the beautiful people.

How is it possible that I fell madly in love with 56 perfect strangers in just 30 days? I’m talking head over heels, hand you my heart, aching chest kind of love. Love that travels deep into ever fibre of my being and makes my chest swell so much I feel like I can’t breathe for a second and I want to jump up and down and yell at the top of my lungs how much I love these people.

56 strangers. 30 days.

This training was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Reaching deep inside myself every day to find strength to get through another day. But these strangers slowly become friends, and all of a sudden you blink and it’s as if you had known them your entire life. Each unique soul had something to offer. A gift of light and love, vulnerability, humility, and humbleness.

Thank you to my community, my sangha. I will hold a peice of each of you inside my heart for my lifetime and beyond. Thank you for breathing with me, crying with me, and showing me the kind of support that has renewed my faith in humanity.

I am ready to take on the world. Because I know now that every single human I meet has a heart of gold, just like these 56 strangers do. With each new person that crosses my path, I vow to show them compassion and love, as has been shown to me.

Let’s make the world a better place. Starting with us, the beautiful people.

thankful.

One thing that has surprised me on this journey was the sheer amount of people who approached me to share their own story. A story of sadness they experienced, or other mental illness, sometimes addiction or even a story of suicide within the family. For those of you who felt open enough to talk to me about your own journey, thank-you for opening your heart to me and trusting me with your story – thank-you.

To those of you who held me in your thoughts, told my story to your loved ones, friends, or coworkers, shared my social media and helped the campaign gain momentum online, attended yoga classes in support of this journey, donated financially to this cause – thank-you.

To my home studio who took me in with arms and hearts wide open, and made it their personal goal to get me to Kelowna for training – thank-you.

To my friends and family who were by my side every step of the way – backing my decisions, and providing constant emotional support – thank-you. I love you so much.

There are truly no words to express the gratitude I feel, and the kindness that has touched my soul. Because of all of you I am taking the next step in my life, a leap of faith into a life that I almost gave up on. But here I am, leaving for teacher training tomorrow. THANK-YOU! Thank-you for believing in me. You mean the world to me.

I am so thrilled to pay-it-forward; to come home and be the best version of myself; to share my knowledge; to teach in the community.

To the amazing people who follow this blog and still struggle – know that I too share your struggles, and still have a ways to go. I still have grey days, and there are dark corners of my mind left to explore, and with time, heal. But with my loved ones and community by my side, I will prevail. I’m fighting the good fight, and this is a damn good place to start.

I will leave you with this quote – I have shared it with you before, and I am sure that I will share it with you again:

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction” Cynthia Occelli

From the depths of my soul, and the whole of my heart – thank-you.

thankful

Fantastic shirts from my home studio – I am so happy to be able to take one on my journey to Kelowna!

selfish.

I have never thought of myself to be a selfish person. I grew up with a mother who was very selfish and narcissistic, and I would like to believe that because of that, I grew to be a very kind and giving person. But I also believe that there is such thing as giving too much of yourself, and one can become kind and giving to a fault.

This entire concept is something that constantly swims through my mind – particularly over these past few months where I have had to rely on the support of loved ones to get me through each day. I became aware of how much of myself I could give at a time, and even at important events or family dinners, if I felt drained, I would have to excuse myself.

Then came the Go Fund Me Campaign where I decided to ask people for money to help me further my life. Loved ones, friends, acquaintances, complete and utter strangers – can I please have your hard-earned money? To say I felt uncomfortable throughout the process would be an understatement.

So here is what I have taught myself: I was being selfish – but in a good way. I truly appreciate every little thing that each person has done for me over these past months. I am going to pay it forward – with the help that has been given to me for training, I will use my skills and newfound knowledge to help others just like me. I will stand for you, and shout from the rooftops about mental health, and about my journey, and what has helped me along the way.

The thing is, I think feeling guilty and selfish has maybe gotten in the way of me feeling truly prosperous during this experience. There has always been a small part of my gut that has been telling me this isn’t right, or maybe I’m not deserving. Why should people help me? What have I ever done for humanity?

Well, I have kicked and screamed my way out of the darkness. I have put everything I have into therapy, family, yoga, making goals and attaining them. I have aspirations to do more with my life, for the betterment of myself as well as others. I AM DESERVING – so I have to let go of my lower thoughts, and make room for higher thoughts so I can continue to be a positive influence.

Perhaps you too can let go of your guilty feelings today. Take what you need for yourself – be a little selfish. Put yourself first.

I am.

flash back. 

If I’m being honest, I hate the new therapy course that I’m taking. Emotional rescilliance: delving into complex childhood trauma. 

