Gratitude

For me, the best part of Thanksgiving is practicing gratitude. It is deeply meaningful to take a moment and reflect on what we are grateful for. Many of us even express this gratitude amongst family members around the table. I wonder what would happen if I made this a regular practice. What if every week, I set aside a time to practice gratitude.

This goes beyond being positive. Making a conscious effort to take stock of what we are thankful for forces us to consider another narrative for our lives. I imagine that sometimes this practice will be easier than others. In times of life not making a lot of sense, gratitude can breathe some air into our heavy chests.

Practicing gratitude has less to do with what you have and more to do with what you make of it. It’s easy to be grateful when life is all sunshine and roses. For most of us, this is not always the case. We might not be able to see what we are grateful for so clearly.

I encourage you to practice gratitude during those challenging days as well. Consider someone who is living with suicidal thoughts. You can still practice gratitude by being thankful for continue to be alive, and continuing to fight. When life is throwing many challenges my way, I try to be grateful for the lessons in patience, compassion, or willpower.

We all have something to be grateful for.

My biggest test in patience.

My biggest test in patience.

New Beginnings

Today is another crisp fall day. It seems perfect to be thinking about new beginnings. I’ve been having a lot of those lately. Last month, it was starting at a brand new agency and having to learn about new policies, techniques, and even just workplace culture. This month, I’m starting to prepare for another new beginning. October might be my final month with my beloved crisis team.

I love crisis work. I always have. There is something about being challenged daily that excites me. But for life reasons, it’s time to move on. It’s not a major change in the sense that I’ll be staying with the same agency. However, it means leaving a team that I have loved being a part of for the last seven years.

Each October day that passes makes it all the more real. I can feel my anxiety levels slowly increasing each day. I can’t even pinpoint what it is that I’m anxious about. I know I can do the work. I know I’m ready to try something different. But each time I think about it, I get the knot in my stomach and tingling energy coursing through my veins.

I don’t think about this anxiety as a negative though. Sure, it’s not super fun to experience. But what’s the alternative? To never change? To never grow? To never explore? That is not a life I’m interested in living. So I am simply acknowledging those physical signs of change and thank my body for acknowledging the changes that are coming my way.

Autumn in Algonquin

Autumn in Algonquin

Saying "Yes"

One of the aspects of my life that I’ve always taken pride in is my ability to constantly say “yes”. I try to say “yes” to new challenges, new experiences, and spending time with people I love. I have recently realized however that my ability to say “yes” is not always possible as I do not have unlimited storages of energy.

My eagerness to experience new adventures has served me well in years past. I have been able to do some pretty cool things by being open and willing. I do not regret saying “yes” to previous opportunities and experiences. Some of my best memories are based on this immediate instinct to say “yes”.

What I’m learning is that there needs to be a balance. As life goes on, more and more opportunities are presenting themselves to me. As much as I want to keep saying “yes” to each of these, I’m becoming increasingly aware that I simply don’t have the ability to do so. I need to come up with a way of prioritizing my time and resources. I need to reflect on what is important to me.

Personally, this doesn’t mean only focusing on my career. It also means finding time to prioritize the people in my life who are important to me without exhausting myself. I think balance is something that we all struggle with and will always be something I need to strive towards. I will need to consistently check in with myself to see if I’m saying “yes” to everything, or saying “yes” to what is truly important to me.

Skipping Plans

I started a new placement for my master's degree a couple of weeks ago. It has been exciting but also exhausting. The first weekend after starting, I had so many plans. My first thought was to push through and go to everything. I said I was going to go so I needed to get there.

Then I did something totally unthinkable for me. I said no to everything. I literally just didn't go to a single event so I could stay at home.

I felt so incredibly guilty. It's funny because I can tell other people to put themselves first and to take care of themselves. But how hard is it to take our own advice? I literally sat there in guilt for so long. Every once in a while I would try to convince myself to go anyways. I kept telling myself "it doesn't matter if you're tired, you're missing out!" And man, does social media ever let you know what you're missing out on.

