The Silent Killer

Maybe you've heard Bell Canada's adds on the radio or television about "speaking out" regarding mental illness.

Bell has been one of the few companies to be so public with raising awareness with their campaign and it's one that is near and dear to my heart.

For the majority of my life, I have dealt with mental illness of my own. I've always wanted to blog about it. A few years ago I wanted to get proper treatment and I literally had to go through hell and back just to see a doctor.

I was placed on a fifteen month waiting list to see a psychiatrist. What was I supposed to do for those fifteen months?

Thankfully, someone who knew someone who knew someone knew a psychiatrist in the SOUTHERN USA, and I flew there regularly until I was properly diagnosed and on a medication that would help me. One day I'll write the long version of that story....but I don't want to focus on that today.

I've wanted to write in a different blog for sometime about my experiences living in a first world country while trying to fight to get my mental illness under control....and maybe now is the time to write a new blog.

But for now, I want to talk about what took me to the house of Mr and Mrs Gaulin, parents to Sarah Gaulin, that passed away at the age of 26.

Sarah had a fought against her mental illness and lost her battle. She didn't commit suicide. She died because of her illness.

Five years after her passing, her parents created a charity, the Gaulin Foundation, that provides scholarships to those effected with mental illness.

How did I found out about this charity?

Well, a few months back I decided that it was time to reach out and put some roots here and find something to do. I was frustrated with the lack of friends that I had (and the friends that I did have had little in common with me), so I joined a choir.

A quick audition and voila, here's your sheet music and start practicing.

An announcement was made during break that the charity that would receive the proceeds from our first concert in January would be the Gaulin Foundation.

I had chills. I joined the choir to improve my mental health - that had improved in a HUGE way from a couple of years ago - and here the concert is benefiting a charity that touches the lives of those that are dealing with mental health issues. It had come full circle.

This weekend I was dropping off tickets for the concert in at the Gaulin's house. They invited me in for coffee (and Maggie of course....) and we sat around the table and spoke about the crisis that exists regarding mental illness in Canada, the stigma surrounding it, and what Sarah went through, and what I've been through.

It was a complete honor to sit with them, to listen to their charity's successes, and hear about the beneficiaries of these scholarships.

But it was also very sad. Sad that the Gaulin's lost their daughter, but even more sad that in TEN YEARS, little has changed. When I told them my story of how I tried to get medical help, they nodded their heads along....since they went through the same barricades that I did a few years ago, and continue to face as I want to question the treatment that I'm receiving.

I am but a drop in the ocean, but I want to in my own way, start raising awareness and doing whatever I can do to get it out there, that at least 1 in 5 people have a mental illness. That these are high functioning people, totally normal and sometimes, the person that you least expect it. As sufferers from mental illnesses, society teaches us to hide our battle and to work even harder to over compensate.

This shouldn't be the case.

No one thinks twice about someone with diabetes. Diabetics suffer because their pancreas doesn't function properly. They control their disease with medicine, diet and exercise, and lifestyle. People with a mental illness suffer because their brain chemistry is off. They control their disease with medicine, diet and exercise, and their lifestyle. Both conditions are fatal if left untreated.

I'm not sure what my next step will be, apart from singing at my concert and reflecting on my time spent with the Gaulins, and seeing what I can do....for myself and for others....to help eliminate the stigma of these common diseases, and highlight that our country is in a crisis when it comes to dealing with these diseases.


Brain Vacation

Last week I was not in a good place. I was filled with worry and angst…unsure of myself and uncertain about the future. Trying not to go back and count all the mistakes I made of made or the choices that I should have done differently….

I needed…someone to protect myself from….myself. Well, my brain mainly. I needed a desperate vacation from my brain. The reality of the situation is, I’m ok. I have a very desirable professional profile (as I’ve been told again and again but every recruiter in Montreal), it’s just a matter of time. I’ve managed my finances and yes I’m certainly worried about money…but, it’s….money. As long as I have some and continue to plan and spend as frugally as possible…I WILL BE OK. But my brain was in panic mode….and I just needed a vacation from it.

