Being Homeless; A Discussion Post

Mental Illness, Addictions, and the Homeless Crisis of Toronto, Canada.

It’s been a hard winter in Toronto.

The weather is cold, often dipping down into the negative 10 or below Celsius, with the Windchill making it below negative 15 or lower. The wind and blowing snow has made driving conditions difficulty at best, and the heat in the homes of Torontonians has been increased to allow for warmth to enter our homes, beating back the cold, if only ever temporary.

For some it’s a relief to step into our houses after being outside on our commute home. It’s warm, and we have the ability to prepare dinner on our stoves, chat to our spouses about our day, and take care of our children.

But for many Torontonians, this reality does not exist.

Tent City’s are alive and well under the Gardiner Underpass. The Respite Centers are filling up with individuals who cannot get into the Homeless Shelters because they are full. Some people are sleeping in the shelter of a building, hoping no one asks them to move, because they have no where else to go.

Several weeks ago I came to work early in the morning to find a wretched, out of a movie scenario. My building was surrounded by officers and tape was drawn up around the front of the building.

We were told consistently to enter through the back door. We weren’t allowed on the steps to the front entrance, let alone close the alleyway beside the building.

I entered through the back and wandered to the front desk where I found the security guard on the phone and the Maintenance man standing at staring out the front windows, waiting.  I have been friendly with both in the past, so I was able to ask them with ease what was going on, why where there so many cops surrounding the building.

In honesty, my first thought was along the lines of a suspicion package, or a bomb threat, but the reality seemed to be much worse.

A woman who had been sleeping in the alley way trying to stay warm that night had been run over by the garbage truck early in the morning. She had been sleeping on a warm vent, and he didn’t look.

This has been the first death noted in Toronto that has been related to the cold weather, but it is of course not the last.

It has spurned more attention to the issue, but not by those who matter. Instead, many are raising their voices to cry about the despairing nature of the Homelessness in Toronto, only to be continually met with silence. While we know City Council is moving towards better plans, the fact of the matter remains, the reality of the situation is dire, and the response is inefficient.

Part of the problem, however, is the inability to understand the interconnection of mental illness, drug abuse and addiction, and homelessness.

We would like to believe that these concepts are not interconnected, that being homeless is part of a choice one takes in their life, like choosing to not drink coffee on the weekends.

News articles repeatedly interview individuals who mention their addictions, their mental illnesses, their problems with the system and how scared they are, but we haven’t clued in yet. We haven’t realized that our system is so profoundly broken that a simple resolution to create more available, and affordable housing, in the city of Toronto is a band-aid slapped solution that only serves to make us feel better, not fix the problem.

To delve into how the problem should be fixed, well that is for my next discussion post I guess. I don’t want to take up all of your time right now. But maybe you’ve got your wheels turning. Maybe you’re thinking about what you can do, to help address the homeless problem in your city.

The simplest solution? Write your MP, MPP, Local Government Representative, and ask what you can do to tell. What you can do be active, not reactive, to a growing problem. Tell them they need to address the underlying causes of Homelessness, not just the surface problems. Tell them they need a solution, and you’re ready to help find one.

Because if we remain silent, more people die, and the problem only get’s worse, not better. So stand up, speak up, and act.

Anymously Yours

Unwrapped.

 

Discussion Post

A Moment of Discussion

What to do, when.

Recently my good friend and sat down together over coffee and spoke about our partners.

We’ve both been in our respective relationships for a while now, and have been as open and up front honest as we can to our partner.

Yet, over coffee I told my friend that my partner and I had spoken about what we would do should I relapse into a depressive state. He suddenly realized, he had never had that type of conversation with his partner and it got me to wondering.

How many of us get stuck in our depression, our mental health, our problems, and never reach out to those who love us and make a contingency plan?

I had read an article awhile ago about a woman who had to go into the mental hospital several times, and it slowly dawned on her partner and her family that she needed a plan for the times when she fell. She needed a plan to make sure that they knew what to do when she fell again. So they had one in place for that exact scenario.