Even though I didn't enjoy staying at home as much as I could've because of the intense feelings of guilt and FOMO, my body thanked me for the time off. It made me want to consciously make an effort to schedule one weekend of nothingness a month. I might miss out on something. But I would rather have the energy to enjoy the things I go to than drag myself to every single event.

I’m also going to try and be kinder to those who skip out on plans last minute. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want to spend time with me. Maybe it just means that they need to only spend time with themselves.

Solitude

If you've read my other stuff, you know I love the people in my life. But there's something to be said for solitude. I love being alone. 

I didn't always love spending time on my own. I am definitely an extrovert and thrive on being around others. It also took a long time for me to be able to honestly say that I love myself. I was not my favourite person. And being alone felt like a reminder of that.

One of the best things I ever did for myself was to travel by myself. I started small with a trip to visit family on the west coast. It was an educational experience to travel on my own but I had the comfort of arriving somewhere that I could be with people I felt safe with. The next big trip I took was to Ireland all by myself. I didn't have much of a plan but I knew I wanted to see as much of the country as I could. I met amazing people along the way. But I also had to learn to be comfortable sitting at a table by myself. I had to sit in my own thoughts and immerse myself in my surroundings.

Not everyone can afford to take trips on their own. But my advice is to start making time for solo adventures. Go to the park by yourself. Sit in a coffee shop and put down your phone. Immerse yourself in the world around you. Listen to your internal voice. Do not rely on artificial connection because of this fear of being alone. Soak up those moments when you get to be on your own.

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Impact

Sometimes people talk to me about how it must be incredible to have a job where you can have so much impact on the lives of others. The funny thing is, we all have that opportunity. I always joke that I think hairdressers spend more time counselling than I do. In almost every profession, we have contact with other humans. Whether it is a customer/client or a co-worker, most people have the opportunity to speak with another human being.

We all have the capacity to make an impact. Be open with others and listen to their stories. I know I can have my day brightened by a nice conversation with a convenience store clerk. And I always feel grateful when I have to call somewhere with an issue and the receptionist treats me with respect and dignity. I can only imagine the impact it could have on someone who feels like they have no one they can talk to.

We all have the potential to positively impact someone else’s life. With our words or even a smile, we can completely turn around someone’s day. People sometimes laugh at me because I look directly at strangers passing by and smile. I often have in depth conversations with complete strangers in line or in an elevator. I honestly enjoy it, but it almost makes me think of the potential impact.

We have literally no idea what other people are going through. That person you smile at could have woken up with no hope. The older gentleman you chat with at the grocery store may only have one outing a week and this is his chance for human interaction. Put down your phone and engage with those around you. You have no idea the impact you might have.

Being In the Moment

Do you ever get stressed about not being in the moment enough? Me too.

Mindfulness. She's a tricky lady. Ignore her and you'll be missing out on some truly peaceful moments. Focus too hard on her and you'll find yourself more upset/anxious than before you tried.

I learned a lesson about meditation many years ago and have to remind myself of this lesson often while trying to practice mindfulness. It's okay when other thoughts enter your mind. It's okay if you're in the middle of breathing in the air and focusing on the sounds of the waves and suddenly you're thinking of what you should make for dinner. 

This is okay mainly because the alternative to accepting these thoughts doesn't really work. The more you fight these random thoughts, the more you get stuck on them. I like to use the example of a purple elephant. If someone says don't think of a purple elephant, what's the first thing you think of? Fighting thoughts gives them power. Instead, simply accept them and let them go.

So as I sit by the beach with random thoughts popping in my brain, I will choose to accept them and let them go. And I'll continue to try and not get mad at myself for not being in the moment enough.

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Animals

Have you ever wondered why animal therapy is so popular? Surely if you have pets, you know how comforting they can be. But what is it about our animals that brings this sense of comfort?

Connection

Human beings need connection. One of our biggest social determinants of health is isolation. Our pets help us feel connected to something greater than ourselves. They provide meaningful companionship.

