Just because everything looks perfect from the outside doesn’t mean that it is on the inside.
I don’t know how to fix any of it.
Winter is weighing on me. The darkness is weighing on me. The cold, making it hard to be outside for any length of time, is weighing on me. Looking after sick people is weighing on me. Rejection is weighing on me. Not having a plan for life is weighing on me. Feeling lonely is weighing on me. Lack of steady income is weighing on me. People telling me ‘just do it, it’s easy’ is weighing on me. People saying ‘stop worrying so much’ is weighing on me. Feeling like a disappointment is weighing on me. Feeling like my problems aren’t real problems is weighing on me. Everything is weighing on me.
These thoughts, while I invariably avoid them day-to-day, every once in a while tend to pop up all at once and consume my brain to the point where I can’t do anything but worry.
And so I sit here, trying to distract myself, but inevitably, worrying more than anything else.
A lot has happened this year. But, since most of it isn’t really worthy of recollecting, I’ve picked an event from each month as a memory of a year that I’ll be happy to say goodbye to.
In January I sent a lawyer after my former employer for wrongful termination and, in him working his magic, I was able to get four times the amount that was initially offered in severance. January also marked my mom’s third surgery in less than a 30 days. January was also the month I started this blog. Its inception was with purpose to give me a place to vent about the stress I was going through.
In February I went to the Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise, fulfilling a dream that I’ve had for more than ten years. It might have just been the coldest day of the year, but nothing (ABSOLUTELY NOTHING) was going to keep me from that lake.
In March I got extremely sick. I went to the hospital multiple times, spent most of the month on different forms of antibiotics and sleeping. It was a long, very cold, very dark month. Knight looked after me and listened to my cry the whole time. This man would get up and out of his pjamas to go to the store in the middle of the night and get me a smoothie, because I wanted one.
In April I went to the Cancer Clinic with my mom, five days a week for many weeks. I watched as she got her treatments, cleaned up after her when she got sick and threw up, made her feel better when she was feeling depressed. I saw the people around her, each with different forms of cancer, each in varying stages of the disease, many with smiles on their face because they were thankful for the life-saving treatments they were receiving. Cancer is an extremely scary illness that affects so many people in our world and I am so thankful that my mom’s was caught early enough that she is now happy and healthy.
To everyone affected by cancer this year, I see you, I feel you and I understand you. Whether you went through it yourself, or you helped a family member or friend through it, you’re amazing. Remember that.
In May I went to Niagara Falls/Toronto. It was a quick trip, jam packed with ensuring I hit all the tourist spots and, all the local spots that were recommended to me before I went. I stayed in a room that had the most stunning view of the falls, took a few turns on the Skywheel, walked the falls at night to see the light show… it was a magical weekend for me. May also marked the birth of my niece, Aya.
In June I got a job offer around the end of the month. It was a digital marketing job, working in publishing. The employer hit me with a lot of paperwork – asking me to sign away my intellectual property rights and several other things. After some amendments were made to the contracts, I signed them and was given a start date of July 15th.
In July my job offer was rescinded. On July 13th, to be exact, precisely two days prior to when I was supposed to start. I was mad, pissed, unhappy and felt like I’d been cheated. The only explanation I got was ‘corporate restructuring’. Wowee. July also marked the birth of my nephew Phillip.
In August I went to Calgary to see an allergist and have a breathing assessment test done. I reckon being trapped in a 2×2 box on a hot summer’s day with no air, being forced to showcase who well, or poorly, your lungs are functioning feels quite similar to what summer in Arizona feels like. IT WAS HOTTTTTTTT.
In September I took a few solo road trips through British Columbia. The Gold Rush Trail was stunning and the Highway Thru-Hell was filled with A LOT of road construction. My mom, finally being healthy enough to travel, went with my dad to Denmark to visit their new granddaughter, so I had a month filled with peace and quiet and was reminded how much I appreciated living alone for ten years. I also saw my best friend, her beautiful family and spent a short amount of time in Vancouver. Twas a good month for me. Even if I was still jobless.
In October I worked the Federal Election. It was long, arduous and awful. The supervisors were idiots and the other clerks were extremely rude. But hey, we won. And, much like I predicted in October, Andrew Scheer did lose and has since resigned his post. I’m extremely glad we don’t have a pathological liar in charge of our country.
In November I turned 31. I had a bit of an existential crisis, lost my marbles for a wee bit and god, my birthday, the actual day itself, is not something I want to remember.