What struck me about it was that it took them 3 times to get to the point of having that conversation, realizing that maybe that was the step in the right direction.

Any illness, especially an ongoing illness, always requires not only careful management of the illness, but careful management of the illness, from diagnoses onwards. Yet this is something we don’t do in the case of mental health.

When we relapse in Cancer, we go through processes to make sure we are taking care of ourselves, mentally and physically. We make sure we have plans in place with family so that they are able to help us in our time of need, but we don’t do this with mental illnesses and relapses.

Part of this is of course because of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses as a general whole. Yet part of it is because, as I mentioned before, we get so wrapped into our illness, in ourselves and in our head, that it’s hard to realize that there are going to be the good times and the bad times, and it is perfectly okay to ask for outside assistance during the bad times. To make sure that we will get to the point of being okay again.

So, dear AYU readers, we want to hear from you – are you comfortable enough to have that talk with your loved ones? What does your contingency plan look like? What does it mean to have one, to you, and does relapsing mean that you need assistance outside as well as from family? Write to us contact@Anonymouslyyours.ca or tweet us at #AYUnwrapped and let us know. What does mean to you have to a contingency plan in place?

Anonymously Yours,

Unwrapped.

Just for Now.

Home for the Holidays.

What does Home for the Holiday’s actually mean?

It’s a question I ask myself every year.
And every year my answer is; I have no idea.

We always watch other families through the window’s of other homes and think about what a perfect life they must have.

But the reality of that isn’t necessarily the true reality. What we see through the window doesn’t begin to brush upon the realities that lie beneath.

So why do we deem ourselves to be in perfect based on the perceptions of those around us? Well that is a philosophical question that I am not going to bother to answer here, as it may take a while, instead I’m going to tell you a story.

When I was twenty five years old I was living in Brisbane, Australia. I had been living with my brother and my sister-in-law at the time and they had happened to be gone around the time for Christmas. I couldn’t go with them as I had to be working after the holidays, and they would be coming back long after I had to be back at work.

So I had the place to myself for the holidays.

It was one of the very first years I did not have my mother with me over the Holidays. Now I say this is a big deal because my mother has Borderline Personality Disorder, and her birthday is on Christmas Day, and we’re Jewish. So you can imagine the pain that I go through every year trying to figure out what to do with her on her Birthday, beside the regular movie and Chinese food route.

I lounged around the house, watched movies, drank wine, went for my morning runs and just enjoyed myself. It was the greatest Christmas I ever had.

We get so wrapped up in the idea of being around people, family and friends, and not only during the holidays but in life in general. Being wrapped up in this, we get absorbed with the concept and ideas of pleasing others, needing to be pleased by others, and being the picture perfect family at the Christmas Holiday Table.

We don’t enjoy the fact that we can be alone, we don’t think about the fact that the holidays aren’t a picture perfect affair for anyone. If they say they are, they’re lying to you.

No one has the perfect family to sit at the dinner table with, everyone has their stories, their secrets and their personal stresses. If they tell you otherwise, call bullshit on them.

That Christmas being alone was the best I ever had because I didn’t have to please anyone but myself. I didn’t have to worry about having a perfect Christmas Dinner with anyone but myself. The stress of the holidays was lifted from me and contrary to feeling alone on Christmas, I felt comfortable and at peace.

There I was, half way around the world, far from my Home and I was feeling like I was Home.

So what does it mean to be Home for Holidays? It means, finding a moment of peace in the home. It means being at Home in your mind because it doesn’t matter who you are around, because you’re not going to have a picture perfect night, you just need to have one that you know you’re going to be okay with.

What about those of us who don’t have family, or a lot of friends to be with? Or what about those of us who are adopted into a friends house over the Holidays but you never feel quite comfortable because this isn’t your family, you don’t feel “at home.” ?

