Mental Health, Mental Health Advocate, PTSD, Recovery, Single Mother, Uncategorized

Good Memories, Bad Memories

This morning was a good morning. We had my freshly baked sourdough bread, we were dressed and teeth brushed on time, and we even left the apartment with a few minutes to spare… until we actually got to the bus stop and I realized I forgot my phone. I had no time to even complain. I just scooped Myles up and ran the half-block back to our apartment and up the five flights of stairs.

“Oh no, mommy’s phone!” Myles repeats with gasps of breath as if he was the one running around with a 30lb toddler! I couldn’t help but laugh, and ask him why he was so out of of breath. He laughs along with me, and amazingly somehow we make it to the bus stop just in time. Who needs a workout regiment when you’ve got a toddler and a never ending list of things you’ve forgotten? My face was flushed, and I was gasping for breath, but we made it!

With Myles dropped off at daycare I head over to grab my mother’s car to take to my doctor’s appointment. I had a few hours to spare, so I decided to make use of a gift card I had floating around since Christmas to purchase some pants that weren’t of the yoga variety or tights. It was an extra boost of self-confidence when I found I had dropped two sizes. I also did some shopping for some new glasses. A task that always daunts me. Too many options, and it’s a major investment. I like the pair I picked today, but I still think my original pair will be the ones I go with.

Having spent a good couple hours at the mall, it was time to go to my doctor’s appointment. Here I have to take a sidebar. Do you have memories you love and cherish? Even if they are packed with heartbreak or shame? Lately someone has been on my mind quite a bit. I had thought I could pull up the memories, relish in the glow for a few moments, and then tuck it away. Seeing as I am far more in tune with myself, I thought I had accepted that it was the feelings that I had experienced at that time that were impactful, moreso than the person that came along with them. I’m a different person, and it’s doubtful I would still even have those feelings for the actual man if we were to meet these days. A couple days have gone by from when I had that thought, and it’s obvious I was fooling myself. I wasn’t able to tuck it neatly away like an old, cozy sweater. Apparently it was more like a burning ember, and relishing in the memories was like throwing gasoline on it. Now I’m stuck waiting for this raging bonfire to burn itself out, and being oh so careful not to give it any more fuel. Even writing this I can feel it being rekindled. Today though, I haven’t tried to ignore it. Today I was hugging those memories and feelings close. I did so today, because I was heading to my hometown. My doctor was there, and that meant driving into the darkest part of my life.

It wasn’t until after the appointment that the darkness settled over me like a damp heaviness. Even trying to pull up those sweet memories just filled me with hollow emptiness. As if even those tender thoughts had no right to exist in the same space as that bleak time. Instead I take refuge in my future plans, and it concretes my resolve. This is not my home. Maybe one day I won’t be so affected by the memories of that time, but I’m not going to force that self-forgiveness on myself. Instead I will comfort myself, and reassure myself that while Kingston is a beautiful place in the interim, it’s not somewhere I’m going to stay. Just yesterday I pointed out my sensitivity to a piece of artwork on my walls. I would be foolish to assume that I am unaffected by living in the same city where the man who tried to kill me is locked up, and only in a mental ward where he is able to leave at times at that. For the work I’m doing right now, I don’t need to leave yet, but I know that when I do it will be an integral part of my healing process. I refuse to try running again. I’m not ready to leave the support of my family, or my lovely therapist. I have more work to do to become stable, but it’s definitely going to happen.

Now though, I am about to pick Myles back up from daycare. I already feel slightly rejuvenated, but I am looking forward to his smiling face. I’m taking him by the Big Dig again today, and I’m going to find something fun for us to do to heal my aching spirit. No work tonight!

 

…Wow. That is the only thing I can think of to describe our evening. I had a very hard time pulling my head out of the clouds. I couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking about. Just that it was very difficult to stay present in the moment. Technically considered dissociation, I just want to try my best to describe for you what exactly that feels like, and focus less on the labels here.

We stopped off at David’s Tea again today since they told me I had a promotion for a free 50g on my card. I decided I was going to let Myles pick one out for himself today since he had been showing a lot of interest in the process of making a tea, and in drinking mine. Having remembered being there yesterday he was eager to grab all the bins and sniff them, but today he went farther and started blowing them as well. He blew into two of thr tins and sent tea leaves flying. With a patience I didn’t feel, I showed him the mess he made and explained that it was rude to do that. That now the staff was going to have to clean his mess. I asked him to tell the employee he was sorry, and to my surprise he did. I still didn’t give him another opportunity to do it again though.

After our purchase we walked up the road and stared at the construction trucks for awhile before grabbing a few groceries and heading home. The entire time I was fighting to stay in the moment and engage with Myles. Things still went rather smoothly until we got home, when suddenly things were not ok anymore.

We had played in the flower container again, and Myles had laughed hysterically as I dodged the splashes of water and made exaggerated sounds of disgust. With the warmer weather today I quickly noticed, when I was carrying him up to the apartment, that the water that was now coating his hands and jacket had taken on a putrid smell. Balancing carrying a bag of groceries, Myles, and my mother on speakerphone I managed to get in the front door. A few minutes later I shut the door to the fridge where he was simply staring and contemplating his options apparently, and then the floodgates broke. He fell to the ground in hysteria.

Noooo! Mommy, noo!” He cried with a high-pitched voice as he sobbed into the floor. I tried comforting him, and assuring him we just needed to wash our hands first, but he was nearly incosolable. Letting him have another look in the fridge to pick what he waned to have after we washed our hands only caused a repeat of the same thing when he decided he wanted olives, and I wouldn’t let him have them right away. Only after asking if he wanted a time out for a few moments did he finally concede to washing his hands. In the bathroom he angrily avoided my attemots to roll his sleeves out of the way, and it was only after asking again if he wanted a time-out that I was able to wash his hands and settle him on the couch with a small bowl of olives. This kid could eat a whole jar of them in one sitting if I let him. With a few moments of peace, while he watched his movie and ate his olives, I was able to get supper together. Just a simple grilled cheese tonight with some tomatoes and shredded spinach for flair. Before I did more than slice the bread there was a knock at the door, and my laughing neighbour let me know they had found my dog. In horror, I realized she must have snuck out when I came in and I had been distracted with talking to my mom on the phone. Luckily my sweet girl is only hyper and not aggressive, and she was having a hay day trying to get at the neighbours giant mastiff. Also luckily, my neighbour was in good humour about it as I quickly ushered her back inside. Facepalm.

