of those baby steps forward I know that I first need to learn how to crawl before I can learn to walk or run; an important lesson we could all learn from. We may also need to be reminded as the new year begins that we should try and set small and attainable goals; not resolutions, that we need to inspire one another, that we need to lift each other up, that we need to create healthy boundaries, that we need to be kinder to each other, that we need to judge less and forgive ourselves and others more, that we need to make self-care our number one priority, that we are not alone, that we can do anything; not everything and last but certainly not least we need to never forget that YOU ARE ENOUGH!

#letsshareourproudestmoments
#myproudestaccomplishmentthisyear
#wheredidmommyssmilego #childrensbook #author #goodriddance2019 #selfcare #ichooseme #youarenotalone #bekindtoyourself #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #yourmentalhealthmatters #goals #blogger #2020vision #dreams #itsoktonotbeok #youareenough

Reflection Of A Decade

REFLECTION OF A DECADE

It’s crazy to think about it but we are not only about to enter a whole new year but an entire new decade as well.  It’s kinda difficult right now for me to reflect back on the last decade with joy in my heart because for more than half of the last ten years I have spent it trying to survive and well truth be told, trying to die. 

I do know though that somewhere buried beneath my illness that my heart has felt a lot of pride and joy throughout the last decade from so many amazing highlights and milestones. In the past ten years we added a new addition to our family and Maggie has since filled our family with so much joy for close to nine years now. In the past ten years I’ve gotten to witness both Elementary and High School graduations galore (with one more to go in the new year!) and I have also watched all three of my children transition from pre-teens to teens and now into young adulthood as well. In the past ten years I got to plan and execute one of the greatest days of our lives with the celebration and milestone of Jacob and Hannah’s B’nai Mitzvah; a night which we were so blessed to be surrounded by so many of our loved ones.  In the past ten years we have also acknowledged and celebrated many more milestone birthdays as well including the most incredible family vacation in honour of Rachel’s 13th birthday. And I will never forget nearly ten years ago being able to experience the look on my kid’s faces when we walked through the gates of Disney World all together as a family!

Those are only a handful of the incredible highlights and milestones from the last ten years and there have been countless more but as I mentioned above it’s kinda difficult for me to feel the joy in my heart through the shattered glass of my illness when more than half of this current decade has been spent just trying to get through each day; basically I live each day in survival mode where the end goal is trying to avoid having a bad day. 

I never want to erase the incredible memories I’ve made during the last ten years and I certainly never want to forget the many successes either so as I enter into the next year and decade I will take with me what I have learned over this past year in order to make room for joy in my heart. I have learned so much about myself this past year alone and one of my greatest successes this year was being able to accept that if some days all I can do is survive, then that’s one step closer to joy. We all deserve to feel joy in our hearts and maybe I needed this past decade to teach me how.  

Wishing you all good health, joy and much success for 2020!

Please continue to follow my journey into the next decade at: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com

#2020 #happynewyear #findingjoy #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #reflection #youareenough #depression #anxiety #masksoff #mentalillness #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #endthestigmatogether #bekindtoyourself #ichooseme

2020 Vision

With the New Year only a few days away it’s a constant reminder of how it has become one of the most difficult days of the year for me as there is this unwritten expectation that is placed on the day to reflect on our past year in order to make the coming year all about bright, fresh starts filled with an abundance of new opportunities. New Year’s is now a reminder for me as to how my depression keeps me saddened to my past and how my anxiety keeps me terrified to live in my future. Today I began my descent into 2020 by writing down some of my thoughts and reflections from this past year without placing too much pressure on myself. I made two columns: the first one was ‘What do I want to leave behind in 2019?” and the second one was “what do I want to take with me into 2020?” Here are just a few:

  1. I want to leave my past grievances behind which have taken up too much space in my head, I want to leave behind the guilt that keeps me ruminating daily and I want to leave behind so much of the anger I hold inside which stems from my illness.
  2. I want to find a way to let in more moments of happiness in 2020 and to allow myself to feel those moments of happiness. I want to pave a pathway to better health and wellness for not only me but for my family too so we can begin to heal together.

What would you like to leave behind in 2020 and what you would also like to bring with you into 2020? Love to hear your thoughts!

#newyear #twentytwenty #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #startaconversation #youareenough #noshame #endthestigmatogether #bekindtoyourself #ichooseme

Dora The Explorer: Can You Say “Be Yourself”


We spent the last few days with our friends at their cottage. My kids have grown up here and have had so many amazing adventures and made so many equally amazing memories there both in the summer and winter months.  
All that was missing from this trip to the cottage was Jacob who thought going to Florida with some of his friends over the winter break would be way more fun; silly boy (see pic of him photoshopped in all the way from Miami Beach)! But alas we still managed to have fun without him, especially snow tubing because it’s not like he can do that in Florida lol!

Aside from the kids (and dads) going snow tubing (are they still considered kids when two of them are 17 and two of them are 20?) we cooked a big hearty breakfast one morning, made a fajita bar one night and Rachel brought her delicious homemade vegan mac and cheese with for all of us to enjoy as well. We ate, we drank, we played games, we chased after 2 tiny, adorable but very loud dogs, we ate some more, we drank some more, we built a gingerbread house, we watched old tv shows, we celebrated Chanukah, we ate again, we drank again, we curled up by the fire and we watched a movie together.

When trying to agree on a movie to watch that all of us could enjoy together I figured was going to turn into an hour long debate and we’d end up watching nothing but within minutes we had all agreed on one. It was not a movie that you would think any one of us would have wanted to see except maybe for the nostalgia of it (and I’m all about nostalgia) but we were all in the mood for something that may not require a great deal of concentration (it turned out that it kinda did but was still worth it!)
Yes “Dora (The Explorer) And The Lost City of Gold” was the winner and the nostalgia of the “kids” kinder years won all of our hearts, but what I also loved was the important message portrayed throughout the movie that led me to shout out while watching it, “I feel a blog coming on!”

Our families have blended together through thick and thin for over 17 years now and when we all get together we are like one big family. We never have to pretend to be someone we’re not when we are together, we never have to feel like we can’t be our true authentic self when we are together, we never have to wear a mask when we are together and we never have to act a certain way when we are together.

Dora showed us throughout the movie how important it is to be yourself and that being your true authentic self should never mean sacrificing who you are in order to make friends or keep them. She also taught us that we should never allow others to change who we are, that we should live life on our own terms and those who truly matter will embrace all of you, quirks and all. And she reminded us that true friendship is like a unicorn: “something that is highly desirable but difficult to find”, so when you do find it remember to hold on tight!

Please continue to follow my journey at: https://youareenough712.wordpress.com 

#friendship #family #familytime #unicorns #winterbreak #masksoff #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #beyou #trueauthenticself #doratheexplorer #amigos #familia #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #depression #anxiety 

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