Mental Health Raw and Open with Special Guest Catherine Parlee

Hi, and thanks for listening to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show, we will chat with Catherine Parlee. Catherine is an amazingly strong, beautiful woman who is not only in recovery for an eating disorder, but she shares her story, and her blog, to help educate and empower other young women to embrace the beauty of their body.

Catherine and her blog can be reached at

Thank you for taking the time to learn about Catherine’s journey. I appreciate all of you listeners.

Until next time, please be safe and take care of yourselves and each other. 

J xxx

If you enjoy my work, please feel free to make a small donation to help me with out of pocket costs, especially during this pandemic.


Music Credit: Jay Superior


Mental Health Raw and Open Penny Hollick Memorial Tribute

Hey everyone,

So, this is a solo podcast, and without a doubt the hardest one I have ever had to do. It is a memorial tribute to my dear friend, Penny Hollick. She was one of the strongest, bravest, and beautiful souls that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She lost her fight to cancer Monday, Feb 24, 2020. A day that I will never forget. 

I did this podcast so I could share a bit of my friend with you all, and would really appreciate you having a listen. It is not too long.

Thank you, and until next time, take care and be well.  

J xxx



Season 2 Ep.4 Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Jay Doodnauth

Hi and welcome to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show, we will chat with a very close friend, Jay (Superior) Doodnauth. Jay and I met at the premiere of his short MH film called Perspective. It is incredibly poignant and I would recommend watching it if you have the opportunity. I believe Jay has a link posted to it on his Instagram.

On top of being a film producer and director, Jay is a creative genius and an incredibly good musician. He also spends a lot of time supporting and speaking about Mental Health, and all round, is just a fantastic human being.

Please take some time to have a listen.

You can find Jay at:              https://www/

or on Facebook @jaysuperior

or on Soundcloud

Thank you for taking the time to listen. It means a lot to me, to be able to have an avenue besides writing to share stories, and hopefully help to lessen stigma. Until next time, take care and be well.

J xxx

If you enjoy my podcast or websites or blog, please consider making a small donation as there are out of pocket expenses and I am on a very limited income. Thank you.

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Shreya Patel

Hi and thanks for joining us on another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show, we will talk to my dear, beautiful friend, Shreya Patel. Shreya is an Actress, a Film Director and Producer, A model, and was recently chosen as one of Forbes’s most influential people under 30 years old. Shreya is also a fierce mental health advocate, doing work with Bell Let’s Talk, and sharing her story with others.

You can find Shreya on Twitter and Instagram: @imshreyapatel

Thank you for taking some time from your day to spend with us. Each and every listener is appreciated. Until next time, take care and stay strong.

If you enjoy my content please consider a small donation to cover out of pocket expenses.


Music provided by Jay Superior

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Brent Lyles

Hi, and welcome to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show, we chat with survivor and therapist Brent Lyles. Brent suffers from mental health issues and openly shares them in order to better connect with his clients. Although he still deals with his diagnoses, he has turned his obstacles around, and now helps others not to suffer as he did. It was a great conversation with Brent, and I look forward to our next chat.

Brent can be found on Twitter: @itsbrentlyles

Thank you again for taking the time to listen, perhaps learn something new, and share. The more people that are educated increases the likelihood of ending the stigma surrounding mental health.

If you enjoy my content, please consider a small donation to help me cover out of pocket costs, it would be greatly appreciated.

Until next time, take care and be well.

J xxx

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Caroline Cook

Hi and welcome to Season 2 of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s episode, we will chat with Caroline Cook, PTSD sufferer, and mental health advocate. Caroline works hard to educate the masses about the seriousness of TBI’s, and she helps Vets who are facing numerous challenges upon their return home.

You can contact Caroline at:


Twitter: @CarolineMCook1 and @oneworldonepeo1 and @globalvetswalk


Thank you for listening and taking the time from your day to learn something new. Please feel free to share the podcast with anyone that may find it helpful.

Until then, take care and be well.

Jody Betty TIPS, CCR

@onelastkick71 and @bwpeersupport

Owner of Brave Wings Trauma and Crisis Informed Online Group Peer Support. Private groups starting the first week of February. Please contact me for further information.

Music by Jay Superior




Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Rosie Cappuccino

Hi, and welcome to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show, we will chat with a friend of mine from overseas, Rosie Cappuccino, in London, England. Rosie and I met on Twitter and found we had a lot in common, with us both afflicted with BPD. (Borderline Personality Disorder) In this episode, we will talk about BPD, and how it has affected our lives.

Rosie writes about BPD in her blog 

Rosie can be found on Twitter at:  @TalkingAboutBPD 

Thank you again for spending your time with us, and if you learn something new, please feel free to share the podcast. 

Until then, be well and take care.

Jody Betty, TIPS, CCR

Owner of Brave Wings Trauma and Crisis Informed Peer Support…Groups starting January 6th. Email me at or

If you enjoy the show or my blogs, please feel free to donate a few dollars to help me cover the out of pocket expenses incurred.




Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Jenn Sadai

Hi and thanks for tuning in for another episode of MH Raw and Open. On today’s show, we will chat with Jenn Sadai. Jenn is a domestic abuse survivor, a feminist, a mental health advocate and a multi-published (six books) author.

Jenn is currently working on an anthology book, Women Ready to Rise, in which I am fortunate enough to have a part of my story shared in a chapter.

Jenn can be found on Twitter @AuthorJennSadai

Her six books are all available on Amazon. The link below is to her Amazon author page with all of her books. 

Thank you again for taking your time to listen, and if you learned something new, feel free to share. Until next time, stay strong and be well.


Owner of Brave Wings Trauma and Crisis Informed Peer Support. Groups starting January 6th.

Please email or contact me on twitter @onelastkick71 for more information.

If you enjoy my content and wish to help support keeping the show running, my PayPal and Kofi links are below. Every dollar helps with out of pocket costs.




Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Madeleine Black

Hi, and thanks for tuning in for another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show we will chat with Madeleine Black, who is a rape survivor, an author, a TEDx speaker and a warrior battling for rape awareness across the world.

You can find Madeleine on Twitter: @madblack

Madeleines TEDx talk can be found on YouTube:

Madeleines Book “Unbroken” can be found on Amazon:

I hope you enjoy the show, and thank you again, for taking your time to listen. I appreciate all of you. 

I would love if you would pop over to my new site and subscribe there as well.

If you like my content and would like to help support the out of pocket costs, the links are below. Thank you.

Until next week, take care and be well. xxx



Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Matt Pappas

Hi and welcome to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show we will chat with Matt Pappas. Matt is a life coach, an author, an advocate, a survivor, a podcast host and he also works with the CPTSD association.

Matt and I have been friends for a few years now, and he is a fantastic person, and I am happy to share this episode with you all.

Matt can be found at:


I hope you enjoy the show, and as always, thank you for taking the time to listen.

Be well.

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Betsy Ross

Hi and thank you for tuning in to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show, we will be chatting with US Veteran, Author and Advocate Betsy Ross. 

Betsy’s books Fight, and To Fight Again are raising awareness to the struggle that Veterans face daily when trying to come back from war and resume life in society. Her advocacy has helped many to not only talk about their struggles, but to reach out for help as well. Her book is well worth the read.

Betsy’s books can be found at:

I hope you enjoy today’s show, perhaps learn something new, and if so, pass on the message. Spreading the word helps keep the conversation open, which is very much needed.

Thank you again for your time, and until next time, take care and be well.

Jody xxx


If you enjoy my content and wish to help support my out of pocket expenses, please feel free to leave a small donation through the link below.  or  PayPal.Me/jodybetty

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Michael Landsberg

Hi, and thank you for tuning into another episode of the Mental Health Raw and Open Podcast. On today’s show, we are joined by the founder of #SickNotWeak movement, and one of my dearest friends, Michael Landsberg.

Michael was a TV host for decades, before transferring his skill set over to radio, where he hosts a highly popular morning TSN Sports show. Michael is a forerunner in opening the conversation about mental health, and has traveled across Canada to speak and spread his message of strength and hope, and to remind people they are not alone. Michael has been awarded many times for his work in the Mental Health area specifically.

You can reach Michael at @heylandsberg on Twitter.

I hope you enjoy the show, perhaps learn something new, and please, pass on the message. Spreading the word helps to open the conversation which can then lead to people reaching out for the help they may need.

Thanks again for tuning in, and until next time, be well and take care.


If you enjoy my podcast or websites, the link below is for smaller donations to help me cover the out of pocket expenses for both. Thank you.


Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest, Therapist Denise Cazares

Hi and thanks for tuning in to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. I can’t believe this is the 13th episode already. Thank you to my guests, and my listeners. I truly appreciate you all.

On today’s episode we are chatting with Children and Family Therapist, Denise Cazares. On top of being a therapist, Denise is also a mental health advocate and a blogger. You can find her work at:

I hope you enjoy today’s show, and I would greatly appreciate any donations to my Ko-Fi so I can help to cover my website expenses.

Until next time, take care and be well. xxx


Mental Health Raw and Open World Suicide Awareness Day

Hi everyone,

It is World Suicide Prevention Day today, so I wanted to drop a short episode on awareness. Suicide rates have been increasing exponentially with no ending in sight. I would really appreciate if you could give this a listen, then maybe send it to a friend to listen and so on. 

