On Vulnerability

This will be my last post for the indefinite future…I need to get back to being myself.

At any given point, I usually have two or three of these posts in the works, swapping places with a handful of others in the trash. The topics range from the less personal (e.g. talking about seasonal affective disorder – which y’all should definitely read up on if you haven’t before – or some other mental health condition), to those that are deeply personal – ones that I’d always struggle to share.

Over a year ago, I decided to start this blog to share a lot of what I had and have been struggling with in an effort to help myself and others heal. I would give myself a year to turn my mental health around. It was never easy, I was never fully comfortable telling my stories, and – I’ll admit – most times I didn’t want to. In every case, though, what made me share was the fact that maybe I’d be able to help just one person who was going through something similar. I became terribly passionate, not about sharing my life, but about helping someone.

I’d like to think I did.

Now, sixteen months after I began, I think it’s time I call it. This will be my last post for the indefinite future…I need to get back to being myself. I unknowingly took on an incredible task, and didn’t realize just how far this little project would go. I am tremendously happy with the results, both internally (within myself) and just how much positive feedback I’ve received from various people and groups.

Before I sign off, though, I’d like to leave my readers with a few of the lessons I’ve learned during this journey – and hope I’ll be able to give you something worthwhile one more time.

Being vulnerable is ridiculously difficult.

I get a lot of messages from people along the lines of “I don’t know how you do it”, or “you make it look so easy.” It really isn’t. Being open is very, very hard for me – especially in such a public setting. Being vulnerable can – to many – be seen as a sign of weakness, neediness, and a source of shame. It’s definitely not something I would willingly sign up for all the time. What made me share, though, was the hope that by being vulnerable it would inspire others to do the same, and to show that it’s not always a bad thing to ask for help.

Sometimes, people will get the wrong impression of you.

If you met me seventeen months ago, for example, you’d probably never think I would have been capable of doing something like this. I greatly enjoy my privacy and personal space, and it’s not a regular thing that I would be so willing to open up. By sharing so much of my personal life, I may have made myself too available, too open, in certain situations. While I enjoyed receiving messages, both for help and for encouragement, I’d often need to take a step back and re-evaluate if I was really ready to keep doing this. At this point, I think I’ve had my fill of the spotlight.

It may seem wrong, but sometimes, it’s OK to be selfish.

Selfishness is usually looked at as a bad thing, but sometimes it’s necessary to protect yourself. I’ve always believed that everyone needs a recharge sometimes, and as of late, I’ve been stretched thin. I think I’m a pleaser by nature, and love taking care of other people and other living things (if my dogs and plants could talk, they’d tell you)…but sometimes taking care of myself needs to come first.

That being said, I’m looking forward to being just a bit selfish over the next few or more days. Time for a little social media purge and do a little retail therapy! *googles closest Designer Shoe Warehouse*

All fun aside, for my readers: if you’ve been following my writing since the beginning, or have just recently found this blog…thank you so much for taking some time to read it. I’ll probably leave this site up for a while, so feel free to share it with someone you feel could use a little reassurance, or even just a break from their own struggles. I could definitely use a break myself. For my friends: you know how to reach me.

Wishing you the best and Happy Halloween,

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Phil.

 

 

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On the Casual Use of the Term “Depression”

Did watching an episode on Netflix make you have trouble breathing, or make you want to lock yourself in your bedroom and spend the rest of the night under covers? I’m not here to police language or take away from your experience, but I’ll put a few dollars on “probably not.” 

Hope y’all had a good weekend! If you’ve been as busy as me, you probably needed the break.

Besides playing way too much Fortnite (xchilphilx on XBL) and bumping new Travis Scott way too loud…I’ve been working on a few things behind the scenes. While those are cooking, I wanted to stop by and have a quick (but important) discussion on a topic that’s been on my mind for a while.

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How y’all doing?