In between Myles’ meltdowns, and my guilt at my irresponsibilty of letting my dog out, I was in a bit of a sour mood. The sandwich only took a few minutes to cook, and I encouraged Myles to gave a seat at the table. When he didn’t acknowledge me I assumed he was absrobed in his movie, and I picked him up to put him in his seat. He planks. Anyone who is a parent is quite familiar with this infuriating tactic. With my mood already being short, I just walk away to get his food ready for him instead of picking a fight. When I return I had to turn off his movie, but with that he did willingly get into his seat. Barely taking a few bites he asks for some ketchup. I put a tiny squirt on his tray that he proceeds to attempt to eat straight. With a deeper reserve of patience that I didn’t know I had I redirected him to dip his sandwich instead. Determinedly he goes for the ketchup a second, third, fourth and fifth time before I finally scoop it up and take it away. Another meltdown. I try to gently explain to him why I took it away, and he reaches over and angrily pinches me. My patience was spent.

“Okay, bed time.” I tell him in a firm no-nonsense voice. He screams and cries louder, dropping to the ground and flailing his arms. My mind already set, I be as gentle as possible. He may not know it yet, but it’s over. Only over-exhaustion could lead him to such an emotional state, and I wasn’t going to punish him for it, but I was sending him to bed. I lifted him up and put him on the couch before going to grab some pjs. When I came back he came into my lap.

“Mommy, nice?” he asks me while petting my neck. I thank him for apologizing, but tell him we still need to go to bed. He breaks down into sobbing again as I slide him out of his shirt, and into his pyjama top. “M-milk?” He asks between his sobs. I hesitate and then tell him I’m not sure if we should have milk with the way he was behaving. In hindsight, I wish I had just given him the bottle. Not just to simply appease him, but becuase he was obviously having a hard time coping with his emotions, and a bottle is one of his methods for coping with stress. It also meant that he was ready for bed. Instead I told him if he let me change his diaper peaceably, then I would let him have a bottle. Well that apparently was the last straw for Myles and he went into full-blown toddler tantrum with flailing arms and screeching… while I was holding him to lay him down fo his diaper change. You can imagine how well that went. It was pnly seconds before his arm smashed into my face with enough force to make things go dark for a millisecond, and pain to immediately blossom in my teeth nose and head. I felt warm liquid drip from my nose. In pain I quickly dropped Myles to the couch, and let out a sob of my own. Half of it being from the pain, and the other half being in frustration. The sight of the blood definitely gave Myles pause, and I explained to him in a tearful voice that this is why we were going to bed, because he was tired, and that caused him to hurt others. I do finally manage to get him in bed, and we were able to have a few quiet moments to recollect. I held him, I told him I loved him. We were both still tearful. It wasn’t surprising when after I had been out here typing away on my blog for awhile that he called me back for more cuddles, and another tuck-in. I had already been aching to check on him, so I didn’t need to be asked twice. I kissed him, and reminded him that he is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

All-in-all it has been an exhaustiong day. I’m trying hard to shake off feelings of guilt for not being more productive. I have so many plans and projects brewing. Not working is such a foreign concept, but what the hell is the point in having a job when it doesn’t get me anywhere? My job right now is learning about myself and what I need to do to truly be successful. When I say successful, I mean actually building toward my goals and aspirations. Living in a way that’s authentic to my nature, and allows me to contribute back to society in an organic way.

Tonight that means posting this blog, and maybe nothing else. It’s ok for me to heal.

 

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New Perspectives

I’ve just got to start off this post with emphasizing my great distaste for having to rush. The major downside of not having a car is having to adhere to the bus schedule. This always leads to a desperate dash to the bus only minutes before it arrives. My stubborn and independent toddler often cries his displeasure at being carried, and not being allowed to meander his way down the stairs, or casually pick his way across the sticks, pinecones, and various rocks on the lawns leading to the bus stop. I’m trying hard to work at being more time-efficient, but it’s definitely a work that’s still in progress.

Anyhow, no brushed teeth or makeup(and a little annoyed and frazzled), we made it in time with no tears to catch our bus down to our last music class for the next month.

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To avoid being late we always catch the early bus. Giving us a good half hour to work our way down to Artillery Park. Once on the bus my anxiety eases greatly, and I quickly start thinking of ways to make the most of our day. I decide to get off a few blocks early, so I can walk Myles through the Big Dig downtown. As a surprise treat we even got a close up view of a couple fire trucks that were driving by. Myles stared in awe, and the firefighters smiled and waved. Any vestiges of my bad mood vanished, and we walked downtown with Myles clinging to me while watching the construction trucks with both fright and excitement. He proudly pointed out the ones to me that he knew. Mainly ‘dump truck’ haha.

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After a quick stop-off at David’s Tea, we made our way over to our class, and low and behold find the fire trucks parked out front! Myles wasted no time spotting them out, and urged me with a “Run! Run!” to get to them faster. Allowing myself to get swallowed in his enthusiasm I gladly took his hand and ran alongside him. He reverently touches the truck as if his dreams had come into flesh. Watching his joy makes my heart glow as I pull out a camera to snap a picture of the moment. That is of course until he randomly books it to the second fire truck across the driveway. Giving me a momentary heart attack, and visions of cars pulling in quickly knocking him to the ground. With a terrified shout of admonition he pulls himself in before reaching the end of the first truck. Phew. I’m really appreciating that he’s finally starting to listen to me when we’re out in public.

After all that excitement, we finally make it to our second ever music class. For Myles’ age it’s pretty simple, and consists mainly of singing and dancing while trying out the different types of shakers and drums with an attempt to match the beat. He loves it, and participated much more than his first time in which he just ran in a circle around the rest of the group shrieking and tossing the shakers and sticks. Seeing how quickly he is getting accustomed to the routine makes me sad that there won’t be any more until April, but I am glad we were able to get a taste of it. It’s definitely something that Myles enjoys, and helps him with working in group settings. Something that he has been struggling with for nearly the past year.

