It’s been a hundred and thirty something days since I’ve had a cigarette, not a hundred and thirty something days since I’ve desired a cigarette but a hundred and thirty something days since I last smoked one. There are many days (and nights) that go by now where I barely even think about smoking anymore but the days that I do are fucking hell and last night was probably the worst I’ve experienced, even more so than the first few days after I quit back in January. You all remember January; that cold, dark, dreary month of the year that we all wish we could go back in time to right now. Boy what I’d give to go back there now in a heartbeat, with my concussion and all!
Last night I had a panic attack which only exasperated the exhaustion and overwhelm I was already experiencing and I suddenly felt like a junkie who would do just about anything to get their next “fix”. If you have ever suffered with an addiction of any kind before (drug, alcohol, gambling etc) you can relate to how out of control I felt from my “need” to smoke NOW. I begged Rich to get me a pack of cigarettes and I began envisioning myself sitting on my front porch enjoying the beautiful spring air and thinking that having just 1 cigarette wouldn’t be a big deal at all.
It’s nights like this that have me thinking I will never be free of cigarettes. But then again is there really a specific timeline as to how long it should take a smoker of over 30 years to fully stop having the desire to smoke?
Today is National Child & Youth Mental Health Day and what better time than right in the midst of a Pandemic to bring awareness to and acknowledgment of the thousands of young people and families who are in need of mental health support more than ever before.
Statistics show (in Canada) that almost 40 to 50 percent of all visits made to the Pediatrician’s office are due to mental health issues and that Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds. And lastly 70 percent of all mental health challenges usually begin around childhood and adolescence. My greatest fear right now is seeing those statistics soar even more than they already have in the coming months or years because of our current crisis.
These statistics are proof that we still have plenty of work ahead of us and that we desperately need to build caring and emotional connections with our young people to help them through their worries and fears, help them stay positive and hopeful during this time and beyond and help ensure that both their bodies and minds stay healthy too.
I have spoken to so many parents over the last several years regarding our children and mental health in general. These conversations are so important to have because they reassure us that we are not alone and over the last couple of weeks since I began working on my initiative to honour our “Class of 2020” Graduates it’s very clear that we truly are not alone in this fight.
Our kid’s are having to deal with stuff right now that is beyond our comprehension as parents and caregivers. They have lost so much (like beyond our comprehension) and we as parents need to keep an open dialogue and ensure that our kids know that when they are feeling anxious or scared or lonely or angry or frustrated that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to have these feelings and we need to let them have these feelings and that even the most resilient kids are going to sometimes feel anxious or lonely or scared or angry or frustrated too and we need to keep an even closer eye on them!
But the more ways we can find to build those caring and emotional connections with our kids right now could really help make a difference in their lives while in quarantine. Simple acts of kindness or even our body language can go a very long way to putting a smile on a child’s face (no matter their age).
Try making them a favorite meal, pull out the old photo albums from when they were babies, make a Tik Tok video together, read them an extra long story at bedtime, make a fort in the living room with them and let them sleep in it, play a board game or do a puzzle together and of course hug them tight.
I have received a number of messages over the past couple of days from parents thanking me for helping to put a smile on their “Class of 2020” Graduate’s face and it warms my heart knowing that we can all make a child smile by building caring and emotional connections.
How many ways can you make your child smile today?
Wow, would you look at that, we did it; we just completed a full month (and then some) in quarantine and in case you needed a gentle reminder, today is May 1st and for me May has always been one of my most favorite months of the year.
I mean what’s not to love about May? It’s like a fresh start watching the flowers bloom and seeing the regrowth on the trees or finally hanging up your winter coat and of course it’s also the unofficial kick off to summer (so as you may have guessed this has been written from the perspective of a proud Canadian girl).
May is typically a very busy and joyous month for us with lots to look forward to each year but nowadays the best excuse for a celebration seems more like Cinco De Mayo Day (May 5), Victoria Day (May 18) and National Wine Day (May 25). And as you can see there is a common theme between all three days, one that needs no explanation after being in quarantine for…a whole lot of days.
Hopefully though, between all the Tequila (Cinco De Mayo) and Beer (make it a Corona on Victoria Day) and Wine (National Wine Day) we can find some time to pop open a bottle of champagne and make a toast to us on our upcoming 25th Wedding Anniversary later this month (right in between beer and wine day!). Stay tuned
P.S. I hate wine, beer and tequila!
What is something you are looking forward to during the month of May?