The answer my friend is that it doesn’t really matter. So long as you are happy, and at peace in your own mind and soul, it doesn’t matter the troubles of those around you, it doesn’t matter that there isn’t a picture perfect moment occurring at the dinner table, because the reality is, if it isn’t happening for you, the chances of it happening for anyone are slim to none.

Find your peace over the Holidays for you.

We here at AYU know this a hard, and almost impossible, insurmountable, task to accomplish. Or at least, it feels like that. Yet, that’s okay too. If we have anything to advise for you, it’s to remember this, and to remember to take it one Christmas Holiday moment at a time. For really, there isn’t much else you can do.

Happy Holidays, from all of us here at AYU.

 

 

My Everest.

Fall down seven, get up eight.

If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll see that once or twice I’ve tweeted about my own anxieties.

To get the upper hand on my anxiety I work very hard at the gym flipping between Cardio and Weight related work outs to help balance out my moods. I work with a personal trainer and I’ve been working with him for over six months now.

Together he has helped me build into a small routine, but also to have accountability to myself, and to him. Unfortunately, I found myself hitting a hump a few weeks back, and my accountability to both of us failed. In turn, I broke down. At the gym.

I can not tell you how mortifying this experience was for me in so many ways. Firstly, I should mention, my trainer has seen me break down multiple times. This is nothing new. I’m not sure how often he actually see’s this happen, but I am a basket case and he knew this right from the start.

But other people in the gym, and other trainers, were around, and there I was balling and heaving and trying so very hard to get on top of my breath, get over the moment, move past it and keep working out.

After all of it happened, still being mortified, I asked myself – “what the hell set me off?” Obviously it was a combination of things, mounting to the moment when I broke down, but there had to be something else that had been grating on me to get me to the point of a full on anxiety attack in a middle of a crowded gym.

It came back to the concept of accountability. I had stopped holding myself accountable for my failures of not making it to the gym when I needed to go, and I was letting my trainer down because he knew I could do more.

It had become my Everest. I wasn’t willing to push myself to train anymore, even though I knew I could do more, and he knew it too. I was making excuses, and I wasn’t trying. I was dropping down to base camp after making it 1/3 of the way up the mountain properly, and that falling down was causing my anxiety.

The session started off normal enough, but my trainer was asking me about my work outs on the weekend, which didn’t happen and I gave excuses for, and he snapped. He told me that I was letting myself off easy. I wasn’t putting in effort.

This gutted me. Not only was I failing my trainer, but I was failing myself. I wasn’t working toward climbing, instead I was working my way back to Base Camp.

This is what broke me, the disappointment and anger I felt in myself for letting myself down. The next thing I knew I was hunched in on myself, hands to my face, sobbing.

I’m lucky that I do have a really understanding Personal Trainer, who has evidently, seen me at my worst. He’s also pushed me to get better, stronger, and to reach my Everest.

So even though that moment might have been one of the hardest, and most embarrassing, it was also the best. Why?

Because you can’t reach Everest without first pushing past base camp. Like the age old adage, fall down seven times, get up eight.

Keep pushing forward, you will reach your goals.

Anonymously Yours Unwrapped.

 

‘Tis the Season.

To Be SAD.

It’s after Halloween, but it’s that month in between. It’s that month when the days become shorter, the nights are getting colder, and we find ourselves with an excess of melatonin in our system.

We’re fatigued. We’re exhausted. We’ve got Seasonal Affective Disorder, and if you have any other type of Mental Health Issue or Illness, it’s the worst, and scariest, time of year.

What is SAD?

You might know Seasonal Affective Disorder as that time of the year you get stupidly depressed for no reason. You’re the type of person who is happy, and active all year around, and you don’t have any known mental illnesses or health issues. Yet every time around this year, you find it difficult to get through the day. You’re over tired. You’re emotional. Downright depressed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a known disorder that, in short and simple terms, means your body isn’t getting what it needs that it normally gets through the summer months, so you find yourself more depressed than normal.