With class wrapped up it was nearly nap time. To kill time as we waited for the next bus, we popped into Chumleighs to browse the used movies. We’ve gone two months now without internet, and it’s been one of the best decisions I have made. With my new self-awareness comes acceptance that indulging in streaming tv and scrolling social media is an unhealthy coping method I use to handle stress. One that allows days to slide by while engulfed in some new television series that I am able to binge on. Now my selection has gone from uncountable options, to a half dozen DVDs and Blu-Rays. Mainly children’s ones. Suddenly I seem a lot less pressed for time, and my housework has become a lot more manageable. Of course it helps not having to worry about my business anymore either, but by the end of my studio’s life I was barely even present there with the crushing weight of my anxiety looming over me everytime I walked in the door.

Browsing the aisles at Chumleighs today we came across an unopened copy of Despicable Me. Myles has been obsessed with the series since Nanny bought him the third one. Looking for a way to stop the replaying of the same movie over and over I had previously purchased the second one from an earlier visit to the store. We went from replaying one of them, to now replaying both of them whenever the opportunity arises. You ask Myles what movie he wants to watch, and he will tell you with great enthusiasm, “Despicable Me!”

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I allowed him to have the freedom to roam his way back to our apartment building when we got home, and we spent a good five minutes playing with the water and leaves in the empty flower container before he led the way inside with no complaints. That is the best part of my new freedom. Allowing Myles to take his time to explore, and me learning the value in letting him do so. It often makes me think of a quote from Mother Teresa, ‘If you want to save the world, go home and love your family’. There is such a sense of peace in it that it is nearly impossible to describe.

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Now I have spent the first hour of Myles’ nap typing this up, and I’m eyeing up the disaster I’m surrounded by. I don’t feel like I walk through my apartment so much as swim through the toys that litter nearly every inch of the floor. I guess we will get an opportunity to watch Myles’ new movie this afternoon while Mom dedicates some much needed time to housework. If he’s not interested in the movie though we will just make the most of it and take our lovely puppy out for an adventure. Tally-ho!

Well the afternoon came and went, and somehow, magically, my apartment is clean! Well as clean as you can make a small apartment with a toddler. Halfway through the cleaning project I was hit with inspiration and motivation to do something that had been weighing on my mind for awhile. I’m a sensitive person. Whether or not I’m labelled as BPD, PTSD, anxiety or whatever, it still boils down to I’m a sensitive person.

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I bought this print years ago, and it has always been a treasure of mine. I love the artwork and had seen this print in smaller versions, but when I found this jumbo version on clearance I scooped it up and have always displayed it proudly. More and more lately though I have been contemplating my reasons for being attracted to the artwork. While I still love the style, I find the imagery to be very reminiscent of past thoughts and feelings. In my typical fashion I decided to change it then and there. With Myles’ help of course.

With the newly blank space I decided to fill it with my artwork that has always hung in my studio.

It’s a fresh feeling, and makes me feel more in sync with who I am now. Not to mention I love being able to admire my favourite pieces from the leisure of my own home.

It always seems like the afternoons slide by too quickly. We never made it outside this afternoon, and instead we played, watched tv, and did housework. I had been trying to fight the urge all day, but I caved and ordered us a pizza and some calamari from Paradiso. I’ve been doing pretty good with the take-out, and honestly can’t remember the last time we ordered any, so I figured we deserved a treat. I couldn’t believe it when Myles actually started chomping down on the calamari himself. My normally picky eater picked up on the fact that the meal was a special treat, and even ate his pizza normally where he usually would just pick off his favourite toppings.

After supper Myles grabbed me by the hand and pulled me down to the floor to play with his firetruck. No doubt inspired and excited by his run-in with the bigger versions earlier.

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In short order he was ready for bed by letting me know in his usual fashion of getting increasingly rambunctious and destructive. We cuddled in bed, and read the first book I ever picked out for him while I was still pregnant. It’s one I highly recommend to anyone with children for it’s beautiful illustrations and soothing words. As you can see, our copy is well-loved.

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Well now it’s going on nealry 10pm, and I can barely keep my eyes open. One thing that never changes is that there is never enought time in the day. I still feel pressure to do more, and work harder, but for now I’m forcibly putting myself in a time-out and ordering myself to learn to enjoy the little moments. One day Myles and I will do big things, and I want to be ready for it in every sense. Be open to the full experience, and take nothing less than everything there is to offer. For now it means sitting on my hands and digging deep within myself. One little seemingly inconsequential thing at a time.

Good night, everyone. ❤

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The Value in Life

The store has come and gone, and I find myself getting back to my roots. One of the major ones being writing. First and foremost I want to give my page a makeover, since I have never done so, and make it a much more inviting space where I write daily about motherhood and mental health. Since I am struggling mightily with trying to make sense of the WordPress customizer, I have just decided to jump into my first blog in a long time!

It’s been two months since I decided to close Full Heart Piercings. At first, the heartbreak was crushing. After all, I had dedicated absolutely everything I had into making a beautiful and inviting space. Overall, I’m pretty damn proud of what I created…

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The thing I’m the most proud of though is that I actually did it. I achieved a life-long goal of opening my own business. For the first time ever I did something bold for myself and my future. Something that I had been pining to do, but doubting my ability to achieve. Whether or not the studio continued became less important in the bigger picture, I realized, of finding balance with my health. My beautiful studio wasn’t curing my anxiety, and instead was amplifying it with the added responsibilities and people relying on me. Every month that went by my stress was building, and I was becoming less and less able to juggle it all. In the scheme of things, owning a business paled considerably with my responsibility to my son and my own health.