Several weeks ago, Instagram began providing an option for users to ask questions on their story and have them answered by their followers. I’m always looking for topics to continue the mental health conversation, so I decided to ask my peeps if there was anything they wanted to read about. One follower and good friend (thanks, @theycallmetap) in particular started a conversation about whether or not I think mental health words and terms such as “depression” and “anxiety” are overused (spoiler alert: I do), and before too long this post was born.

You’ve probably experienced it in your daily life. Someone says “Ugh, this weather is depressing,” or “Have you seen the latest episode of X, so depressed Johnny died,” or “this traffic is giving me anxiety.” Regardless of the situation, it’s becoming (at least to me) a disturbing trend – both in my day-to-day life and social media. Trivializing and colloquializing (had to double-check the spelling on that one) mental health and its terms have unfortunately become a norm – more often than not, it seems, by people that just don’t seem to understand mental illness.

Using something too much, like a word or a term, can dilute it and remove the significance of its meaning. “I’m depressed” these days has really become equivalent to “I’m a little sad.” “This gives me anxiety” really means “I’m just a little stressed about it,” and so on. I once read that we would never use a serious physical illness (like cancer) to mean “a little sick”, so why do we use mental illnesses this way?

Did watching an episode on Netflix make you have trouble breathing, or make you want to lock yourself in your bedroom and spend the rest of the night under covers? Did a little bit of rain give you heart palpitations, sweaty palms, or make you feel you don’t deserve to live? I’m not here to police language or take away from your experience, but I’ll put a few dollars on “probably not”.

In my experience, using terms in this way really takes away from those who are going through serious mental health struggles…and it isn’t fair to us as a whole. In addition, it can further add to the stigma of mental illness by contributing to its misunderstanding and making anxiety, depression, etc. seem less serious or important. Mental health and mental illness are serious issues, so we should treat them that way.

So, all that considered, the next time we choose to use a term such as “depressed”, “anxiety”, or “OCD” and the like, I hope we all consider what those terms may mean to someone else.

What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear them.

Here for you always,

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Phil.

On Suicide

I once read a quote that suicide doesn’t end the pain, but rather it passes it on to someone else…someone you love, someone you care about. If you’re reading this and have been going through pain, please reach out to that someone. 

To be honest, I’ve been trying to write and finish a blog post like this for a while – over a year, at least. I would start writing, then stop, then start again…always being torn between wanting to share one of the most personal and darkest moments of my life, and wanting to not pick at that scab again.

I was ready to move on, to move forward. I had survived the longest and most difficult period of depression I had ever faced, and was ready to never go back to it. Ever.

Then, almost immediately after I had resolved to leave it in my past, the world lost Chris Cornell.  Then Chester Bennington right after that.  Reeling, I came back to this post, got halfway through, and stopped again. Cue June 2018, where we would lose Kate Spade, and then Anthony Bourdain. I decided that maybe it was time to spill again, to own what I had been through and share just one more of my experiences with the hope that it can help someone struggling.

This isn’t an easy story to think about or tell, but I’ll do my best. With disclaimers for the possibly triggering material, here’s “The First Time I Ever Wanted To Kill Myself“, by Phil.

It’s a warm day in April 2017. My day started as they usually do…wake up, shower, eat, pill. That evening was Easter supper at my aunts (a welcome break from being alone in the suburbs). My car was out of commission, so I rode my bike from my house to the train station. I remember feeling just fine at dinner – it was great to be in the company of family and people who care, and nothing was out of the ordinary. I would have never guessed that later on that night, I’d go through hell.

On the bike ride back from the train, I felt a huge wave of hopelessness set in. I got about halfway up the overpass near my house, and stopped. I felt like I couldn’t go on, both physically and mentally. All the negative things that I’d been through leading up to that point – the breakups, the fights, the car accident, asking my doctor for medication, the lack of direction I felt at my job – were taking turns flashing in and out of my head, and I felt an overwhelming urge to jump and end it all.