Mindfulness

A large part of practicing mindfulness is staying in the moment. Mindfulness can be incredibly challenging for many of us. Animals never struggle to stay in the moment. Have you ever seen a cat worry about what they did last night? Or a dog worry about what he is going to do tomorrow? Of course not. Our animals force us to stay present.

Grounding

Speaking of being in the moment, we can use grounding techniques to bring us back to where we are. This can be especially challenging when anxiety hits. One easy way to use grounding is to pet our pets. Seriously. Spend a few moments stroking your pet and focusing on the sensation. This helps to bring us back to where we are.

Animals do so much for us and our mental health. These are just a few examples of how they're able to do so.

Hank and Bernard

Hank and Bernard

Find Your Circle

Many of us have heard about how you have to surround yourself with successful people. The idea that you are the average of the five people closest to you. When I first heard this concept, I thought of how successful or goal oriented people are. I thought about where my friends were at in terms of their career and athletic achievements. I had an internal rejection of this concept because I did not want to judge my friends based on such a quantifiable social structure.

I stopped considering this concept and just surrounded myself with who I wanted to be near. I let my internal compass guide me to those I felt comfortable with. Those who I felt I could be my most true self with. I took a step back and considered who I was surrounding myself with. I can honestly say that I have some of the most amazing people in my life. Here is how I choose to judge those around me.

Support

There is nothing quite like knowing you have multiple people you can turn to in need. People who will have your back during any crisis and will do so without expecting anything in return.

Vulnerability

I am always so proud of my friends when we can be honest and discuss how we are trying to better ourselves through counselling, treatment, medication, meditation, etc. To have a group of people show their true selves without fear of judgement is a truly powerful experience.

Belief in Each Other

My friends have dreams. They might not look like my dreams. They might not be quantifiable capitalistic dreams. But I will do anything to help them succeed and I know they would do the same for me.

Laughter

Not everything has to be so damn serious. Feed your soul in many ways. My friends can go between discussing how they are working towards a better version of themselves and belly laughing over the most ridiculous things. Get yourself a group of friends who can do both.

Bottom line, let your soul guide you to your true people. It goes beyond who is successful. Or “good vibes only”. Find your tribe that makes your heart happy. Those are your people.

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Mornings

There’s nothing ground-breaking with idea that routine is good for your mental health. I’ve heard this many times before. I, however, am not naturally someone who lives in routine. Everyday is different and I thrive on this.

Lately I’ve actually prescribed myself a morning routine. While in Bali, my body clock got completely turned around and I would wake up with the sunrise every morning. I would go do sunrise yoga, go for a hike, or just slowly warm up to the day with coffee. Now I’m sure anyone would feel relaxed while staying in Bali, but I wanted to see if I could bring this state of relaxing home with me.

After coming home it was easy to get caught up in the chaos of life again. But I really tried to start waking up a little earlier. The first thing I would do is I would eat a big healthy breakfast. I love breakfast so this wasn’t a major change for me, but I had more of an intention to fuel myself before going out into the world.

The next step was to take Bernard to the forest. Being in the forest is relaxing enough for me, but again I wanted to bring more intention to this practice. I decided to start using mindfulness more while being there. I didn’t want it just be another space where I was worried about everything I needed to get done. I focus on the smells of the forest. I focus on the sound of the wind, the dirt beneath my feet, the rustling of the trees, even the panting of Bernard. I focus on the sensation of the ground beneath me. Or the way Bernard’s fur feels when I pet him. While I’m in that forest, the rest of the World does not matter.

When I get home, I do a short yoga practice. It honestly takes about ten minutes and focuses mostly on sun salutations. Lastly, I do a short meditation. I like to end my yoga practice by setting intentions for the rest of the day. These are small intentions that I can focus on. They are based on how I have been feeling so far that morning and what lies ahead. Some common ones for me are “calm”, “peace”, “courage”, etc. It’s not about planning tasks for the day, but rather setting intentions for how I will react to the day.

