Communicating Through Crisis

This past week was met with so many mixed emotions.  It was met with a considerable amount of pain, with great sadness, with extraordinary anguish and a significant amount of reflection & revelation.  Throughout this week while trying to cope with my afflictions and anxiety I became extremely lost, inhibited and unsure.  I immediately felt myself facing a mental health crisis and needed to resolve how I was going to reduce its impact, but I simply didn’t know how to or where to turn first.  My husband quickly and unselfishly pointed out to me where I needed to begin and reminded me of my mantra which has been continuously reinforced through a multitude of therapists and facilitators; that ‘I Choose Me’.

I have talked about the importance of making sure that ‘I Choose Me’ before, however, when I am faced with having to ‘Choose Me’, it is met with a great deal of resistance as well as feelings of guilt and apprehension.  These feelings which are quite normal for me by now can and do often turn unsafe and self-destructive if not addressed straightaway.

There are many warning signs that someone may be in crisis or in need of immediate intervention that are important for loved ones to detect in order to de-escalate the situation. Many of these signs may come without any warning but it is important to remember that no matter how big or small they may seem to you, it is always best to follow your instincts.  Some of the signs to look out for are; a sudden change in mood or eating and sleep patterns, intense agitation, unclear thinking or irrational thoughts, loss of reality, making harmful threats to oneself or others, isolating themselves, self-harm, an increase in alcohol or drug abuse, experiencing hallucinations or delusions and showing suicidal ideations (I’m pretty sure this list is a conclusive look at the week I leave behind).

When someone is in crisis I can assure you that communication is essential in limiting an increased or heightened risk.  It is important that the individual feels acknowledged and validated by effectively listening and of course always remembering to use an empathetic & non-judgmental tone, but most of all, show compassion.  For me, talk therapy has been a necessary part of my treatment to help me cope with my feelings, help me problem solve through my issues and help me change some behaviours that may be contributing to my symptoms.

Talk therapy often involves more than just ‘talking’ which may sometimes include journaling your thoughts, keeping track of your moods or participating in certain activities. Talk therapy is oftentimes crucial in understanding your mental illness, defining & reaching goals, coping with stress & anxiety or overcoming your fears & insecurities.  Talk therapy can also play a notable role in understanding past traumas, learning to recognizing triggers and most importantly help to establish a plan for weathering a crisis.

There are several different types of specialists who are trained to counsel individuals in talk therapy, but finding the right match can sometimes be the most difficult part.  This very intimate relationship needs to be feasible for both parties involved in order to get the best results.  There needs to be chemistry and a high level of trust present on both sides which has been extremely challenging for me, some of which I have talked about before and some of which I may never be able to talk about.

I have spent many restless nights before a therapy appointment wondering why I am wasting my time only to leave that said appointment the next day, scratching my head, thinking ‘wow, that really was a waste of time!’  But for the first time in almost four years I feel as though I may have finally found that person, a connection worthy of a restful night’s sleep (which I’m working on).  From my first appointment with her it just felt different this time, and, being different is in fact a good thing.  The role of a therapist is to have clear boundaries which are safe and focused and although having loved ones to confide in is very cathartic, they are not always the most objective or non-judgmental when it comes to certain aspects of our lives, especially in crisis.  With that being said, instead, their part in your recovery may  best be served as a guiding force, listening to you, inspiring you and cheering you on all the way to your next appointment!