Insert: three children (some days five), my dog, a puppy, a cat, and all of the activities that come along with getting three children ready for the day and the occasional referee in the evening. I try to be a bit hands off at night or I think I would burn out from my mommy bootcamp.
Is it wrong that this is my favorite time of the day? :P

Brain: totally gone. I’m lucky if I leave the house wearing socks. Which is even more awesome because I have to take off my boots when I get to daycare, so I walk around like a crazy lady with my big freaking hair in a ponytail, no makeup, sleep still in my eyes, in my pajamas, dropping each child off in their respective classrooms. I’m not sure what the teachers think, but I’m sure they are used to it.
Crazy hair day at school....unfortunately this resembles my every day look...


The general routine is:
  • wake up
  • wake up the kids
  • The kids chose/make their own breakfast (with a little help from me)
  • One of the kids helps me make the lunches
  • I do the girls’ hair
  • I check to make sure they have their mitts/hat/bag/snow pants/whatever other items they need
  • Head out the door
  • Arrive at daycare, ask one or two (or all three some days) to walk Maggie to the end of the road and back so that she can take care of her morning business.
The little dog has been pretty darn patient with the kids. 

  • Put Maggie back into the car
  • Take the kids to their rooms
  • Return home or go to the grocery/supply store to procure whatever emergency item we need or groceries that we need.
  • Laundry/cleaning/napping/whatever house errand that needs attention

Some days I don’t get in that nap….and wow. Those are some interesting days.

Last night was a non-nap day. I ended up eating a few sugar cookies that the kids made, did my workout, then around 9pm ate some microwave popcorn and a half of a cucumber. No shower. No hair brush. Brushed my teeth at 11pm (hadn’t the entire day!!!) and then bed.
SUGAR COOKIES AND POPCORN? Yeah. Whatever works.
Those are real live bags!! Maggie looks like she's had enough too!!

Oh – did I forget to mention that we accidentally locked the puppy in the bathroom, she peed a huge dog pee, I slipped in it, and of course, twisted my bad foot. So I’m limping around all swollen now.

One morning I came back to find my car door  COMPLETELY open. Dog and purse inside. Thankfully we live in a town of 17 000 people so nothing was stolen and Maggie just looked at me like, lady….you got issues.

Brain vacation accomplished!


One morning both girls were crying by the time drop off came around (I guess…parents…you know “these” mornings…) and one morning the little boy was near tears but fought through it. One child was at home sick one half day. And then, because this is a blended family, on Friday we received two more and there are FIVE children here under the age of ten. Since it’s the weekend I’m not really on duty but help out…well….when I feel like it basically. I’m certainly not the most consistent with them. But I figure that’s ok because come Monday, I’m back on duty.

I had planned to leave on Friday and come back on Sunday…but the 3.5 hour drive didn’t seem that appealing…so I’ll leave on Wednesday morning so that I can make my choir practice. I missed last week’s and we have a concert in January so I can’t miss too many rehearsals. I’ll probably sleep for two full days….or think that I’ve lost my hearing because it will be so freaking quiet.

While this has been challenging in ALL SORTS OF WAYS, it’s also exactly what I needed. I needed to be around the noise, I needed to feel like I’m contributing to SOMETHING, and I realize that every so often I need a break from the big city. I love that everyone is so friendly, everyone is so helpful and kind, and it’s just that small town feel that I miss. I also like the fact that I speak English everywhere I go. I really don’t realize just how little English I speak and how much I miss it.
The kids have all gone tobogganing and I’ve chosen to stay home so that the only noise that I hear is the little “tick tick tick” of the wall clock.

Feeling tired as F*CK, but very happy to be in Ontario. And very happy to be coming home on 
Wednesday.


My temp job & asking for help

After a very, very disappointing wait, I found out that I didn't get the job that I'm perfectly suited for. Also, my aunt's husband passed away the week before. Also, I'm getting very discouraged with the lack of jobs....and my lack of employment.

The stress of receiving my divorce papers, falling down the stairs and not being able to walk properly (still to this day), managing finances while not working, NOT WORKING, and a few other things...finally got to me.