Thinking about killing yourself is a horrifying thing, and for so many reasons. I felt all the strength and determination I had previously built up over so long just wilt away, and my will crumble. I wiped tears and sweat from my face and I thought about just how I would go: I’d just leave the bike there and topple over the edge with my eyes closed. Would I hit metal or pavement first? Who would find me? What would my parents think? Would anyone else care? These thoughts and questions flew in and out of my brain at rapid pace, and I eventually physically crumbled as well. Feeling my legs give out from under me, I dropped to my knees and then just sat there leaning against the concrete barrier separating me from the fall. I spent the next several minutes convincing myself that I needed to press on, and that I wanted to live.

Talking yourself down from something like that, and having to convince yourself that you are worthy of living, is both a shameful and humbling experience. In what felt like the hour that had passed, I realized that I wanted so much more out of life. That there were so many goals and accomplishments left to achieve. That I wanted those dreams way more than I wanted it to end. I was ashamed that it had come to that point, but I felt proud that I had survived yet another low. With that, I dusted off my jeans, wiped the sweat from my forehead, got back on my bike, and pedalled home.

I don’t think I ever flat-out wanted to die before that moment, and I don’t think I really wanted to die at all. Rather, I just wanted the pain I felt to end. I once read a quote that suicide doesn’t end the pain, but rather it passes it on to someone else…someone you love, someone you care about. If you’re reading this and have been going through pain, I know it’s difficult to, but please try to reach out to that someone. You deserve to live.

I am happy to say that since this experience, I am doing well. Through a lot of hard work, a dash of therapy, and the belief that I can do better, I have been doing just that. If you are like me and aren’t currently struggling personally, but you care at all about someone else…check on them. Sometimes it’s the ones who seem the strongest that need it the most.

 

Continue reading “On Suicide”

On Coping

I wanted to write a post about how I deal with bouts of depression as well as share some ways I’ve found that help me get back on track. It’s a bit of a longer read, but I hope they help you or someone you know in even the slightest way.

Hi guys.

As usual, it’s been a bit of a break between posts. Things have been up and down, but I’m coping.

On that note, I wanted to write a post about how I deal with bouts of depression as well as share some ways I’ve found that help me get back on track. It’s a bit of a longer read, but I hope they help you or someone you know in even the slightest way.

Alright, on to the meat (sorry, vegans) and potatoes.

Avoid the negative.

This includes negative thoughts and words. When I’m feeling less-than-ideal, I tend to make things even worse by putting myself down, especially with my own words. On my worse days, this ends up putting me in a terrible cycle: I feel down, and then I’m hard on myself for being down, which in turn tends to make me feel worse. On other days, I make plans then either cancel or fail to meet my goals, which in turn makes me punish myself for not meeting them or canceling on someone. I also tend to make everything black-and-white (things are either all good, or all bad), which we know in reality is never the case.

Challenging these thoughts and feelings can be difficult, but is a necessary step in moving forward. One of the ways I do this is for every negative thought or feeling, I try to think of a few of the positives relevant to it. For example, if I have a stressful day at work I try to remind myself that hey, I have a job. Even though it may have been hard to get out of bed, I was able to make it there.

Another method I use to try and cope with negative thoughts and feelings is to own them, but only within that moment. For example, there have been more than a few times where I’ve said to myself “I feel like I’ll never get anywhere” or “I feel like I don’t have a purpose.” When I’m struggling with these thoughts, I try to make an effort to change them to “I feel like I’m going nowhere right now” and “At the moment, I feel like I don’t have a purpose.”

See the difference? They change from absolute statements to ones that are more open-ended and a bit more optimistic than before. Sometimes, slight changes in your thinking like these may be all you need to get you going.

Add some structure.

I try to avoid the term “routine”, because for me nothing ever goes 100% according to routine…but I find having some structure to my day helps me cope. For example, I try to set a general idea of when I get to bed and when I want to wake up. I also try to make a mental note of one or a few things that I want to get done or should get done that day, such as “get up from my desk every so often” or “go for a walk at lunch” or “finish this task today.” More on this later, but I find that these small action items really help me feel good to accomplish.

