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"Talk About it Already"

Raise your hand if you have ever had to go to your job and work while you were sick. I am going to guess that is all of us, minus the millionaires among us. It's hard, isn't it? Trying to concentrate in an important meeting while your head is stuffed up with a winter cold isn't easy. We tend to understand and feel sympathy when a colleague has the common cold. Guess what else is common? Depression and anxiety.
The number one category of disability worldwide is mental illness. Yes, worldwide. Not just at my workplace or your workplace of even just in Canada. Worldwide. And yes, we still don't talk about mental illnesses nearly enough. We put up posters in workplaces encouraging employees to get flu shots, to stop smoking and to lift boxes safely. Mental health awareness? Not so much. Still.
I often speak at conferences and at organizations about the importance of being proactive about mental health awareness in the workplace. I share facts and figures, I tell parts of …
Recent posts

"Golden Repair"

A person who has a mood disorder often feels broken, sometimes irreparably so. At times we know that what we are experiencing is fleeting and it will go away; the darkness will recede and we will once again feel whole. Sometimes it is more difficult to believe that the light will return at all.
This is on my mind a lot lately. In the last week alone I have had three anxiety attacks and my mood and anxiety have been very off for the last few weeks.
After two decades of living with recurring depression and anxiety I accept that what I have is a chronic illness - it is never far from my mind when I am well. I approach each day and week with this in mind and I always have a game plan. What is in my calendar at work? Do I have a few days with back to back meetings and little downtime to work quietly at my desk? Is my social calendar too full or just right? If I do this thing on Tuesday will I be exhausted on Wednesday? How will that impact the rest of my week? How will I ensure that I eat…

"Words of Wisdom: Let it Be"

The world is full of helpers. I know this to be true because I see the beauty of it every day in the people around me: colleagues, friends, family, people on social media and in the news. The thing that most of humankind seem to have in common is a desire to help others and to reduce suffering. It's easy to become jaded in this world when we see something bad happen but, as Mr. Rogers said so famously, always look for the helpers. They are there.

This week I posted the following on Facebook and it generated a fair amount of discussion:

The conversation among my friends and I got me thinking. I was left asking myself this question, "Why such a reaction about this particular post?"

To be clear, I absolutely do not oppose a wide variety of treatment options when it comes to illness. In fact, a combination of things has been the key to my care plan over the years. And, it should be noted, I do not endorse one form of treatment over another - it's up to you and your heal…

"Hey, It's OK!"

I haven't felt like writing in a long time. The fall months and the Christmas season were hard on me - I struggled with my depression and anxiety on an almost daily basis. It was tiring. I just didn't have the energy to write nor did I have the inspiration. 
Sometimes life is like that. It can't always be constant sunshine and happiness, at least not when you live with a recurring mood disorder. It certainly didn't help that I found the U.S. election results deeply upsetting and the Christmas season just too much (too much of everything).
So how did I manage? What did I do to avoid free-fall into another depressive episode? I pulled out my mental health bag of tricks: I got lots of rest, I played with our dog, I took my medication every day at the same time, I read good books, I tried to eat as healthy as possible and I talked about my illness.
Yes, I talked about what I was feeling and experiencing. I talked to my carpool buddy & friend, Lindsay, who was a freque…

"Your Brain on Food"

You are what you eat. You know that saying. Your are only as healthy as what you put into your body. We often equate the strong and virtuous of us with the ones making 'healthy choices'. The athletic-looking person in their workout gear drinking a smoothie. Or the mom in the grocery store only buying organic produce and natural foods for her children. We admire this.
Conversely, we see an overweight person with a grocery cart full of processed foods and we judge. We do. I would wager that almost all of us do. Society has a bias about health. Many biases, in fact.
Today is the first day of the Welfare Food Challengehere in Metro Vancouver. I have signed up to live on an $18 food budget for the week of October 16th to the 22nd. As part of this challenge participants cannot accept charity, free food or eat food that is already in their fridge or cupboards. Why $18 and why did I choose to participate? People who live in poverty in British Columbia and receive welfare subsist on a…

"Jagged Little Pill"

How are you? How many times a day or over the course of a week are you asked this? We say that sentence so often without really meaning it. When was the last time that you asked that question and actually waited to hear the answer? If you heard the answer, were you really listening? It's a simple question with a not so simple answer at times.
October 2nd to 8th is Mental Illness Awareness Week in Canada. 'Illness', rather than 'health' - there is a subtle difference. Mental Illness Week is an opportunity to speak about the realities of mental illness rather than just overall mental health (which we all have, by the way, just like physical health). And the reality is that mental illness is still so misunderstood, which is why so many of us shy away from talking about it or reaching out for help or treatment if we think we might be ill.
A mood disorder can have a large impact on one's life. Depression, for example, can impact everything from your physical health…

"Fight or Flight"

My heart is beginning to race. I start shuffling from one foot to the other. Don't cry - just breathe. I said, don't cry! Breathe. Now my heart is beating fast. Just concentrate. Breathe. Don't cry. I catch my mom's eye. "I am having an anxiety attack," I whisper. I whisper when I want to yell.
It's 10:15 am on Saturday morning and we are at the gym in the middle of a training session. I am in a safe place, with friends and family, doing something that always makes me feel better when I am experiencing depression. Except for today. And this is not depression. This is anxiety in all its glory.
I last fifteen minutes before I make for the door. I quietly, because I am embarrassed, explain that I need to leave. I spend the next fifteen minutes in my car, sobbing. Watching people around me going about their Saturday morning errands as if nothing is wrong; as if today is any other Saturday. Me, with tears running down my cheeks. It doesn't feel like any o…