I love my mornings now. Going from someone who would lie in bed until the very last acceptable second to waking up hours before I start work has been quite the change. But it has really impacted how I approach my day.

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Remembering

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up feeling awful. I was just off. I thought it must just be exhaustion, however when I tried to sleep that night I couldn’t. My body felt tense and I just could not relax enough to sleep. The next morning I felt even worse. I could not figure out why I was feeling so terrible. That was until good old social media decided to show me what my “memory” was from the year before. It was the day we said goodbye to Arrow.

This still is one of the hardest days of my life. At times, my mind tries to blur the memories and guilt tries to creep in. It tries to make me feel like I didn’t do enough. I didn’t try enough. But I remember the way he slumped his body into mine that morning. As if to tell me he was ready. In that moment, I could tell we were both done fighting. Nine months of new medications, hospitalizations, and slowly losing the dog I once knew.

I couldn’t believe that my body knew what day it was before my memory could catch up. The restlessness, the aches and pains, the exhaustion; these were all signs that I needed to slow down and remember my best friend. I knew the anniversary had to be coming up, but I wanted to just keep pressing on with life and not focus on the past. But my whole system screamed at me to slow down.

We took some time to remember our special little guy. We reminisced about healthy Arrow, goofy Arrow, and even Arrow when he was sick. We sat in our grief. I cried. I laughed. I wished he was still with us. I was grateful for the time that he was.

My journey with grief has been an interesting one. We make efforts to remember Arrow everyday. He is still up on our walls and I look up at him constantly. Each time we walk by his favourite spot in his favourite forest, we place our hands on the log and say “hello”. Sometimes his new brother Bernard stops by too. We continue to heal. And we continue to grow.

My First Year of Marriage

I am coming up to my first year of being legally married. Some days it is hard to believe that we’ve been married this long while other days it feels like we’ve been married for years. I know we are only a year in but I honestly feel like we’ve been through a lot together in the last year. Our marriage started out through a pretty rough depression for me. We planned our wedding for August 18th. Then my world was shaken on March 18th. We were told that day that there were no more treatment options for our dog. It was time to say goodbye and I was not ready. We made the decision to keep him in our lives until his next epileptic episode. Through all of the sadness and despair, what hit me the hardest was that he would not be there for our wedding. I had even gotten him a little tuxedo of his own. We planned a wedding in ten days. It was beautiful, but it was tragic. I was very depressed for the first weeks and months of our marriage. Plus the financial stress that comes along with all those vet bills. We’ve had lots of great times but life has been very stressful as well. My husband is changing jobs and has been putting in long hours between work and training. I’ve got a full-time job, a part-time job, and two university courses. That’s marriage though, isn’t it? It’s not perfect. Life’s not perfect. But here is what I’ve learned through it all.

1) Quality of Time Vs. Quantity of Time
We have very little time together between the busyness of our lives. So we make it count. We shut off the TV. We put down our phones. We connect with each other. Our favourite thing is going for walks or runs where we have zero distractions.

2) Own Up to Your Bullshit
None of us are perfect. I try to be a wonderful and supportive partner but there are times I react poorly because I’m stressed. I pulled the “you should know when I need to talk about something” card with my husband recently. After reflecting, I realized I was just stressed and not communicating well. So I owned up to it and apologized. I love that we can do that.

3) Support Each Other’s Growth
I have to give my husband a lot of credit on this one. I went from let’s drink beer and eat steak to a vegetarian who rarely drinks. In all seriousness, growth is important. And I love that when I tell my husband I am working towards something new or working on myself, he immediately supports me. I always try to do the same for him.

4) Know When to Take a Step Back
I’ve learned recently that “not going to bed angry” doesn’t mean that you resolve every issue before bed. That would lead to a lot of restless nights. Plus, I’m a self-reflection kind of gal that needs time to digest issues to see the whole picture. For us, we say goodnight and I love you every night regardless because you can still be frustrated with someone while honoring your relationship.