My heartbreak faded fairly quickly as I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I am free. For the first time I don’t feel a deep shame for not having a job and career. I finally feel like I can breatheNow my mission is to simply be at peace with myself. My entire life has felt like some mission I was always failing, That no matter how hard I tried, it would never be good enough. I constantly had a desperate burning shame in me that poisoned my ability to reason and make healthy decisions. I though the shame was something I had cast off when I decided to turn my life around four years ago, but when I took on more than I was ready for I found it looming there with a sinister grin, ready to take me down once again. It came with a powerful inner voice pushing me to work harder, and to constantly be better. I couldn’t find a level ground. I couldn’t be at peace with what I was working so hard to achieve. I had to be better, work harder, make more money, make more of an impact. It pushed me until I couldn’t be pushed anymore. Before my recovery I would have kept ignoring the warning signs, but this time I pushed for awhile before submitting. I didn’t want the stress. I didn’t want to have no energy or patience for my son. I didn’t want to go on medication just to make it through the day. That, just simply, does not make me happy.

Now, my roller coaster of emotions has finally started to settle, and I’m finding a sense of peace I haven’t felt since my maternity leave when I lived in a happy peaceful bubble with my newborn son. Now it’s even deeper with Myles no longer being a fragile baby. Instead, he’s become my little minion with a powerful personality of his own!

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So now being two months in, I’m starting to explore new options. Ways of expressing myself, and finding out just exactly who I am with the kind of leisure I haven’t had since I was a child. It’s rejuventaing, and healing. I’m looking forward to writing openly and honestly about everything I’m going through. From my future projects with the Full Heart name, to simply what recipes I have whipped up this week. Simplicity at it’s best.

Cheers to a new future!

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Broke and Genuine, Mental Health and Money

I’ve always known the importance of money. Ever since I was 15 years old I have held a full time job except for a couple few month instances where I grappled with mental health complications. The difference is that even though I knew the importance of money I never considered it important to me. You see, I was a fixer. I never thought I was good enough on my own, and that I needed a partner to validate me to be successful and happy in life. I dated the type of men that I thought I deserved. Broken and troubled men that were a reflection of my own unacknowledged mental state.

Wanting my partners to feel stable and supported I would always make sure we had the norms that a ‘proper’ family should. A car, internet, computers, furniture. The men I dated struggled to hold jobs, and I would normally find myself supporting the full household. Extending my credit and minimum wage paycheques to make everyone comfortable. I tried for advancement and schooling a few times, but the emotional burden of being the households main support would soon lead to a crash where I would drop out or quit and look for something less challenging.

The problem had nothing to do with being successful on my own. The problem was that I didn’t understand boundaries, or my own personal needs. I never looked at myself as an individual whose needs were just as valid on their own as they were in a family system. I put myself under huge amounts of debt and stress to have the perfect vision of domesticated bliss, but it was all a facade. Even though my house looked the part, it never felt like a home. I could never motivate myself to keep it clean, or truly feel proud of what I had accomplished. Years and an intense mental breakdown later I finally see money for what it is. It’s secondary to happiness, and it’s not a tool to patch together a broken family system. While it is still a tool, it’s not one that can be used to fix emotional or mental issues except in paying for the supports needed to heal. And those supports are not a fancy new sectional from Lyons, or a new car with a five-year payment plan. The media is quick to assure you though that a $10 big mac meal will melt all your issues away. It’s a system dedicated to helping the industry grow, and not to helping self-awareness and health flourish.

Recently I’ve made some bold decisions that would leave others to think I have a delusional view of money, and no realistic sense of financial consequence. I quietly laugh to myself though now when I recognize the pressure and stress I’m putting myself under. It’s no worse than the years I strove to make everyone happy where I was in fact getting much more miserable. Now that stress is voluntary, and I willingly choose to sacrifice one type of comfort to make bold moves that are every day making my life more filled with pride and hope.

So yes, from an outside perspective (to someone who grew up with the same idealism of happiness that I did) my recent decisions can seem baffling. Launching a piercing business as a single mom with a young child, my bold announcements of donating profits to charity, or even (gasp!) my idea of selling most everything I own and converting a school bus or trailer into a tiny house for my son and I to live in. To me this all seems logical. I don’t need many physical things to be happy. I need to be comfortable and able to provide, but freedom I’ve realized is so much more crucial to my happiness. Freedom to choose what I want to do with my career, freedom to travel with my son and meet new people and see new places, and freedom to help lead others in the mission of self-empowerment.

This focus of finances and physical things was such a huge distraction to me for years from my mental health. I consumed myself with the balance of money in and money out, taking both physical and emotional scars all along the way with little regard for the bigger picture. So now, when my friends start telling me of their financial conquests and voyages I no longer burn with envy. Even though I still precisely balance my grocery bills with profits, I am no longer consumed with need to succeed financially and visually to the exclusion of all else. I’m able to smile with genuine joy at the fun my friends have had with dizzying amounts of money. I can laugh with their experiences and heartbreak of cashing out a high tab. I know that one day I’ll have my own stories to tell, but for now I’m content with being broke and genuine. It actually feels pretty good.

Adult Survivor, Childhood Abuse, Entrepreneur, Mental Health, Mental Health Advocate, PTSD, Recovery, Single Mother

The Balance of Single Parenting, Mental Health, and Entrepreneurship

I want to be normal. I want to have a bright, beautiful home for my son and I that looks like it’s from a magazine. I want to write motivating and empowering articles that give people epiphanies about their own life. I want to be a yogi, and have a gorgeous hourglass body with amazing core strength, and I want my business to be an epicenter for piercing quality, mental health awareness, and body modification safety. Mostly, I just want to be happy. I want to wake up with a smile, and a feeling of gratitude. I don’t want simple household chores to be an agonizing event of self reprimand and congratulations. I want things to be easy.

 

Two weeks ago I was convinced I was going to be evicted. I had no idea how I was going to continue running my business, managing my mental health, and support both my son and I. I was exhausted and at my wit’s end. I couldn’t even concentrate I was so scared. For the first time ever I called the crisis line in front of my son. I was having a breakdown, and I needed help. I called them up and choked out my situation between sobs. How I knew I was falling behind, how I had applied for OW months ago but was still pending approval, and how I had avoided collecting the mail for weeks because I knew the inevitable eviction notice was coming. I had gotten the mail finally that day, and I had the eviction hearing in a week and a half. That’s why I was having a breakdown. The wonderful woman on the other end helped me to put things in perspective. Assured me my son and I weren’t going to be homeless (I had never fallen this far behind on rent before), and connected me with a housing loss prevention worker.