It’s been ONE HUNDRED days since I smoked my last cigarette. By my own calculations (I’ve never been great at math) that’s approximately 1200 cigarettes I haven’t smoked and approximately 725 dollars in savings.
Both are quite significant achievements don’t ya think? Both are definitely noteworthy right? Then why is it still so hard? Why is it that I just want to smoke one more cigarette even though I can see (and feel) all the incredible benefits from not smoking. And if there is to be a #summerofrich this year (an abridged version would do!!) that means that physically there will be no mountain I cannot climb and just hearing one of my daughters tell me that I am now that much less vulnerable to the risks associated with Covid-19 if I were to (G-d forbid) contract it should be reason enough to never want to smoke another cigarette ever again, but mentally of course, mentally, I hear a much different story in my head.
Cigarettes had become a crutch for me over the last 6 years, a way to release stress, manage an anxiety attack, quiet the thoughts in my head (I never hesitated to step outside at 2am for a cigarette to help “quiet the thoughts” when I couldn’t sleep) or calm the panic but what would happen if I were to give into my triggers or mental cravings right now?
Would it take away the overwhelm or change the situation we are living in or make everything better? Or would it simply just give those nasty, vicious voices dancing around in my head another reason to make me feel like a complete failure and a worthless human being?
So my question is; if timing is everything then was my choice to quit smoking ONE HUNDRED days ago one which was made with “infinite possibilities” or some kind of “meaningful coincidence”?
Last night I had a meltdown of epic proportions. I knew that it being my 6 year Anniversary since the onset of my illness yesterday (See blog “The Anniversary Effect”; April 4, 2020) that it wasn’t gonna be an easy day. But I did just what any good doctor would order me to do and got out of bed (eventually), took a 2 hour walk through my neighborhood and then treated myself to a warm bubble bath when we got home.
But like clockwork everything changed without a moment’s notice and almost as soon as I stepped out of the bathtub I found myself crying over “spilt milk” again, even if most of what I was crying over wasn’t really worth getting upset about at all; but you see, the truth is, it really feels like there is plenty of spilt milk to cry over these days.
At any given moment we may find ourselves feeling sad, scared, disappointed, angry, worried, distracted, exhausted, restless, short tempered or impatient (did I cover enough adjectives?). I find that since first becoming ill my patience has become next to nil which can often stir up plenty of other emotions quickly. And now with each passing day I’m pretty sure that most of us are finding ourselves losing their patience too in some way or another or with someone or another. In other words, we are all starting to get on each other’s nerves.
It’s ok if you’re not quite ready to admit to it yet though and since there is no real guidebook for us to follow on how we should feel during a Pandemic, we all get a free pass. So with no Playbook or guidelines to follow on how we should react or be feeling right now let me reassure you that whatever the heck you are feeling is perfectly valid.
Even if you’re living with June Cleaver from “Leave It To Beaver” we are all learning together how to coexist with others on a much different level than we were before and you may be feeling very claustrophobic, frustrated, on edge and downright snappy toward one another as we test each other’s patience and deal with each other’s anxieties and ever changing moods.
It’s hard, it’s super fucking hard right now but “we’re all in this together” and the one thing that is gonna make this nightmare just a tad bit easier is ensuring that we all work together as a team, within our individual homes, and create a Playbook with your home team. (I really do miss sports)
This experience is no doubt gonna change us all and we are all going to have to make some changes in order to get through this Pandemic together and maybe a good place to start is by developing a “Playbook” for your home team and make sure it includes several “strategies” and “plays” that can help reduce some of your household stressors and anxieties.
Ask your teammates what you need from them right now and moving forward to help make this time together more successful and remember that it’s still ok to cry over spilt milk while figuring it out, but by figuring it out together hopefully we will create some stronger, more adhesive family units by the time this is all over.
So what are some things you need in your Playbook?
Today’s mood is brought to you by the letters F*U*C* and K*. Colouring isn’t just for kids. It’s an amazing way to de-stress, stimulate our brain activity, work on our fine motor skills and can generate overall health and wellness. Look at the one I plan to tackle next because swearing at times like this are totally acceptable and very necessary!
Rich is a definite creature of habit and routine is very important to him (he’s definitely not alone in his thinking in our home as I am sure is the case in many homes around the world). Having his routine disrupted has been an unfortunate reality for him several times over the last few years but now more than ever. Keeping a somewhat “normal” routine may be nearly impossible to do right now for many of us. Are you finding it difficult to stick to your routine? What are you doing to try and keep to a somewhat “normal” routine? Do you find it is helping maintain your mental wellness? Would love for you to share some of your thoughts.