In December I made a commitment to purchasing gifts from Thrift Stores for my family. The way we do things in my family is, because there are so many of us, each of us gets one sibling or parent to purchase a gift for. That gift we’re supposed to spend between $75-100 on. After that, we usually gift each other small, minor things that we think would bring smiles to each other’s face. IE My brother Tyler really loves Starburst candy, so my brother Aaron bought him a bunch of Starbust for Christmas. Me, I spent the month searching thrift stores, and wound up purchasing some new, or almost new gifts for each member of my family for between $5-10 each.
2019, I won’t miss you. You’ve been a long, shitty, disappointing, difficult, heartbreaking, gut-wrenchingly awful year. To the good that did happen, I am grateful and I will always remember it. To the rest, it will serve as a reminder of things I never want to experience ever, ever again. This has been, without a doubt, the hardest year of my life. This has been the most difficult of all 30 years and two months I’ve spent on this planet.
I have resolutions. I plan to, hope to, desire to stick to them. Most of all, though, I hope that 2020 is whole lot fucking better than 2019 was.
Out with the old, in with the new.
I’m not going to lie, these were hard for me to go through because a lot of them come from the beginning of this year, when I first started this blog and was in a horrible place mentally and emotionally.
Thinking back to where I was at the beginning of this year, thinking how sad I was, how ready to give up I was, how I thought the world had crumbled around me… I really don’t think I smiled the first two months of this year at all.
I’m still not in the best place in life, but I at least can see these and see how far I’ve come in the past year.
A moment in February when I was feeling hopeful about what was ahead.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The importance of being selective with the people you let into your life.
DAY 28: THAT INEXPLICABLE LUMP IN YOUR THROAT RIGHT BEFORE YOU’RE ABOUT TO CRY
I was sad, lost and talking about why I was sad and lost. (Ironically, 11 months later and I still, to an extent, feel the same)
A reminder that we are all simply human and we all have our struggles.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR SMOOTH TRANSITIONS THROUGH THE AIRPORT
Much like the title says, this post is tips and tricks to make the airport as painless as possible.
DAY 29: A RANT
Ranting about some serious topics.
It’s crazy to me to go through analytic and see what became the most popular of my posts made this year. Some hurt, some heartbreak, some happiness, some thoughtfulness. The biggest thing I’m taking from this year is growth. I may not be where I want to be yet, but damn, I’ve come a long way. I’m choosing to believe the progress is for something.
MILLENNIAL MENTAL HEALTH
I think this turned into a bit of a reminder that we’re all going through something and that we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but rather, seek to understand. Mental health is hard to talk about, but that doesn’t mean we should void it.
“THERE’S NO MONEY IN WRITING”
This was more of a collaborative discussion than a post of mine. I just wanted to hear from other writers what they thought of the writing process and what it brings to their lives.
LIFE WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY
What it’s like to live with self consciousness on steroids. What it’s like to overthink, the worry and to not be able to turn it off.
SO… THIS SUCKS.
This was my response to learning that people were ripping off my posts to post on their own blog.
TIPS FOR COPING WITH ANXIETY FROM A PSYCHIATRIST
I went to therapy in 2019, which was exceptionally helpful to me in some very dark times. From time to time, I shared some tips my therapist shared with me.
ON MAKING YOUR BLOG STAND OUT
Much like the title suggests, this was just a few mentions of how to make your blog stand out from the crowd, how to grab attention, how to make your layout, content and photos all align…
LETTERS TO ANYONE
Things I write, things I think, things I worry about late at night/early in the morning that I have a hard time putting into words.
BLOGGING 103: BLOG MONETIZATION
A warning, from a personal perspective about thinking before you jump into buying the WordPress account that allows you to put ads you on your blog. Ad revenue, without a steady stream of traffic, might not be all you think it is.
Today my mother told me that I’m way too focused on being sad all the time and if I put half as much effort into being happy, I would just be happy.
‘How do I do that?’ I asked her.
‘I don’t know. You just be happy. It’s easy.’ She said.
I try not to fault her too much because she really doesn’t understand mental health issues whatsoever. She’s never dealt with them so she doesn’t know that they’re very real and very difficult to overcome. And, if you’ve never dealt with them before, I can understand why it would be hard to grasp the complexities of it.
The thing is, though, it’s not as simple as she makes it out to be.
I can’t just think happy thoughts and become happy.
I can’t just be happy.
I’m not trying to be miserable. I’m not trying to be sad. I’m not trying to feel anxious. I’m not going out of my way to make any of this my reality. And I think when people stereotype it as a choice, that’s what makes it harder for people to talk about their mental health.