Suicide, the word is noticed, but often the actions leading up to it are not. Check on your friends and family. Ask the question directly…”are you having suicidal thoughts”, it IS NOT going to put an idea in their head, however, it may, one day, save a life.

Stay strong and be well my friends, and thank you so much, as always, for your time.

Jody xxx


Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Emily Painter

Hi and welcome back to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. Today’s guest is a good friend of mine, who flew up from Florida to speak at the Premiere of a short film called Perspective. It was a pleasure to hear her speak and tell her story, and I am thrilled she’s with us today to share her story with all of you.

Emily Painter can be reached on all social media handles as @emilyspeaks30.

Thanks again for listening, I appreciate each and every one of you. Until next time, take care and be well. xxx

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest, Therapist Vincent Fitzgerald

Hi and welcome back to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. I can’t believe this will be my 10th show already. Time flies when you’re talking with such fantastic people.

On today’s show we will chat with a close friend Vincent Fitzgerald. Vincent is a wonderful man who pursued his goals and overcame his issues to become a therapist. Vince is also an author and mental health advocate.

I hope you will give this a listen as we talk about BPD, Depression and anxiety.

Vincent’s links are below…



As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or wish to be a guest on the show, leave me a message and we will get something set up.

I hope you enjoy the show.

Take care and be well. xxx



Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Sarah Schuster

Hi, and welcome back to another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. Thank you for tuning in and spending some time with us. On today’s show we will talk with my dear friend Sarah Schuster. Sarah deals with depression and anxiety, and still manages her job as the editor in chief for the mental health section of The Mighty, which is an enormous site online, focusing on both mental and physical health. The stories are written by people from around the world who want to share their journey in writing. If you haven’t had a look, please do so. We hope you enjoy the show.

Mobile Mental Health Crisis Response Teams…A Wave of the Future?

I have been passively suicidal since I was eight years old, when I had my first attempt. Since then, I have dealt with these incredibly invasive thoughts day after day, and have survived a handful of actual suicide attempts. Over the years, I have learned a variety of coping skills to allow me to keep these thoughts as passive ones, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have times where these techniques simply do not work; times where I feel I have lost all hope and I am encompassed by the darkness of these thoughts. Over the years, I have thought of every possible way to take my life but with a lot of hard work, I have held those actions at bay for nine years now.

I have a really hard time with some classifications of anti-depressants, primarily SSRI’s, and the side effects have been so extreme they have actually increased my suicidal ideations ,and decreased my ability to put my coping tools to work. My thoughts become uncontrollably irrational and my actions tend to follow to follow suit, adding in a healthy dose of impulsivity. I can feel the difference in my mind that the medication is making, and none of it is good. I was recently on Zoloft and as soon as we increased to 100mg is when my mind went haywire. I chose to suffer through for a few weeks, in hopes that these side effects would subside, but unfortunately they just worsened, and my thoughts went from passive to actively planning a route out. After a few days of this, I made the decision to reduce back down to my original dose of 50mg and wean off to nothing from there.

The decrease did not go well and I found myself in a heavy and dark place that was swallowing me whole by the minute. A few weeks ago, after a particularly hard start to the day, I was feeling so unsafe that I was actually afraid of myself. I was afraid that I would no longer be able to employ any skills that had kept me alive for so long, and so, I made the decision to try to reach out, the question being, to where? I often don’t feel much relief talking to a crisis worker as so much of the conversation is scripted, and my fear of hospitals far outweighs my fear of death. I researched resources in my area and happen to come across Peel Crisis Services, who run a hotline around the clock. The thought of calling them was of little interest as I expected just another crisis worker, saying the same things that the last one did.

Hesitantly, I picked up the phone, dialled the number and waited about 18 minutes to press the call button. The line rang, and rang, followed by a message saying that all the crisis workers were busy and I could either wait on the line, or leave my name and number and someone would call me back, and so I opted for the easy way out and left a message. My phone rang back less than ten minutes later and although I was riddled with fear and anxiety, I answered. There was a young gentleman on the other end of the line, which immediately threw me off, as in my mind, I had expected a woman to call, however, he was quite gentle and pleasant and after ensuring my immediate safety mentioned that they could send a mobile crisis team to my home which would consist of a specially trained, plain clothes Police Officer and a social worker. I hesitated at first, not sure if I was comfortable having a cop at my house, but decided it was the safest space for me to open up.

About two hours later, my anxiety through the roof, they arrived. I let them in, sat them down and proceeded to have a panic attack. They talked me through it, got me settled down enough and we began to chat about what had triggered me into crisis in the first place. They were both, incredibly kind, compassionate and sympathetic. They actually listened and allowed me to express my feelings without fear of judgement, or fear of hospitals. They ensured me several times that their job was to ensure my safety at home, and at all costs, avoid going to hospital. The social worker asked all the standard questions but also went a bit more personally into my case. They stayed for almost two hours, by which point I was calm and rational. They left me with some information pamphlets, the 24 hour crisis number and a resource to another service to look into. They also said they could write a report detailing our conversation and submit it to my new psychiatrist once I have seen her. All information remains confidential and is only accessible by Peel Police internally. All in all, it was a good experience, which helped to ease my fear of police and opening up to strangers.

The downside is that due to the volume of calls, and the lack of funding for trained Mental Health Officers, it leaves only six teams to deal with about 700000 people meaning that this is a one-time service. I am hoping that as the number of people with Mental Health issues increase that eventually the funding will have to come, out of necessity if nothing else. In an ideal world, all officers would be trained to deal with people with mental health disorders, which would eliminate thousands of unnecessary trips to the ER, where they also don’t have the ability to deal with you. I have to say, I am disappointed that this could not be a “lifeline” of sorts, and I am back to the futility of crisis lines, but for the time being, it is what it is, and perhaps one day it will change.

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest JP Leet

Hi everyone,

Thanks again for tuning into another episode on Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show we will chat with my friend JP Leet. Jp is a survivor, blogger, and advocate and host the Depressed Not Dead podcast where he shares his stories and struggles.

I hope you enjoy the show and again, questions, comments or wanting to be a guest….just send me a message. This platform is for anyone who is willing to share their stories, in an effort to help others.

JP’s links are below (blog)

@Jamoalki (Twitter)

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Dawn Brenner

Hey everyone, I hope you’re having a good week. On today’s episode we will chat with Author and Advocate Dawn Brenner about Mental Health Advocacy and suicide prevention.

I hope you will be able to join us, have a listen and maybe learn something new, and if you do, please spread the word.

Twitter: @ANewDawn_AA

Website: (link:

Kk-fi— (link:

Insta: (link:

YouTube: (link:

ProjectSite: (link:

If you have any questions or comments or wish to be a guest on the show, send me a message and we will get it scheduled.

Until then, take care and be well.

Jody xxx

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Dennis Ellis

Hey, welcome back and thank you for listening, and for your support. On today’s show we will chat with a close friend of mine Dennis Ellis. Dennis and I had spoken for quite a while on social media, and then last year, I was lucky enough to be able to connect with him in person. We are both afflicted with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), and have many of the same symptoms and thought processes. If you have BPD, or know someone with BPD, please have a listen, and if you learn something new, please pass it on. BPD is at the top of the list of mental health issues that sadly end by suicide, and has an enormous stigma attached to it.

Thank you so much for your time,  your willingness to learn and try to understand something new.

Be well and stay strong.

J xxx

Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Diana Fletcher

Hi there,

Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show we will be chatting with a dear friend of mine, Diana Fletcher. 

Diana Fletcher is a writer, life coach, activist and speaker. She is the author of the best-selling book Happy on Purpose Daily Messages of Empowerment and Joy for Women revised and expanded edition.


Thank you, and be well xxx

You can find Diana Fletcher’s social media and book link below.

Diana can be contacted through her website

@DiCoach on Twitter

Book link…


Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest Carl Waggett

Hi, and welcome to the fourth episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show we will discuss PTSD, and specifically the effect it is having on our first responders. Carl is a firefighter and the founder of PTSD Bunker Gear for Your Mind, where he posts informative videos and podcasts about PTSD.

You can find Carl and his team at:

or on Twitter @PTSDBunkerGear, and @PTSDGear.

Thank you again for taking the time to spend with us. I hope you find it informative and perhaps even helpful.

Be well my friends. xxx


Mental Health Raw and Open with special guest G. Donald Cribbs

Hi and welcome to the second episode of Mental Health Raw and Open. On today’s show we will be chatting with a good friend of mine, G. Donald Cribbs. Don is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and advocate an author and a newly licenced counsellor. Please join us as we travel Don’s journey together.

Be well.

Jody xxx

Link to Don’s book The Packing House




A Miracle Drug for Depression?

pills for blog


It is being touted as the new “super drug”, a true breakthrough in the treatment of Treatment Resistant Depression. It has just been approved for use and is the talk of the mental health community. It was discovered in 1962, first used on humans in 1964, and was approved for use in the United States in 1970. It was and is used extensively for surgical anaesthesia and acute pain management, and is also used in the veterinary field for the use of sedation in animals, however, because of its high and dissociative effects; this drug has been popular on the party scene for decades. It is a close relative of the drug PCP, and its effects are stronger than both cocaine and speed, raising the risk for accidental overdose. The drug I am referring to is Ketamine, also known as Special K, or as big pharma is calling it Esketamine, branded as Spravato.