I know that it is a necessary evil – I get it. But it’s been messing with my head and I’ve been trying so very hard to keep a brave face. Other things in my life are going really well – I hit my target goal for yoga training and am headed to Kelowna just next week, I’m overwhelmed by family and community support, I’ve been reconnecting with friends and loved ones – things are looking up.

So tonight as I was thinking about what to blog about, and what positive spin I could weave into my post, I remembered that I’m blogging to be honest. To show the transparency of mental health, and what it is I truly feel in my heart. 

So here it is : since I began the new therapy course, I have been having flashbacks. Memories of my childhood flood into my brain and drown my eyes – things that I had buried so deep down that I actually forgot they happened.  Mostly about my mom and the way she treated me. 

And it’s scary. 

And it’s sad. 

And it breaks my heart. 

a shift.

When my depression was at its lowest, I was a very negative person. I was easily angered, frustrated constantly with public situations, traffic, slow pedestrians – annoyed if my dog was walking too fast, or too slow – Impatient with everything around me. I was also a jealous person. I would find myself looking through Facebook or Instagram, or seeing couples walking down the street, groups of friends laughing together, families out for dinner, and I would become furious with how every other human seemed happy, except for me. I would become jealous of friends in their success – if someone got engaged or married, maybe got a promotion at work, started dating a new special someone, bought a new car, adopted a pet – literally anything that changed their life for the better, I would isolate myself from that person. I couldn’t be around people who were growing and evolving because I was not. I hate to admit this, but I would even find myself feeling secretly happy when a friend confided in me that they had a bad day at work, or thought their relationship wasn’t going so well. Not because I didn’t want my loved ones to be happy, but because I didn’t want to be alone in my misery.

I am telling you this, because recently I have become aware of a shift. A change in my daily perspective, and how I feel about the environment and people around me. Now, this didn’t happen over night – it has been months of therapy, practicing of mindfulness, learning to be more self-aware, and learning that I cannot control a situation, but I can control how I react to said situation.

Here was my first realization in the shift: I saw an old friend on Wednesday evening – a girl from my past, who I cut off contact with because she was happy and I was not. In my eyes, she was perfect – educated and smart, beautiful, had a terrific family and significant other – really just “had it all”. I was very jealous of her; I deleted her from social media because I couldn’t even stand to see her photos. (This is a lot for me to admit right now, but I think being able to talk about this stuff is a step toward healing). So, we have recently reconnected, and she invited me over to her house, to enjoy the sun in her backyard and catch up. After an hour or so, I had this overwhelming feeling of happiness – not for me, but for her. And I told her – Friend, I am so happy for you. Really, truly, from the bottom of my heart, I am happy for your successes, and I am happy that I am able to celebrate them with you. 

In that moment, with absolutely no trace of jealousy or envy, I felt whole.
These are a few things that I have been enjoying lately, as I become more aware of myself and my surroundings:
-green spaces / nature / blooming flowers
-spending more quality time with family and loved ones
-feeling grateful for having a roof over my  head and food on my table (this is something I have struggled with in the past, as sometimes people who don’t understand depression can say “why are you depressed, it could be worse, at least you have food and shelter”, which makes a depressed person feel terrible…)
-my loved ones enjoying their lives in what ever capacity they choose to share
-listening to music
-the sun
-noticing that my mind is a little quieter
-not feeling jealous / angry / sad

Thank you for listening today. Happy Friday ❤

i’m lonely, but I want to be alone.

Yesterday was my third class in this new course I’m taking at the hospital, called Emotional Resilience. (You can read the blog post about the first class here.)

It was a bit of a heavy class. We talked about avoidance behaviours (not wanting to go to a crowded place in fear of becoming anxious, not making eye contact with people, etc), and safety behaviours (always sitting with your back against a wall, or always wanting a friend to go places with you so you don’t have to do things alone).

We had to write down a list of our own avoidance, and safety behaviours. Once finished, if we felt we could share, we did so with the group and group therapists. The therapists really want us to get to the root our complex traumas, so they can be a little pushy, and ask, “why do you feel that way – what is the emotion you are trying to avoid”.

One of the members of my group said he’s lonely, but he wants to be alone.

I’m lonely, but I want to be alone.

That sank deep into my chest. It’s a feeling I have felt so many times, over and over. Complete and utter loneliness to the point where my heart aches, but wanting to be alone because no one could possibly understand how I feel.

I can’t tell you how many times I have sat alone in my room, listening to a family gathering taking place one floor above me, wishing that I could join them. Or turned down a party invitation, knowing that I wanted to be with those people, but stayed home alone instead. But that’s the thing about depression – you don’t think anyone understands you, so you isolate yourself.

I’m writing today to ask you to get outside of your comfort zone. Maybe just once over the next week. Go sit with your family, even if you’re just silent, and be in that uncomfortable moment. Take a few deep breaths, know that you were able to do it, and excuse yourself when you need to. Baby steps – but every step counts.