Although this is the standard, and reasonable thought process of what SAD is, we still actually don’t know that much about it and how it affects other mental illnesses outside of Bipolar Disorder.

Does having depression mean that I’ll be worse in winter? Or will I find myself in a less manic episode come summer but more manic in the fall? How do I prepare myself for what something like this could bring?

You And SAD

It’s dark out at 4 pm. You’re heaving through the slickened streets of ice and snow to get to your families house for a Christmas dinner. You’re heaving a couple of last minute gifts with you, and you are not looking forward tonight.

It’s not just the usual amount of pain of family get togethers that has you all anxious and wanting to dip out, but you know that you’ve recently had a heavy depressive manic episode, making it all the more troubling and painful that you’re pushing yourself to be with family.

When you get inside the house it’s warm and welcoming, and everything that the holidays should be, but you’re feeling drained. You feel unwelcome. You feel like a burden on those you love, and frankly, you cannot wait to leave.

It’s hard enough to push through the holidays, but harder still to do it with a relapse.

One of your family members though, makes a comment. They hate this time year, but they do things to help themselves… and so you ask them what and they tell you.

Sometimes it’s the little things.

It’s easy to get caught up in the work day, and it’s easy to sit in the lunchroom at work and talk to co-workers. But by the time you leave the office, it’s getting dark. By the time you get home there’s no light.

So take that 15 minute walk outside during lunch. Even if you don’t go far, and all you do is sit on a bench in the cool air, it will help to get that sun on your face. Sometimes buy a light lamp is helpful as well.

While walking for fifteen minutes is great outside, sometimes it just can’t happen. So make sure you kick up and keep up, with the exercise routine.

It’s important to keep those habits cemented and strong. We know exercise is a great alternative to some medication for some people, and for some people it just helps, even with medication, so keeping it up will help yourself.

Talk to someone about it.

Make sure you talk to your doctor to find out what your options are. You don’t have to suffer SAD alone. You don’t have to fight through the tide of your normal mental illness and that of SAD. Make sure you reach out for help and try some preventative measures. The more you can do now, the better you’ll be later on.

 

Work and Mental Health.

What would your workplace mental wellness program look like?

It’s 9 am Monday morning. We’re huddled by our desks while our Communications Director gives us information on this weeks Communications to our Members. She says, it’s Mental Health Awareness week, and so we will be doing different posts on Social for our Members.

I start thinking about how someone who has a mental illness, and how for them it’s always mental health awareness week. Not a single week looks different to them, because a mental illness is still stigmatized, especially in the work place.

At one brief period of my life I became immersed in the Tech Start Up Industry. After visiting several workplaces, I found myself curious about the balance of mental health in their work places as they seemed to really promote environments that weren’t your standard work environments. They were hip, fun, there was beer in the fridge, conversational after work events, and you had access to the lounge 24/7, so you could take a break and hang out with a co-worker, maybe play a video game together, before heading back to your desk to get work done.

While they seemed to promote a culture of well being, I wondered if that concept and idea of well being in the workplace, actually succeeded. And how did individuals who didn’t want to consume alcoholic beverages feel about having them easily accessible in the work place?

I remember reading several articles in the past that talked explicitly about this, raising the concern about facing addiction and the work place.

It becomes hard to pinpoint what you want to see in a work place when it comes to mental health, especially your own. Conversations are all abound with ideas of what mental health and well being should look like, but no one really has any clear concept of it because, well frankly, it’s a new concept with a large stigma still attached.

Start Up industry has a culture, and by default a toxic mental wellness culture, for individuals working with, or through an addiction. Their culture includes the imbibement of alcoholic beverages, often at a high consumption level, and is known to be far from inclusive of individuals who choose not to par-take. Yet, that isn’t just exclusive to Start Up’s.

My own workplace does something called “Wicked Wednesdays”, where once a month after work we get together and have a drink. Some of us don’t drink, and we don’t pressure them, it’s a relaxed environment and usually a small get together, but it’s always around the idea of alcohol.