It was first identified as having antidepressant potential in the late 1990’s and since then studies have shown tremendous results in helping relieve the symptoms of depression. At low dose levels, Ketamine infusion therapy has been proven to redevelop the neural pathways in your brain that have been damaged by debilitating mental health or chronic pain conditions.  Unlike typical antidepressants which take up to six weeks, sometimes more, to take effect, ketamine can start to relieve depressive symptoms in as little as four hours. It requires initial treatment of four to six sessions, and ongoing maintenance treatments once stabilized, and because of the physiologic change it causes, many patients can feel improvement in as little as one or two treatments.

Treatments are administered in a clinical or hospital setting, and patients monitored for two hours afterwards to check for potential side effects and at no point would a patient be sent home with Ketamine to administer to oneself, which helps to minimize the risk of addiction. Common side effects include disorientation and confusion because of the drug’s anaesthetic nature, drowsiness, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and nausea, which are no worse than those I have experienced from SSRI’s and both typical and atypical antidepressants.

It sounds promising doesn’t it? For someone like myself who has been dealing with depression for nearly 40 years, and tried a dozen different medications, it provided me with a sense of hope and the possibility that something could finally lift this cloud of darkness that has overshadowed every aspect of my life for decades. I have researched, read and studied up on all the information I could soak in about this new drug and despite my fear and hesitation, I decided that should it become readily available, I would be willing to take the risk and try this new treatment. After trying so many medications, all of which failed and some which made me worse, this could be the one thing that might actually help me and the thought of being able to live a life, for me, far outweighs the risks.

For the first time in ages, I was optimistic about the possibility of feeling even a bit better, however this optimism was quashed by the absolutely ridiculous, eye gouging price big pharma is selling this drug for. To be clear, as a party drug, a Ketamine pill costs somewhere in the range of $20 – $25, and will last you at least six hours, especially if it is crushed and either snorted or injected. In the pharmaceutical and developing world, the wholesale cost is between US $0.84 and US $3.22 per vial, which even with the incredibly large price hike, would still be considered an affordable source of treatment. This, however, is not the case at all.

The average Ketamine Infusion or nasal spray treatment cost for depression is US $500 per session, and as I mentioned earlier, you will need on average four to six sessions to start, and realistically, who knows how many you will need to maintain. So basically, if you do not have $5000 lying around, you can count yourself out for this type of treatment anytime soon, which infuriates me. Money should not be the deciding factor on whether or not your brain becomes healthy, especially when the profit range of big pharmaceutical companies is in the billions of dollars, yearly. Yes, there may come a time when it is common enough to be accepted as a form of treatment by the insurance industry, but I do not foresee that in the near future.

So once again, the world spins for rich people while the rest of us are stuck in ruts, and never ending holes of darkness. The inaccessibility for the average person to receive proper mental health care is astounding. What little hope I held, was ripped out of my hands by the sight of a mere dollar sign and the thought of my life improving dashed before my eyes as the darkness swooped back in with a smile.

The Unspoken Reason behind My Tattoos

tattoo for blog

I have always been a lover of tattoos. I got my first one when I was 20 and have not looked back since. I currently have 13 (and counting) pieces of body art, each one reflecting a beginning or an ending or something that is close to my heart; each one representing a piece of my life, or revealing a piece one of my many layers. There was a time when we glared and stared at those with tattoos; mainstream they certainly were not. People tended to judge a person for expressing themselves with body art, and were often forced to cover them in social situations; however, in the last few years tattoos have become so popular among so many cultures, sexes and ages that it is now considered to be socially acceptable to most.

People get tattooed for many different reasons and as I mentioned above, each one of my tattoos was done during various stages in my life and although they outwardly represent something, they also all have an inner meaning. My lotus, for example, reminds me of what beauty can grow in the mud. One of my quotes is a memorial quote for my mom. It is in Latin and translates to “until we meet again”. My elephants represent my bucket list and a spiritual connection I have with these magnificent creatures.

The one reason I have never discussed is that for me, tattoos are both a deterrent and a safe and productive way to self-harm. As someone who spent many years self-harming, I wore my visible scars without shame. I did not shy away from wearing a tank top because of the scars on my arms, and I did not get tattoos there to cover those scars. They were always a non-issue for me, funnily enough, more so than the ones that are not publicly visible. For some reason, I hold more shame in those. Of course the tattoos covered many of the scars on my arms, but now that I have them, and have attached meaning to them, I am almost guaranteed not to cut them. Not only did I spend money on them but I am proud of the actual artwork and simply do not want to ruin that. After all, I would not take a blade to a canvas on my wall, so why would I take one to my arm. Art is art.

People self-harm for a variety of reasons, most being related to underlying or ongoing trauma, but all resulting in wanting the same thing…a release; a distraction from that emotional pain, even if only for a minute. For me it was a way to release my anger without putting my fist through the wall. It was a self-punishment for all the things I have done wrong, or for the feelings I could not understand at the time. Physiologically, when you self-injure (or just get hurt) the body produces and releases endorphins, which mimic the effects of morphine, to counter the pain. This release gives a rush or a “high”, and one can become addicted to that feeling just as one can get addicted to drugs, gambling or  alcohol. Not only is the high addicting but the distraction is as well. It is a free few minutes where physical pain takes over emotional pain and you get the tiniest of breaks, but at least it is something.

If you have never had a tattoo, it can be quite painful, depending on the area of your body, and the length of the sitting. It is after all, a cluster of needles penetrating your skin repeatedly and rapidly in the same area. It forms a scab as any other wound does which lasts for a few weeks and when the healing is done, you are left with a reminder of why you got that particular piece of artwork, what it means to you as an individual.  For me, being tattooed not only fulfills my urges to self-harm but provides a marker of certain times, people and places. It is one of the only times where I cannot focus on my illnesses. Between the pain and the conversation with my artist, there is little room for my issues to surface. It gives me a few hours of painful peace, and as contradictory as that sounds, it is a welcome break from the thoughts in my head.

Silence is a Killer



As the numbers of deaths continue to rise at an exponential rate, it baffles me that we are still so afraid, so ashamed and embarrassed to talk about suicide. I don’t understand how the topic will trend on social media for a day or a week for World Suicide Prevention, and then suddenly, all is quiet again and the subject is swept under the carpet until the following year. How is something that is so prevalent in our society, and highlighted by the media, still not talked about within the schooling system, or even within the family? Here in Canada, we just legalized marijuana. Immediately, the government has spent countless millions on advertising to educate the masses on everything from the effects of marijuana to how to approach the subject with your children. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for the responsible usage of weed, however, the number of people that have died from using cannabis is so minimal it is hard to find statistics. Suicide, on the other hand, has statistics aplenty, yet never have I seen an advertisement on how to talk to your children about suicide, or even show the rising numbers in an attempt to bring public awareness. It is still so stigmatized, that most of society just closes their eyes and ears and pretends it doesn’t exist…until it affects them directly.

Somehow there are so many stigmas attached to one single word that as a society in general we think that if we don’t talk about it, it will never affect us, while at the same time believing that talking about it actually increases the incidents of suicide; neither is true. Try to apply that same analogy to a physical illness such as cancer and it sounds like a ridiculous concept. Avoiding and or talking about cancer has zero relevance to whether or not you acquire the disease, so why is suicide any different. We have to wake up and realize that depression, anxiety, bipolar or BPD, for examples, are not mental health issues or problems, they are brain diseases and even injuries, and sadly suicide is often used to escape the pain that these diseases cause. Even by using the term “committed suicide”, it sets the undertone for archaic thinking, whereas saying that someone had a brain disease and died by suicide adds a whole new perspective to things, one in which perhaps we can focus on the reasons for death and not concentrate solely on the method.

Where have we gone wrong educating our youth, and if it is not going to be a formal part of the education system then how do we, as a society reduce a stigma that is in itself perpetuated by the medical system.  At some point in time, most parents will have the dreaded sex talk with their kids, but how many will sit down and discuss suicide, and is that because we lack the education to do so, or simply because we have adopted the theory that speaking of it will instil ideas in our children. I have been suicidal nearly my entire life, and not once did someone else put the thought of acting on it in my head. For me, being suicidal is a symptom of my types of depression and just knowing that fact alone has saved my life countless times.

The people who know best are not the ones writing the textbooks or prescriptions but instead those of us who have survived. You simply cannot even begin to describe the intensity of emotion that drives one to killing themselves, unless you have been suicidal yourself. It would be like trying to describe what it is like to have cancer without actually having it. You may think you understand, you may try to understand, but it is impossible, regardless of how much you “educate” yourself on the subject. So maybe it is up to us, the survivors to teach the masses, not from a textbook but from lived experience. I know that sharing my struggles with suicide has led to more people reaching out than I ever could have imagined. I may not have the answers to their problems, I do however have the empathy necessary to make people feel validated and less alone, and empathy is not learned through any textbook, it is acquired through life experience.

I can’t save or help everyone, but the more I talk, the more others realize it is ok to do so. The more we survivors put ourselves out there, despite the fear of backlash and shame, the stronger we get and the number of lives we affect rises. If everyone talked about suicide with one friend, and those newly educated people tell one friend, sooner or later the stigma will have to be reduced. We, as a society cannot sit back and let these numbers increase. We must scream it from the rooftops as if our lives depend on it, because for many, it does. Silence is a killer.



