It’s National Addictions Awareness Week

*Trigger Warning ⚠️; talk of substance abuse*

I recently read Matthew Perry’s new memoir where he tells the harrowing story of his battle with addiction for the better part of 30 years. He’s now 54.

Although we welcomed funnyman character “Chandler Bing” into our hearts and homes for 10 of those 30 years as part of the Friends ensemble, most people watching him onscreen had no idea that Matthew himself was in the fight of his life or just how sick he truly was.

He begins his memoir by introducing himself with a very powerful statement, saying, “Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.” 

That’s actually an understatement!!

As I turned each page, I felt every ounce of Matthew’s pain as he delved deeper and deeper behind the scenes and into his deeply personal account of what his life has looked like for nearly 30 years now which includes a look inside his somewhat complex relationships with those closest to him, trying desperately to fall in love and find his happily ever after, attending thousands upon thousands of AA meetings, his lies and deception, his drug dealers and crooked doctors, his overwhelming tales from inside the 15 plus rehab centres, mental health institutions and sober living facilities he’s been admitted to (he calculated that he has spent over 7 million dollars doing so) and the numerous near death experiences he’s encountered from years and years of substance abuse including having his colon explode about 5 years ago; his family being told he had a two percent chance of survival, then spending weeks in a coma, 5 months in hospital and close to 20 surgeries since then in order to repair it.

Staying sober has now become Matthew’s main focus and top priority in his life, that, and writing. He has achieved more than 18 months of sobriety to date. But his journey with sobriety will never end, it is a conscious and sober decision he and others just like him make every morning when they wake up and something he and millions of others work very hard at to achieve every single night. It may take a lifetime for him to heal from his past traumas, especially those from his childhood along with all the emotional scars that he carries with him because unlike our physical wounds, the emotional ones can have a much more lasting impact on us. 

He is not alone in this and as Matthew can attest to, it takes time and effort to start healing from our emotional scars, one step at a time. Being vulnerable enough to share his story with the world and giving hope to others like himself who battle these very scary and often lonely demons of drug and alcohol abuse was definitely a great first step forward. 

We all carry emotional scars with us. These scars allow for an opportunity to grow and learn and find purpose and strength. We don’t have to allow them to define us but they certainly tell a piece of our story; the piece most worth fighting for that is. One part of Matthew’s memoir that really stood out for me happened when he recalls a conversation he had with fellow actor and mentor Martin Sheen while in the throes of his addiction battle. This brief dialog exchange may seem so insignificant to someone who has never really struggled with a mental illness before and although the dialog was summed up in one very short paragraph it still left a very powerful and lasting impact on me in relation to my own personal journey and the emotional wounds I bare yet somehow I continue to fight like hell to find the strength to fight for my life each and every day.

Martin turns to Matthew, knowing how much he needed to hear these words and said,

“Do you know what St. Peter says to everyone who tries to get into heaven?” “Peter says, ‘Don’t you have any scars?’ Knowing that most would respond proudly, ‘Well, no, no I don’t.’ Peter says, ‘Why not? Was there nothing worth fighting for?'”

*If you or someone you love is battling an addiction please know there is help available. 

#nationaladdictionsawarenessweek #addictions #drugs #alcohol #aa #rehab #soberliving #sobriety #memoir #writing #emotionalscars #stpeter #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #itsoktonotbeok #itsoktoaskforhelp #youarenotalone #youareenough #friends #startaconversation @mattyperry4

Everything’s Bigger in America

I had my very first taste of a traditional American Thanksgiving feast tonight (on Canadian soil), celebrating friendship and love with our American family and newest Canadian Citizen!!

I’m truly thankful 😊, blessed 😇, a bit stuffed 🦃and so overwhelmed with gratitude 🤗 for moments like these 💝!

#americanthanksgiving #traditions #America #ohcanada #proudlycanadian #friendship #family #love #hospitality #thankful #grateful #familymatters #gobblegobble #everythingsbiggerinamerica #mentalwellness #makingmemories

Teenage Epidemic

Please take a few moments to read: *Trigger Warning ⚠️; talk of suicide, attempt of suicide*

Another Dr. Phil plug today. As I’ve mentioned many times before (and just as recently as a month ago), I love Dr. Phil, I tape his show every day and would give just about anything to meet him which is still something I am clinging to as many of you may recall that for my birthday in June of 2019, Rich and the kids bought me front row seats to see him live and on stage in Niagara Falls that November but due to a scheduling conflict his show was rescheduled for May of 2020 just a week before we were set to see him…and well we all know what happened next; Covid happened and there has yet to be a new date announced! I’ve still got the tickets and until we get a notification that it’s been cancelled I will hold out for hope that one day, sooner rather than later, he returns!!!