One Brave Night

This year on Friday April 6, myself,  along with the support of my husband and three children (ages 15, 18 and 19) will be participating in CAMH’s #OneBraveNight Challenge to inspire hope by stepping up and staying up.
The week of April 6th will mark four years since my life changed forever and four years since my family’s lives changed forever too. They are the one and only reason why I have kept fighting and they are what motivates me to share my story through blogging by trying to enlighten, educate and encourage others who may be struggling themselves or have a loved one who is struggling.
Mental Illness affects 1 in 5 Canadians throughout any given year and is still very much stereotyped, stigmatized and discriminated against making it even more burdensome for individuals to reach out and ask for help.
With your support, welcomed participation and generous donation to our #OneBraveNight Challenge, CAMH will continue to improve upon their greatest needs including innovative research, public awareness efforts and the ongoing redevelopment of their hospital.
For our #OneBraveNight Challenge we will pass the hours (until we pass out) with some pizza & popcorn, Netflix (suggestions are encouraged) and maybe we will even dust off a good “ole fashioned” board game.  I will complete the challenge with a blog to follow.
Again, let’s help inspire hope together for people like myself living with mental illness now – and to defeat mental illness.
Thank you to everyone who has supported my journey and continues to support it thus far.

 

http://give.camh.ca/site/TR/OBN/OneBraveNight?px=1156105&pg=personal&fr_id=1101

I’m S.A.D., The February Blues

Is it fair to say that February is literally the worst month of the year?  It starts off with a visit from a furry little rodent named Punxsutawney Phil reminding us that winter is still far from over whether he sees his damn shadow or not.  Also, despite the fact that February is actually a few days shorter than the average month, it still feels the longest, especially when we spend half of it bitching about how cold and dreary it is outside.  Sure the first couple of snow falls of the season can seem magical, but by February they are just downright frightful.  All they do is cause disruption and chaos in our lives, and lets not forget the same disruption and chaos it causes our poor, innocent fur babies too.

February is also met by the worst part of the cold and flu season, which has delightfully been making its way through our home recently, like we haven’t suffered enough already?  The temperature can fluctuate in any given week from -30c to +8c, sometimes within hours, making it nearly impossible to dress appropriately on any given day.  And who by February isn’t sick and tired of wearing oversized sweaters, weighted down boots, bulky coats and always sporting a permanent look of hat head?

Then before you know it, it’s February 14th, Valentine’s Day, which is nothing more than a commercialized holiday meant to celebrate love and romance.  Single people yearning for love are hastily reminded of their failed attempts while leisurely strolling the aisles of any large retail chain store, their local drugstore, the grocery store or the neighbourhood mall just wanting to buy a few household necessities, but instead are flooded with boxes of heart-shaped chocolates and adorable, cuddly teddy bears sporting a t-shirt that reads “Be My Valentine”.  The holiday can no doubt feel just as overwhelming for people who are in a committed and loving relationship, many of whom often miss the signals given to them by their significant other only to quickly turn their well-intended efforts into something out of a Stephen King novel.

Getting through February can seem tiresome, monotonous and somewhat tedious for many people waking up to another somber day.  I myself have never been a big fan of winter, it quite frankly has little to no redeeming qualities, except maybe as a child when you woke up for school and your parents told you “it’s a snow day!”, although now as a parent myself, that excitement somehow gets lost in translation.  If it weren’t for my adoration for what in my opinion is the greatest Country in the world, I’d of found a new place to live a long time ago where sunshine and warmth are more predictable twelve months a year.

For many seemingly healthy individuals, February can often prompt feelings of depression and anxiety, and for me it simply intensifies them.  These feelings are more prevalent than society is willing to recognize, however there is an actual clinical diagnosis for it.  ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ or more commonly known as ‘S.A.D.’ is a mood disorder whereby an individual within a normal mental health range may begin to exhibit symptoms of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, loss of interest in regular activities, sleep and appetite problems and a lack of concentration.  To be considered S.A.D., a person generally shows signs of irregular mood patterns during the winter months which usually begin to lift once the seasons start to change.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is typically caused by environmental disturbances such as our decline in activity during the winter months, the decrease in sunlight, or daylight hours, and just trying to survive the cold weather.  A commonly used and often valuable treatment for S.A.D. or depression in general during these taxing months is Light Therapy.  Light Therapy is an artificial light box which exposes you to bright lights and emulates natural outdoor light which is thought to alter your brain chemicals associated with mood and sleep.

