Tag Archives: Mental health

Let The Pain In

Let the pain in.
Feel it to its fullest intensity.
Accept it.
Endure it.
Thank it.
It gives strength to your heart.
It gives the precious ability to appreciate what’s good to your soul.

You will smile again.
And because of your pain, that smile will be radiantly beautiful.

Thank you for reading.
Be Brave, and Talk.
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Long Lost Friends

Maybe you both work too much.
Or it’s distance.
Busy family lives.
Maybe you grew apart.
Maybe you can’t really find a reason at all.

She vanishes from your life without warning. Your phone calls are unanswered, unreturned. Birthdays pass, holidays pass, time ticks on. Sometimes a song comes on the radio that reminds you of her. You wonder how she’s doing, and if she ever thinks of you. You miss her. You wonder why you weren’t good enough for her to keep you in her life. You shake your head, shrug off the sadness. Oh well. It’s her loss.

Her loss.
Her nagging guilt.
Her deep regret.

You came into her life at a time she desperately needed a friend. Heartbroken and alone, she leaned on you without you even knowing it. You confided in her, invited her to follow along in your life. Your friends and you even called her “Little Sister.” You helped her feel like she belonged when her life was falling apart.
She trusted you.
She admired you.
She loved you.
She loves you still.

She cried the day you said goodbye. She moved to another city. New responsibilities, new relationships. She was absorbed, and overwhelmed. She listened to the messages you left, told herself she’d call you soon. Time moved on, and the thought of phoning you got harder and harder. Cold with anxiety, unsettled in her stomach, she held the phone and took deep breaths.

What if you were mad at her for taking so long to call back?

What if she sounded awkward, had nothing interesting to say?

What if you didn’t really like her anymore, and were annoyed by her call?

What If……so many What Ifs…

What if she called you at home when she knew you’d be at work?

She left you a message, so she’d stay safe, and you would know she still cared. She promised herself she’d answer if you called back, pushed the guilt aside. A few days later your call came, she stood frozen with fear. She realized her lack of action was not the norm. She hated herself for being such a coward. She hated herself almost all the time. Her self loathing made her believe somewhere deep inside that she was unworthy. She truly thought she didn’t deserve you.

If only you could have known.

Her anxiety was too much for her to cope with. The consequence was losing a dear friend.

If only you could have known.
You could have told her she was more than worthy.
You could have told her she had no reason to feel afraid.
You could have told her she deserves friendship.
You could have told her she deserves love.

She tells herself even still, that one day she’ll contact you. Maybe she’ll send a letter, maybe a birthday card.

She says she will do it tomorrow.
But tomorrow never seems to come.

I hope one day you long lost friends bump into each other by accident. I hope you give each other a big hug. I hope you become friends again.

This may not happen of course, but one thing will always remain true. You shared laughs, tears, a special kind of love. You affected each other’s lives for the better. You were great friends.

“Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened. ”

It happened. And that’s never going to change.

Thank you for reading.
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Be Brave, and Talk

**Quote by Dr. Seuss.

Please Stop Saying Sorry

Facebook Status: Today was a terrible day. -feeling lonely. 😞

You leave it up for 10 minutes, check it, see no feedback, then hit delete. People don’t want to be brought down by your negative status.

Facebook status: Whoa! I got 98% on my term paper! Yahoo! – feeling proud. 😃

You leave it up for 3 minutes, then hit delete. You don’t want anyone to be annoyed and think you’re bragging.

Facebook status: My heart literally hurts. Why did she have to do this to me? -feeling heartbroken. 😢

You leave it up for about 30 seconds, then hit delete. You picture that meme with Leonardo Dicaprio wearing sunglasses and laughing at people who post “problems” on Facebook and shudder. People hate drama. What are you thinking? You take a cute picture of your puppy and post that instead.

So much insecurity.
So much guilt.
Why do we feel so uncomfortable being real?