Post-Outing Hangover



A few weeks ago, I took myself completely out of my comfort zone and attended a Mental Health event that was hosted by a good friend of mine. The speakers were all people I either knew or were familiar with and the 100 or so attendees were all people dealing with or supporting someone with mental health issues. The anxiety building up to the event worsened as each day approached, but somehow, I managed to pull myself together enough to leave my house and make the long trip by myself. I had arranged to meet a friend there, and basically paced up and down the hotel hallways until he and his daughter arrived. The deal was I would be left alone for as little time as possible in order to attempt to keep my social anxiety at bay, and they kindly made that happen for me.

As the night progressed and the speakers each went through their stories, my anxiety began to calm. It was almost a surreal feeling to be in a room, surrounded by people who all have similar thoughts, behaviours and illnesses. Aside from the soccer field, this environment was one where I actually felt like I fit in, and finally wasn’t the oddball in the room. As I listened to these people I admire, their stories resonated with me and I realized that in one way or another we were all connected. We had all come together to fight one thing, the horrendous stigma of mental health. I was even lucky enough to connect with a few twitter friends, in hopes of maybe developing a friendship outside of online social media.

All in all the night went well. I was able to take down my guard a bit, and remove part of my mask. It was the end of the night and the saying goodbye that immediately started to bring me down. I know I will see some of these people again, but having severe abandonment issues makes saying bye a very triggering and emotional moment. I pushed these feelings aside and tried to focus on all things I was grateful for that evening and made my way home, proud that I had the courage to go in the first place.

Waking up the next morning, it felt like a tsunami of emotions flooded me. It was as if the night before had been merely a dream and reality was not only slapping me in the face, but punching me in the gut as well. It was waking up back in that uncomfortable, self-deprecating mind of darkness, where the thoughts are so pervasive it takes all of my energy to stop myself from sinking to the bottom of the pit. The reality of knowing that the safety and security I felt among people was just for a few hours that night, and not something that is in anyway a part of my daily life. It is the fear of not feeling that way again. It is the thinking that I didn’t deserve to feel that way in the first place; the questioning of whether I let my guard down too much or if I showed too much behind my mask.

This phase, which I call “post-outing hangover”, completely nullified the emotions from the night before, and for me, this often happens in a matter of minutes. My brain reinforces all the negative talk that runs constantly through my mind, and before you know it I am digging myself out of yet another black hole. It is awful second guessing everything I said, did, or didn’t do, wondering what social behaviours were displayed properly, or if I was as transparent as I feel. I sometimes feel that because my mind is so full of self-hatred I believe that everyone can see the emotions I am feeling…as if they can see that I am depressed, or insecure, or as if I have projected those feelings onto them, thereby increasing my anxiety and sense of insecurity. It is a vicious cycle that I have yet to get a full grasp on.

I am pretty isolated right now, for a variety of reasons, so going out in itself is a task, never mind if it involves anyone outside my closest circle. The thought of going to an event or even a lunch date becomes a process of weighing the benefits of going versus the detriments of post-outing hangover. I have an event coming up in two weeks, and although I am fully committed to going, I will say, I am dreading the emotional letdown of the following day as I know it is coming, but I have yet to figure out how to stop it. So this time, I think I will try to shove down that anxiety and those insecurities and just enjoy the night. I am looking forward to this and am hoping that the more I go out, the easier it will become, and perhaps the following day I will be better equipped to handle the tsunami of emotions. I hope to sit with them, and then let them go and concentrate on the moments I enjoyed instead.

My Anti-Depressant Withdrawal in a Nutshell

pills for blog


I have always been leery of mental health medications. Between the advertisements and the paper insert with the three reasons it may work, and the 150 possible risks ranging from nausea and headaches to blurry vision, tremors and death. The true irony being the warning that anti-depressants can actually increase suicidal thoughts and actions…isn’t that why I am going on them in the first place? A friend of mine always reminds me that we must try anything possible if we truly want to get better, so despite my reluctance, I hopped on the medication bandwagon just over two years. I tried well over a dozen SSRI’s, SNRI’s Tricyclic’s, and mood stabilizers, both new and old school until we found something that seemed to be lessening some of my symptoms and so I stuck with that, finally comfortable with the side-effects. Well that lasted about six months and then my depressive symptoms came back in full force, so once again, off to search out the latest and greatest medication that will help me “recover”.

I don’t have a psychiatrist as I am on yet another year long waiting list, so both the introduction and maintenance of my meds are reliant on my family GP and myself…and I have found it not only helpful, but necessary to educate yourself as much as possible on what you are adding into your system. I went and requested to try Effexor as I had both heard and read that it has had positive effects on many people, at which point my family GP did point out that it is one of the hardest to come off of and will require a low and slow weaning process. I brushed it off thinking that is what they tell you with all anti-depressants anyway and that this could not be much different.

I started with the lowest dose at 37.5mg and slowly increased to 75mg and was not feeling much better, so knowing the minimum clinical dosage is 150mg I made the jump straight up. I figured since the drug had been in my system for a while that doubling the dosage would be fine, so I got a prescription and started the increase. I really didn’t notice much change at first, other than increased “brain fog”, a few more headaches and some nausea, all which I knew to expect thanks to the 10 page warning insert. I managed these side effects for the next few weeks until they just became part of my daily being.

About three months into the higher dosage, I felt my mood plummeting at a rapid rate and no matter what coping techniques I used, the deeper I sank. I found myself not only living in my usual passively suicidal set of mind, but also burdened with extremely active thoughts and plans. I know my moods well and felt that this was definitely enhanced by the medication increase. I also developed some digestion issues which required me to take a medication that has a bad reaction with Effexor, but it was highly recommended to me by the gastroenterologist to get on these new meds as soon as possible, which would require me dropping off Effexor a lot more quickly than recommended. Now I have dropped cold turkey off of cocaine and Benzos , so in my mind, it could not be worse than either of those had been, either physically or emotionally.

So, picking and choosing between my mental health and physical health, I dropped the Effexor from 150mg to 75mg. The first few days seemed manageable and then suddenly it felt like I was slapped in the face by an emotional brick wall. My emotions were bouncing by the minute, with no control and no direction. I could not stop crying, whether someone said something good or something bad, I was in tears. My suicidal ideation went from high to rampant and fit right in with the rapid cycling of my moods. I felt like the last piece of my rational mind was now gone, and my survival was based solely on instinct. These dangerous and pervasive thoughts would not leave my mind, be it day or night, and quickly became all-consuming. I wondered how I would survive without that tiny piece of rationality that has kept me going all these years. I kept reminding myself it was the withdrawal of the medication enhancing the thoughts and that did not mean I could act on them, despite my often impulsive behaviour.

So, I am now about 3 weeks through withdrawal and although a few others have noticed a decrease in the amount of mood swings, the intensity of them is so bad I fail to recognize anything good. My brain fog is starting to decrease slightly, but it still feels like my brain is on a spinning top, non-stop. I am still crying over nothing and everything and find myself angry and frustrated a lot of the time, with or without reason. My suicidal ideations have not ceased or even lessened, I do however, feel slightly less impulsive, like maybe a small part of my rational brain is coming back towards the surface.

I think I am struggling with the question of how I will know that the drug is out of my system completely. It has been a long time since I have only been on two medications and I frankly don’t remember what it feels like to be off them. My mood swings are often rapid and enhanced due to my BPD anyway so where lay the line drawn between the two. I realize it is just a matter of time and the withdrawal will be over but in the meantime, each hour seems like a day; each emotion feels like it is burning through my skin, each tear leaving a scar on my face. All I can do is hold on, and hope that these enhanced feelings are primarily from the withdrawal and that my BPD is not that far out of control again. I hope that the worst of it is over now and in the near future I may balance out again.

Please remember this is only my experience and each person will react individually to their medications and withdrawals. This has not changed my mind on the benefits of mental health medications, it has taught me the valuable lesson that weaning off slowly, when at all possible is definitely the safest way to go.



Looking for help with a media project

Hey there everyone, I hope this message finds you well. I need some help please…I have a media opportunity to meet one of my readers that has been helped by my writing, the article below specifically. I am looking for someone in NY or any of the surrounding states. If interested, please message me at @onelastkick71 on Twitter or  Thank you in advance for your assistance. Stay strong my friends. xxx




I Want You to Want to Live


SUICIDE….Catch your attention yet? It’s a shame if it didn’t because the actions most certainly will.

The rate of suicide is on the rise worldwide in all age categories. It affects all ethnicities, cultures and religions.

 It is bias free.

It is a last resort, a desperate attempt to quell the never ending and relentless pain that monopolizes your mind. It has become the only feasible way to rid yourself of the burdensome weight that has dragged you to this level of despair.

That is how I feel anyway, the countless number of times I have and do fall into the darkness, and because I can empathize, take a minute to read this letter to you.

Dear You.

If you are reading this there is a small piece of you that wants to hold on.

I am so proud of you for reaching out, even if you have done so without words. You have kindly given me a few minutes of your time, and I do appreciate that.

I want you to live.

I want you to want to live.

I won’t feed you some bullshit like it’s all going to be ok with time because it may not be, and it may not turn out as you wish, but you will never know if you don’t stick around to find out. I will instead tell you I am here with you and let’s take this a minute at a time.

I will remind you that although I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I will be by your side to find out.

You are so important.

I won’t make you feel selfish by telling you to stick around for your family or friends, because I know you feel that leaving would not only end your burden, but theirs as well.