And if you’re a loved one of someone who you notice is maybe struggling, and isolating themself, maybe you could just let them know you’re there. And maybe you don’t understand what they are going through, but you can listen. When I would close myself up in my room away from all my family, sometimes my dad, or sister, or step-mum would just come down to check in, and it always made the world of a difference.

Thank you for being here with me today.  I have so much love in my heart for each and every one of you, and I’m so proud of you for taking your step forward.

this is what strength feels like.

Tonight at the yoga studio, the teacher started the class by saying, “I was going to play music – and then I thought, no, I just want to hear your breath. Everyone breathing together”.

Nearly thirty people began to inhale together, and exhale together. Inhale – take your deepest sip of air – exhale – let it all go.

It was the most incredible feeling. Community breath. Breathing in your neighbours powerful energy, exhaling their stress. Deep and controlled breath.

I felt strong. I felt life. I saw a future for myself in that studio tonight – a life that I sometimes never thought I would live.

Breathing – it’s what strength feels like.

delicate.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “delicate”?

I think of a flower, perhaps a peony, that you must be careful not to bruise. I think of fine glass, that if dropped, would shatter into a million pieces. I think of relationships – family, friends, and lovers. I think of a heart, being given away. I think of emotions, that need to be handled with care. I think of a life, hanging in the balance, between a place of life or place of death. Mirriam-Webster uses the phrases “easily torn or damaged”, “requiring careful handling”, and “not robust in health or constitution”.

This word was said to me yesterday to describe a recent personal event, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind….. delicate, delicate, delicate. It’s just been running through my mind – I’m trying to grasp its full worth.

After sleeping on it, and much thought, this is all I have to say: life is delicate.

Be kind to people. Be kind to yourself.

 

a great kindness.

I am overwhelmed with emotion.

I have been shown a great kindness today. My community came together and supported me in a way that I never knew possible. Old and new friends, loved ones, and wonderful people I had never met before joined together to help me raise funds for yoga teacher training. It was a beautiful afternoon, with a few tears, and a lot of laughter.

From the bottom of my heart, thank-you to each and every one of you.

I would like to share a song with you, to take you into your weekend (thank-you to a lovely friend who shared the song with me, and a lovely yoga teacher who sang her verson in class this morning). You are light, and I am light.

I Am Light – India Arie

I am light, I am light

I am not the things my family did
I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside

I am light, I am light

I’m not the mistakes that I have made or any of the things that caused me pain
I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind

I am light, I am light

I am not the color of my eyes
I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age, I am not my race, my soul inside is all light

All light, all light
I am light, I am light

I am divinity defined
I am the God on the inside
I am a star, a piece of it all
I am light

emotional resilience.

If you have been following along with my journey, you will know that I participated in a three-month program for Dialectical Behavioural Therapy at the local hospital. (If you’re new to the site, and would like to read about the program, you can click here to go to the blog post.)

I finished the program at the end of April, but wasn’t completely discharged from the hospital. There is one more course to take – one that the therapists do not allow patients to start until they have gained the coping skills and emotional balance from the dialectical behavioural therapy. The course is called Emotional Resilience, and I started it yesterday.

I have been terrified to start this course – it was explained to me as “delving into the complex trauma that affects your day-to-day life, and figuring out what triggers you, which causes anxiety and depressive episodes.” Yikes.

But I see it as a necessary evil: it will be hard, yes. I will cry, yes. I will drudge up memories that I have stored in the back of my brain in a locked box marked ‘do not open‘, yes. But it will help me to heal, fully.  So, I will attend this class for the next eight weeks, do the homework, and keep working on me.

A hand-out given in yesterdays class defined Complex Trauma: the kind of trauma experienced in early childhood when bad things happen repetitively. The experiences may not be life threatening, but they are repetitive, are associated with no real escape, and usually perpetrated by trusted care-givers. The trauma interferes with the normal bonding or attachment process that a child has to have in order to soothe oneself. Whatever the trauma may be, it is the individuals experience of the traumatic event(s) and the meaning it has for them that is the most important issue to understand.

Complex trauma creates a disorganized attachment (ie – Is it safe for me to be attached to this person?) The hand-out states, “when early attachments are dangerous, it creates an internal struggle between the yearning to attach and the drive to be safe. ‘Do I run toward, or do I run away?'”.  The teacher in class described it as a push-pull scenario, which resonated with me deeply. I have always had a yearning to have a relationship with my mother, but when I get close to her I always get hurt.

I want to leave you with these song lyrics that I heard a few weeks ago, and felt very attached to, as they reminded me of her.

Julia Michaels – Issues
“…you got hands like an ocean, push you out, pull you back in”