I previously worked in a place that was so toxic, the only way to get away from the feelings that the place brought on was to go and have a drink after work. Working previously in the restaurant industry, I can tell you that a knock of drink is a pretty standard routine.

What about other forms of health and wellness that are good for mental health as well?
Some workplaces believe that mental health and wellness in the workplace happens when you have the whole office involved in a lunch time Yoga and Meditation workshop/event.

Yet, I personally find that concept more of a pigeon hole effect.

I myself don’t feel comfortable doing yoga. I’m a bigger girl, and I have some mobility issues. I work with my personal trainer two days a week, and while I am becoming more confident, that doesn’t mean that doing Yoga would make me feel mentally healthy at my work place.

But let’s go back a second, we have ideas abound without the ability to pin point what works, and what is economical to a work place. Let’s say the rec room may be beneficial, but in promoting health and wellness in the work place, it may be more economical to do Yoga and Meditation Lunch events and after work gaming sessions. Yet, what about the other 20 percent of the office who aren’t interested in either?

It’s hard to tailor these events to individuals while keeping it economical to the workplace. It’s also hard to find events that might truly be beneficial in promoting health and wellness in the workplace.

As the conversation about Mental Health in the work place continues to grow, and the stigma continues to be challenged, we need to start trying to understand what shape we want to see mental health and wellness take in our offices and places of work. We need to start having those discussions, because we know very well that one size fits all just doesn’t work when we talk about mental health.

But, the first step of course, is breaking that stigma and getting into the heart of the matter by helping people understand the problems of a mental illness, and sometimes all that needs is a safe and healthy place for someone to express themselves. Now that’s economical for the workplace, isn’t it?

Do you want to contribute a discussion piece? Do you have a story to tell? If you want to continue to the on going discussions and have a personal story, thought, or discussion you want to share, then feel free to write to us at contact@anonymouslyyoursunwrapped.com . We look forward to sharing your stories. #MyStoryMyStrength.

 

My Post Partum Dream.

What they don’t tell you; Pregnancy and Depression.

Welcome to Anonymously Yours Unwrapped.
In today’s popular use of social media it’s hard not miss the buzz around pregnancy, expecting mothers, and the glamourous world of celebrities who are able to do it all. It’s even harder to not look at the social media pages and feel a twinge when you realize, that’s just not me and may never will be. You compare yourself to these glam fam mother’s, thinking that you will never be able to do it all while wearing make-up and keeping your whites white. But the truth is, real mother hood isn’t like that and anyone who ever tells you otherwise, or posts to social media, is lying to you. But with society telling to be that Mother, the one who can do it all, what happens when you’re faced with motherhood for the first time and post partum depression?

In this post we’re joined by a contributor who experienced just this, and shares her story with us in this post – The Post Partum Dream. sad-mother-with-baby

Let’s start with some background. You give some of it in your own personal blog post (and feel free to double up on that), but can you talk about the realization that occurred when you became pregnant? You make a comment about how it wasn’t your intent to be a mom, so with your husband were you happy and elated? You said you went off the Zoloft before that voluntarily, what made you go off of it, and did your Husband know/agree with the decision?

When I first became pregnant my husband and I were very happy. I actually had a miscarriage previously, right after getting married, at the 8 week mark. We had just gotten married and I didn’t expect to get pregnant so quickly. When I became pregnant again we had been trying, which is why I had gone off the Zoloft.

You talk a bit about the experience of actually being pregnant. Can you go into that in a little bit more depth? What was the high point for you of the pregnancy if there was one?