I want to laugh because something’s funny, not because I feel a social obligation too based on the people that I am around. I want to smile without having to think about it, without having to force it, because of the people that I am around. I want to just ‘be happy’ as she says.
But, if I don’t face these issues that I have, these internal struggles that plague my mind, I fear that they’ll plague me for the rest of my life. If I just grin and pretend they’re not there, they’re never going to go away. They’ll be there… probably forever.
Mental illness is a difficult subject for people to talk about. If someone breaks their leg, people can see it. They can see the physical injury and understand that person must be in pain because of said injury and they provide well wishes, support and hope to said person with broken leg that will invariably help them with their recovery. But, you can’t see an anxious mind. You can’t see a depressed soul. You can’t see a distraught heart. And if you’ve never felt something that you can’t see, this is, I think, where people struggle with helping those who suffer from mental illness.
You’d never tell someone to ‘just walk it off’ if they had a broken leg. So why are so many people so quick to say ‘Just be happy’ to someone who struggles with anxiety, or depression or bi-polar, or any of the other mental illnesses. Because they can’t see it, so they don’t understand it.
Talking helps. Sometimes it really can. If you feel safe and are able to open up to someone, sometimes talking can really benefit your situation. There are people who, though they’ve never been through it, do all that they can to try to understand.
But then there are people who won’t ever understand. Because this is the kind of thing that, unless you go through it yourself, is difficult to grasp.
To everyone in this world suffering in silence, I’m with you. I understand. To everyone being told to ‘just walk it off’ or ‘just be happy’, I know that life doesn’t work that way. Please, take the proper time and resources that you need to find yourself healing. Because, just like a broken leg, you need time to cope and to heal.
I’m wishing you peace, and for family/friends that understand. But, even if they don’t, I’m wishing you time to cope, to deal and to heal. Because everyone needs that – whether your hurt is physical (and visible) or not.
Some days I’m able to cope with my anxiety and some days it’s as though my internal organs are on steroids and I can’t shake the feeling of fear inside of me no matter what I do.
Today is one of those days in which I can’t fight the fear. I can’t minimize that sinking feeling inside of me that something is wrong, that something is out of my control and that something in this world is either already awry, or going awry any moment here. Basically I’m waiting for the proverbial shit to hit the proverbial fan.
I haven’t left my room much at all. I took my mom to the doctor. Other than that, I’ve been… hiding, almost, I guess you could say. This isn’t quite the fortress of solitude, but on days like today when I’m feeling this anxious, it seems to be the closest thing I can get.
I’m worried about… everyone, whilst simultaneously worrying about none of them because I know they’re fine. I know that it’s my mind playing tricks on me. I know that nothing is wrong, that everyone’s happy, or at the very least, comfortably neutral.
I’m not sure how to shake this. I’d give anything to feel calm. To feel like there’s a plan. To feel like things are falling into place.
Or at the very least, can the shit hit the fan already? At least if I know what’s going wrong I can face that head on…
The holidays are coming, and if you’re anything like me that means there is a lot of stress headed your direction. While holidays are touted as ‘splendid times’ for love and family and genuine feel good moments we’ll always remember, they can often come with a great deal of anxiety, judgment and arguments.
I’ve been worried about this. Mainly because I don’t want to come across as negative. But the truth is, for a lot of us, holidays aren’t a positive time. And I think that’s okay. You know, I’m not going to hide from that fact. I want to be open about it because I feel as though, when we try to hide those feelings, that’s when the holidays get harder.
I’ve teamed up with Stacy from Quirky, Confused and Curvy and we’re both sharing our top tips for making it through the holiday’s when you’re struggling with mental illness. For reference, I suffer from debilitating anxiety, so these tips come to you from the perspective of a very anxious soul. Without further ado, here goes:
- Holiday’s aren’t about you, they’re about your family. It might sound shitty, but it’s true. Don’t worry about your own happiness, make sure that your mom is happy, make sure that your siblings are happy, and make sure that grandma and grandpa and the neighbours and your friends are all happy. Whomever is coming over, show off your biggest smile and your heartiest laugh. If someone says something mean, change the subject. If someone says something racist, change the subject. You can call them out another day. Kill them with your kindness on this holiday and let them remember the good moments. Because, at the end of the day, as a human race we’re very quick to forget the bad and remember the good. If you focus on ensuring that your family has good memories of the holiday, if your family and friends have the good moments to look back on, then it was a successful holiday. And if you’re lucky, you can go back to your peace and quiet, free from the judgments the very next day.