I cracked on Thursday. Not to say that I haven't cracked a hundred times before, but on Thursday, I was inconsolable. I would cry. I would stop crying but my eyes would continue to leak salty tears. I worked out. I walked the dog after my workout, wet with sweat and in a tank top....and I didn't feel the cold. I just felt....like I had enough.

I know that I have many things to be thankful for, that I live a blessed life, that I have many accomplishments and reasons to be proud. On Thursday, none of that mattered.

Thankfully, despite my objections, the boyfriend came over, and just sat with me while I cried. Of course, he was able to get me to cheer up a bit, to come around, to eat something, to get out of this...zombie state of crying...but, I decided I needed help.

I called my best friend, who recently moved closer to me - from Alberta to Ontario - only a 3.5 hour drive - and I asked her to come stay with me for the weekend. She just happened to not have her kids for the weekend so her and her fiancé got in the car and came, arriving late morning on Friday.

I felt instant relief. I just needed....my people. She walked in the door, took off her pants and got a blanket and wrapped it around her like a skirt - just like she has for the twelve years that I've known her. Her fiance is basically a male version of her - and we just hung out, toured Montreal, napped, watched horrible reality TV shows, and talked.

The "help" I needed was just...some comfort.

While they were driving up, I heard her mention that she needs childcare for two weeks for before and after school and that she had to pay over $200 for it. Since I'm NOT working, and I can job hunt from any city in the world, and if a company that wants to interview me doesn't want a Skype interview, I'm only 3.5 hours away....on a completely dry highway (it hasn't snowed enough to stick around yet).

So, duh, of course I volunteered. I just procured myself the job of a 14 year old for a week or two....but it gives me a sense of purpose...and I still have the days to myself. I'll miss my main squeeze....but I need to be around people.

And...the best part? Where they live in Ontario feels like Alberta. We speak English here. People are more polite. It's a small town but big enough that they have a Walmart and a Micheal's should I get inspired to try to pretend that I do crafty things.

I left just after 17h00 tonight. Or I should say, "we" left, as the four legged furball came with me. Man, this dog has changed so much. I was concerned because there are three children (some days there will be five), one six month old lab-mix puppy and a cat. Maggie came in, chased the dog that's about thirty times bigger than her, tried to figure out how to deal with the cat, and then went DOWN THE STAIRS while the cat was on them, and hissing at her. One of Maggie's fears is stairs - but I've been putting her through stair bootcamp with all of the code-violating stairs in Montreal. So now she's a freaking rockstar. She's laying beside me looking at me like, Dude, you coming to bed soon?
Yes, I've put in effort and money into this dog, and yeah....maybe she's a little spoiled, but she went from a dog that petrified of everything and couldn't interact with ANY animal - to this chilled out dog. She still needs work. Every so often the medallion on her collar will hit her water dish and she'll freak the F out and I can hear her feet on the hardwood scrambling....but...I'm pretty happy about this little furball right now.

And I'm happy to be greeted by three children that love me (and yes, that will drive me insane) and to spend the week with by bestest friend.

I might be going through a rough time. And...that's ok.

'Cause I asked for help and I'm doing something about it.

November Update

Forgive me, it's been a month and ten days since my last blog post.....

But, I've been active on other areas of social media...Facebook, Instagram.....I just haven't felt like sitting down and writing. Although I miss it. I miss having something to write about and just opening up my computer and going.

I think I have a lot going on in my head lately....and it would do nothing but good things for me to sit down and write....but I just can't seem to get going.

I'll start with an update.

I had my 22 day vacation and I needed it. Badly.

For those of you that are lucky enough to not have gotten sucked into to opening a Facebook account, you won't know that randomly, Facebook posts memories and names them, "On This Day". They will post photos that you posted three, five, even six years ago. All I can say that 99% of these, in my case, hurt. A lot. I'm still not at the point where seeing a photo of my ex-step-daughters doesn't make my stomach drop. I go back and forth and question how I could have handled things differently so that they could have stayed in my life....and that's never a fun process.

However, while I was away, a photo of me popped up just before Halloween 2013. Three years ago.

Three years ago, I was going through our "first" separation, I was living in my cousin's basement. I was heartbroken, confused, completely lost, unhealthy.....

