Reaching Out For Help

**Update: here is the link to my interview** https://toronto.citynews.ca/video/2021/01/29/telephone-counselling-set-up-due-to-pandemic-mental-health-issues

*Warning: May Be Triggering To Some*

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 

A Thanksgiving Parody

@theholdernessfamily have been a great source of laughter and comfort for me over the last many months.  

Their videos are always so creative, entertaining, nostalgic and often carry with it a strong and meaningful message.

The Holderness family is so relatable to so many of us who are also just desperately trying to survive and navigate their way through day to day life during a Global Pandemic in the best and safest way possible. 

I know we are all missing our loved ones and have had to sacrifice so much this year (and I don’t believe that closing small businesses and retail stores as they have done so in parts of Ontario this week is necessarily the answer but then again do we really know what the right answer is anymore?).

This latest parody video holds a super powerful message and not just for our American friends and family who are busy preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, but for everyone around the Globe who so urgently wants to be with their friends and other family members.

The good news however is that there is an end in sight, so for now lets all do our part to keep each other safe by continuing to socially distance and wear a mask.  

Follow The Holderness Family on Facebook and Instagram; you won’t be disappointed and Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate. 

ENJOY

#staysafe #aerosmith #parody #laughter #laughuntilyoucry #covidfatigue #2020sucks #theholdernessfamily #wereallinthistogether #wearamask #happythanksgiving #youareenough

The LifeWrite Project

Back in mid July I submitted a piece of writing to a non profit organization called “The LifeWrite Project” which is situated in the States. They were looking for a collaborative compilation of stories to be published in an upcoming new book titled “The Corona Silver Linings Anthology” which will be released sometime in December.

After a very difficult few days I’ve been having it was a really nice way to end the week by receiving an email this afternoon that my story will be published as part of the collection as well as in a digital version. 

They were looking for stories that give messages of hope and kindness, inspiration and strength and “silver linings” of light and positively we may have found during the darkness of the Pandemic to be compiled as a thought-capsule of this historic time in all of our lives.  

My story I wrote was about my “Class of 2020” Graduation Lawn Signs Initiative which as most of you know by now honoured our 2020 Graduates and raised over $10,000 for Kids Help Phone as well.

The proceeds from this book will be donated to a variety of charities including “The First Responders Children’s Foundation”.

#lifewriteproject #thecoronasilverliningsanthology #youareenough #authoragain #graduationday #2020grads #silverlinings #mentalhealth 

The Positive Side Of A Selfie

Taking a selfie these days seems to be one of the biggest growing phenomenons since the creation of the Smartphone itself and statistics show that women between the ages of 16 and 25 are spending (on average) five hours per week taking them. 

Although the average age for taking selfies may be women between 16 and 25 years old, they are certainly not alone. Selfies have become a form of self-expression and a great way to present one”self” to the world, no matter what your age or gender is. 

We choose to take selfies most often for a feeling of instant gratification, to make personal connections with others, to boost our self-esteem, to gain positive feedback and to express one’s own creativity. 

Over the last many years I have shied away from having my picture taken as much as humanly possible (I much prefer to be the photographer if you haven’t noticed!), so the thought of me taking a selfie is like next to nil!

But today is one of those very rare occasions where I decided to try and step outside my comfort zone (way out) and try for even just one moment to feel the “positive side of a selfie” and embrace what the world sees in me in order to show you my new sweatshirt I made.

The words I chose to use are a deep and meaningful reminder to me as I continue to try and fight this battle and it’s a true expression of hope to the many women everywhere who are also struggling on their own journey right now or who have fought their way through one; whether it be physical or mental.

I created this shirt in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week and I chose the colour pink in honour of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

#selfies #prettyinpink #breastcancerawarenessmonth #mentalillnessawarenessweek #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #endthestigmatogether #youarenotalone #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocateforchange #itsoktonotbeok #checkonyourlovedones #startaconversation

The Five Stages Of “Covid” Grief


Throughout the Pandemic I have followed all the necessary precautions set out by the Government, by Science and by our Health Officials and although it may come as a big surprise to many of you but for the most part the Pandemic itself has not intensified my symptoms of Depression and Anxiety; infact in some ways it’s done just the opposite (I will save that for a later blog). 

My steady decline in my Mental Health over the last while has truly had very little to do with the Pandemic itself and much more to do with many other personal factors that were already there long before Covid-19 was ever a thing.

And although I have not allowed all the fear mongering or blatant disrespect, intolerance and judgment towards one another that I see every time I open up my Social Media feeds control my emotions I have grown more and more anxious lately wondering if life will ever feel “normal” again.

As I look back on the last 6 plus months I feel as though the Pandemic has taken us through many different stages, and when I examine those stages closely I can see that they are the same 5 stages a person will often go through when grieving a loss and for months now we have all been grieving the loss of life in some form or another.

The 5 stages of grief which can easily be transferred to life during a Pandemic are as follows: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness & Depression and Acceptance.