That is my view on marriage after one year in. It also helps to be married to your favourite person. <3

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Radical Acceptance

This has been one of the most difficult times of my life. My best friend Arrow has been in and out of puppy hospital for cluster seizures. Each cluster is terrifying and stressful, and unfortunately expensive (which adds to financial stress).
Because of all this, I have started to try out radical acceptance. This is a skill I learned about through DBT. I started applying it to my life recently because I was constantly stressed and unable to sleep. I am accepting my situation because it is out of my control. All I can do is listen to his neurologists. So I accept that this is my life. That Arrow has cluster seizures and that I will have to deal with them. To me, there is no other option. Instead of being angry or frustrated, I accept this. It does not mean that I am giving up hope. It just means that I am constantly reminding myself that this is my life now and that's okay.

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My Confession

I have a confession to make…I am a perfectionist. This might surprise some people who know me because there are many aspects of my life where my perfectionism does not come up, such as being organized (you should see my house- seriously) or school assignments. When my perfectionism does come out, it is nasty. It is critical. It is mean. It is poison.

I sat down with my director over a month ago because I was really struggling at work. I hit that wall. In social work we call it compassion fatigue, but I called it “I just can’t handle other people’s stories right now.” It was incredibly hard for me to admit that I had gotten to this point. I know I have a tough job and I have never judged a coworker for hitting their limit, but I should be better. I need to be stronger than everyone else. I cannot show any weakness. I can look at those statements and logically think there is no weakness in admitting your vulnerabilities but do I feel that? Nope.

She asked if I was a perfectionist and was surprised to hear that I was. Because I care about what I do, I criticize myself every contact I have. I should have said something else. I should have asked about blank. I am not good enough to do this work. I finally said out loud that I have never left my job feeling like I did enough. It was becoming clear that my perfectionism was getting in the way of being able to have any self-love and resiliency to do the work I do.

I have, over the years, reaped the benefits of being a perfectionist. I have accomplished a lot in my life. The problem is, I have never been able to enjoy those accomplishments. My therapist asked me if I had a bar for myself and I said that I do and it is constantly rising. Even when I wrote my book, it was not good enough. I needed to be more successful with it. This is such a subjective goal that with every achievement, I expect more of myself. I am even so critical of myself that I have not read any of my book since publishing it because I am petrified that I will find faults and hate that I ever wrote it.

So here I am. I am finally acknowledging my perfectionist ways. I am hearing those criticisms and fully listening to them. I cannot ignore my vulnerabilities and self-doubt, but I can try to identify when the poisonous self-talk starts and replace it with positive affirmations. I have been seeing a therapist and reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown to continue to better understand my perfectionism. I feel more raw than ever and incredibly vulnerable. I am scared shitless. But this is probably the healthiest I have been in a very long time.

Photo by Eryn Lobsinger

Photo by Eryn Lobsinger

Supports

I have been thinking a lot about the supports in my life. I have been thinking about the fact that there were many years that my supports were able to keep me alive. Now, I don't say that lightly. I had times when the suicidal thoughts were becoming so overwhelming that I was seriously considering death. I remember one night I messaged a friend saying that I was done. I was at the point that I was ready to die. He asked me to call him. Since it was the middle of the night, I sneaked into the garage and sat in my mom's car. I don't even remember what he said to me when I called. But he was there. All I needed was for someone to be there.

Supporting someone with a mental illness can seem like such a daunting task. However, sometimes it is not always a complicated process. I had a time when I was feeling very low. A friend of mine asked how I was and I simply said "I'm having a sad week." Instead of feeling uncomfortable about this response or trying to come up with a way for me to not be sad, he asked "can I do anything to help?" I then said that I could use a hug. I didn't need a big intervention. I just wanted a hug from a friend.

So often I needed someone to just be with me. I didn't always need a major intervention and there are many times that I would not have accepted anyone's advice. I really just needed someone to be with me.