In the next three years that followed, I went through a "re-marriage" of sorts, a move across the country, adjusting to live in Quebec and commuted four hours a day for seven months, suffered the loss of my grandfather, went through a final separation and then divorce, moved twice more (once to Montreal and then to my new place), and went through two years of job uncertainty, broke my ankle (or whatever you want to call it - but that seems to be the easiest thing)....and that's not all of it.

So no freaking wonder I feel like a disaster zone.

I think of myself now - and I have my head on so freaking straight. I laugh, I have fun, I joined a choir to make different and new friends (and also now sit on the Board of Directors), I am able to do SO MUCH MORE than I ever could and I'm finally dealing with all of the "crap" that I carried around for twenty or thirty years. Life isn't perfect....but wow, it's a big step up from three years ago.

For once, that annoying Facebook "On This Day" was something that really made me think...and see that I am so much stronger than I believe myself to be, that I have had some amazing life experiences, and that I'm exactly where I am supposed to be.

Montreal is my home.

This doesn't mean that I don't miss my family and friends....I do. A lot. But I think that I'm starting to make some sense of life here. Yay.

Anyway, back to the vacation. Vancouver was cold, rainy, and I came in just as they had warned that a huge storm would hit. It ended up being more hype than not, but with my ankle....I wasn't able to do a lot.
Edmonton was busy, busy, busy....but I got to reconnect with quite a few people that I haven't seen in A LONG time. Like people I used to live in Madagascar with! It always sucks because I never get to see everyone that I want to....but I managed a fair chunk this time and finally I was healthy enough to enjoy myself and not just be stressed all of the time.

Hawaii was A BLAST. Yes, I went with my grandma and yes, STILL, it was a blast. She was very familiar with Honolulu, so she knew where to go and what to do and for the most part, I just followed. I didn't have to look at maps and try to figure things out and it was very nice. Plus, there was the fact that we could bob in the ocean most of the day and then still go out after (if we felt like it). Most nights were early and spent in our cute condo...but I didn't mind. I was there for the sun and the water and I certainly got that.



I wasn't sure how both of us would react to being in Hawaii....since the last time that both of us were here I was married and we were with my grandpa. Certainly we could feel my grandpa's presence most days...but, they were happy memories. He loved all things Hawaii and we each had a moment or two of sadness, but overall it was a wonderful vacation.

Returning to Montreal....sucked. I was sleep deprived, on the verge of being sick, and missing the people that I had just spent the last three weeks with. Loneliness set in...and then I ended up actually sick, and random job interviews were here and there....and I just didn't feel very well. I still haven't returned back to normal....but getting on with things, going to choir and socializing, and going through the motions eventually helped. Oh, and of course, Maggie. I can't forget Maggie. She missed me VERY much and has more more entertaining than ever. This dog gets crazier and funnier every month.



Unfortunately, last week my aunt's husband had a stroke and passed away shortly after. It was a very sudden event and everyone was quite unprepared for his death....but true to form, my family rallied and they arranged a funeral service in a couple of days. Everyone helped and chipped in...and while I won't be there, I know that it will be a very respectful and appropriate service. I somehow volunteered to make the programs for the ceremony - usually I'm good at these kinds of creative things - but I soon realized that it's much different when it's something that will be handed out at someone's funeral. I stayed up late two nights trying to get the template just right....and in the end I think I managed to make something presentable and sent it to Staples in Edmonton to be printed. Technology made this a lot easier....and at least I feel like I'm doing....something....

I know my aunt as a lot of hard decisions and changes to go through right now....and I know that we are all feeling that this is relatively close to the death of my grandfather....

I was rather numb about it until Friday....which may explain why yesterday I had one of the worst migraines that I have had in months or maybe this year. I just managed to finish the funeral program before crashing...

The funeral will be on Monday.

In potentially positive news....in one week (Friday, I hope), I will know if I have a job. I interviewed with an amazing company (three times actually). I want this job. I feel like it's the perfect fit for me, my career goals, and my lifestyle. But there is another candidate. He interviews on Wednesday. I am trying not to get my hopes up...but I enjoyed my interviews, asking my (hopeful) boss many questions and learning more and more about the company.