 

The next week and a half blew by with my business having its busiest week yet. During that same time I met a couple of wonderful ladies who helped me come up with a plan for getting back on track with rent. The day after I was finally approved for OW with back pay for the couple months that it had been pending. Like that, within the snap of some almighty person’s fingers my life was back on track. With social assistance I was even able to get much needed dental care after a month and a half of being physically ill, and it gave me some security in my life that is very hard to achieve as a new first-time entrepreneur. Shock was the only way I could describe the feeling when I found out I had always been approved for enough money monthly to cover my life expenses without a job. I think I might of gave a small mad giggle when I thought about the number of hours and amount of stress I had put myself under to get my business launched. I was proud. I was insanely proud. If I had known that I didn’t have to do that work, I wouldn’t have. But I did. Now not only do I have the social assistance to help me, but I also have an amazing business with a really awesome crew!

 

Yeah, so sometimes I wish my life was easy. Then I remember. I remember being home alone, and having a tea in the peace and quiet of my apartment when I felt my water pop like a balloon in my belly at 8am on my son’s due date. I remember being left with him for the first time only a few days after he was born, knowing I was on my own raising this tiny little person, and the overwhelming fear I had that I would somehow mess up. Then I remember sleeping with him on my chest for the first few weeks. Just the two of us in the middle of the winter with nothing to do but watch tv shows and the snow falling outside. So peaceful, and so quiet. I remember his first smile, and how determined he was to learn to sit up and move! All the while it was just me and him. Some days were so hard. I would be sick, and the only thing I could do was to lay next to him while he played in his activity center, and crawl to the sink when I had to make his bottles. Those days I cried, and wished I had help, but I made it through. Now I see my son’s smiling face and he gives me a big powerful hugs, or pets my cheek after he got too excited and scratched me. He’s so sweet, smart, and happy. I am so proud to have been there for him every day.

 

He is the reason I don’t want an easy life. I’ve become a new person since becoming a mother. It’s such a powerful thing, but I won’t overrate it. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. If I hadn’t been ready it would have broken me, and it still pushes me to my limits every day. My son is why I’m grateful that I don’t take the easy route. That I keep slogging through this mess of a life, determined to clean it up and make it something that we can both be proud of. This little family I’ve created, my business, and being alive are the three things I have so far. Some days I submit to the struggle, and I don’t do anything at all. Sometimes overcoming my mental health to just simply do the dishes is a momentous task, and that can last for weeks or months.

 

Although it is an exhausting ordeal to charge into battle against your mind every day while at the same time making it a loving and nurturing attack, sometimes all I need to do is step back from that battle and just see how much I have already won. Maybe it would be nice if everything was easy, but I wouldn’t be here if it was. I wouldn’t give up this new business for anything. I love my life, and sometimes I’ll whine and wish it was easier, but then I’ll step back and pat myself on the back saying, “Damn, momma. Look at you go! Have a bath and get a bottle of wine. You deserve to feel good about what you’ve done.”

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Mental Health, Mental Health Advocate, School, Single Mother

Poorly Trained Adults: A Failure of Mental Health Education

I have very strong emotions. When I’m sad I feel like the whole world is falling apart, and that there is no hope left. When I’m happy I feel so ecstatic my entire body will tingle with the enthusiasm and my face will hurt from the smiling. When I love my son it makes my heart ache so much it leaves tears streaming down my face, and I make sure everyday that I am present enough to feel that love. The full face and force of it. To accept that love, and all the fear it comes with that is nearly just as overwhelming. Fear that I’m not enough, fear I won’t always be able to protect him, but mostly fear that he will have to feel the pain that I feel. The fear, anxiety, and depression that billions of others feel as well as me. I know that he will face these emotions just as all people do, but I’m scared that he will go the wrong way. That because he was given poor advice, or maybe no advice at all, on how to manage those negative, overwhelming emotions that he would choose the wrong way to handle them. Just like I did.

Not that long ago I decided to change my story. To stop being sucked into the negatives, and to find some way to be finally happy. The first year was the biggest struggle. I wanted so badly to give up. I didn’t want to try, but I had spent my entire life up to that point not trying. I know where it led me. And what do I mean by trying? I mean trying to want to live. Trying to find some sort of meaning, trying to make the days seem bearable, and then hopefully, one day, good. I had still spent my entire life trying up until that point, but I was trying to make other people’s lives better. Usually with absolutely no regard to my own. I had dedicated my life to sacrificing myself like some sort of martyr. I decided my life was worthless, and that maybe I could help some poor person find value in their life. Near the end I realized how pointless it was. How I didn’t recognize the creature I had become, and the toll my chosen lifestyle was putting on my emotional and mental health. Most especially how that affected the people around me. While I saw myself as a victim still, I had instead become just as much the protagonist. While I thought I was dedicating my life to saving my current talented musician boyfriend, I realized that I was just as sick as he was, and doing just as much damage to him as good. It wasn’t long before that relationship ended with my pursuit of my healthier lifestyle.

Now healing is a long process, usually made even longer by the amount of time that it went untreated. I’m not a doctor, but I feel like it’s the same with any sort of medical condition. Some health complications can heal on their own like a scraped knee, or a mild concussion, but some things need a specialist and intervention like a broken bone, or cancer. I’m not going to go into details of what happened between when I left my old story behind and now, but I will tell you I have come a long way. I realized the meaning my life was missing with my pregnancy a year into my change. With that first step, and watching my beautiful son grow, I realized the importance of pursuing that meaning in your life. Earlier this year I opened my own business, and through it and my personal life I have become a loud and proud advocate for mental health. Recently, I have even had invitations to do public speaking.

Now remember when I said I have strong emotions? I went from being a resigned personal punching bag to a strong single mother, entrepreneur, and advocate in less than five years. I am overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed with pride, joy, and definitely more than a touch of fear that the whole thing will fall apart. Even if it does though, that’s ok. These past couple years of my life have been the best experience I have ever had, and I’m willing to do it over and over again until I get it right. The only problem with my strong emotions though, is that for the longest time I was taught they were not ok. That they weren’t normal, and when I finally escaped those lessons I kept them up myself. I continually internally belittled myself, and allowed whatever current abusive boyfriend I had to do the same. To this day 75% of the time I still struggle to feel any emotions other than a faint hint of anxiety. I have my overwhelming moments of joy, and my terrifying moments of fear, but I have to guide and educate those emotions. Sometimes even go on an adventure to dig down and find out what emotions I am feeling. That is my healing process, and it’s a long one. Through CBT, psychotherapy, meditation, and uncountable number of TED Talks I am definitely on my way.