Anyways, back to why I really started talking about Dr. Phil. This week he did a two part episode which he spent talking about the overwhelming mental health crisis in teens and young adults today. He had several guests speakers on over the 2 day period but there was one guest in particular who I can’t stop thinking about. Her name is Emma Benoit. She is 22. She attempted to take her life when she was 16 years old.  Thankfully she survived but she is now confined to a wheelchair.

She told Dr. Phil that she had an instant regret when she made the choice to take her life 5 yrs ago. Emma, like so many people who are contemplating suicide don’t really want to die, they just want their pain to go away; a feeling I know all too well and although she may have only been 16 at the time of her attempt, the narrative she told herself in the weeks and months leading up to it sounded eerily familiar to me. She said she felt like a burden and that everyone would be better off without her. On the outside Emma was always smiling and had a seemingly perfect life. She was a cheerleader, popular and beautiful; who would’ve ever taken her seriously she thought, what could she possibly have to be depressed about, which was why she never felt safe to open up to anyone for fear she’d be judged, including by her loving and supportive family because she was never taught that it’s okay to have these feelings and that even people like herself can have these feelings or that there is actually someone out there willing and wanting to listen. 

To further add to the conversation, Dr. Phil invited Ross Szabo to speak alongside Emma. Ross is an award winning mental health speaker, advocate and author who spoke about 2 very important topics. First, he spoke about the new 9-8-8 suicide and crisis lifeline which for now is only available in the States but in the short time this new platform has been available, statistics show that there has been a 40 percent increase in the amount of callers. So it’s proven to work, only needing to dial 3 digits when in crisis as opposed to a 10 digit 1-800 number can be lifesaving and I look forward to this new and very effective pilot project making its way across the border soon.

The latter part of the show led to another very important discussion we need to be having which is in regards to implementing more mental health education in schools today; teaching students about mental health awareness, teaching students coping mechanisms for real life challenges and stressors, teaching students how to overcome the stigma, teaching students to recognize when things are off balance or out of order for them, teaching students what is okay and what is not okay in their home, teaching so students are more aware of what healthy normal thoughts sound like and what do not. These teachings need to extend into every student’s home as well in order to also help normalize conversations in their home so they feel safe if and when they need to ask for help and that they know it’s more than okay to ask for help.

Emma, much like myself has found purpose in telling her story and we share a similar goal, hoping that by sharing our own pain and suffering it will encourage someone else to stand up and say, “I too have those same feelings and thoughts”. If even just one person listening reaches out for help without any shame or stigma attached is worth it all and I’m pretty sure her appearance on the Dr. Phil show in front of millions of viewers may have helped save that one life yesterday, along with plenty more!

Her powerful and brave journey toward healing is now being shared with the world in a feature length documentary that was released last year called “My Ascension”. 

#youthmentalhealth #yourlifematters #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #depression #anxiety #teensuicide #suicideandcrisislifeline #988 #itsoktoaskforhelp #drphil #emmabenoit #rossszabo #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #teachinschools #changetheconversation #itsoktonotbeokay #purpose #savinglives #advocacy 

Deep Breathing

Calming my nervous system and racing thoughts today using a deep breathing technique with daily affirmations. Breathing in…I am…Breathing out the rest of my affirmation.

I am…safe, I am…strong, I am…okay, I am…worthy, I am…alive, I am…beautiful, I am…enough

#deepbreaths #affirmations #inhale #exhale #mentalwellness #mentalhealth #calmingmynervoussystem #racingthoughts #iamsafe #iambeautiful #iamworthy #iamalive #iamstrong #iamenough #iamokay

Just a Quick Update…

Just a quick update to the blog I posted last week titled “Would Love To Hear Your Thoughts” after meeting with my Psychiatrist (see link below in case you missed it).

I received a call this afternoon from the Psychiatrist’s office who is conducting the DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) clinical study (as mentioned in my blog) to schedule me in for a consult with the Doctor/ Collegues of my Psychiatrist who are heading the research.

My appointment is set for early next week.

Upon an initial discussion with my Psychiatrist late last week about my potential participation in this study his first thoughts were that I probably had some time to think it over as he didn’t expect I’d hear anything from the clinic until early January, but it looks like they ain’t wasting any time!

I know that this is only just a preliminary consultation to discuss what my participation in the study will look like for me and to gather more information as well. It will also likely be one of several steps taken before I’d even be approved (or not approved) for the study itself (from personal experience!). I’m not sure how mentally or physically ready I am for all this right now but I guess in the meantime I better start preparing my list of questions for next week. I know one thing is for certain, there are sure to be lots!