I approach meals the same way as bedtime, by trying to have a general idea of the times I want to eat. There are still days that I get either so busy or so overwhelmed that I “forget” or don’t have too many opportunities to have a decent meal (which is never a good thing), but I find that even just mentally reinforcing the fact that I need to make time to eat will help me stay on track. This leads me to my next point:

Eat.

Some people (me) don’t have an appetite when they’re depressed, while others find comfort in food. I’m not here to tell you what you should or should not eat, but step one is making it a habit of getting your meals in.

As I mentioned above, I regularly end up skipping meals (especially breakfast) due to wanting to stay in bed longer or being “too busy.” I always find on these days, though, that I am more irritable, fatigued, and more prone to feeling down than if I took the time to get something healthy and filling into my body.

Other suggestions I would add here include reducing sugars and other carbs (in the future I’ll post about a few of the diets I’ve tried and how they made me feel), as well as throwing in a multivitamin to help your body get what it needs.

Ease off of alcohol.

For some people this may be harder than others, but I found personally that when I stopped drinking as much, I generally felt better. I used to drink a lot to cope and to escape from what I was going through. This coupled with the usual social drinking saw me imbibing way more than the average person, and nothing good came out of it. The days after binge drinking were my worst days, as everything I was going through felt magnified.

When I stopped drinking, I almost immediately saw benefits. My mood was better, I lost the weight I gained, and generally felt less fog-brained. I began to replace the alcohol with other activities, and I really believe it made me better off.

I’m not suggesting to cut out alcohol completely, but I’m living proof that alcohol in moderation is orders of magnitude better than making drinking a regular thing.

Set small goals. 

The smaller the better. There’s a common saying that goes “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The bigger picture may be overwhelming, but I find if I take things one step at a time (trust me, sometimes they are VERY small steps – like just getting out of bed), eventually I get into a rhythm and begin ticking things off of my to-do lists.

I find even for larger goals, if I try to break it up into smaller stages or steps…it makes accomplishing the larger task (especially ones that seem daunting) just a bit easier. It also helps if you’re as impatient as I am, as I find accomplishing the smaller tasks tends to ease my mind, reinforcing the fact that I am making progress.

Take a break.

I am a firm believer in the mental health day. When I was working in IT full-time, one of our running jokes (even if the issue had nothing to do with the computer) was to ask the client if they’d tried unplugging it and plugging it back in. Sometimes, our bodies and minds need that reset…even if it means getting away for a period of time. Even if you can’t afford to take a full day off, even making time to get away from that desk or computer screen can help.

When you do take that break, though…it’s important not to use it as a form of avoidance, and equally important not to neglect yourself. The idea is you want to use your breaks to get better. If you’re exhausted, use it to rest and recuperate. If you’ve been neglecting something physical or medical that’s been bothering you, use it for that doctor’s appointment. If you’ve been meaning to start working out, now’s the perfect time to go to the gym or try that yoga class you saw being advertised.

I personally make it a point to improve my self-care on my days off, and I highly recommend it. Brush your teeth, take that extra shower, try that new skin care product you bought…whatever it takes to get you going and feeling like a better you.

Finally, when you’ve exhausted all of your other options…my final point can be very helpful.

Reach out.

Many of us tend to want to deal with our problems on our own, regardless of what the problem is. Unfortunately, that can mean keeping the worst to ourselves and suffering alone. On the bright side, there’s simply no rule book and nothing set in stone that will say you have to.

The easiest way is to talk to someone you know who has or is going through something similar, as support is so invaluable. Even if you never discuss the topic directly, sometimes just having a bit of company is enough to get you through a rough patch. If you don’t have someone like that close by or available to you, there are a number of support groups out there. You may choose to attend the ones that offer support in-person, or simply call in or join an online group. Reading or talking to someone about their story can help put things into perspective for you. You’ll likely find that more people than you think go through similar struggles everyday, and you’re never alone unless you want to be.

