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
Despite the fact that February is the shortest month of the year, for many humans though, February can often feel like the longest and most depressing one as well; and especially this year.
Aside from the most obvious reasons why February can feel like the longest and most depressing month of the year when it’s actually not is due in part to many of us having to suffer through bitter cold temperatures and shortened hours of daylight each day; most of which seem filled with grey skies and falling precipitation rather than sunshine and rainbows. For others, February also feels long and dreaded because of holidays like Valentine’s Day that can bring with it a feeling of sorrow instead of love.
Of course this year February comes with an added bonus. We are now eleven months into living in a Global Pandemic and that in itself is enough to make any month feel like its never ending and for any human to display some signs of depression.
But what about our pets? Can they feel similar effects due to the winter blues or maybe even the effects associated with living in a Global Pandemic? In short, yes they can and we have started to notice lately that Maggie seems sad and possibly even a little depressed.
She has never been one to enjoy the winter weather or bitter cold temperatures (she’s just like her momma) but still it’s difficult to know for sure if that is what’s causing her sudden change in mood and several odd behaviours without first ruling out anything that could potentially be physically wrong with her because it’s not like she can really vocalize her sadness to us.
But once we have ruled out all other potential issues, I may have to call upon the world renowned “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan for some much needed help.
I don’t sleep much at the best of times and what little sleep I do get is often very disruptive and unsettling and a large part is due to my hypersensitivity to noise or in Psychological terms I guess you could call it “Anxiety”.
I’d probably compare myself to that of a dog when it comes to my keen sense of hearing, not the ferocious Cujo looking dog but more like a cuddly little lap dog! Dogs can hear way better than most humans and can also hear from four times further away and at nearly twice as many frequencies. That about sums me up and not just through the night!
Due to my severe anxiety I am easily triggered by many, many sounds and noises which often result in further upset, irritation, distress and even anger. I always feel like I am on high alert and many of the so-called “normal”, everyday noises that we hear feel super amplified in my head which causes me to be alarmed and frightened for a very good part of my days and night. It can be as simple as a door opening, a car driving by or even the sound of footsteps heard overhead.
These triggers don’t always coincide with my anxious thoughts or panic attacks, in fact oftentimes it doesn’t at all but it is so hard for me to ever feel completely relaxed. I find it near impossible to ever fully shut off my brain and with every amplified sound or noise I hear I am automatically thinking something tragic has occurred (and if you don’t believe me you can ask anyone who lives with me lol).
I am slowly learning how to stop myself as the noise amplifies in my head before I go immediately into the worst and most tragic place by telling myself over and over again that nothing bad is happening just like the last time I heard the same noise. It’s a process, just like everything else in my life. But if all else fails I think I’d make a pretty damn good watchdog!
The week we first went into lockdown 5 months ago this week (in case you’ve forgotten!) I had an appointment scheduled with my Psychiatrist to begin a new treatment. The decision for me to even attempt yet another new treatment was not an easy one to make, especially since it’s still quite new and not very accessible to the general public as of now; and not to mention that I had already been part of a clinical study for a more invasive version of the same treatment several years earlier during a hospital admission that I needed to stop immediately.
The first dose was to be administered by my Psychiatrist in his office at the hospital he works out of to ensure that I could tolerate it and from there I would be monitored closely as I continued treatment several times a week from my home. It’s now been five long months since that initial appointment was postponed inevitably as I continue to struggle deeply on a daily basis.
As most of you who follow my journey regularly know by now that my relationship with medication and treatment options (both traditional and MANY non-traditional as well) to help ease my symptoms associated with anxiety and depression have been met with many obstacles, extreme challenges and sometimes severe complications to say the least. So when I discovered CBD oil a few years ago and found immediate relief from it while experiencing high levels of anxiety throughout any given day (even if it’s only temporary), I’ve come to rely on it like you would rely on any loyal and trustworthy friend.
Although it’s been far from a cure and (unfortunately) for me it has yet to give my symptoms of depression any type of real relief I’m still so grateful to know that just like my many loyal, trustworthy friends I have in my life, it’s a safe and reliable way to help me cope with my often severe and very persistent daily bouts of anxiety and panic attacks because I really don’t know how I’d ever get through so many difficult days (and nights) without any of them.
I’m pretty sure there are lots of people who choose to scroll past many of my posts on Social Media and lots more who have probably “unfriended” me over time because of the content I share may seem completely irrelevant to their lives or make them feel uncomfortable.
When I first started to share my story almost 4 years ago I would always fear what others would think of me when I shared many intimate details and experiences of my journey with you and to be perfectly honest, there are still many days now where the fear of being judged or shamed gets to be too much for me and I vow never to write again.
But it’s on those same days that I need to remind myself that l cannot lose my voice and especially not now when the mental wellness of so many is on a rapid decline and the rate of suicide is rapidly increasing.
I chose to share my journey, not as a way to gain attention to myself or for others to feel sorry for me but instead as a way of letting people know that they are not alone and that it’s okay to not be okay. I also began to share my journey as my way of trying to squash the stigma surrounding mental illness and bring about more awareness, education and change.