During pregnancy I remember feeling fantastic – excited, glowing, and happy, and like I was special. In hindsight, however, I can say there were times during pregnancy that I did feel overwhelmed and stressed. I was working and commuting on the bus and it was hard. Also I remember feeling angry at my husband for no reason. I would get so angry I’d start shaking. However I didn’t seriously consider having issues after the baby was born – it was just something that never occurred to me.
Continuing a bit with that, as you mention in the post that you didn’t have the support network, or felt like you didn’t, afterwards. Did you have that support network of expecting mothers during pregnancy? Did you find that the expecting part of the pregnancy easier to connect with mothers?
I had no mom friends, and I was the first of my group of friends to be pregnant. Growing up I was the youngest of two, and I had zero experience with babies. I had no idea what I was getting into. The expecting part of pregnancy was definitely easier to connect with people, because everyone loves to touch your belly and give you cutesy baby gifts. After the baby I felt completely isolated. I was ashamed and guilty at how I was feeling, and super scared, yet afraid to share that with anyone.
You said that during the birth you were going to do natural and then at the last minute choose to do an epidural but felt like you would have been judged for it if you told your family. Was this something that when you spoke about later to other mothers and friends, you still felt the same about, even after you moved through the PPD?
Yes I still feel guilty about this, even though I’ve talked to other mothers now and I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with having an epidural. I’ve even had people tell me “omg get the epidural, don’t even consider not getting it” yet I somehow felt weak for getting it, like I was less of a woman.
You talk about being in a fog after the birth of your daughter, can you describe that for us again, walk us through a day in the life of you at that time. 
I would wake up after a fitful, dream filled sleep, and for a split second forget that I had anxiety. Then after that half second passed, all the feelings would rush back. It’s almost like I could feel the rush of chemicals in my brain. My heart would constrict and it would take massive amounts of energy to pull myself out of bed. Showers and teeth brushing were non existent. The minutes would literally drag. Small things like going for a stroller walk were all I could look forward to. The minute the baby started crying I’d panic. I would wear sunglasses everywhere, for fear of getting a migraine. Also I felt like there was a fog around my head and I had no peripheral vision. The worst part was not even being able to look forward to sleep at night because the nights did not guarantee sleep.

You mention that you didn’t have the support of people around you at that time, or felt like you didn’t, can you tell us about that? Maybe discuss the lack of support groups that exist for women with PPD.
Finding help was horrible. I could barely focus and take care of myself and my daughter let alone go through the effort of seeking help. My mother in law was close by and did what she could, but I felt too guilty to share my real struggles with her. My own mother came up to help for a few weeks but again I felt guilty having her around because I was such a mess. After about two months I talked to my gynecologist about my struggles, then was referred to a mental hospital (outpatient). After another few weeks I had my first appointment. During this time I was also googling trying to find support groups, but could find only one; and they were just starting up and never had a set meeting, so it was very disappointing.  I really felt alone.
When did your doctor and/or you realize what was happening and how did the next steps to come out of it come about?
At my postpartum checking (about 6 or 8 weeks after baby) I told my doctor I was having problems. He gave me a phone number of an affiliated mental hospital (outpatient). I called and made an appointment. My issue with everything was how long it took. I didn’t actually get to speak to a psychiatrist until about a month later. I needed help now! Turns out she was amazing, but I wish everything wasn’t such a process because the last thing I needed to deal with at that time was paperwork and scheduling. Don’t even get me started on the paperwork associated with my leave from work. I had to fill out massive amounts of paperwork in the days after baby was born to start on FMLA.
How do you feel that your PPD defined you as a new mom? Do you think you’ve moved away from that definition of being a new mom with PPD into now a mother of two who is happy about being a mom?
I think I will always feel sad for my daughter that she had such an ill mother the first years of her life. I can never get that time back, and although I know it was not my fault but rather a chemical imbalance in the brain, I can’t help the guilt. I was so afraid to have another and go through the same thing again, and  now that I’ve successfully had baby #2 with no popstartum I am on cloud nine. Although I still struggle with guilt and parenting in general, I finally feel like I thought I “should have” the first time.
Can you talk a little bit about what you see society labeling moms as, how we underprepare them for motherhood, and what you would like to see the future bring about in regards to the conversation of PPD and motherhood?
This is the best question. I think society sees moms in very two dimensional terms. We are either working moms or stay at home moms. Soccer moms or hippie moms. Breastfeeding moms or bottle moms. Good moms or bad moms. Our role models are celebrities who have nannies and access to many support resources.   Social media has created this idea of “super mom” who does crafts, makes organic gluten free baby food, potty trains their toddler in two days, and has all the answers. THIS IS NOT REAL. I want to see less social media moms and more real moms. I want to stop labeling each other and just accept that we are each individuals doing the best we can. I want to shatter this idea of the perfect mom. Social media is just a highlight reel!
Lastly, what would you tell those who have depression, are on medication but want to become moms? What advice would you give to new mothers in general?
I can only speak from my personal experience. Medicine or not, I think the most helpful piece of advice to prepare for motherhood is be realistic. I didn’t have any clue what I was getting into, and I think that was part of the problem. Self-care is important. Get hired help if you need it (or budget for it in advance). Don’t look at social media if it’s going to upset you. And don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling. I know it’s cliche, but there are others out there feeling the exact same way and you truly are not alone. I stayed on Zoloft during my second pregnancy, with my doctor’s approval, and my son was born healthy. Do what you need to do for you. A healthy mom is the most important gift you can give your child – not toys, not organic homemade food, but you.

