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Showing posts from October, 2012

"Keep Moving"

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~ Maya Angelou
The one constant in life, the thing that unites humankind, seems to be suffering. Yes, life seems to be equal opportunity in this area. Last week I wrote about some horrible news that I received about someone whom I love. Although it wasn't about me, it hit me in a very personal way.

But I was not alone. Three friends also shared stories of bad news and adversity last week. Although we all suffer at some point in life, it's how we face our struggles that separates us.

My last post was about letting myself feel the myriad of emotions attached to life's valleys. A friend who read it and who has faced her fair share of challenges, shared some advice that I think hits the nail on the head: life is about showing up. Darn right it is.

When I feel sad or depre…

"Adversity in the Face of Adversity"

"It's alright to cry. Crying gets the sad out of you." From "Free to Be, You and Me" by Marlo Thomas and Friends
Sometimes life sucks. It just does.

I recently received some difficult news about someone very dear to me. And it left me reeling. I felt sad and more than a little helpless. How do I help? What do I do? Sad and helpless. As someone for whom the devil of depression is never far away, bad news can also be scary. Will this pull me back into the darkness?

One thing that I have learned is to be vigilant about my health and well-being. How can I be strong enough to support loved ones through difficult times if I am falling apart?

So how have I handled this, how have I processed my feelings? Well, first of all, I let myself cry. A couple of times. Good and hard. There may be more tears and that is OK. Crying can be healthy and good for you - it releases chemicals that can make you feel better.

Step two is that I am following healthy habits: long walks, …

"Rainy Nights"

Well, I love a rainy night
It's such a beautiful sight
I love to feel the rain
On my face
To taste the rain on my lips
In the moonlight shadows
I Love a Rainy Night ~ Eddie Rabbit
My moods are sometimes like the weather, somewhat mercurial. Take the past week for example. Happy, content, annoyed, irritable, grateful, loving. Oh, and anxious. Yes, my old friend anxiety came 'round for a visit. Although I am much more acquainted with her cousin, depression, sometimes anxiety likes to remind me who's boss. Yes, she thinks she's in charge and sometimes that's the case. I awoke on Monday morning to a good old fashioned anxiety attack. As I lay in bed my mind began racing and so did my breathing. I was close to tears, to shutting down and just giving in to it. But I stopped myself. I recognized that old game - I had anxiety's number, so to speak. So I took a few deep, slow breaths and managed to get myself to the shower, then dressed, and then off to work. A few hours in…

"Imagine"

"Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." ~ John Lennon
I have a dream, too. My dream is that our youth have the opportunity to reach their full potential in this life. A young life cut short is a tragedy. Quite simply, it's a nightmare.
Do you know what the second leading cause of deaths among 10-24 year olds in Canada is? Suicide.

There are a few startling things about that statistic, aren't there? First, we are talking about suicide. Second, 10 year olds?! My nephew is nine and my niece is 12. I think about all that they have to look forward to in life and how incredibly devastating it would be if either of them chose death. Devastating.

I hadn't planned to write anything today. I've been home ill with a stomach bug and while I was tucked away in the comfort of bed, a family was experiencing the worst thing possible - they w…

"Home (?) Away From Home"

What does your job mean to you? Does it define you? Do you work simply to get that pay cheque or do you truly love what you do? What about your coworkers? Do they feel like family? Is your place of work your home away from home?

Considering how much time we spend at work, it sometimes feels like we are there more than we are actually at our real homes. We spend more time with colleagues than with our family & friends.

CBC News reported today about the findings of a new Ipsos Reid study on depression in the workplace. If you have been reading this blog on a regular basis you will recognize the statistic that one in five Canadians is suffering from mental illness. We already know that mental illness is a big problem. But how does it impact workplaces and the Canadian economy? In a big way, it turns out.

The study shows that 84% of managers surveyed feel that it's their responsibility to intervene when they see an employee displaying signs of depression. But 63% say they need be…

"Right Now"

Right now, hey
It's your tomorrow
Right now,
C'mon, it's everything
Right now,
Catch that magic moment, do it
Right here and now
It means everything
"Right Now" ~ Van Halen The biggest lesson that I have learnt on my journey through mental illness and recovery is that right now is really all we've got. Sometimes that has felt like too much. When I was in the darkest days of my illness I wished "right now" away. It was just too much pain to bear. But when you almost lose everything that is dear to you, you realize, once well again, how precious right now really is. One of the gifts of surviving a major depressive episode (or two) is that you gain perspective, you learn to focus on what is truly important in your life. There was a time not so long ago when I had lost my smile and things that I had previously loved doing left me empty, left me numb. That's a classic hallmark of depression - it's an illness that robs you of pleasure and joy. It leaves …

"Everything Old is New Again"

"Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one." ~ Bruce Lee
In honour of Mental Illness Awareness Week I am very happy to be able to share another snapshot of struggle, strength, and recovery from someone else very dear to me. Here's his story. My name is Greg. I have known Kristin since she was a little girl. Our families have been close through thick and thin for forty years. I am so proud of my daughter #2 (inside joke) for stepping up and offering this wonderful opportunity for us to get this off of our collective chests. By sharing our experiences we let each other know that we are not alone. In fact, we are a major portion of society. Here is my story. After my father died, my sister and I cleaned out his house. Among his other prescriptions we found a bottle of antidepressants. This came as a surprise to us because, after all, he was our dad. After going through my own bout with depression, I realize it should not have been a big sho…

"Which 50% Are You?"

"Only 50% of Canadians would tell friends they have a family member with a mental illness. 72% would discuss cancer." source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health The other 50% are probably just being private, right? Um, maybe. More likely is the fact that society still views mental illness as something shameful. Any illness that is so debilitating that those who suffer are unable to function with daily life or who choose death as an option to end the pain should be treated with a healthy dose of respect. We need to make it OK to talk about it. We have to make it more than OK, in fact.
Why is that so important? Well, many people who suffer mental illness are too ashamed to seek treatment - many won't even tell those closest to them because they are too embarrassed. And because we don't talk about it enough as a society, many of us don't even recognize the first signs of mental illness or that many physical symptoms that we experience are actually signs of depre…

"For a Limited Time Only!"

"If you don't stand for something then you stand for nothing."
October is breast cancer awareness month. It's a movement that Evelyn Lauder, then head of the Estee Lauder makeup and skincare empire, started about 20 years ago in order to raise awareness of this awful disease. Arguably, it has become one of the most successful health awareness campaigns next to the red AIDS ribbon.

There was a time when women were ashamed and embarrassed to have this disease. There was also a time when women didn't know the signs of the disease or what they could do to reduce their chances of being afflicted. Thankfully, in no small part to Ms. Lauder's amazing work and dedication, more women are diagnosed early and lives have been saved.

Guess what? In October another vital awareness campaign is taking place in Canada: Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Did you know that?

Sadly, no cute coloured ribbons or products benefitting the cause - just a few of us with "boots on t…