I am sharing my journey more than ever right now hoping that my story helps even just one more person scrolling by who is suffering in silence, or just one more person who needs to help a loved one who is struggling or just one more person who chooses awareness and change in their life instead of judgment and stigma then that will help even just one more person begin to feel accepted and less ashamed!
Today we set out for a #summerofrich adventure in honour of Terry Fox who passed away 39 years ago today after his courageous and well-fought battle with Cancer that he so bravely united Canadians around the world with as he ran his Marathon of Hope across Canada with a prostetic leg, never allowing anything to get in his way of raising money for Cancer Research.
Our #summerofrich adventure didn’t go as I had planned today (that is a whole other story) which left me feeling quite defeated but then I began to reflect back to that little 10 year old girl in me who still remembers the day in early July 1981 when I received a letter in the mail from my parents (while I was away at camp) telling me of Terry Fox’s death. I remember feeling a great sense of sadness (like so many other proud Canadians) upon hearing the news of his death as I had been following his remarkable and inspirational journey since the beginning.
If I have learned anything from my own journey over the last 6 years it’s that life doesn’t always go as we plan and that sometimes we may feel defeated but Terry Fox’s strength, spirit, determination, courage and bravery has taught us that it’s ok to accept defeat sometimes and that we need to learn to forgive ourselves sometimes because somethings you just cannot avoid. That reflection is what helped me to hold back many tears today as I honoured Terry Fox’s legacy, someone who still remains to be seen as one of the greatest and most prominent heroes in Canadian history as he reminds us that anything is truly possible if you try.
When I receive pictures like these ones it completely warms my heart. Today a group of amazing Teachers and EA’s surprised some of their “Awesome Grads” from Our Lady of Victory School in Toronto with a small Graduation ceremony outside their homes toting presents, balloons and a “Class of 2020” Graduation lawn sign.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a smile is worth a million more.
I love my new decorative piece that I now display in my home as an important reminder to me. It’s original quote by Albert Einstein can be left up to the interpretation of each individual who reads his words; it truly depends on how you need to interpret them.
Finding my voice has been a daily struggle for me for six years now because to me finding my voice has meant being able to step outside of my comfort zone, it’s meant finding a way to be courageous and brave, it’s meant finding a way to make a difference in someone’s life, it’s meant finding a way to be open and honest, it’s meant finding a way to challenge myself, it’s meant finding my own path and it’s meant finding my purpose.
Since I began writing my blog close to four years ago now and sharing my journey with the world I have slowly begun to uncover parts of my voice and ignite my passion with openness and honesty. I never felt brave or courageous enough to have my own voice before, especially as a child and young adult, and it always felt safest to just stay within my comfort zone.
Over the last 3 plus years I have spent much of my time trying to find a way to step outside of that comfort zone in order to challenge myself, in order to find my own path (even if it may be a bit off course) and in order to find my purpose.
Maybe I’m just like Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz”, maybe I’ve had the power all of my life and didn’t even know it. Maybe my illness has given me the strength to be a voice to help make a difference in someone else’s life and to give others who may need it most, the courage to “echo” my words and actions while they too discover their own voice.
How many of you reading this remember keeping a secret diary hidden locked away underneath your mattress in your tween/teenage years? Boy what would I give to read those right now.
I haven’t kept a diary for probably over 30 years now but since my journey began 6 years ago I have spent many hours expressing my inner most thoughts and oftentimes in the good ole fashioned way using a pen and paper.
I recently took some time to reread one particular journal that I had kept during my very first in-patient hospital stay some 5.5 years ago and while I was reading it I suddenly realized just how important journaling can be.
Journaling can help you create a relationship of sorts with your mind. It can help you to attain your goals, it can give you a clearer view of the world around you and may help you to make important connections between your thoughts and behaviors.
Right now we are all probably dealing with some thoughts and feelings that we have never felt before and it’s completely understandable and 100 percent valid. Maybe now would be the perfect time to dust off that old diary or start a new journal.
Think of it as a creative activity which can definitely be quite cathartic. It will make you more aware of your thoughts and behaviors and even help you sort out some new perspectives and shift a negative mindset to a more positive one.
I have been encouraging my whole family to start journaling at least once a day (it’s a great tool for everyone, even your preschoolers can draw their feelings). Let it be the place to leave your stressors behind, let it give you a sense of gratitude, let it be your voice to help guide you through this moment in time and let it be your history book; the one that will be talked about and shared for generations to come.
Our “fur” baby turns 9 today and I’m pretty sure that her one birthday wish this year is for all of us to take a very loooonnnggg walk for a good solid 8 hours and leave her the heck alone curled up like a ball on daddy’s pillow. Happy Ruffday Maggie. 🐕🐶🥩🧀🎈
I wanted to reshare a blog I wrote 2 years ago with you today called “A Dog’s Purpose” (see link below) in honour of Maggie’s birthday. In the last month Maggie has been a pillar of strength and support for each one of us in one “purposeful” way or another and even though she has no clue what this Pandemic is or why she has suddenly been overwhelmed with an abundance of walks and cuddles she has truly made each day a little easier and a little brighter.
We love you to the moon and back Maggie, forever and a day!