I will tell you that someone loves you despite how you feel inside. I will remind you that you are not and never will be a burden. You may not see or even hear it, but your life is valued by someone out there; it is valued by me. I don’t know you, but I do care because I can empathize with your pain; I feel it myself.

You are incredibly strong.

I won’t ever tell you that you are being dramatic and don’t really want to die.

I will instead be here to listen and validate your feelings because they are as significant as you are.

I am so proud of you for still staying with me.

I won’t ever tell you things could be worse, or that other people have it worse than you and don’t want to die.

I will acknowledge your despair and lack of hope. I will never compare your pain to another’s. It would be like observing two gunshot wounds, one in the chest and one in the leg. Yes, it is worse to get shot in the chest, but it does not take away the pain of being shot in the leg.

You are beautiful.

I won’t use the old adage “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

I will say that your problems might not be temporary but I will be with you and help you to find a coping mechanism that works for you. I will tell you that suicide is simply not a solution.

I won’t shove the ideas of therapy or medication down your throat as that will not help at the moment.

I will ask some of the most important words of all “how can I help?” I will provide you with a suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255 or text the word “start” to 741-741.)

You are a warrior.

You are a survivor. Your track record of making it through trauma, heartbreak and devastation is 100%.  Despite the rocks life has thrown at you, you have emerged with scars and grit. You have proven those wrong who expected you not to make it, those who gave up on you long before you gave up on yourself.

You are amazing.

You have a purpose in this life, whether you realize it at this point or not. Your book has so many chapters to be written. You are needed, your voice and your story are essential for someone, be it a stranger or a friend.

You are your own hero. You have done what you think you cannot do. You have looked death in the face, stared it down and walked away having won another battle in your war.

If you are still reading this, I am incredibly proud of you for stopping what you were doing, and giving me a few moments of your precious time. Just reading this is the beginning…you have extended your arm, you just have to unclench your fist. I implore you to keep this conversation going, be it with a hotline, a friend or family member, or even me (@onelastkick71). You have taken the first step; let’s make it to the second together.

You are loved.







My Journey with Suicide…a book excerpt

I was eight years old the first time I tried to kill myself. I was already in an unbearable amount of emotional pain from being bounced around the foster care system, being physically and sexually abused, and neglected for the first 18 months of my life. Even after I was adopted I still found myself a target for sexual predators, so to continue down this path of sheer terror made no sense to me, even at such a young age. I lacked self-worth and had a shattered sense of being. I never actually felt like I belonged anywhere, no matter how hard I tried. I felt like a burden. I was full of shame and anger and never thought I could be loved the way I needed to. I did not think I was worthy of compassion, empathy or safety, for if I was, how could these acts of abuse keep happening. I thought it was me; something I was doing, wearing, or perhaps how I smiled or talked.

I took the bottle of pills because I had been warned several times not to touch them. My Mom had told me plenty of times they would make me very ill and could even kill me. It was difficult to get them all down and by the time I had, my body was rejecting them and I began throwing up. Skipping all the details in between, it ended with a trip to hospital, my stomach being pumped and an interview with a social worker explaining to my Mom that the incident must have been accidental, as no eight year old has a full grasp on the concept of death. It was my turn next, not to be cared for or empathized with, but to be lectured on the dangers of pills, and the importance of listening to my parents. This speech was followed by an informative ten minutes on death and its permanence, and all the people that would be “sad if you died”. He spoke to me like I was a normal, undamaged child; they all did. No one knew the underlying darkness running rampant through my mind.

The subject was never brought up again.

As the years continued so did the abuse and although I survived multiple abusers, I was left as a shell of a person; fragile and angry, confused and scared. The more frequently it happened, the further I pushed these memories and feelings to the back of my brain. I wanted to lock them in there and throw away the key. I had survived each time by dissociating so I felt nothing at all, and spent a number of years afterwards in the same frame of mind. I walked through life as a shadow. I did not feel happiness, or sadness, I just did not feel.

I was 13 when I had my second attempt. I fully understood death by then, having had experienced the loss of my grandfather, which reinforced the permanence of the situation. I felt so alone. There was no one I could go to. The domestic abuse kept my mom in a state of depression and I felt like an unwanted burden. To me, there was no one who would miss me. I did not belong here or anywhere, so I cemented my plan for an exit. Within 12 hours, my stomach had been pumped, my wrists bandaged and I was on my way home with my Mom. There was no disguising this had not been accidental, so instead they labelled it as attention seeking. I was deemed to be irresponsible, untrustworthy and  told if I kept crying for attention in that manner, one day, when I actually needed someone, no one would help because I had “cried wolf” one too many times.

I was shipped off to therapy this time, in an attempt to find the underlying root of my attempt, or so I thought. It lasted six sessions. I was informed I was uncooperative for not talking much and that my childish attempt to scream for attention was exactly as it sounded a cry for attention done in an inappropriate and irresponsible manner. “Normal children don’t act out their behaviours, they use their words” he commented, emphasizing that my actions were not normal, which I took as I was not normal. Words stick at such a young age, if only they knew that words leave a psychological scar that lasts much longer than a bruise. The berating only forced me deeper into my shell, until the point where I simply refused to speak which caused an enormous level of frustration and tension. After a brief conversation with my Mom he deemed I was not suitable for therapy, and with that, I never returned, but six hours with him had left me further traumatized, insecure and introverted.

Later that year, when I was still 13, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and so that became the focus of the following six years until she finally lost her battle. It was pointed out to me on more than one occasion that her being sick was primarily my fault from all the stress I had caused her over the years. Ironic, given that my Dad, the one who made domestic violence a part of my life for eight years, was the one reiterating those words. At that point, there was no way I was going to tell my Mom anything that could cause her further stress, so the abuse, the suicidal thoughts were further repressed in order to survive what was happening in the present. I tried to carry on normal activities with faked enthusiasm, all the while wishing it was me dying and not my Mom. To this very day it is still haunts me, and I find myself often triggered by the death of youth, knowing there are so many people wishing to die, that would trade their lives in an instant, myself included.

The years immediately following my Mom’s death, I lived two lives. One revolved around schooling, soccer and partying, where I was outgoing, somewhat confidant, and I had friends. Having no fear of death, I drove fast, partied recklessly, engaged in whatever drug was the latest fad ,and simply put, I had not a care in the world if I died doing any of these things. That way, people wouldn’t be upset for me getting into an accident the way they would if I ended my life. The other life revolved around the constant thoughts of suicide that ran through my head as routine as any other thoughts on a normal day. The time alone, the down time, was what was killing me. The past, the regrets, being unable to save my Mom, all of these things sent my mind spiralling down into the depths of darkness. I had many plans on how to end my life, things that would work now that I was an adult, but something held me back, and I plodded along, doing my best to keep the darkness at bay.

The years passed and I continued to work and play soccer but now, most of my energy was spent on an internal war. I fought to stay in the light, but the memories, feelings and behaviours all brought me down that dark tunnel. It seemed unavoidable; you can only repress things for so long before they claw themselves free and dig a way to the front of your mind. I tried an anti-depressant for the first time but came off after six months as I felt like a zombie; sure I may have been able to function without getting emotional but that is because I felt no emotion, nothing good, nothing bad, just blank. I decided to try talk therapy and made my way through more than a handful of social workers, psychotherapists, psychologist and psychiatrists and just could not find anyone I felt safe enough to open up to, so after a few years of bouncing between therapists, I decided to call it quits. I wasn’t feeling any better anyway, and was spending money left, right and center, to wake up still wanting to die.

As the years passed, the depression and anxiety continued to build, filling my mind with the thoughts that I am not worthy of a life, that the pain would never end and things would never change. The lies our mental illnesses tell become truths in our minds which then becomes the truth in our reality and I fully believed every single one. I was convinced that since nothing had improved over the years that the only way to lessen the pain was to eliminate it completely, even if that meant eliminating myself. I told no one of my plan. It would be precise and I would not fail again, I couldn’t face the shame if I did. I got the supplies I needed, wrote the necessary notes and chose a date. The sense of relief was enormous; just knowing that in a few hours I would finally be at peace lifted a weight off my shoulders and for the first time, I felt free. I felt in control of my life for once. The nightmares from the past would finally be put to rest. I spoke to no one that day. I made no attempts to reach out; I simply went about the day normally, knowing that the time had finally come.

I awoke a few hours later, having had thrown up, and covered in the remnants of drywall and dust. The piece of wood was snapped in half, one piece on my thigh, the other to the side of me. The hook remained intact and as I inspected it I noticed the inside was near rotten. It had held my weight during the test phase but snapped under the pressure of the actual event. I did not know whether to laugh or cry, so I did a bit of both. It was about an hour before I willed myself to get up. I could not actually believe this had happened. I thought I had every aspect, every scenario covered but obviously not. Ironically having felt not wanted my whole life, here I was, giving up, and death didn’t want me either. I brushed off my clothes, lay on my bed and passed out for almost 18 hours. When I awoke, I thought perhaps the whole thing was a dream but I was again astonished by the mess that lay before me and the rope burn on my neck. I felt like a failure, after all, what kind of loser fails at three major suicide attempts. I decided this would be a secret that I would take to the grave with me. I was far too embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone. I cleaned up the mess, and spent the next few days in bed sleeping off the pill hangover, allowing the bruising on my neck to start to fade.

I vowed to never tell a soul and pretend this incident didn’t occur, and along with everything else, I shoved it in the back of my mind, under lock and key.