******************************

You stare blankly out the bedroom window and wish it wasn’t sunny. Maybe then you wouldn’t feel like such a loser, lying in bed in the middle of the day while your husband takes care of the children. You hear them laughing as they get shoes on for outside, and your heart sinks. You try willing yourself out of bed to join them, but your aching body doesn’t want to cooperate. You place cool hands on your forehead, try to relieve the throbbing pain. Precious moments pass by wasted, as your family plays in the back yard without you. You bury your head in the pillow, squeeze your eyes shut. There’s no way you’re going to be able to fall asleep. You haven’t slept properly in months. You are sleep deprived beyond belief, but your racing mind keeps you awake any chance you get to catch up. Cursing yourself, you jump out of bed, angrily swallow down some Tylenol, and rush outside.

Your daughters race to greet you, giggling, fistfuls of dandelions in their hands. You put on your best smile, kneel down and let them crash into your arms. You squeeze them tight until they fight to get free and run off again.

“Did you get any sleep?” Your husband’s brow furrows with concern.

“No. No, I didnt.” You snap.

“Why not? Why don’t you go back and lie down?”

“Because! I can’t sleep! My head hurts too much! I’m not well, don’t you understand? Something is very wrong with me! I’ve felt absolutely awful for MONTHS!”

You turn your back so your daughters wont see, and sob into your hands. Your husband gives you a tight hug, you cry into his shirt. You indulge in the comfort for a minute, dry your face with the back of your hand.

“I’m sorry, Love. I’m okay, don’t worry. I’m just really tired, that’s all…..Did my mascara smear?”

******************************

Oh, how I wish I had the power to travel back in time, to you as you stood in the dandelions and apologized to your husband for crying on that sunny day. As you looked him in the eye through your tears and lied, pretending you weren’t breaking inside. If I had the power, I’d hold you tight, I’d whisper in your ear that your pain is not weakness, your anger is not a sin, your tears are not a burden. I’d tell you I admire your determination, caring day after day for your family, when you desperately need care yourself.

I’d tell you to let it out, scream if you have to.
You hurt.
You are afraid.
You are strong beyond words, but you are tired of being strong.
You just want to be truthful.
Please stop saying sorry.
Be truthful. Be real. Be brave, and hold your head high.
This world needs more truth.
And the truth, in time, will set you free.

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Be Brave, and Talk

7 Ways To Show Love To Someone With Anxiety/Depression

The hardest people to love are the ones who need it most.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas for showing love to friends and family members with anxiety/ depression:

1.) Give Compliments:

Chances are, someone who suffers from anxiety/depression also struggles with self esteem. Help her challenge her feelings of self loathing by giving her sincere, specific compliments. Being specific is really important, because it will make her more likely to remember what you said later. It will also make her more likely to believe you. For example, instead of saying, “You’re a good mom,” you could say something more meaningful: “You are so patient with your children. I love how you encourage them to keep trying. They are so lucky to have you.”
One thoughtful, genuine compliment has more power than 10 careless comments that feel like flattery. Put your heart into what you say.

2.) Offer Your Company:

Appointments, trips to the grocery store or mall can be very trying for someone with anxiety. If your friend has someone he trusts to come along with him, it can be quite helpful. It offers distraction, support, and ensures he won’t have to face unforeseen events, such as a panic attack, all alone.

3.) Send Texts or Email To Ask How They Are Doing….Really:

Text and email might be better for this than a phone call. It can be very hard for someone to open up if they are going through a tough time. Text or email gives her all the time she needs to respond honestly, and might help her be more comfortable. It also takes the pressure off to say she’s “good” or “okay” when that’s not actually the case. In the depths of depression, it is easy to feel like nobody cares. Ask how she is doing, and really listen. Make it all about her. Let her know you believe everything she is saying, and you are there for her whenever she needs. She is not alone.

4.) Take Care Of Him:

Depression can make even the most mundane tasks absolutely exhausting. Self care is often neglected, because the person just doesn’t have the energy, the ability to focus, or the desire to do things for himself. You could cook him a nutritious meal, pay for and send him for a massage or haircut, take care of his kids while he takes a bath. Remind him that he deserves TLC just as much as anyone. This just might help motivate him to start loving and caring for himself.