One thing though, is that I hear over and over about the importance of being mindful, the physical effects that stress can have on your body, and the insane number of people who suffer from mental health issues at some point in their life. Why isn’t this being addressed? If it’s so widespread, then why isn’t it more open knowledge that living a mindful life can lead you to have a more productive, healthy, and meaningful life? We as a population of working individuals are so quick to stick our children in an archaic method of learning simply because we see no other way to operate in this day and age when it requires two working incomes to maintain a household(How do you think I feel as a single mom with a new business?). Every generation that comes out is in a rush to find ways to support their families financially, but we are neglecting to acknowledge the crucial importance of supporting our families emotionally. Especially since emotional support directly correlates to quality of life more so than financial support. Just a couple months ago I was told that if my new business didn’t start turning a profit equal to that of which I was earning while being employed full time before my pregnancy that I wouldn’t qualify for childcare subsidy. So if I have no money, than I have to pay more for childcare, or take more time off work and lessen the chances of my business being successful. How is this supportive? How is my government thinking that this makes sense? Most importantly, how is this maintainable, or encouraging a stronger future for the country and entrepreneurs such as myself? I was never someone who was interested in politics until I became a mental health advocate and business owner. Now I’m heartbroken looking up the mental health regimes and seeing nothing concrete.

I have to keep asking this question over and over because it seems so simple. Why are we raising a bunch of poorly trained adults? Why are we taught math, english, physical education, sexual education, but not mental health? Why are we not taught how to deal with rejection and heartbreak? Losing a job, a family member, or even being in an accident? Why aren’t we taught mental resiliency? Especially in this day and age when we have no true guarantee of employment of any kind, let alone something in our field after we leave school in incredible amounts of debt. Currently we react to situations by diagnosing and prescribing medications after symptoms arise, and while the medication can help us cope with our emotions sometimes that’s not enough. These speeches by psychologists, buddhists, service workers, and teachers all ring through my mind. They are all saying the same thing. The world needs a shift. What we are doing now is not working. That change sits with our government and us as the people. We need to start speaking louder and demanding that change louder. Our children shouldn’t have to wait until they are nearly thirty to start seeking help and be looking at a road that is years of recovery. Mental health is a basic fact of life as much as our spiritual and physical health. Something that affects 1 in 3 people in all of the world can’t be ignored or denied forever.

So this has become my new story, and I’m liking it a hell of a lot better than what I had before. Sometimes I’ll be quiet, but when I’m not I will be speaking out for a change. As more time goes on, and I get stronger, I will speak out even more. If I burn out and crash, then I will get back up. I know this, because right now I feel passion. I feel passion for what I’m writing here, and passion for my vision of the future. Maybe I won’t be the one to make that change happen, but maybe I will encourage more people to speak out. Even one more person is more than none, so start talking about mental health. With your children, and with your friends and your family members. Hell, even watch some of the amazing TED Talks that I did and find out why I’m so passionate. I personally highly recommend Brené Brown and her talk on the power of vulnerability. But honestly, I don’t care what you do. Let’s just make a change so that hopefully the next generation of adults aren’t so poorly trained.

 

Adult Survivor, Childhood Abuse, Mental Health, Mental Health Advocate, PTSD, Recovery, Single Mother, Uncategorized

Rape – I Asked For It… And It Still Isn’t My Fault

I’ve talked about this incident before on social media, but never in full context. Instead I spit out the event, trying desperately to rid myself of the feelings associated with what happened. The truth is I still feel guilty, ashamed, and pathetic. That it is my fault I was raped. Why? Because I was one of those girls who was ‘asking for it’.

I was in my early 20s, and had recently ended a long term relationship with a heroin addict. Before that relationship I had been hospitalized several times by another boyfriend who I found out later was an undiagnosed schizophrenic. That boyfriend was still stalking me, getting information from my classmates about my whereabouts, and even being given my phone number. I felt trapped. The only solution that I could see was to get as far away as I could, despite all the new friends that I had made. So I packed everything up and went as far as I could force myself to go. Peterborough wasn’t incredibly far from my home town of Napanee, but it was far enough. At first I breathed a giant sigh of relief, but quickly I realized how isolated and lonely I was. On a near weekly basis I would head back down to visit my friends for a few days and refuel on their love and companionship.

Then one day the engine blew in my car. Everything changed after that point. I changed. The isolation was overwhelming. Soon I became employed at a bar. This opened an entirely new world for me. I had never gone to bars in my life, or even lived by myself! Now, I can look back and see how incredibly depressed I was, but at the time I either felt nothing or anger. I became absorbed in the culture of the night life. I drank from when I dragged my ass out of bed until work, and then would drink and find random house parties to go to after. I wore crazy short skirts, and tall black boots. I would walk down dark back alleys, hungering for someone to try and attack me. I considered myself proud, but in reality I was in serious pain and I didn’t know how to deal with it. This lifestyle went on for about five months before reality came crashing down yet again.

It was my birthday, and one of my new friends invited me to his house and predrinks before going out. We cooked up some badass ribs that we pre-boiled in Woody’s Grapefruit coolers(delicious). We laughed, drank, ate, and planned out the evening. First on the docker was Sin City. The city’s biggest club at the time. Not my taste, but I appreciated my buddy hanging out with me and conceded to start the night off there. I know I had already drank too much, because I can’t even remember how we got to the club. Next thing I know we were hanging out in one of the few booths, and I excused myself to the bathroom. I spent some time in there trying to sober myself up, and even texting a recent ex pleading him to come pick me up. There was nothing for it though, and once I felt confident enough not to stumble I went back out to the floor determined to find my friend and tell him of my plans to go home. He was gone. I had been in the bathroom for a long time, so I started texting him. No reply. The evening was still early, so I decided to try and make the most of it and wander the surrounding pubs and clubs populating the downtown area. My keys and bag were at my friend’s house, and I didn’t want to risk the trip there when he most likely wasn’t home.

