I’ve been receiving an increasing amount of messages in recent days and weeks from both friends and strangers alike who are in need of some real emotional support for themselves or a loved one from someone who can relate to their feelings of debilitating anxiety, sadness and defeat; most of whom have never known or experienced these feelings before and they are scared and overwhelmed and vulnerable and unmotivated and lonely and helpless and stressed and angry and frustrated and sad and simply fed up. And they are not alone.
Covid-19 has affected us all in different ways and at different times throughout the Pandemic but living in Ontario right now (and many other beautiful places around the globe) it’s becoming increasingly more and more difficult to try and stay positive anymore or to find moments of joy in our life and it’s showing up in both our physical and mental health in one way or another.
Can we even find joy in our lives anymore?
I know that I for one could really use some joy in my life right now.
This picture (posted above) is pure unadulterated joy. Having my kids receive their first vaccines this week (because we live in a “hot spot”, woohoo!) felt incredibly joyful and I even went so far as to tell them that it felt even more joyful than the day they were first born.
Did I go too far? Was it too much?
I mean given that we’ve been living through a Global Pandemic for more than 13 months now I felt like my feelings were pretty justified, no?
It almost felt like a rebirth or a revival and that in more than a year I could finally see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been trying so desperately to get through and even though it’s only a tiny light for now, any light is at least a start.
What has been your moment of joy this week, even if it was for only a brief moment in time? Comment below and spread some joy!
P.S. I’m always here if you need someone to talk to.
P.P.S. Don’t forget to practice self- care.
P.P.P.S. Let’s all do our part to stop the spread of Covid-19. Wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance and when it’s your turn to get the vaccine, GO!
I felt a flood of emotions come over me when it hit me that nothing has really changed since then and to be perfectly honest, it actually feels a thousand times worse right now.
My girls are both less than ten days away from finishing their school years; Rachel being in her first year of University for Interior Design and Hannah is about to earn her four year Undergraduate Degree in Communications.
To say I am proud of these two young ladies would be an understatement. They have both worked their butts off this year despite the many challenges and limitations they’ve had to face by having to work completely remotely, completely online; and completely from home.
Rachel was robbed once again of so many exciting new experiences from the start of her University career. Instead she has spent the past year at home learning new skills, building and creating incredible projects and making new friends from across the world all from our living room floor (which she turned into her own personal art studio last summer before the start of the school year).
And now Hannah too has been robbed of so many of her own opportunities, rites of passage and exciting new experiences that would normally accompany her throughout this, her graduating year.
But they did it! It hasn’t been easy or fair or kind at times and it’s been so painful and mentally exhausting to watch as a parent at other times. But like so many of us who have lost so much over the past year, its ok to acknowledge their pain from the disappointment and anger and frustration and sadness that they have had to endure; that we have all had to endure.
In a way, I guess we have all been experiencing a steep learning curve this past year, just so desperately trying to forge our way forward.
Forgot to post our #summerofrich adventure from yesterday.
I needed an escape from the racing thoughts in my head and a hike seemed like the perfect distraction.
There was plenty of clear blue sky and a warm springtime breeze in the air. We could hear birds chirping from the trees and ducks singing by the pond. Perfection.
But even with plenty of clear blue sky, a warm springtime breeze in the air, the birds chirping from the trees and the ducks singing by the pond, I could not totally escape the trauma that April 4th represents for me (see blog I posted yesterday if you missed it).
I’m easily triggered by the events that took place on that day seven years earlier and this year had been no exception. As midnight approached the night before last I began experiencing symptoms of my PTSD and quickly found myself trying to fight off a panic attack.
But aside from all that and the trails being nothing short of a mudslide for the better part of our nearly 2 hour hike it turned out to be just what I needed (and boy were we glad that we had decided to leave Maggie at home!).
Sorry though to have disappointed you Rich, who had been camera ready the entire time hoping to take a snapshot of me falling flat on my butt as we navigated our way through the very slippery and often dangerous mounds of mud; fyi there were several close calls 😋).