5.) Invite Her For A Walk Outside….And Keep On Inviting Her:

Being in nature is soothing to the soul, good medicine for anyone. Exercise increases the body’s production of serotonin, which helps reduce anxiety and depression. Exercising outside just makes sense for someone with mental illness, but the hard part is getting her out there. Invite her often, and if she declines, be sure to not make her feel guilty….she probably has plenty of guilt in her life already. Just shrug it off, and invite her again in a few days. Your persistence will let her know you care, and hopefully she will one day accept.

6.) Hug Him….The Longer The Hug, The Better:

We are all familiar with the healing power of a hug. What you may not know, is loving gestures like hugs cause the body to release oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin causes relaxation, and aids sleep, perfect for someone with anxiety/depression. So hold him tight, for as long as you can, and you will be helping him feel better on an emotional and physiological level.

7.) Let Her Be

The hardest, most isolating part of mental illness is trying to live up to real, or imagined pressure from family and friends to be happy.

Accept that she is not happy today.
Offer no advice on how to change her mood.
Be with her when she is irritable, and don’t make her feel guilty for it.
Let her know that although you don’t fully understand what she is going through, you believe every complaint she has, and you respect her strength in living through it.

Let her be.
Don’t force her to pretend.
Love is unconditional, after all.

Thanks for reading!
Be Brave, and Talk
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Worth Celebrating

It’s what every single one of us needs, desires.

It keeps us up at night.
It soothes us to sleep.

It saves us.
It redeems us.

It’s the reason we live, and the reason we’d die.

It’s powerful.
It’s universal.

It’s the beauty within our souls.

You saw him just an hour ago, but you’d give anything to bring him right back here. His touch lights a fire within you, the beauty of his face fills you with awe. You hear his voice, it makes you shiver. You breathe him in, it makes you heavy lidded and weak. His kiss is an intense rush, you can’t get enough. You bask in the heat that is your attraction, you never want it to end.
It’s a marvel.
It’s an addiction.
It may not be the deepest, but it’s certainly the most fun.
It’s physical.
It’s electrical.
It’s I-need-to-exchange-as-many-of-my-bodily-fluids-with-you-as-possible
Love.

You get that promotion at work, and the first person you think of telling is her. The touch of her hand comforts you, the beauty of her face makes you feel at home. You hear her voice, it makes you cringe, or miss her like crazy, depending on circumstances. Her kiss sends you to sleep each night, it wakes you up each morn. You relax in the laughter that fills your home, you never want it to end.
It’s taking for granted.
It’s appreciation.
It’s not always brimming with passion, but she’s certainly your best friend.
It’s intimate
It’s emotional.
It’s i-think-one-day-soon-I’m -going-to-ask-you-to-marry-me
Love.

You hold her close in the rocking chair, you’ll keep doing it as long as she needs. The touch of her soft skin brings you to tears, the beauty of her face fills you with awe. You hear her cry, you jump, ready to serve. You feed, you soothe, you clean until you are heavy lidded and weak. Her kisses are full of slobber, but still you can’t get enough. You savour the days you’re her number one, you never want it to end.
It’s exhausting.
It’s a gift.
It may not be the easiest, but it’s certainly the most powerful.
It’s unselfish.
It’s pure.
It’s I-didn’t-know-I-was-capable-of-this-much-feeling-until-I-had-you
Love.

You doze in the chair beside his bed, you’ll be there when he wakes up. The cold feel of his frail hand brings you to tears, the beauty of his face fills you with nostalgia. You hear his voice, you smile with relief. He smiles back, heavy lidded and weak. His gentle kiss gives you strength, you help him to stand up and walk. He leans on you, as you’ve leaned on him, you two will endure til the end.
It’s a thousand private jokes.
It’s connection of your souls.
It may not be the most sensual, but it’s certainly the most beautiful.
It’s rare.
It’s forever.
It’s Yes-Dear-of-course-I’ll-apply-the-hemmorrhoid-cream-for-you
Love.