Photograph by Jordan Snobelen

Photograph by Jordan Snobelen

Puppy Love

I recently got a puppy who I am madly in love with. His name is Arrow and he is a Bulloxer (American Bulldog x Boxer). I have always believed that pets have so much therapeutic value. He gave me the reminder I need just the other night.

I have a very stressful job working on a Crisis Team. Some days, I deal with the stress of work quite well. Other days, I hear some really impactful things. I love my job, but it definitely wears on you. Recently, I had a really hard day. It was one of those days that make me question if anything I say will make the slightest difference. When you are working with people who are at their breaking point, this is not a good feeling to have.

There are a few moments in this job that really stick with you, and I had one of those that night. It was one of the heaviest contacts that I have had in a long time. They are the times when it is not so easy to switch from work mode into personal mode. I try to maintain that work-life balance that we in the helping professions try so hard to achieve. I especially try to not let it affect my relationships.

I was worried that night. I was worried that when my partner came home, I would be cold and distant. Then I saw Arrow. I saw his goofy face and his little eyebrow. I saw how happy he was to see me. As soon as I gave him the biggest hug I could, my stress melted away. He didn’t ask me how my day was because he knew. He brought me over his toys to play with him. I went from crying in my car on the way home to laughing my butt off at how silly Arrow can be. By the time my partner came home, I was back to my regular old self. I was genuinely happy to just be with my guys.

Arrow is only three months old and he already does my job better than I ever could.

Photo by Eryn Lobsinger

Photo by Eryn Lobsinger

My "Why"

It is the end of the year and like many others, I have decided to reflect on my last year. A lot of this year was spent working on Seeing Through The Label which involves getting my story out there. I have been reflecting on my “why”. I wanted to know more about what motivates me to channel so much of my time and energy into having people hear my life story.

At first, I thought about the reasons that had more of a negative connation because my illness is usually centred on fear and self-doubt. I was worried that I was doing this completely selfishly and wanted to find some kind of fame by telling people all about me. I was worried that I was using my illness and recovery to pat myself on the back and have people pay attention to me. Then I thought about something I’ve talked about in the past which is that it is okay to be selfish. It is okay that I gain something by sharing my story. I am able to have that outlet. I am able to connect with others to help remind myself that I am not as weird and messed up as I think I am.

I also like the fact that I can connect with others by sharing my story because I see the impact it has on their lives as well. I want to help others with those feelings of isolation that I have experienced myself. I think back to when I first started to experience odd thoughts. I did not want to share these thoughts because I thought that I was the only one. I did not want to seek help because I was so afraid that I was the only one who could possibly think that way.

Stigma is something that we still talk about as well. I share my story to try to outweigh some of the negative stereotypes. When all we hear about mental illness are the frontline news stories condemning people with mental illness, we as a society fear them. Statistics are great, but people resonate with real life stories. Some people need to see that the illness is only one part of a person. That is why it is important for people to talk about their lives and how they manage their illness. It makes it more normalized, and people see those frontline stories as what they are; anomalies to the norm.

Upon reflecting on my “why,” I have regained some of my drive to keep pushing forward which I had recently lost. New Years should not just be about wanting to lose weight or quit smoking. Take a moment to reflect on your passion and what makes you want to keep pushing forward.

Taken at the seminar in Thompson, MB.

Taken at the seminar in Thompson, MB.

Making the Tough Choice

I have always been afraid to try a medication. I have never thought negatively of people who do, but it was something I had always stayed away from.

I had convinced myself that I did not need to go on medication. I had convinced myself that I was coping well enough that I did not need to. When I went to a psychiatrist for the first time last week, I had no desire of going on medication. Doing mental health crisis work, I understand that psychiatric assessments take quite a while to get set up, so I made the appointment over a year ago. I went into the appointment planning on sharing my coping strategies and making it obvious that I did not need to be on medication.

I had my back up when I first went in. I had no idea what to expect from this psychiatrist and was horribly nervous. I ended up having a really good appointment with her. She introduced herself by her first name and immediately made me feel comfortable and on the same level as her. Once we finished talking for about two hours, she brought up the idea of medication. I started to get uncomfortable again because we had talked a lot about how my mental illnesses affect me.