The next few years the depression worsened. I lost interest in almost everything that had previously given me pleasure, I lost a lot of friends and I did not live life, I merely existed, floating through the days in a fog. I could not feel happy; I felt either numb or deeply depressed and the internal battles in my head drained me more and more each day. My thoughts of suicide went from passive to active, and I once again actively started to plan my death.

I had my breakdown three years ago. I took a few weeks off work to rest and heal, which led to a day trip to hospital, where I was deemed to be “not an immediate suicidal threat” and would not be held. I was seen by a psychiatrist, diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Dysthymia, given some medication and was booted out the door. My head was spinning and my thoughts worse than before I went in. I went home completely overwhelmed and yet again started to plan my exit. These diagnoses seemed like a death sentence to me, and I felt I could no longer endure a life like this.

My therapist helped me through the crises periods and knowing that I enjoyed writing, suggested I start a blog anonymously where I could tell events and chapters of my story, which may not only help me get those locked up things out but also may help connect with others. I was hesitant at first, worried about the reactions of others; worried about not writing well enough to share on a public forum. My first blog was a pretty brief and basic introduction to me and my past, and surprisingly enough, not only did it get read, but it also received comments which were actually positive and supportive. This inspired me to write another, which prompted the next, and so on. The support I was receiving from the mental health community was astonishing to me; complete strangers reaching out to offer their support and understanding without judgement.

It was a particularly dark night and thoughts of suicide were running rampant through my mind. I had gotten adjusted to using a crisis line, but found that the words I heard each time sounded so scripted. They were not true words of compassion or empathy, and they certainly were not the words I needed to hear at the time. Feeling frustrated, alone and misunderstood, I decided to write, however, instead of venting my frustrations on paper, I decided to turn it around. What would I need when I am suicidal that I am not getting from crisis lines or anyone else? What words would resonate with me at such a desperate time. I know I didn’t want to hear the routine speech on how things will get better, or that this situation is only temporary. I did not want any more numbers to call, or to be told to go to my local ER. I did not want to hear falsities and untruths. I wanted someone to be real with me, someone who could empathize, or at the very least sympathize with how it feels to truly be at the end of your rope.

I sat in the darkness of my room, grabbed my laptop and began to write. I wrote as if I was writing to someone directly; someone who may be at the very edge I have been so many times. I wrote the words I longed to hear for so many years but failed to find. I did not tell them that things are going to be ok, because I don’t know if they are. I did not use the old adage “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”; I cannot guarantee you that these problems will go away. I didn’t label them as attention seekers or take their threats of death with a grain of salt.

I asked what is perhaps the most important question…how can I help? Or what do you need from me at this moment? I reminded them that they are strong and brave for making it this far, and that their problems may not go away but that they will grow stronger and be better able to cope with them. I told them that regardless of the fact that they can’t see it, there is an exit to the dark tunnel they are lost in. I ask them what it is that has kept them alive this long and remind them to hold tightly on to that. I told them they are understood, that their pain is valid, and most importantly that they are not alone. I am candid and frank because those are the truths I would want to hear at my most desperate moments. I wanted to feel like I wasn’t alone, and that what I was feeling was justified and understood by another who had gone through the same thing. It was so important for me to not feel judged for my thoughts, but instead have someone sympathize. I published it on my blog, including my Twitter handle and also sent to an online Mental Health Magazine, and went to bed, feeling a bit better and a lot safer.

Within a few days, the article was published on the site I sent it to, and I felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that my words would now reach a wider audience and could potentially affect a greater number of people. Within a day I had 20 messages in my inbox. The next few days I was inundated with emails from people saying thank you; saying that they felt understood and heard for the first time ever. I figured I was getting this response as the article was relatively new, but over two years later I have received over 800 messages, and they still continue to flow in. I was astonished, and still am, that so many people have read this article it is a top search on Google. The number of brave people reaching out to tell me their story or to thank me for telling me is an absolute honour. To know that the pain from my darkest times was finally channelled into something positive touches my heart and soul. To have my words comfort others the way I wanted someone to do for me gave me a sense of purpose. I continue to advocate for zero suicide and have and will continue to respond personally to every message, in the hopes of being a small light during the dark times. When you reach out a hand, someone will take it. You are never alone.






The Stigma of Mental Health

The statistics are eye opening.  One in three girls and one in six boys will experience some form of severe trauma during their childhood which, in most cases,  may be the precursor to the one in three that will be affected by mental illness. There was a time, not too long ago, when not only was it uncommon to know anyone dealing with a mental illness but it certainly would never happen to you, or anyone in your family. Anything mental health related was not only swept under the carpet, but pushed down the stairs and locked in the basement, and the problem with that is, it always seems to sneak back up to the main level.  The stigma and bias against those with a mental illness has always been, and despite all the progress we have made in many areas of humanity, becoming less judgmental and more empathetic have never been at the forefront.

I would like to say that I am not a statistic, but I am one of the one in three.  I experienced multiple traumas throughout my childhood which opened the doors to a variety of mental illness diagnoses. I was told as a child that my feelings of being down were merely a part of growing up, and that is just the way some children were. The doctors and my parents both attributed it to the abuse I incurred pre-adoption, although at the time the details were somewhat unknown and basically said the past is the past, so leave it there and move on. So I did. I buried my past traumas as deep as possible, continued to downplay the present ones, and despite two suicide attempts, I continued on, attempting to fake any sense of normalcy. This pattern continued through my teenage years and was greatly exacerbated by the death of my mom when I was 19, and when I buried her, I also buried the trauma that came with her death. I survived through my twenties and into my thirties before having another suicide attempt and finally being officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but as with the rest of my life, I fell into the old habits and survival techniques which had kept me alive thus far.

I managed to keep a roof over my head and although I cycled through quite a few, I always managed to have a job. I was active in soccer and had a social life with a pretty good circle of friends until my late thirties when slowly my depression started to take over. It slowly sucked my energy, my confidence and my social life down the drain. I felt little pleasure in the activities that used to keep me going, and I lost interest in life. Just trying to stay alive became a daily battle. The judgment rolled in and friends started to slowly dissipate as my depression took ahold of my life. I finally reached my breaking point about 18 months ago, lost my job and took a trip to the hospital to reach out for some help. I was refused admittance as I was not “enough of a threat” to myself or others, but they did put me in touch with a psychiatrist who then diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder and Dysthymia to add to my depression and anxiety. Although I am not generally into putting labels onto people, in this case I found my diagnosis to be quite a relief. It provided not only an explanation to many of my behaviors but a sense that perhaps I was not alone in my battles.

I thought maybe my diagnosis might be a relief for others as well, those who had to deal with my rapid and intense mood swings but the more I shared the news, the less my phone rang and the texts became fewer and further in between and within six months, I had lost my job, and all but a few friends. My family had already outcast me years ago, labeling me as troubled and once again, I found myself feeling so alone I could not rationalize a reason to go on. I wondered if I had instead been diagnosed with a physical ailment, would I have been judged or would I have had to face the same discrimination and bias. Sadly, the answer is no. Physical illnesses are socially acceptable and often come with a level of empathy, whereas mental illnesses are still treated like they are taboo, and if we just ignore them for long enough, perhaps they will simply go away. Unfortunately, that will never happen and with the rapidly increasing numbers of diagnosis, it seems society will have to finally deal with the reality that no one is immune. Just like cancer, mental illnesses have no discrimination or bias on who they affect. There is no culture, no religion, no gender or amount of money and fame that provides protection from mental illness. So think twice before you discriminate or walk away from someone who is affected, because chances are it will affect you, a friend or family member and the more open we are to acceptance the less we will judge.





The Safety of my Comfort Zone

comfort zone sign

What is comfort? According to any dictionary, it, amongst other definitions, is a state of ease and satisfaction; a feeling of relief or consolation. It is that place where we feel safe and most soothed, one that is perhaps hard to describe to others but you know what it is and what brings you there. Is it a state of mind; a place, a thing or perhaps all three? It is completely individualistic and among the billions of people on this planet, no two states of comfort will be exactly the same. For me it is all three. There is that comfort zone in my mind in which I can retreat to in times of need; there are the calming sights, sounds and scents I get from being anywhere around water, and there is that favorite old hoody which, after all these years, has more holes than material.

I like my comfort zone.  I like its familiar sounds, scents and sights. I like that it envelops me with that same sense of coziness as my favorite old sweatshirt or torn jeans. I like that it provides a sense of safety by building a wall which guards watch over incessantly, protecting me from others and myself. It is the one thing I feel I have control over, even though I know full well that it is fear that actually keeps me within its protective confines. It is often the only place I can find relief from my afflictions, and some sense of solace.

Remaining in this place of contentment has its advantages. Since I feel I have some semblance of control here, I can convince myself that it is the only place of refuge to seek shelter from the mental storm that is my mind. I can persuade my thoughts to believe that this isolation that feeds my fear is the only way to stay safe; the only way to remain protected from both people and the threats of everyday life, and allows me to safely function within the little sheltered world I have created for myself. It allows me to survive, but fails to let me thrive.

Stepping out of my comfort zone brings forward a number of powerful emotions, with fear leading the charge, followed closely by toxic shame and self-criticism. It is the place where the “what if’s” kick in and my inner critic takes over in a twisted effort to protect me from what could happen outside of this shell I have so carefully constructed. After all, I could try something and fail miserably or I could risk putting myself out there and getting hurt again. With the possibility of danger looming at every corner, red flags get raised in my mind and make me want to retreat back into the safety of my comfort zone. This, however, does not allow for the true experiences of life’s pleasures, for as much as it protects me from harm, does it also protect me from good. Putting myself out there requires me to be vulnerable which, is an uncomfortable state for most people, not just me.