Soon enough during my wanderings I ran into my pot dealer, and he happily invited me to join one of his ongoing house parties. Some of the kids barely looked of legal age to be drinking, but not wanting to waste my birthday stressing, I decided to join them. More alcohol was consumed, and the night went on with still no sign or message from my friend and my hostage house keys. Before I knew it I was hanging out at the local all night eatery, drifting in and out of consciousness, clinging onto my phone, and praying to get a response. The staff kindly told me that I needed to go, and there was my pot dealer again, encouraging me to could crash on his couch until the morning. I barely remember going up to his apartment, and briefly noticed that one of the people from the party was already crashed on the other end of the sectional before I myself collapsed and drifted gratefully off to sleep.

I remember stubble, someone kissing my neck, something between my legs, and then it was morning. Before even opening my eyes I felt sick. The vague memories were clinging to my thoughts. Opening my eyes made nothing better when I realized my dress was hiked up around my chest, and I was hanging off the edge of the couch with one of my legs looped over the arm of the couch, and the other hanging off the edge with my underwear dangling from my ankle. The sick feeling grew, and I jumped to my feet pulling my dress back down and dashing to the bathroom. I was frozen with fear and disgust. All I could think was that I had to get out of there. I grabbed a sweater hanging in the hallway and ran out the door. It was a twenty minute walk to my friend’s house, but I don’t remember it. I do remember knocking, and there was no answer. I was deeply exhausted. I couldn’t have been asleep more than a few hours before I left that grungy apartment. I contemplated sleeping on the couch on my friend’s patio for awhile, but was quickly filled with anger. I wanted to go home. Instead of knocking I tried the handle, and found it was unlocked. I remember walking into his bedroom and seeing him in bed with some girl he must have picked up. I was furious. Not that he was sleeping with another girl, but because obviously that had been more important than answering my calls and texts.

“John, I was raped last night. JOHN.” He stared at me bleary eyed, and confused. “Why didn’t you answer your phone? I was raped last night.” I was certain of what had happened, and angry. John managed to rouse himself enough to ask me to wait outside his room while he got dressed. I did, and when he came out he handed me my bag. He told me I was still drunk with a kindly smile, and that it was best if I just go home and sleep it off. My mind started buzzing in confusion. I don’t remember how I got home, but I do remember coming back to my senses.

While I wasn’t as sure of myself anymore, I still was terrified of a potential pregnancy or maybe even STIs. After something like this happened you were supposed to go to the hospital, right? The more I thought about it, the more foolish and nervous I became, but I knew I HAD to go to the hospital. Knowing John wasn’t going to be of any help, I reached out to another friend. I told him about what happened, and asked if he would go to the hospital with me. Again, I blank out here. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember how ashamed I was, and that I had to plead for him to come with me. Unhappily, he agreed to come. The bus ride was awkward and I regretted asking his help. He sighed and complained at the hospital. My shame continued to mount, and I remember dashing from the hospital the moment I got my prescription and swallowed a morning after pill. By this point I was determined to just push the whole thing out of my mind, but it didn’t end there…

Despite wanting to move on with my life, I was still being bullied. The guy who did it started spreading rumours about me. Saying that I had initiated sex, and that he only allowed me to do sexual favours for him. That I was ugly and desperate. He would even come into the bar I worked at with girls on his arms and sneer at me. He knew he had won, and he was loving rubbing it in my face. When I finally decided to stand up against it I asked my bouncer to eject him from the bar. When he asked why and I explained he sneered, but reluctantly did it. I felt disgusting and worthless. From that point on, and for the following three years I convinced myself that everyone else was right. I could see why they scoffed me. They met me when I was that drunk party girl who didn’t have any ambition in her life. I walked around dressed barely appropriately, and would hookup with random strangers. I convinced myself I asked for what happened, and that it was my fault.

Finally, three years ago, shortly after I started taking Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I was able to see the damage that event caused, and the damage it was still having on my life by convincing myself to believe the lies other people wanted me to believe. This wasn’t my fault. Being vulnerable isn’t an open invitation for abuse. I can see why we have the shaming though. It’s easier to brush off your responsibility when you claim things are out of your control. Yes, I was out looking for a challenge, but I wasn’t asking someone to take advantage of me when I was mostly unconscious and unable to give any form of consent. The constant normalization of victimization is a worldwide issue. Bullying, rape, child abuse, domestic violence, genocide. It’s such a MASSIVE problem, that the majority of the population on a global scale would rather cringe and look the other way. Apathy is killing us, and mental health issues are the child of it.

Here is where it’s up to us to start making the change. To start genuinely caring for our fellow man, and planet. Join the fight and stand out. All it takes is one person. For me it could’ve been John, or the cashier at the all night eatery. These injustices are happening on a daily basis, and it’s heartbreaking at how avoidable it is. I plead you, don’t look the other way when you see an injustice. Speak up.

 

 

Mental Health, Mental Health Advocate, PTSD, Recovery, Uncategorized

Dissociation – Zombies ARE Real

We’ve seen all the horror movies. I won’t even list them for you, but we all know what they look like. These mindless grotesque creatures walking around with no reaction other than for food (brains, blood, whathaveyou). People even take the threat so seriously that they have prepared themselves for “The End”.

Someone has to tell them though that they are looking for the wrong thing. Zombies aren’t physically dead, just mentally. They walk around buried in their phones, submerged in a world that isn’t the real one, eating and using up resources candidly, and destroying everything they leave behind. The planet, other people, animals. Nobody is immune to these zombies.

What am I talking about, right? Nobody is walking around with no regard killing and maiming other people… really? Have you watched the news recently? Or heck! Just scroll through your Facebook feed. Even if none of your friends share those kind of stories I’m sure an ad or newspaper has happily paid to make sure you see it somewhere. Just yesterday I watched a video of two people duking it out in a grocery store parking lot in front of children. This breaks my heart. We have those who are fully weaponed and equipped for the end of the world, but not equipping themselves for the actual destruction of it.