You gaze at your reflection, appreciate every feature, accept every flaw. You know the person beneath the skin, her beauty fills you with pride. You’ve quieted the cruel voices within, fought til you were heavy lidded and weak. You forgive yourself, you take care of yourself, you remember you’re more than enough. You give thanks for each day, try to truly live each day, you’ve got one life and never know when it will end.
It’s victorious.
It’s essential.
It might not come easily, but you’re certainly worth the fight.
It’s all knowing.
It’s all accepting.
It’s before-you-give-your-heart-to-anyone-you’ve-got-to-realize-it’s-worth-yourself
Love.

It’s what every single one of us needs, desires.

It keeps us up at night.
It soothes us to sleep.

It saves us.
It redeems us.

It’s the reason we live, and the reason we’d die.

It’s powerful.
It’s universal.

It’s the light that endures all things.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Diving into work, coming up only to breathe.
A magazine quality profile picture.
An immaculate front lawn.
A spotless home.
A 4th drink in your hand.
A joke on your lips.
A text message instead of a call.
A 3 times edited facebook status.

We have “reality” shows, and viral videos. We have phone apps that allow us to confess deep, dark secrets, without the accountability of our name attached. We take selfies, posting only the prettiest ones, and write on walls.
We are experts at hiding behind our carefully constructed images, but we long for just a little bit of uninhibited truth. Just a little bit though, because too much makes us rather uncomfortable. We want to watch from a distance, so we can laugh, so we can judge. It’s great entertainment, but it doesn’t affect us beyond the minute or two we watch it on a screen.

At least, that’s what we pretend.

We are a society that loves to hide, and if you suffer from mental illness, you are probably an expert.

***************
You lean back against your dresser drawers and stare at the floor. A stretched out rectangle of sunlight makes each fiber of your worn beige carpet visible, highlights the tiny hairs on your big toe. Your finger nails dig into your palms, they may even break skin. You want to slam your window shut, so you don’t have to hear the laughing voices, the snapping of flip flops, the clicking of 12 speed bikes outside.

As your friends and classmates have a blast, you spend this hot summer evening alone in your room, wishing you could disappear. Part of you is wondering if any of them wonder where you are, part of you is trapped, praying in a compulsive manner.

“Please, deliver me from evil, dear Lord. Please protect us from harm. Please forgive my sins, in the name of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen. Amen. ”

You inhale as deeply as you can. The air seems to get caught in your throat, and you gag. If only you could take one proper breath, maybe you’d feel better. You seem to have forgotten how.

You close your window, draw the curtains. Safely hidden, you sob into your pillow until merciful sleep takes over.
**********
20 years later, you lean back in your cool plastic chair and stare at your lap. Your anxiety group therapist turns out the lights. You relax your clenched fists, and focus on her instructions. Together with the other group members, you listen to her count, and breathe. You inhale as deeply as you can. The air seems to get caught in your throat, and you gag.
That’s okay, you get to try again. Your therapist is here to help, and you are not alone. Inhale: 1-2-3-4, Hold it: 1-2-3-4, Exhale: 1-2-3-4… You are doing it. The lights come on, and you listen to a group member who reminds you of your Dad share a success from his week.

Your turn comes. With a shaky voice and tears on your cheeks, you explain how you have a hard time being spontaneous. You usually reject all activities unless they are planned well in advance. This week though, you took your daughters swimming at a friend’s pool with only 20 minutes notice. It was a whole lot of fun, your husband was proud, and once you got there, you weren’t anxious at all.
As you speak, you feel grateful for the looks of understanding from the other group members.

There’s no need to hide here.
You feel proud, instead of ashamed.

If only it could always be this way.

We are a society that loves to hide, because we fear things we don’t understand. Fortunately, we are also quite curious by nature, and ever so slowly, we are gaining understanding of what mental illness really is. We post supportive statements on our facebook wall, we participate in walks for children’s mental health, we show our support for campaigns like tomorrow’s “Let’s Talk” by BELL.