Life sometimes presents itself with an opportunity or two that are too good to pass on, and regardless of my fears and insecurities I have taken the chance. I have put myself intentionally into a situation in which I could very well fail; a situation that requires not only a step out of my comfort zone but a leap. I have weighed the benefits versus the negatives and although in my mind, they balance out quite evenly, I am now “out there”, at full risk, in the hopes that this journey will not only help my healing but others as well. I am taking classes online to become a Trauma Recovery Coach, and although I feel a bit out of my league as compared to my classmates, I hope that this could be the opportunity I have been waiting for; perhaps even the reason I have survived this long. It has been years since I have had the opportunity to further my education and perhaps this road could lead to that sense of meaningfulness that I have been searching for my whole life and although I am terrified and second guess my every decision, I have chosen to stick with it, no matter how quickly the road may become unpaved and bumpy. At least now, I am driving the car.

The Emotional Paralysis of my Dissociation


I have a large compass tattooed on my shoulder and I still feel lost and overwhelmed.  I have no sense of direction and no map to point out if I am heading the right way, or if I am wandering further into oblivion. I have looked inside and outside for the answers, or at the very least for some guidance but I still find myself waking up questioning not only who I am, but why I am here. What were the reasons I survived three suicide attempts, it couldn’t be luck for all of them could it? What am I supposed to be doing in this life that I have been given a third chance at?  It certainly has got to be more than spending my days fighting my illnesses and my nights wondering what could have been. It has got to contain more than just struggle and strife; more than just years of trying to heal. When is that elusive day when I will go from surviving to thriving, or will I ever even get there. Is there a place where my emotional and rational brains both work at the same time and my future path will finally show me my direction.

I have trouble staying present in the moment. As with so many survivors the past not only haunts me, but it has interwoven itself through my thoughts and emotions, distorting every view point I have and interfering with every relationship I have. I have a hard time discerning that the same traumas that have been a reoccurrence for so many years of my life are not going to repeat themselves. The terrifying feeling of being repeatedly abandoned as a child, resurface every time a trigger presents itself, and my automatic reaction is that of an angry child with the same feelings of being lost, helpless and unprotected yet again.  I can’t help but think that trauma is going to occur again and either lash out or go numb as my form of protection.

Lashing out as an adult with a screaming, angry toddler trapped inside you does nothing but cause harm to yourself and those around you. There is no functioning between my rational brain and my emotive brain and the emotions take over and become vocalized in an extremely negative way. My other habit is numbing, or dissociating, which I have been stuck in for a while now. Dissociation for me is like being a visitor in my own body, and an outsider in my own mind. It is like watching a video of me going through the motions and actions of each day, without actually feeling through the emotions, like being an observer. I manage to “function” through the day but feel little attachment to what is actually going on; paying little attention to my surroundings.  I generally spend my time between hyper and hypo vigilance but dissociating doesn’t allow me to bounce around like that. Instead, it literally mutes my feelings. It doesn’t allow me to sink to the bottom levels of being actively suicidal, but at the same time it does not grant me the ability to feel pleasure.

Dissociation numbs my creativity and my sense of self and fills me with self-doubt. It has taken me weeks to put words to paper and even as I type I question the validity of my writing itself. I question the relevance of what I am saying and how it is being worded. I worry about it not being good enough, not keeping up to the level I have set for myself. Being numb does not allow me to write from my deepest emotions. It does not enable me to be raw and vulnerable; it does not allow me to be.  It takes any sense of direction I had and fills it with questions and negativities from an un-emotional, yet not quite rational perspective. It protected me when I was overwhelmed as a child, and it is once again doing its job, even though the same danger is not there. I am not a weak child anymore; I am an adult who has resources and strengths I did not possess then. I am no longer a victim and even though I don’t know what path is mine to travel, as long as I am journeying forward I’m heading in the right direction, and perhaps with some guidance I will eventually find my way.


Lost In the Darkness of the Jungle


dark jungle


They say that without darkness there is no light, yet I see not even a glimmer of light right now, like it has dissipated into tiny particles and scattered into obscurity, leaving me surrounded in a blanket of gloom.  I feel like I have been dropped off in to the depths of the jungle with no flashlight or compass, nor the light of the stars to guide me, with a deadline to somehow make my way out and back to a place where the light shines again. It feels like every step I take is through the thickest bush lined with vines of thorns and branches of spikes. I glance up hoping for even a glimmer of light to help light my trail but the density of the leaves form an umbrella of shade. I start a climb uphill only to have the earth give away under my feet. I have no sense of direction and feel like I have been wandering the same path in circles, or perhaps just always heading the wrong way, yet I keep walking.

I feel lost. Lost in every possible way; lost to the point that even if I was handed a map, I am not sure I could find my way out. Maybe I have been lost in this darkness for so long it has become my comfort. Perhaps a part of me doesn’t want to find a way out, not because it is easier to stay but because it is what is familiar to me and the unknown is frightening. Maybe there is an invisible string that pulls me back every time I follow that flash of light because I have unfinished business here. It might even be that I have convinced myself that without light I will finally succumb to the darkness, in which somewhere lays the only peace I can see. Why do the answers come so much easier in the shadows than in the light?

I am grasping for hope. Grasping on to anyone or anything that can help to fuel the reserve in my empty tank; probing for any reason, any purpose to continue this trek. I have looked and pulled from within for so long there is very little self-reliance left.  There is no unlimited stockpile of strength hidden somewhere deep within. There are not enough learned behavioral techniques in my mind to overcome the ingrained negativities that keep drawing me back into the darkness. I clutch on to anything I can…words, pictures, memories…anything that can provide a hint of this elusive thing called hope. I rely on my empathy for others to encourage myself to continue on this journey, after all, I may want out of the jungle but I certainly am not willing to drag someone in there with me to accomplish that.

I am afraid. Afraid that perhaps this jungle is actually my home; that there is no beaten path for me to follow or make to find my way home, and that the darkness is actually where I belong. I am afraid that no matter how hard I try or how far I travel that I may never find that glimpse of light, that smidgen of hope that is bright enough or strong enough to guide my way. I am scared of looking up to the jungle always covering the night skies, fearful to look forward because I can’t see far enough through the thick brush to see my hand in front of my face, and looking behind me all I see are the trails of cuts and bruises that have gotten me to this point. I am afraid that my thoughts are far too at home in this place and that the darkness has always felt comfortable for me and perhaps the needle on my compass is just pointed here.

I can’t at this point even say why I continue to walk this unlit, beaten track, or why I continue to plod through the mud and stumble over the uneven ground. I don’t know why I insist in looking up in the hopes that there is a crack in the canopy where just enough light will peek through to at least point me in the right direction when time and again, the blackness is all encompassing. I stumble forward, unguided, trip over broken branches and fall right back to the place where I started, yet despite the mud weighing me down, regardless of the cuts and bruises incurred with each fall, I continue to rise. I somehow manage to stand back up time and again, after losing my bearings, and keep searching for this seemingly elusive path of light.




What Depression Exhaustion Feels Like

blog im tired


At some point, all people get tired. Sometimes it is a physically tired body that is run down and overworked and requires some rest to heal itself, other times it is an overwhelmed mind that needs some rest to clear out and organize thoughts. Often it’s a combination of both that drives us to exhaustion and forces us to slow it down a bit, and take some time to rest. There’s that tired where you can’t stop yawning, the one that nothing will cure but a good night’s sleep, and there’s a tired from actually sleeping too much, and then there is a tired that comes with depression and other mental illnesses. That feeling of being tired from dealing with a mental health issue is difficult to explain to someone who has never felt that.

 It is not something you can empathize or sympathize with, because in your mind there is no reason I should be so exhausted. After all, I am off work right now and have no set agenda, so much of my day is spent “resting”, therefore how could I be so tired. You might even be thinking that if I got off my ass and started doing more during the day or perhaps even did some exercise, that might alleviate the feeling of being so wiped out. Perhaps a routine during the day or a more regular sleep schedule would solve the problem, or maybe add a nap. You mean well with your suggestions and ideas and I appreciate the effort, but this kind of tired can’t be solved by any of the above.

This type of tired is like a constant state of exhaustion that riddles your body from head to toe. It is not a have a few cups of coffee and perk up kind of tired. It starts from the mental exhaustion that is from the daily wars that you fight inside your head from whatever mental health issue you are battling. It affects your emotions causing hypersensitivity to complete numbness and running the emotional gamut in between and having to constantly explain or justify it, believe it or not, is, in itself tiring. This type of tired makes you feel weak and vulnerable whether it is a reality or not. It makes every decision ten times harder to make and often means not being able to think clearly and focus or forgetting the simple things that before, you would have remembered.

For me, depression tired means my legs ache and every step feels like I am carrying a ball and chain, leaving me to wonder how I could possibly get from point A to point B. This fatigue creeps up my body sitting heavily in my stomach and tying it in knots before working its way up, making my neck and shoulders ache to the point of not wanting to lift my arms or hold my head up. The thoughts in my mind are rapid and unrelenting and my brain is tired from trying to slow them down, and in some way organize and process them. It means spontaneously bursting into tears for no apparent reason with no apparent trigger. It means feeling tired when I wake no matter what the quality and quantity of sleep is. It means having to summons strength from somewhere within my already drained body to get basic things done leaving me at a point of exhaustion that simply cannot be described.