- Remember that these days are only a handful of days per year. Something that I often struggle with is feeling like the holidays are never going to end. Truth be told, in the grand scheme of things, the holidays are just a few short days out of the entire year. The dinners, the mingling, the ugly sweaters, you can make it through, and you will. Though the odds may be forever in your family’s favour, you can and will get through this. Think of the upcoming holiday season like the big meals you’re about to eat. You get through them slowly, little by little, bite by bite. Make each Christmas party, gift exchange, festive activity a small bite for you to take out of the holiday season. Looking at these things through the view of a small, completely conquerable event, will make it easier for you to do. And if it’s something that’s hard for you to do – if you suffer from social anxiety like I do – or if you just struggle being around certain family members, taking the holidays in small bites will help your well-being vastly.
One extra piece of advice that I have is to control what you can, accept what you can’t and stop freaking out about your life. The calmer you can keep yourself, the better your holiday season will be. So remember your peaceful thoughts, your calming gestures and to note bite at an argument, no matter how enticing it might be.
Holidays aren’t always perfect. But I’ve learned that if you focus more on others than you do on yourself, it very much helps you get through without the debilitating anxiety that so frequently comes with.
P.S. I’m Canadian, and Thanksgiving has already passed here. I can attest that if you’re an anxious soul, sticking to these tips will help A LOT. Also, as a Canadian the extra ‘u’ in a few words are, in fact, meant to be there.
This post was done in collaboration with Stacy Alderman from the blog Quirky, Confused and Curvy. Stacy is one of the first friends that I made on WordPress and she’s been with me since the beginning of my blogging journey. She’s brilliant, she’s authentic and she has a lot to give this world.
To view her tips, please click here >
Consider subscribing to her blog while you’re there!
Hold on. I promise you that it won’t be this way forever. So please, I beg of you, hold on.
You might not know where this next year is going to take you and the sheer prospect of it might frighten you to your core, but I promise you that you can handle it. Good, bad, happy, sad, no matter what comes your way, you can handle it.
There’s a lot of unknowns right now. Even more than those unknowns, there’s a fucking lot going on that you cannot control. Please don’t let that weigh on your heart.
I know that you can get overwhelmed at times, feeling like there’s really nothing in this world you can do to make things better. It’s times like these that I encourage you to remember that it is not always you responsibility to carry the weight of the world. As much as I know you’re not a religious person, try to remember the sentiment to the statement ‘let go and let god’. Because putting everyone’s burdens on yourself is a really hard way to live.
Please don’t be afraid of the future. Don’t be afraid for opportunities, or lack thereof. Like the lyrics say ‘what is meant to be will be’, and if it never comes to fruition then it wasn’t meant to happen.
Stop worrying about money. You’ll always find a way to get the money – whether it takes a week, a month, a year or ten years.
Stop worrying about time. There is no rule that says you need to have an established life by a certain time. This is your life and you determine the time frame of which things happen, no one else.
Stop worrying about not being good enough. Worry about leaving a lasting impression on the world, especially your friends and your family. Worry about improving yourself daily and about making people’s lives better.
Hold on, self.
Hold on for dear life.
Work had, self.
Even with all the bad there is in this world, you can be good. You can lead by example and you can make change.
Be kind, self.
You never know what sort of challenges someone is facing or how hard of a time they might be having. Perhaps all they need is someone to show them genuine kindness.
Love yourself, self.
Regardless of the insecurities you might see when you look in the mirror, you’re a pretty fucking amazing person. And while you may see those insecurities so clearly, I promise you that the people who really matter to you, they don’t. And even if they could, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t care. It’s a nice feeling being loved and appreciated for exactly who you are, so stop letting those insecurities dictate your happiness. Let people love you for exactly who you are.
Regardless of what happens, you can and will get through this. It may seem like insurmountable demons right now, but I promise you that one day you’re going to look back on these times and be proud.
Hold on, self. I promise you that it won’t be this way forever. So please, I beg of you, hold on.
- Trying to please everyone.
- Fearing change.
- Living in the past.
- Being afraid to be different from everyone else.
- Sacrificing your happiness for others.
- Thinking you’re not good enough.
- Thinking you have no purpose.
People always wait for New Year’s Day to make resolutions and honestly, why? Make these resolutions today. Make change today. Better yourself today. You deserve it. You’re worth it. Don’t wait for some arbitrary day to try and change you thinking – start to try and change the way you think today.
It’s not going to be easy. And it’s not going to happen at the snap of your fingers. But if you make the effort to enrich your life with serious changes that will ultimately benefit you long-term, the change will be worth it.
Do it. Do it today.