I have tried Light Therapy during several counselling sessions (by now there isn’t much I haven’t tried) and it can be quite soothing.  Suffering with depression and anxiety feels like a dark shadow is always encircling me, one that allows for little to no light to radiate through. This could be the reason why I am very uncomfortable in darkness and always need to be surrounded by lightness both day and night, especially during the dismal days of winter.  Light Therapy is definitely worth investigating further, and if not, I always have a backup plan, a simple alternative may be trying what millions of other species do every winter, find a warm bed and enter into hibernation.

#Hashtag, ‘Following’ the ‘Likes’ of Others

The pressures that we as a society are facing today are far greater than ever before and there is no sign that it slowing down anytime soon.  Statistics show that the increase in depression and anxiety are climbing in leaps and bounds, and with each new generation it is emerging in younger and younger peer groups.  So we have to ask ourselves then, what is causing this heightened growth in our mental instability and safety?

The answer to me is pretty simple, straightforward and even transparent.  Modern day life as we know it in the 21st Century is unequivocally hard and although many concerns we may face today in the world have always existed in some way or another, they are much more intensified nowadays due to the ever-changing technology and social media platforms, leaving more and more adolescents and adults alike with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.  These platforms are also causing an increase in the disconnect from ourselves and our loved ones the more time we spend on them, often generating low self-esteem and discontentment.

We now live in a world where Social Media and Smartphones have allowed us the ability to reach 100’s if not 1000’s of people within minutes, letting our “friends” and “followers” know that we have just received a promotion from work, or that we are sipping margaritas on the beach in Jamaica, or maybe we have just welcomed a new addition to the family or sadly we have just lost a loved one.  Our willingness to post our most intimate moments in life can be met with a lot of mixed emotions.  We become excited to share our latest accomplishment in our life and eagerly await all the likes, shares and comments to come, but what if your expectations are not met?  Our excitement may soon turn to self-doubt or an immense feeling that maybe no-one really “likes” me since we have become a society that measures one’s popularity on how many thumbs up we receive.

Social Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are certainly not the root of my illness, but they have most definitely sparked an increase of impaired and harmful emotions arousing a downward spiral for me some days.  These platforms have created somewhat of a catch-22 situation as I do appreciate how they have allowed me to reconnect with so many friends and family from my past, (some of whom have literally moved to the other side of the world) which would have been next to impossible to do without the power of social media.  It also allows me to still feel connected with those closest to me; it has given me an empowering voice to a cause very near and dear to me; it promotes a sense of belonging through a mix of social groups; it permits me to showcase my thoughts and creativity; it keeps me updated on news and entertainment, and it simply enables me to never forget your birthday again.

Over the past few years, but even more so over the last six months, I have had to limit my use of social media as it repeatedly leaves me very susceptible and vulnerable to feelings of loneliness, guilt, insecurity, worthlessness and despair.  Even though I have related to you all of the reasons why I value these platforms, they are, ironically, many of the same reasons why I devalue them, hence the catch-22.  Scrolling down my news feeds, whether on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook is quickly met with very alarming emotions especially relating to human interest stories or the political state of the world right now.  Commenting on other people’s news feeds causes me a great deal of anxiety, even as simple as a happy birthday message, and lastly, no matter what I am posting, whether its a new blog, a funny meme or a picture of me, I immediately suffer a very self-conscious and irresolute demeanor.

It is very easy to get caught up in the social media world, to get lost in it or to even become someone that you’re not, which is why I am trying to figure out its role in my life right now.  My emotional well-being and its impact on my mental health depend on it, because let’s face it; it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.  I know my triggers, I know my limitations and I know all the benefits it’s given me so “like” it or not,  I will somehow have to continue “following” and #trending along.

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

***PLEASE READ TO THE END***

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.

http://www.hempworx.com/jahara my own personal website

http://www.mydailychoice.com/jahara

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.

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