Anonymously Yours, 

Unwrapped.

Rocky Jayne is a mom with two kids, speaking up and fighting for visibility on Depression and Motherhood. You can find her blog here, as well as linked in the post above. She can also be found on Twitter with the handle @rocky_jayne.
FLMA is the Family and Medical Leave Act which is part of the United States Labor Laws. Rocky Jayne is located in NY, United States.

When She Say’s Die.

Understanding Suicide; World Suicide Prevention Day.

While scrolling through Facebook one evening I came across something someone had posted in regards to suicide and mental health.

It read like this,

“If someone were to die at the age of 63 after a lifelong battle with MS or Sickle Cell, we’d all say they were a “fighter” or an “inspiration. But when someone dies after a lifelong battle with severe mental illness and drug addiction, we say it was a tragedy and tell everyone “don’t be like him, please seek help.” That’s bullshit. Robin Williams sought help his entire life. He saw a psychiatrist. He quit drinking. He went to rehab. He did this for decades. That’s HOW he made it to 63. For some people 63 is a fucking miracle. I know several people who didn’t make it past 23 and I’d do anything to have 40 more years with them.”

As we come into World Suicide Prevention Day/Month, this comment is worth more than anyone can image to someone who might be contemplating suicide.

I have a close friend of mine who has been struggling against the tide for several years. Every year I wonder if I will get the call from someone, telling me it’s time.

While I have mentally prepared myself for this as much as I can, I know that when it actually occurs I will be devastated, but until then, I cherish the time I have with her, because like an incurable disease, I don’t know when her end will actually come.

Over the past two years I have found myself writing personal stories, short stories, and plays that asks why we begrudgingly accept the loss of friends and family and hold on to the anger and pain that we feel about them and the circumstances surrounding their death.

We often don’t accept the loss of the person, urging other’s to seek help instead of even contemplating suicide, but if this is our way of thinking, is it the right way?

Consider a person who is suffering from a life long illness and wishes to die on their own terms. They call that Assisted Dying, which is now legal within Canada. No matter their age we wouldn’t want to tell them to change their mind, to seek help, to find a way to live better. We know that they are in pain, constantly every day, we know that they are terminally ill and that they are fighting hard to stay alive but perhaps it is time to let them go.

This thought process is socially acceptable, but when it comes to someone who is battling a Mental Illness, this thought process is not socially acceptable. Instead we urge them to seek help, we ask them get better, we ask them to not be like everyone else.

While we do need to be urging our friends, our peers, and our family to seek help, we also need to change the narrative of our stories and the way in which we tell the stories of those who committed suicide.

In order to do this we need to change the way we think about, and consider mental health. Unfortunately this is a battle that we are continuously fighting against and a tide that is hard to win.