How did you incorporate self-care into your long weekend?
I had a massage this afternoon, the first one in several years.
My kids had bought it for me as a gift last Mother’s Day.
At the time when they purchased it the Spa was closed due to lockdown restrictions and by the time it did finally reopen, to be perfectly honest, I just kept forgetting about it. That was until a few weeks ago when I hurt my back and thought once I’m feeling better I should get a massage!
Massages, like mindfulness or meditation are supposed to be a perfect way to relax and relieve anxiety and stress, but seriously, have you met me before?
My track record with both mindfulness and meditation have never been met with much success for me and usually do the complete opposite of what they are meant for and now I guess I may as well add massage to that list too.
It was the perfect setting for a massage; the lights were dim, there was a subtle aroma in the air, soothing music playing in the background and the massage therapist was both gentle and calming. So what could possibly go wrong?
I have no ‘F’ ing idea to be perfectly honest with you but as soon as the massage began and for the next 50 minutes or so I felt like I was going to suffocate (and not just because of my mask).
My thoughts were racing all over the damn map and my mind was filled with such chaos. There was no real pattern or focus to speak of, just complete disarray. I tried several times to relax my body but my mind was having none of that nonsense.
I needed to find a way to distract myself and so I tried some of my go-to techniques and tools I’ve learned throughout my journey but nothing seemed to be working. I felt myself becoming more and more vulnerable in a “fight or flight” state of mind which only kept escalating when I quickly realized that fleeing the situation was likely not an option.
So I continued to lay there feeling very helpless with tears in my eyes, trying to estimate how much time I still had left all the while shouting at my mind to just shut the ‘F’ up and let my body cherish this beautiful gift I received from my kids!
A year ago today I wrote a blog just 24 hours after the WHO declared the Coronavirus a world wide Pandemic.
I remember those first few days that followed as though it was just yesterday. There may have still been so many unknowns at the time but one thing was for sure, the virus that had seemed so far from our reach was now here and action was abruptly taken.
March Break was just getting underway here in Ontario and the sudden closure of the borders meant for starters that Rachel, who was scheduled to fly to Punta Cana in a couple of days for her once in a lifetime High School Graduation trip was no longer going to happen.
Professional sports and Broadway productions were being shut down; students, teachers and parents were preparing for a “two week” extension of March Break and then one by one businesses, malls and restaurants were told that they too must close immediately.
The sudden changes, the mixed messages and the fear of the unknown quickly began to take its toll on everyone, even those amongst us who had never experienced bouts of anxiety before were starting to feel anxious and scared.
In my blog I shared a list of some simple yet effective ideas for how we could try and cope with this new type of anxiety (you know, the kind of anxiety that follows the declaration of a world wide Pandemic!).
But now, one year in, those simple, effective ideas no longer feel plausible. Covid-19 and the fallout from it has created so many new barriers for many, devastation beyond repair for others and an increased amount of anxiety and other mental health concerns in almost everyone you speak to.
My anxiety had already been beyond crippling for me pre-Pandemic for the better part of six years by the onset of the Pandemic but Covid-19 has really magnified it in so many ways and I know that sadly I am not alone.
But I also can’t believe that someone like myself who lives with chronic mental health issues on a daily basis, where carrying out the simplest of tasks and activities or attending any type of social gathering that could likely cause me to go into complete and utter panic and despair at any given moment (even those which involve close friends and family) finds myself actually craving many of these missed opportunities that so many of us once took for granted.
For an entire year now I’ve been following the public health’s advice and guidelines by washing my hands regularly, wearing my mask, staying home as much as possible, social distancing and avoiding any direct contact with family and friends outside of those who live in my home, so like truly, who can really blame me?