The psychiatrist actually listened to my concerns. I talked about how I still want to feel things. I told her that I still want to have those typical good days and bad days outside of symptoms. I explained that I still want to be able to cry sometimes and get genuinely excited about things. She explained that her intention is to stop my mental illness from affecting my day to day life, not to stop me from feeling. To be honest, I had not even thought about how much it still affected me. I had become so busy that I stopped recognizing how much of a burden it is on me.

She also explained to me that for every episode I have, I further damage my brain which also makes me more susceptible for further episodes. We talked about starting at a very low dosage on a medication that is specifically designed for more of what I am looker for which is more manageable lows and highs that are capped so they do not become too dangerous or out of control.

Today I am going to get a prescription from my family doctor to finally start a psychiatric medication. I am still terrified of how it might affect me (thanks anxiety), but I am hopeful that it will make my life a little more manageable.

Photo by Jordan Snobelen

Photo by Jordan Snobelen

In that moment...

In that moment, I was so grateful to just be.

I was walking down an empty trail in the hills of Kentucky. My mind started to wander. I started to think about what I was going to do next. I started thinking about the rest of my day and what adventured I would be chasing after next. Then I stopped. I stopped moving, I stopped thinking, and I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath and realized what I was doing. I was not truly embracing the moment. People talk a lot about dwelling in the past and letting that weigh them down. This is rarely my vice. My vice is constantly looking ahead. While it is nice to look forward to what I hope will be enjoyable experiences, I become too focused on what is next. I miss out on experiencing everything that is around me in that moment.

So I opened my eyes, put away my camera, and really focused on what I was seeing. I rested my hand on the old oak tree beside me. I felt the grooves of the bark and the coolness of the moss. I leaned into it and listened to the noises it made in the wind. I thought about that fresh smell that you only get while in the woods. Then I looked up the trail to see three beautiful deer just about fifteen feet away from me. I looked into their eyes as they continued to walk towards me. As they crossed the trail in front of me, a tear rolled down my cheek.

For in that moment, I was so grateful to just be.

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and I have seen many statistics proving its worth. Proving that suicide is prevalent in Canada and the average person should be concerned about it. I am asking for each of you to do something completely self-centred for prevention. Whether you have thought about suicide in the past, are currently thinking about suicide, or may potentially think about suicide in the future (aka you are a human being), create your own plan for what you might do to PREVENT yourself from acting on these thoughts.

Creating our own individual plan is so important when it comes to mental health issues. There is no one solid plan of what to do when you are struggling. There is no online list of the “15 Things You Should Do When Experiencing Suicidal Thoughts” that fits each and every one of us. That is why we each need out own plan that we need to design ourselves. Professionals can be helpful for suggestions about what could be on the list, but it is up to you to determine which best suits you.

Now there are generally speaking two types of suicidal thoughts. These are active or passive. Most of us who have experienced them know the difference of how they feel. Active suicidal thoughts are when we have come up with a fairly immediate plan and are thinking of acting on that plan. Passive suicidal thoughts are more so when we start to consider suicide as a real option. They are the ones when we feel like dying might be or is the most beneficial option in our situation. Both of these types take very different plans.

Working on our own plan gives us the opportunity to think about ourselves and learn more about how we feel and what helps our mood. Self-discovery and self-reflection can be difficult, but lead to a much greater knowledge of ourselves and how to help ourselves. I have attached my own plan at the end of this for a vague idea of what it may look like. What works for me may not work for you. Keep trying new healthy coping strategies until you find your own Prevention Plan.

Active Suicidal Thoughts

-call my specific supports (listed in a private plan)

-attend the ER

-call my local crisis line or 911

Passive Suicidal Thoughts

-distractions techniques (focus on something else such as boxing techniques)

-being at the gym

-being around positive people

-journal

-take time off

-be in nature