Way way back at the end of 2019 the world watched and listened to what was unfolding in China and for several months prior to it reaching the rest of the Globe, if we can all be honest here for just one second, how many of us actually watched in “denial” while clinging to a false, “preferable reality” that this virus wasn’t really going to affect our lives. 

And even as it crept closer and closer to us, we were still very much in “denial” as to the kind of impact it was going to have on our lives, but boy oh boy, it didn’t take long before our “denial” turned to “anger”.

We quickly (and rightfully so) became very frustrated and began to put blame on anyone and everyone we could. We angrily wondered how the fuck this could have happened to us and who would of let this happen to us all the while as we sat at home in self-isolation.

Then, as more and more information from the Government, Science and Health Officials came to light we entered into the “bargaining” stage of grief and started our negotiations with the experts. “So you’re telling me that if I stay home or stay 6 feet apart from anyone outside of my bubble or I wear a mask when social distancing is problematic or I use hand sanitizer and wash my hands constantly then after 14 days in quarantine our life can go back to normal, right?” 

Well we all know now that it’s alot more complex than that and our “bargaining” and negotiation skills have fallen short, which after months of trying to make the best of this very shitty situation our denial, our anger and our bargaining skills have turned into a deep “sadness” or “depression” for many people around the Globe.

Many of us have lost so much during this Pandemic and many of us have reached a point where their sadness or depression makes them feel as though this is a losing battle, that all our efforts are hopeless. It’s also made us question an inevitable future and our own mortality too.

But there is still one final stage of grief and it’s probably the most important one of all. If we are to find the strength to move forward and learn how to navigate life in our new “normal” then we must first learn “acceptance” of it. Collectively we need to figure out ways to proceed both cautiously and safely because “acceptance” will give us the power to control whatever lies ahead.

We all cope with grief in our own way and in our own time. We may not all go through each of the 5 stages, and maybe none of them at all but no matter your process we all need to remember that we are all in this together. 

#fivestagesofgrief #denial #anger #bargaining #sadness #acceptance #showkindness #wereallinthistogether #strongertogether #covid19 #pandemic #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok #checkonyourlovedones #wearamask #washyourhands #sixfeet

Man Plans, And God Laughs

The other day I posted a blog titled “Socially Distanced Holiday Traditions” where I talked about how difficult the holidays have become for me over the last many years and how this year many of those social pressures, obligations and expectations that so often make it difficult for me to enjoy the holidays in the first place had been decided for me due to Covid-19. 

Sadly, it almost felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I could actually take in the beauty of some of our holiday traditions this year without all the added anxiety from too many social pressures, obligations and expectations. 

I felt way more in control and much less guilty than in holidays past and I was also looking forward to spending some (socially distanced) quality time with other family too, even if it meant having to freeze our asses off in the crisp Fall-like weather in order to do so.

But none of that ended up happening because just hours after posting my blog the other morning, Jacob came home from work feeling sick for the second time in just over a week (after being perfectly fine only hours earlier). This time though he had many more flu-like symptoms than the last time. He complained of body aches, chills, a dry cough and he felt warm to the touch so off he went again for yet another Covid test and then we waited, and waited some more in anticipation of his results while he lay locked away (again), alone in his room in the basement for what felt like an eternity (I’m pretty sure though it felt even longer for Jacob).

It was hard to think positively (or to think of much else) knowing what the outcome could be and knowing just how shitty he felt (I lay awake that entire first night convincing myself that I too had Covid! #anxietysucks). It was the longest 48 hours ever but thankfully once again his results came back negative. 

The whole situation made me think of the Yiddish adage “Man Plans, and God Laughs” and just how much life is truly so unpredictable and how quickly unexpected changes can occur in your life; big or small (which is basically the journey I’ve been on for 6 years now!).

I had the best intentions and the best laid plans for the first time in many years when it came to a holiday celebration and as I mentioned above I was actually looking forward to a much less overwhelming Rosh Hashanah this year. In the end it may of still turned out to be another very overwhelming holiday while we waited for Jacob’s results but at least we got to enjoy some quiet family time together (with Jacob on Facetime) and lots of delicious festive food (I think Jacob is secretly starting to enjoy being waited on hand and foot 🙂 even if the first chance he got to be released from what’s beginning to feel like a dungeon he bolted for the nearest exit up the stairs and to the kitchen!).

#shanatova #roshhashanah #happynewyear #youareenough #manplansandgodlaughs #goawaycovid #familymatters #itsgonnabealongwinter #wearyourmask #washyourhands #togetherapart #secondwave #socialdistancing

Our New Norm

Jacob called in sick to work the other day, something he has rarely done in the past but he just wasn’t feeling well. He told us he was feeling really run down, he had a case of laryngitis and he also displayed some other mild cold-like symptoms as well. If this had been 6 months ago we would have probably just given him some Tylenol or Cold and Flu medicine and sent him and his “man cold” back to bed but instead we sent him to go get a Covid test to put all of our minds at ease.

We can no longer just simply dismiss exhaustion or other cold and flu-like symptoms as nothing more than the “common cold”. For almost 24 hours we kept him isolated to his room in the basement while awaiting his results. We left food and water for him outside his bedroom door like you would that of a prisoner (and Hannah made him a big bowl of ice cream for dessert too) and we lay in wait with a feeling of panic until he got his results.