Dissociation is a very personal beast for me. One that I have fought hard my entire life. I wake up in the morning too anxious to eat, and by the time the end of the day comes around I’m so mentally spent that I will binge eat, or watch tv, or do any form of consumption of anything really. I’m able to hold off the exhaustion until I tuck my little boy into bed, and he helps make it easier every time he shoots that smile at me. Once he’s in bed though, and I’m alone, everything comes crashing down.

“How will I pay rent this month? I should clean the house.. What bills are coming up? Should I be doing something different with my business? I should take Myles outside more often… Does the dog hate me? I don’t walk her nearly as much as I should. Are we ever going to be able to get out of debt? Will Myles’ father and I ever get along?” 

The litany goes on and on, and I do my best to tuck it away and attack it one at a time, but it is a relentless beast. By the end of the day I am done. I am a zombie. I give nothing back, and take anything I want. I have no regard for the planet, my pets, myself, or anything. I am aware of this beast. I am aware of Mental Health. I am aware of the supports that are in place, but what about everyone else? The people who snap and resort to fists in a parking lot? That is not someone who is mentally well. Dissociation and zombies are the same thing, and it’s a worldwide epidemic.

Are you prepared for the Apocalypse?

#ZombiesAREReal #dissociation #MentalHealth #MentalHealthAwareness #EndtheStigma #BreaktheSilence

 

Marijuana, Mental Health, Single Mother

My Mental Health and Marijuana

Another bright morning, and day two of psychotherapy today! After my appointment last week I came to the decision to quit daily pot use again.

Four years ago I started my journey to become healthy and I quit all pharmaceuticals. I had been smoking pot on and off for quite a while, and had been taking pharmaceuticals off and on for even longer.

I have never in my life been better at being self-aware and regulating my emotions than I am now. After the past few years I have learned that smoking the proper type of marijuana gave me the type of relief I was craving, AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO USE IT IF I DIDN’T WANT TO! That was the biggest relief. I could smoke it once a week, daily, or not at all. That plus the effects of marijuana give you an instant relief, and sometimes all you need are a few minutes of clear thoughts to really breathe.

The rant portion of this is the same as what you’ve probably heard before. The stigma. There is a crisis line here I have utilized many times to help me over the past few years, and lately it’s been more so with the stress I’ve been under. I’ll call the crisis line and when they ask me if I’m taking medication I tell them I smoke marijuana and usually get that silence. That silence that shouts “Oh, she’s a junkie. How can I handle his without offending her?”. After a few minutes the worker will start telling me about healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Straight out telling me that smoking pot is an unhealthy way to manage mental health. 

My question is how can this be the case when pharmaceuticals are considered healthy? So when a psychiatrist gives a suicidal patient benzodiazepines, and they happily go home hugging there new method of numbness or possible suicide that’s ok? 

The other part of it is the damage the stigma causes. Telling me, and many others who are struggling, that I’m using an unhealthy coping mechanism is painful. I’m trying everything in my power to help myself be the best person/mother possible. Being told my methods are “unhealthy” causes damage in itself. I would love to be able to function with no help, but the biggest thing I’ve had to swallow with my recovery is that it is ok to need help sometimes. 

Do you remember at the beginning of this post when I said I was going to quit smoking? Marijuana is my MEDICINE, and it is such a great medicine for me that I am able to judge when it’s not being as effective anymore. Quitting isn’t easy. It does increase anxiety, stress, you sweat at night and your mind races in circles. I’m grateful though that because of pot. I was able to pick a time that I had a therapist to deal with all of my underlying causes for the stress before I decided to quit using it. I’m not foolish enough to believe that marijuana fixes anything. No, it’s a coping mechanism that helps numb out stress to make life liveable. The same concept of pharmaceutical drugs. 

 Now, I’m not saying that it’s a miracle drug and everyone should use it, but rather that it can be an extremely effective tool. Hopefully soon easier access to medical marijuana is possible, but until then it will take more stories like mine to help spread awareness. 

Thank you for reading!

Sincerely,

One Tired Mommy

Uncategorized

My Apology

I finally did it. I started a blog. I’m sure so many blogs start off with those exact first two lines. I’m going to try and veer off on a different path, and start my blog with an apology.

I’m going to apologize in advance for making you uncomfortable. For talking about things that other people would rather avoid talking or hearing about. I genuinely am sorry if it annoys you to hear about my trauma and struggles, or the articles I post about how mental health affects today’s society. This isn’t a cry for help, it’s an open discussion. I’m not posting to get your sympathy or guidance. I see a professional therapist for that, and always recommend others speak to a professional as well. I’m posting to spread awareness, and while I am genuinely sorry for your discomfort I have already written it off as a sacrifice for the bigger cause of breaking the stigma around mental health.

Through the past four years I have found myself again, and I’ve been reminded of my stubborn, opinionated behaviour. I embrace it warmly like a long lost friend. The spunk I had given up to cower in fear and drift through a fog for the past eight years. It’s like a breath of fresh air. It feels GOOD! And with my opinionated strength returning it’s being combined with my drive as a new mother and passion to be a mental health advocate. 

It has been a long time though since I have been so vocal, and I do ask for forgiveness and patience as I stumble through the process of learning how to voice those opinions. Forgive me if I step on your beliefs, or if I come across as rude. I honestly have the biggest heart, and would probably cry if I learned I hurt your feelings. Always feel free to educate me!

My life has changed irrevecobly, and ten times more so in the past couple years since becoming pregnant and now mother to a toddler. This blog will be filled with my journeys of finding myself and happiness to inspire my son to do the same. I’ve learned there is no better way to live life than to be as open and honest as possible. It’s hard to have shame when you won’t let yourself hide in the dark. I’ve connected with so many amazing people already with the same mindset, and I’m excited about the future.

So one last time, I apologize if I make you uncomfortable. You don’t have to read my posts. Remember you always have the choice, and that I’m not asking anything from you. If you do feel inspired or warmed by anything I have to write I do fully invite you to share it, or to write your own! We’re all human, and it’s about time we start acknowledging perfection is unrealistic. No one is a “lost cause”, and that’s why I’m naming my blog From Victim to Leader. Trauma and difficulty can give you incredible strength, but you have to make it through the healing process first.