#herewegoagain #clinicaltrial #deepbrainstimulation #treatmentresistantdepression #mentalhealth #guineapig #research #study #psychiatry #anxiousasheck #dontbeafraidtoaskquestions #breathe

Write Like No One is Reading

We’ve all heard the sayings; “Dance like no one is watching” and “Sing like no one is listening” but does the same hold true for writing? Should we be able to write like no one is reading? 

I’ve been blogging now for over five years and I’ve shared a lot of very intimate details about my life while doing so but I’ve also found myself needing to hold back a lot as well. On several occasions I’ve felt the need to censor my words as to not offend someone or at other times I’ve thought to myself, there is no way in hell I can publish this for fear of being criticized.

I’ve wanted to write a book for many years now; long before I even considered publishing my children’s story. People ask me all the time if I will ever write a memoir or maybe publish a collaboration from the 100’s of blogs I’ve written thus far but I’ve been very hesitant to do so because well, if truth be told, I still don’t have that perfect ending to my story yet that everyone wants or expects to read nor am I quite sure I am ready to publish the parts of me that beg the question “is it okay to write like no one is reading?”

The truth is though, I did start writing a memoir several years ago, starting from my earliest childhood memories. I was sitting by myself one afternoon in a booth at a nearby Tim Hortons; pen in hand, a blank notebook laid out on the table and a laptop charging next to me. Prior to the Pandemic, I would spend quite a bit of time escaping to that same Tim Hortons restaurant, often sitting in that same booth; observing the faces and body language of strangers who sat near by; so many of them alone like me. I often imagined what stories they were needing to tell but mostly I went there hoping to find a quiet space to gain some inspiration and find the courage to start writing my own story, the whole story.

But then one day I just stopped writing it because many things from my past became too painful and too personal to share but Brene Brown has reminded me that, “Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” 

I’m feeling very stuck right now, with little motivation and I am extremely vulnerable, possibly more than I’ve ever felt before. Most days lately I barely have enough strength just to get out of bed due to my physical and mental health and several other more personal struggles which are causing me to spiral right down to my complicated past. With my growing list of current day struggles I am living through, it has brought up memories of my past which are haunting me greatly as well as complicating some already very complicated relationships in my life which are making me feel as though I really don’t belong here at all anymore but I also know that much of my pain is from not sharing the things that keep me feeling stuck. Somedays I feel like I’m an imposter yet my goal has always been the same since I began sharing my story which is to help others by sharing my own pain and the triumphs too. I know it’s scary but I also know that it’s made an impact and helped save lives which is why as every new obstacle unfolds in my day to day life I feel an even stronger urge to pick up that pen again and finish where I’d left off several years ago.

To quote another very empowering best selling author, Mandy Hale, “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” 

I probably have enough material by now to talk for years about mental health and the parts of my story I’ve been too scared to share and as terrifying as all this sounds, I also feel like now may be the perfect time to dust off my notebook, take that pen in hand again and charge my laptop in order to open the pages I’ve kept closed for so long. I just wanna write so I can be true to myself and help reach the audience it’s meant to so that no one ever feels alone in this great big messy beautiful world. 

So to answer my question above; Should we be able to write like no one is reading? I think it’s pretty clear, Hell ya!

And to all those reading this with pen in hand and blank pages of a notebook to fill, just remember…your story matters too.

#writelikenooneisreading #author #memoir #writing #blankpage #blogger #mystory #wholeheart #growth #impostersyndrome #brenebrown #mandyhale #suicideawareness #trueself #youarenotalone #youareenough #yourstorymatters #mentalhealth

Would love to hear your thoughts

Today I had my first in-person appointment with my Psychiatrist since March of 2020 when my appointment which had been scheduled for March 16th was abruptly cancelled due to everything being shut down. I was set to start a new treatment that day which didn’t end up happening for another 18 months. 

Having spent the last 32 months using the hospital’s online portal as my main source of communication with my Psychiatrist has been nothing short of convenient and has also helped put my mind at ease by not having to navigate my way through the downtown core, spending 45 mins to an hour in my car each way or stressing myself out trying to find parking (I hate driving at the best of times!) but there is still something to be said for being face-to-face with someone, especially when it comes to making proper eye contact and reading a person’s body language which are both equally important to me. 

There was lots to catch up on today since my last appointment a few weeks ago (my next appointment will be back online!) which included a discussion he told me he’d been very afraid to bring up to me during our last several sessions given what I’ve been going through both mentally and physically over the last 7.5 months due to my participation in the clinical trial, but our conversation today kinda led us in a direction which gave him a perfect opening to discuss what’s been on his mind. He told me that he has been in touch with a colleague of his at a nearby hospital who is conducting another clinical research study for individuals like myself who suffer with “Treatment Resistant Depression” and have found no relief from other treatments such as ECT, Ketamine and Psilocybin. Which, lucky me, I’m 3 for 3 for. 