While we waited we also needed to discuss in great length what the possibility of a positive test would mean for the five of us and for anyone else Jacob had been in contact with over the last week or so.

It felt scary and very real. His test results THANKFULLY came back negative, but as we head into the cooler weather now and with the cold and flu season upon us, this is going to become the reality for more and more of us in the coming months and from the several stories I have seen on Social Media just one day into the start of the new school year for many of our children who were being sent home due to having runny noses, our “new norm” is certain to only add to an already very long and uncertain Fall and Winter season ahead.

#staysafeeveryone  #bettersafethansorry #covid19test #wearamask #washyourhands #socialdistancing #togetherapart #youareenough

School: To Be Or Not To Be?

You’ve probably heard the saying before “You can’t please all the people all the time.” It’s nearly impossible for anyone to be able to please everyone at the same time because we are all unique individuals with our own unique set of expectations, experiences and perceptions and that’s perfectly okay. 

This fall will be the first time in almost 20 years that I won’t have a child in my home entering a new school year in the Pre to K, Primary or Secondary School system. Both of my daughters fate were determined for them several months ago as the Post Secondary Educational systems all made the decision early on to begin the upcoming school year mostly online, but right now many other anxious Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Support Staff and children are eagerly awaiting their own fate as to whether or not schools will reopen, will continue online or will do a combination of both.

As a parent I am quite torn with the decision that was predetermined for my girls months ago and especially for my youngest daughter who has already lost so much in her graduating year from High School to now not be able to experience the excitement and comradary that comes along with this next milestone in her life. 

Sadly there is no right or wrong, risk-free decision as to whether or not or even how our kids can safely return to the classroom this fall or if they should continue their studies online, nor am I here to debate it either way but I know that when the decision is finally announced there will be plenty of Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Support Staff and children cheering in support of the decision and many more yelling with rage.

Whatever decision is made (there will be no clear winner or loser), just remember that everyone has a right to their own opinion and even if that opinion differs from yours that no one has the right to judge you for that. We’re all in this together but as I said before we will never be able to please everyone all of the time.

Therefore it is more important than ever, no matter what the outcome is, that we focus our attention on keeping our children (and family’s) mental health and wellness in check above all else right now which may very likely look a whole lot different for each of us as our expectations, our experiences and our perceptions are all unique to us, and guess what; that’s perfectly okay.

#cantpleaseeveryone #ouryouthmatter #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #mentalillness #itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #youareenough #bekind #kindnessmatters #schoolkids #distancelearning #backtoschool #wearamask

One Final Thank You

Just one final thank you to @cbcthenational for sharing my story so perfectly.  Thank you to @kidshelpphone for making a difference in so many young lives and thank you to the “Class of 2020” Graduates for teaching the rest of the world the true meaning of resilience while learning to face adversity head on in a time of so much uncertainty. You may forever be remembered as the “Graduating Class of Covid-19” but the lessons you will take with you as you transition into the next phase of your journey will carry you far beyond what any classroom ever could.

#classof2020 #graduationday #grads #strongertogether #togetherapart #wereallinthistogether #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #youareenough #youarenotalone #itsoktonotbeok  #makingadifference #ouryouthmatter #pandemicdiaries

Singing The Birthday Blues

 

So tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be turning 49 so no big milestone or anything of the sort but still it’s a birthday nonetheless and birthdays are meant to be celebrated. 

Age has never been a “thing” for me and to be honest it still isn’t, not even as reality sets in that in 1 year from now I will be leaving my 40’s behind forever and entering into a whole new decade.

Yet for more than half of my birthdays in my 40’s, up to and including tomorrow, the anticipation leading up to my birthday and the actual day of have been super hard for me. 
For many people living with Depression, birthdays are hard enough to deal with but the thought of spending your birthday in quarantine adds a whole other layer of sadness and anxiety to the birthday blues. And what’s overwhelming me even more about my birthday this year are the extraordinary expectations that have come along with having a Covid-19 birthday celebration. 

Millions and millions of people have celebrated their birthdays in quarantine already, both young and old alike and I’ve heard the same sentiments echoed from so many who have said that it was one of their best if not the BEST birthdays they’ve ever had.

Whether it’s the parades of cars driving by their home, the zoom parties, the serenades of happy birthday being heard from miles away, the bouquets of balloons and gigantic signs set out on their front lawns letting everyone in the neighborhood know that it’s your birthday, the homemade cards and giant cookiegrams being made with extra love, the presents left for them by the curb (who doesn’t love presents) and the extra meaningful and socially distant visits on their driveways have all helped turn an otherwise somber birthday into the most beautiful of days. 

It sounds pretty picture perfect doesn’t it? I mean like just knowing how far your loved ones are willing to go in order to make sure that your already very memorable birthday does not go unnoticed is super awesome, right? But what if the pressure to make an otherwise somber birthday the BEST one ever is just simply too much for you to handle right now?

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