My soul is tired.

I don’t expect to ever be my old self again but I would like to have some energy back. Depression has drained enough from me already.





The Emotional Vulnerability of Love for a Borderline




Relationships in the best of circumstances are tricky waters to navigate. They require not a captain and a first mate, but two co-captains, who are not only plotting out a similar course but are willing to stick together when the tides change your direction. Surviving childhood sexual abuse leaves emotional scars that twist your views and feelings on life and relationships, and the after effects tend to weave their way into various areas of your life, often on a subconscious level. One of the main attributes of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) aside from the intense fear of abandonment is a pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships. For me, the combination of the two is like being a one eyed captain trying to navigate the seas on a raft, with no compass and a map in Latin. In dealing with both of these things I had to self-protect in order to survive and my coping mechanisms involved shutting down amongst many things, trust and love.

That being said, living behind that wall of safety also limits both our life experiences and the corresponding emotions. We miss out on a lot because we are lacking in confidence, and remaining behind our wall in our comfort zone is a lot easier than facing the unknown fears outside. In my mind, it is a matter of weighing out risk versus reward. Is the risk worth the (in my mind) inevitable pain that will come at some point? I also tend to compare if this impending pain could be worse than something I have already been through, again trying to measure out the risk, and when emotionally rational, I realize there is very little in life that could traumatize me any more than has already occurred. Now don’t get me wrong, that by no means implies that I have broken down my wall and jumped head first into my fears. It is more of a case of taking down a few bricks at a time, enough to sneak out, but leaving those bricks within arm’s reach in case we need to rebuild in a hurry.

Being a survivor, I carry with me a sense of shame, a lack of trust and self-worth, and the constant feeling of being a burden. I have major attachment issues already, which are severely increased in intensity with BPD, and the combination of those plus the depression and anxiety leaves me feeling almost unworthy of a relationship. How could I burden someone with my baggage and complexities without feeling guilty, or expect someone to put up with the frequent and extreme mood swings that come with BPD. If I feel all these negative things about myself, how could they not be clear and apparent to someone else, or is it me projecting my thoughts onto somebody else? Do I even know how to love properly, or can I trust enough to let someone pass through the door in my wall? Am I just too messed up to be loved? All those things have run through my mind so often, and for so long they have become true to my emotive mind, and so I deem myself unworthy of a relationship, and by convincing myself of this it becomes my reality, and it is shoved to the back of my mind as a truth that no longer needs dealt with, after all, there are more pressing issues to deal with at the moment.

Life tends to throw things our way at the most unexpected times. It happens often in therapy, where you think you have done the work to get past an issue, and boom, there it is in your face again, and all you can hope is to put some of the new coping mechanisms into action before the innate instincts of self-protectiveness so quickly take over. So after having spent the last few years convincing myself I would be alone for life, suddenly someone walks right on in. At first, I don’t take anyone’s interest in me seriously because I can be a convincing outside package but when they find out the truth about my emotional instability and the traumatic past, they don’t stick around anyway. In the past, I have tried to hide it, but one can only mask their true identity for so long, so this time I decided I would just get it over with up front…part of the basics “I love soccer, animals, ice cream, and I am diagnosed with more mental health issues that you can count on one hand”. After my spew, I put my phone down, fully expecting that like everyone else, that would raise enough red flags to have her running in the opposite direction, instead, the conversation continues. She starts asking questions about the BPD, and every answer I give her comes with no reply of shock or judgment. The longer we talk, the more she asks and although she may not understand everything, she seems to be accepting it, which is amazing, but also sets off my BPD abandonment issue; the closer they get, the more it will hurt when they leave. It also raises red flags with the survivor part of me that has yet to develop a proper sense of self-worth. So as the days pass, some of my past comes out and again it is met with understanding and empathy rather than intolerance and apathy, which brings both a sense of ease and fear to the table. Ease because the comfort level has almost a sense of familiarity to it…like you have known each other for years and the fear because the closeness is completely overwhelming. Taking a few bricks out of my wall was the plan, but now there’s a full door, someone standing at it, and not leaving.

I would like to say after all the therapies, workbooks and readings that I employed all my acquired and practiced coping mechanisms and I am dealing with the situation in a rational manner and a level sense of emotion, but that would be untrue. Instinct and BPD took over in full force and although I tried to fight it, it carries the same comfort and familiarity as that favorite old sweatshirt you just can’t yet let go of. So BPD has this fabulous quality that in essence makes you test people as a child would test their parents, almost a form of “go away you are too close” to “please don’t leave me”, and with everything else BPD related, these emotions can bounce around five times a day or 100 times a day, with almost incalculable speeds. So I push her away, thinking every time will be the last and she stays, so I pull her closer, and the cycle repeats. I discount the positive things she says about me and she patiently reinforces them, without hesitation. BPD also includes this fantastic trait of impulsivity, which for me, is primarily verbal, and when my words precede my thoughts, she doesn’t get angry, but quietly listens and asks to learn more about BPD and depression. I figure if I tell her about the suicide attempts and constant thoughts as well as the history of cutting, that will be her breaking point, and she will definitely leave, but instead, says she is sorry I had to go through all that, and allows me to express the ideations at my darkest moments, without fear of judgment. My mind is spinning…this is not how life works for me.

Fast forward to today and even with countless number of tests, the rounds of verbal impulsivity and the rest of the issues that come with my mental illnesses, she remains, and despite the inconvenient circumstances which I will not get into, she makes sure I wake up to a morning text, and go to sleep with a sweet goodnight. Despite the physical distance and her hectic schedule, she makes an effort to spend time with me and is always willing to provide an ear to listen or kind words of support. I have only ever had this depth of relationship once before, many years ago, and she remains my best friend to this day, and always. I am trying again to learn to accept love, to believe I am worthy of it and to grasp the idea that someone sees not what I think of myself, but the things I can no longer see, and as much as the BPD is screaming at me to push and pull, I am trying to recognize when my emotive mind has taken over so perhaps I can control the impulses a bit better.

This is a big risk for me, letting someone get this close, allowing vulnerability and trust all while trying to put a muffle on the BPD which is screaming about fear of being left, yet again. That being said, being a minimizer I convince myself that the possible impending hurt of being left can’t be worse than the other traumas I have endured to this point in my life. My instincts (my gut feeling) have kept me alive this long and if they are saying take a chance, then I follow that path. After all, the heart truly is a remarkably resilient organ.

I hope she knows how appreciated and cared for she is, and how thankful I am for her support, patience and understanding, and for choosing me and following me down this often dark and unpaved road with me, when she easily could have exited and taken the highway.












The Tyrannical Voice of My Anxiety


Anxiety is depression’s evil twin; where one can be found, the other lurks nearby. They work as a team, pairing up to make your path of healing follow longer, unpaved roads.  Imagine yourself sinking in sand; the depression is the sand that is holding you down, the anxiety is piling more on top to make sure you stay there. There is nothing to grab onto to pull you up, and no matter how hard you fight you end up buried.

Anxiety is an emotion that most people will feel at least once in their lives. For some, this anxiety is situational and when the trauma or loss has healed, the anxiety is either lessened or gone.  For me and many other people, that same anxiety is not only heightened but prolonged, and does not always need a “situation” for it to occur.

Anxiety has its own unique voice in my head which causes added stress and worry. It makes me overthink every moment of every day. It makes me question not only all the things I have done in the past but all the things I am doing now, and plan to do in the future.  Anxiety causes me to doubt the simplest of decisions, and often prevents me from making any in the first place. It takes a normal situation like a resolved argument with a friend or family member, and forces me to question if it is really resolved or not. Something like a text not being answered in an “appropriate” time frame can blow my feelings disproportionately out of control. Imagine walking by a group of strangers that are laughing and your first instinct is not that someone must have said something funny, but that they must be laughing at you. That is what anxiety can do

The scale of anxiety ranges from a rapid heartbeat and tightness in your chest to a full blown, debilitating panic attack. I would like to say mine is somewhere in the middle, however it is exacerbated by my BPD which slides me up the scale a bit. There is no chilling out, or relaxing or even calming down, and telling me to do so is definitely an unwelcome idea.

Anxiety makes me think poorly of myself. It makes me think I am unwanted and unloved and reminds me constantly of the life I had “before” my illness. It makes me wonder if I am good enough to have friends and what they and everyone else thinks of me. It makes me afraid and nervous to attempt anything out of my comfort zone, with the dreaded fear of failure looming. It sometimes feels like the world is closing in on me, and there is nowhere for me to escape. It can be emotionally draining, frustrating and exhausting.

The stigma surrounding anxiety is not conducive to healing. The comments… “Just cheer up”, “it’s all in your head” or “life’s too short to be sad and afraid”, all may be said with good intentions, but are the last things I want to hear. Do you not think that if I, or anyone for that matter, could “just cheer up”, we would do so as there is no enjoyment in anxiety? There is no pleasure in keeping quiet in a conversation because I am afraid my words will be judged. There is no fun in the fear that is felt when I am put in the spotlight or made the center of attention. The worst part about this relentless source of negativity and doubt is that rationally you know it is lying but you just can’t quell the voice.