My illness has made me feel so out of control too many times to count.
It’s a very scary feeling.
I don’t fair well with chaos and disorder.
I need to cross every “t” and dot every “i” in everything I do.
I make lists and I check them twice (well its probably closer to a dozen times).
When I feel like I’m losing control over a situation I become extremely overwhelmed.
I think much of my obsessive and compulsive behaviours when it comes to control stem from my childhood, a time when I never truly felt like I had any control over my own life, nor given free reign to make my own decisions or mistakes.
This weekend was meant for my family and I to celebrate ME.
They organized everything, leaving no stone unturned (or meal and snack unplanned either).
However, leading up to the weekend my need to take control overwhelmed me.
But this weekend was not meant for me to get overwhelmed.
It was meant for me to sit back, relax, be in the moment and not get caught up in every little detail.
The kids and Rich could see the overwhelm surrounding me throughout the week.
I tried my darndest to remove myself from any of the chaos and disorder.
They reassured me over and over again.
“Mom, don’t worry, we’ve got this!” was repeated on a daily basis.
And boy were they were right.
They didn’t miss a beat.
No stone went left unturned.
Every “t” was crossed and every “i” dotted.
Words cannot begin to describe how much this weekend truly meant to me or how truly appreciative and grateful I am for the love my family.
They may not always “get” me and that’s OK because they “get” what truly matters.
Memories were made to last a lifetime this weekend, laughter was in abundance and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect gift than the gift of quality time with my perfectly imperfect family.
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!!)
Today I gave it my best “shot” at helping to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Today I gave it my best “shot” at protecting myself and those around me against serious complications from the Covid-19 virus.
It was a feeling like no other and although I am filled with overwhelming emotions right now (the tears began to flow as I pulled into the parking lot), I’ll be ready for my second dose when my turn comes at the end of July so go ahead and “hit me with your best shot”, hit me baby one more time”! 💉 #patbenatar #britneyspears
Thank you so much Joy for inviting me to share my journey tonight and to talk about the importance of educating both children and adults alike on mental illness and the stigma surrounding it on your “Wellness Wednesday” segment on Instagram Live. And for also giving me the opportunity to read my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” as well.
You are a true inspiration to so many and have such a magical way of spreading joy and kindness to every life you touch.
Please follow Joy’s Instagram page @mrsbiswatchingme for her daily dose of love and light.
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❤.
I wanted to reshare a blog with you that I wrote exactly one year ago today when, for most of us, our biggest fear at the time surrounding the Coronavirus was whether or not we had enough toilet paper on hand “just in case” we were forced into a 2 week quarantine.
None of us could ever have imagined how much our lives were about to be turned upside down or forever changed and we definitely could never have predicted we would still be dealing with the devastation from the Coronavirus in its entirety a whole year later.
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.