We have a long way to go, but at least we have started.

The truth cannot remain hidden forever.

Understanding will slowly break down stigma.

Love will slowly replace judgement and fear.

Come out, come out, wherever you are hiding.

Please,

Be Brave, and Talk.

Power

Your head rests on the steering wheel as you listen to your favourite morning radio announcers banter back and forth. You wish you could be one of them. Their lives seem so carefree, their job seems so easy.

Your car is one of two in the parking lot. You always make sure you are early. It helps you feel a little less panicked, and you can avoid the scary, self conscious feeling you get when others see you walk in later than them.

You let yourself sit listening to one more song, focus on taking deep breaths. You tell yourself it is going to be okay. The day will fly by, and before you know it you’ll be breathing in the comforting scent of your daughter’s soft hair as you hug her hello.

“TGIF,” you mutter to yourself as you grab your bag and head for the door.

You take comfort in the quiet hallways and make a mental list of what you need to prepare for the work day ahead.

You log into your computer and hear a few coworkers laughing together down the hall. You need to do some photocopying, but decide to wait until they have headed to their end of the building. You just aren’t ready to see anyone yet.

You take a disappointing sip of your coffee, it’s cold. Your biggest comfort of the morning needs to be enjoyed the right way. You head to the staff room to warm it up.

Your heart beats faster as you see a colleague walking toward you. Turning around and ducking into the stock room would look a little odd, so you press on toward him.

You put on your best smile and say a warm hello as you pass each other. He stares straight ahead, nods slightly.
“How are you?” His voice is cool, and he doesn’t wait for your response. He doesn’t slow down at all.

You feel foolish because you had started to answer, your voice trails off in a whisper. He has rounded the corner and has no idea you were talking.

You rush into the staff room. You wait for your coffee to heat and hug yourself tightly. Your coworker thinks you’re an idiot. You wish you could go home, you just don’t seem to belong here. You close your eyes, try to shake off the squirmy urge to curl up into a ball, and scurry back down the hall to your room.

Your guts rumble. You vigorously rub your hands together to try to warm them, to try to calm your anxiety. You try to focus on your work. Then you remember you need to make photocopies. Damn it.

Out into the big, bad hallway you venture, praying you’ll finish the task without another coworker encounter. Just when you think you’re home free, someone pops out right in front of you. You apologize profusely and try to rush away, but she stops you.

“I just have to say, I really love your style. You always look so nice. ” she beams at you and gives you a friendly tap on the arm. You thank her and take deep breaths to avoid blushing.

“How are you doing?” She continues, “it isn’t easy, adjusting to work with a little one, is it?”

“Yeah, it’s pretty tough sometimes. We’re both getting used to it though.” You blink back tears and smile appreciatively.

“Well, let me know if you need anything. Anything at all. Really.”

You thank her again, and as you walk away, feel a tremendous sense of relief. That was such a nice thing for her to say. For some reason it makes you want to cry.

In the restroom, you wipe your tears and gaze at your reflection. You take note of your stylish outfit. You do look pretty good, it’s Friday, and perhaps your friendly coworker and you will one day be friends. Today, you are going to be just fine.

Power.

Your words, lack of words, facial expressions, small gestures have so much power.

You just never know what a person is going through.

What someone shows on the outside often has very little to do with the life they live inside.

We all have the power to touch that life.

We can choose to chip another piece off a crumbling self esteem.
Or we can choose to soothe an unsettled soul, even if only for a precious moment.

Every single one of us really does hold tremendous power.

How will you choose to use yours?

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Religion and Mental Illness in One Blog. Look out!

Terrorist attacks. Children killing children. People going missing, bodies being found. Parents throwing their own children off bridges, locking them in closets and hot cars, beating them to death. Scrolling your facebook newsfeed can be a pretty upsetting experience, making you want to curl up into the fetal position and hide in your bed forever. Then you make the mistake of checking out article comments. You want to tear your eyes away, but they are mysteriously drawn in. Total strangers fighting via the Internet. Racist, Retard, Promoter of Rape Culture, Bible Thumper, Red Neck are just some of the insults you see cast.
“What is wrong with people?” You think. “Surely there has got to be a reason for this chaos? Surely it’s not just human nature?”