He then told me that he has mentioned my case with his colleague already knowing I could potentially be a perfect candidate for the study. 

The treatment is called “Deep Brain Stimulation” ( and is already quite successful with patients who suffer with certain neurological disorders like Parkinson disease and Epilepsy (I not only suffer with treatment resistant depression but I now suffer with neurological damage as well since my treatment! Woohoo!). 

It is a bit of an invasive procedure which for starters worries me and of course if there is even a one percent chance of patients experiencing any adverse effects from it, my luck it will be me.

I swore months ago that I was done ever being a guinea pig or exploring any other treatment options at this point in my journey as I just feel so done and defeated but I told him that I would consider meeting with the Doctor via Zoom to at least learn more details, likely in January. 

Would love to hear your thoughts. 

#Psychiatry #inperson #online #facetoface #clinicalstudy #deepbrainstimulation #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #treatmentresistantdepression #ECT #ketamine #Psilocybin #defeated #hospital

Taking That First Step To Therapy (please watch)

Taking That First Step To Therapy 

Lately I’ve been noticing an influx of people reaching out to me to talk about therapy and wanting to find a therapist. This truly makes me very happy as I am a strong believer in therapy but,  unfortunately there is still such a stigma around it. 

Many people delay taking that first step into therapy because making that initial decision to do so can be a very overwhelming and sometimes burdensome one to make and can often be met with tons of apprehension. People also have a fear of the unknown or a fear that they will be judged or shamed by their friends, family or even their own therapist if they enter into therapy. I also know that the struggle to find a good therapist or one who you feel a deep connection to can be hard.

But whatever your fear or struggle or apprehension may be, just knowing that you are thinking about it means that you are likely ready to take that first step through that door to a safe space with a trained professional who can help you to organize your thoughts and feelings and a place where you can go and be able to “say what ya wanna say” as you begin to work your way through any past grievances or present day transitions in your life that may be holding you back from having a better future. 

Therapy is not just for people who have experienced trauma in their life or who are in distress, it’s also the perfect place to seek out opportunity for growth and self-improvement. So go ahead my brave warriors, take that first step because you deserve the something better that’s waiting for you on the other side of that door; all you gotta do is “let the words fall out”.

Please feel free to reach out anytime. I’m always happy to help anyone and everyone take that first step.

#talktherapy #brave #itsoktoaskforhelp #itsoktonotbeok #startaconversation #saywhatyawannasay #growth #selfimprovement #trauma #distress #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #takethatfirststep #connection #letthewordsfallout @sarabareilles

Protection Mode VS Preparation Mode

Dr. Becky

As a parent we want more than anything to be able to protect our children from this great big messy, sometimes scary but also very beautiful world. 

In order to do so we will often stop at nothing to lie to our kids, avoid many big truths or jump in too quickly to try and “fix” their pain. Unfortunately though by doing so we are not necessarily helping pave the way for them to grow into resilient, adaptable adults who have the ability to feel their own feelings & experiences, navigate their own way through the world or gain the proper tools to cope with the “hard stuff”.

Instead, as Dr. Becky Kennedy, a parenting expert who I follow on Instagram (@drbeckyatgoodinside) points out in her most recent post, we need to “prioritize truth over comfort” when it comes to our children.

Dr. Becky

I had a real “AHA” moment this morning when I first saw Dr. Becky’s post where she outlines the differences between “Protection Mode” VS “Preparation Mode” in parenting. 

Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?

Using the “Preparation Mode” was the exact reason why I chose to publish my children’s book. Children need help navigating their “tough feelings” by leaning into them, owning them, embracing them and validating them with the loving support of trusted adults in their life instead of sending them the message that it’s okay to avoid the “hard stuff” by “prioritizing comfort over truth” which could lead to a child feeling invalidated, worried, fearful or stressed if they aren’t given the proper coping mechanisms they will need in order to deal with that “hard stuff” by the time they reach adulthood. 

Dr. Becky

I grew up in a home that centered around the “Protection Mode” as I believe many others probably did too. I lacked the ability to feel my own feelings & experiences, navigate my own way in the world or gain the proper tools I needed to cope with the “hard stuff”. Instead I timidly listened behind closed doors. And now, years later and through the help of lots of therapy I can finally see a connection between that little girl and the journey it led me to in my adult life, but the more open and honest we are with our kids today, the less alone and better prepared our future generations will be when leaning into the “tough feelings”.

#ourkidsmatter #preparationmode #protectionmode #adulthood #copingmechanisms #thehardstuff #truth #itsoktoshowourfeelings #resiliency #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #itsoktonotbeok #parentingishard #prioritizetruthovercomfort #wheredidmommyssmilego #author #blogger #advocate 

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