I can at the very least see a light now at the end of this very turbulent and dark tunnel with the vaccine rollout underway (even if it’s been a complete and epic fail here in Canada) but it still doesn’t change the fact that this past year has on a whole been the most difficult and trying year for many of us and after enduring months and months of Covid-fatigue has only added more fuel to the fire for someone like me who already had a very anxious mind beforehand.
At first, once the initial shock wore off (although I still find myself often shaking my head in disbelief) we may have found some joy in staying home, spending quality time with our kids or taking a few weeks off from our hectic lives; I mean sometimes big changes in our lifestyles or behaviours can feel easy in the beginning, right? But this was never something any one of us ever wanted to get used to.
But we have all had to adjust and pivot in so many ways since then and so now, here we are, one year later still watching cautiously from the sidelines with some light at the end of the tunnel as life slowly (very slowly in Canada) begins to push toward some type of “normal” again except that now many of us are starting to face yet another very real anxiety; one that comes with a fear of what normalcy will actually look like, a fear of the future, post vaccination and a fear that we will never be able to get back to the way life was before the Pandemic because abnormal sure feels like the new normal to me.
Do you fear that life will never feel “normal” again?
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.
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’m struggling more than usual right now and it almost feels like it’s beyond repair.
My tears have all but dried up at this point and I feel as though I have nothing left to give of myself. My safe place no longer feels safe and I find myself looking for desperate ways to escape from these painful thoughts and feelings.
I wish there was such a thing as a magic pill that I could swallow which would stop these desperate thoughts and feelings from taking control of me instead of wanting to end my life forever.
I haven’t been able to shake these desperate thoughts and feelings for the better part of a week now. I’ve tried escaping them by going for walks at unreasonable hours, writing and most importantly trying to lean on others for support, including my Therapist, but I feel like such a burden right now which has made it that much more difficult to do.
But I also know that reaching out for help is so important, especially as I desperately try to hold on in order to survive right now. This feeling is also why when I was approached to do an interview today with City TV News I knew it was maybe a sign.
The interview was about a new telephone Helpline being set up in York Region to provide counselling for those suffering, specifically through Covid related issues due to restrictions, isolation etc. I knew it was something I needed to do for both myself and the many others who are feeling desperate and scared right now. I knew I needed to continue to be that voice and let others like me find hope and strength in knowing that reaching out for support is more than okay, in fact it’s beyond okay.
I had put the link to this new service (which is free) on a blog the other day titled “Going To Therapy is Cool” @https://youareenough712.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/going-to-therapy-is-cool and feel free to check out my Interview on City TV at 5 or 6pm tonight.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”~Maya Angelou
Today is the 11th Annual Bell Let’s Talk Day. To date Bell’s Mental Health initiatives have raised more than 25 million dollars towards various programs and research projects by contributing 5 cents every time someone in Canada sends a text message, makes a phone call (Bell users only), tweets #BellLetsTalk or creates a Tik Tok video using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, views one of their videos on any of their social media platforms or uses Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame and Snapchat filter today.
Their message this year in the wake of Covid-19 is simple; “When it comes to mental health, now more than ever, every action counts.”
So if you can take a moment today to talk, text or tweet (etc) #BellLetsTalk it really could make a difference in someone’s life and remember that every action taken is one step closer toward ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Our words matter, our actions matter and our mental health matters more than ever before and by simply showing a kind gesture to a friend or loved one who is feeling depressed today or by listening to a child who may be feeling super anxious and unsure right now or by asking a coworker or neighbor how you can help them because they are feeling extra stressed are just a few of the many ways that you can let someone know that they are not and that it’s okay to not be okay.
**If you would like more information on how to get a copy of my children’s book “Where Did Mommy’s Smile Go?” please feel free to message me directly. All proceeds from any book sales made between today and Sunday will be donated to #BellLetsTalkDay initiatives. And for more helpful tips and tools on mental health and self-care practices or to learn how Bell Let’s Talk initiatives have been impacting groups and communities all across Canada for the past 10 + years please check out their website @ https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/our-initiatives.