I was thinking these exact thoughts last evening while making supper for my daughters. I popped the casserole in the oven, got my 4 year old a Dora bandaid for her hangnail, and gave my 2 year old one as well, to keep the peace. Then, back to facebook I went, to feel a sense of connection to the outside world on fire, for a minute or two. I glanced over some article about horrifyingly evil human deeds, and sadly the temptation of the comments got me.

One person was claiming that the Time of Sorrows is upon us, and the reason for all of the world’s suffering and evil is that Christ will be returning to Earth soon. What struck me was a reply:” The biggest threat to humanity is religion.” No, no, no. The biggest threat to humanity, is humanity.

I’m now leading into some personal and difficult writing territory, the whole reason I’ve started this blog: to share experiences I have had with anxiety and depression.

Picture a 15 year old girl hunched over a little red bible. It’s the copy of the New Testament she received in grade 5. She has read a page of this Bible every day since grade 5, which means she has read through it entirely, more than once. She made a promise to God that she’d do this 5 years ago, and she’s been sure to keep it. The thought of breaking this promise terrifies her.

She sits in the warm light of her desk lamp, eyes closed, muttering prayer after prayer. She tries to take deep breaths. She tries to relax. She tries to believe God is protecting her. She tries to believe she is good, and will go to Heaven. No matter how hard she tries to focus, the terrible thoughts invade. Curses against God, her parents, herself seem to come from nowhere. They thunder through her mind. She fights back with more praying, more deep breaths that fail to bring her relief. She begs God to help her. She is certain the Devil is torturing her. She believes when she dies, she is bound for Hell.

Nobody knows this of course. As she rides the bus to school, as she takes her dog for walks, as she watches movies with friends, she fights. Nobody notices her lips move when she prays. Nobody sees the white knuckles of her clenching fists as she inwardly protests the unwelcome thoughts. Her sole relief comes with sleep. During waking hours, she occasionally pictures stabbing a knife into her stomach and up under her rib cage, and it gives her a moment of comfort. The only reason she doesn’t do it, is she absolutely believes her soul will suffer eternal Hell.

She endures months of this torture, all alone. Her only ally in her battle, she believes, is God. She prays to him thousands of times, and one day out of the blue, he seems to listen. Bible in hand, a warm, comforting feeling fills this now 16 year old girl. She is moved by a strong belief that God indeed loves her.A very important realization comes to her. She IS a good person. She is going to go to Heaven. She is going to be alright. And, just like that, the Unwelcome Thoughts stop. She has Made it through her months of torture by the Devil.

Or mental illness.

I now know that this awful time in my life was a product of traumatic life experiences, and a genetic predisposition toward anxiety and depression. Did God cure me? No, I got through it, miraculously, by myself. The responsibility belongs to me. At the time though, I made sense of what was happening to me the best way I knew how. With religion. My faith eventually gave me enough strength to overcome the illness (for a while). I think humans need to believe in something. Miracles can happen if a person has enough faith. But, there is a big difference between believing in something, and giving it responsibility for your actions.

Considering my past, it would make sense for me to hate religion, but I dont. Whenever it is blamed for world problems, I feel the need to defend it. Had I not believed in my version of God when I was a teenager, it is quite possible my mental illness would have killed me. Having faith in something helps us survive in this harsh world. Faith in God, faith in Karma, faith that good does exist in human hearts. This faith may help you see a different theme next time you scroll facebook.

New parents kissing their babies.Romantic marriage proposals. People holding fundraisers for others in need. Friends celebrating friends’ achievements. Someone risking their life to rescue a drowning dog. Someone reaching out, to tell you you aren’t alone.

Phew, there it is, my first blog. Thanks so much for reading.