The job market is slowly picking up - there are more opportunities now, which is good.It's funny, last year I was interviewing at the same time and finding the same thing - it's like end of November/early December people are hiring... but...I don't care because I just really want THAT job. I think that it would be a good fit both ways....so let's see. Send me good luck.

A friend mentioned that I should pick out what I'll wear my first day of work at that job to help keep me thinking positive....so that's where I'm at.


22 Days, Part 1 - Vancouver

Well, I've started my 22 day tour..

First starting in Vancouver, then Edmonton, then Hawaii, then back to Edmonton.

I hadn't been to Vancouver in YEARS and couldn't decide what to do based on a long list of options... I'd love to just walk around....but I have this thing called a F*CKED up ankle....which seriously limits my activity.

Today's step count is 3644. Seriously.

But, yesterday's step count was in the 7500 range...so I'm paying for it today.


I'm very grateful that I'm able to walk again.....however....it's teasing me. I can do PIYO workouts 6 days a week (usually), but walking....KILLS me. I know that I've made a lot of progress, but I am so tired of not being able to do what I want to do.

I went shopping today for...maybe 45 - 60 minutes? My foot? Dead. In pain.


Not helping is that there's torrential downpour here. We had talked about visiting my grandma on Vancouver Island, I haven't seen her in YEARS, but with all of the storm warnings (that ended up being SO over kill), we figured that we'd just get stuck on the island or not be able to go at all. This is kind of a cop out for me...because I was pretty undecided if I was going to go or not....so Mother Nature decided for me.



Tomorrow I'm getting my hair done, a pedicure and manicure, so I'm getting all pretty. Which is nice....because I feel pretty far from pretty.


I know that weight is just a number....and I know that I am VERY strong and in very good shape (minus the ability to walk....), but I'm also at the heaviest I've been....taking medication that makes it extremely difficult to lose weight....and I'm kind of just over it. I'd like to just eat right and lose weight.....but that's not going to happen anytime soon. So patience and acceptance with my weight.
Patience and acceptance with my foot.


And enjoy my surroundings. As rainy and cold and windy as they may be.

Happy Thanksgiving ♥

Wow, I think I was on an Adele high after my last post. I'm still singing her songs and so thankful that I hung out with these four great chicks.


But today it kind of makes me sad that I don't know any people like that in Montreal. I had a group of friends when I was working at my first job, and we've stayed in contact, but I don't have any true, close friends. (Thankfully my very best friend is now only a three hour drive!!).

It's great to have acquaintances and I'm certainly taking steps to make more friends, but Montreal really let me down today.

I hate starting a sentence with, "In Alberta", but in Alberta, it's been my experience that if you know someone that doesn't have any close friends/family in the area, you invite them to your Thanksgiving celebration.

I ate brunch with a girlfriend on Sunday and she had to leave to make her contribution to her Thanksgiving dinner...I felt a little awkward. And lonely. 

So Maggie and I went and had a day walking around, chasing squirrels (um...her, not me, yet anyways), and then had a coffee outside on the terrace. Maggie is the biggest NOSY people watcher....it's fun to watch. I tried to make the best of the day...but I'm looking forward to having a break from Montreal.

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be grateful for.


On the Mastercard...

It's just after 11pm and I'm waiting for the subway.


The ticket machines are broken & I've had a glass or two of champers....so I hopped the gate (no idea that I physically could hop the gate!). If I make it home without getting caught....I can certainly say that I've had one of the bedayst nights of my life in Montreal.


The plans were simple: meet up with a long time friend that I had never actually met in person, walk around downtown shopping, then return home while they attend the Adele concert.


That turned into sparkling wine, a gin fizzy drink of some kind (or 2), poutine with duck confit for supper, and a last minute amazing deal on a seat for one at the Adele concert. I honestly think I had the best seat in the house.....here's my secret: wait until the hour before the concert & shop online.


The concert was easily one of the BEST concerts I've been to in my life. The fact that it was unplanned & the perfect amount of tipsy was the cherry on top.


Sometimes the best things in life are free, others....well.....aren't but are worth it ten times over.