So while it is Suicide Prevention Week, and the topic is important, and one to really remember to have with those who we are thinking are in need of help but aren’t reaching out. We have to remember we need to reach out to them, but also to remember that Mental Illness is an illness, and we need to change the narrative we have around the topic of suicide.

We need to remember to step into the shoes of those in need and question them. We need to understand if their mental illness is terminal, or if it is something that can be “cured” at least to the point to allow them to live and live well.

Remember, the narrative of mental health is not a simple one. It’s complicated and nuanced, and in order to continue to fight the good fight, and help those who need it, we need to remember that not everyone is the same, not all illnesses are equal and that sometimes we need to understand that letting go is better than holding on.

My Grief, My Pain.

When Grief becomes;

In 2005 I lost both my paternal grandmothers, and recently I lost my grandfather.

They were such important people in my life, and throughout my childhood, so when they past away I found myself slipping into a depressive state that was previously unknown to me.

I remember parts of the end stages of my grandmother’s life, vividly. I remember when I visited her in the hospital, when she had been released, and when the paramedics and some family members brought her home. Those were the moments I remember the most vividly, but the rest tended to be a blur. I remember singing to her, at her beside, and I remember the night she passed.

I was laying in my bed, everything was quiet and the hall light was still on. My mom walked into the room I was in, and carried me to my cousins house next door. Everything after that was a blur as I was in fourth grade at the time, but I remember the feeling sadness.

As for my Grandfather, I remember visiting him and my step grandmother before and during the times he was on dialysis. As time went on I could see how he was getting weaker and weaker, even before I knew to worry about him.

I was living in Austin, Texas by myself at the time, and I remember sitting in my chair in my apartment talking to him on the phone.

I consider those good moments, and good conversations, but I knew in my gut that his time was almost up and I grew more and more worried up until September 16th. A Saturday. That was the day my father called me to tell me that my grandfather had passed away.

The college program I was in at the time wouldn’t let me take any time off to grieve, and I still feel that I somehow predicted his death, but just not when, and that is something that will always bother me.

In my grief I went through the acceptance stage, but I skipped everything else, the denial, and the bargaining stages, because a part of me knew that it wouldn’t help me. You could say I am on my own path of grief. Feeling depression and struggling through.

The most difficult part of the journey has been the feeling of being numb.

But, my faith in God, my family, and my friends have helped through tough times, and even the grief. I don’t blame God at all for my Grandparents passing.

I have reached out for help and I tell others, no matter the cause of your depression or pain, to reach out, preserver, don’t give up and reach out for help.

I think someone can benefit from me sharing my experience, and by reaching out for help, even when it seems difficult. You can preserver, and you don’t need to give up.

Anonymously Yours, 

Unwrapped 

Back to School

The Bully in the Yard

Gearing up to go back to school is always hard. It’s worse when you know you’re going to walk into the school yard and come face to face once again with a bully.

I have a memory of being bullied as a young girl, in Grade One, by other girls. All because I did not have the newest clothes. I didn’t know the latest fashions. I didn’t know how to be popular. I was to strange. To weird.

But that was before the internet. That was before cellphones with photo capabilities, that was before, and this is now.

The internet is full of stories of those who have gone before, battled down, pushed down, torn down, and eventually they could not handle it so they gave in to the temptation. They ended it.

So, we push each other. We tell each other it will get better. We tell everyone it will be okay. But we don’t address the bigger question. We don’t ask about the bigger picture. Why are these bullies there? What has lead them to be bullies? What is driving them to do what they’re doing?

The other question is, how do we stop it from happening?

These are simple questions, but they’re strangely profound.

And they’re not asked enough.

As we go back to school this month, we’re reaching out to you dear readers. We want to know if you have a story about being bullied, and why you think they may have done it, or if you did the bullying, what caused you to do it?

Send us an email, or send us a tweet. It’s back to school tomorrow, and we want to know, what was the school years like for you?