Finally, speaking from experience, professional help can be a life saver. If you’ve been feeling like you’ve tried everything else and nothing is working, I really recommend it. I used my work’s employee assistance program, which may also work for you. Your doctor may also have similar resources.

As always, thanks for reading, hope even the smallest thing here helps, and feel free to reach out if you’ve got any comments or questions. Until the next post, don’t give up!

Phil.

 

On Medication and Mental Health IV

I’ve always considered medication to be an aid, and not a fix-all solution to treating my depression. Over time, I slowly began to replace meds with other things.

So it’s been a little while since my last post. I’ve done some traveling, made some changes to my diet and fitness routines, and generally have been busy with the 9 to 5 grind.

Before I get into the content, I’d like to thank everyone that asked about the blog and when the next post was coming. If this is your first time reading, please feel free to check out the other posts.

If I had to pick a different title for this post it would probably be “Why I Stopped Taking Medication For My Depression”, or something similar.

Now before we get into the “why”, I want to be clear. I’m not giving up, ever. My choice to end medication as a form of treatment for depression didn’t come overnight, nor was it an easy one to make. I do think, however, that I made the right choice. What follows next is the shortlist of why I decided to stop.

My regular side effects never really went away. While they did get easier to handle over time, there was never a long stretch of time where I didn’t feel some sort of effect from the medication. These included constant fatigue, the occasional numb feelings, weight gain, and libido changes. It really hurt my productivity, and I never really fully felt like myself. I didn’t want to continue feeling that way without any sign of it getting better long term.

The meds would eventually stop “working”. While I do feel like the medication did help in stints, there were a few occasions where I felt like they stopped doing their job. I’m not sure if my body had adjusted to the dosage, or if they simply weren’t effective anymore, but there were periods of time where I felt worse than before I was on medication. My doctor and I agreed to increase the dosage each time, but eventually I would experience the same issues. I did not want to continue taking high doses of a prescription med, and I didn’t want to try a new/different medication (complete with new and possibly worse side effects).

I sometimes felt “that” feeling. I’ll talk about this more in another post, but on occasion (especially the time following a dosage change), I felt like I wanted to check out. I had never really had suicidal thoughts or feelings before, especially before I decided to take medication. Eventually, I decided that the risk was too high for me to continue. I wanted to live.

It’s important for me to note that I didn’t (and one shouldn’t) go cold turkey. I spoke to my doctor about stopping, and we agreed to slowly and gradually reduce the dosage. Even this process was difficult for me, as I felt like the symptoms got worse during this time. I was constantly dizzy, felt light-headed, and very, very irritable. My depression felt worse at points, as well. Eventually though, things got better and now I’m doing very well. Minus a few recent (and minor) hiccups, I’ve been maintaining a pretty stable mindset for the past several months and – save for the occasional joint (more on that later) – have been drug-free.

In conclusion, I’ve always considered medication to be an aid, and not a fix-all solution to treating my depression. Over time, I slowly began to replace meds with other things. These include more physical activity, more regular sessions with my therapist, and being more mindful of my sleep and what I put into my body – including food. I still have the occasional “off” day, and I know it will be a while before I’m completely symptom-free (if ever), but I plan to stick this out the usual way I do – one day at a time.

 

On Grief and Loss

Getting “over” any loss – whether it be a death, end of a relationship, or otherwise – takes a huge toll on me, and I’m not sure I’ve fully moved on from some of them. For some, I’m not sure I want to move on.

My maternal grandfather was born and raised in Greece. He grew up in a small village, survived a war, married my grandmother, and moved his family from Europe to Toronto in search of a better quality of life and opportunity.

Before I moved to Canada permanently, I’d stay with my grandparents during every visit. While his English wasn’t perfect and my Greek was basically non-existent, we forged a bond between papou and grandson that was cut way too short about eight years ago.

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Papou manning the grill.

I lost my grandfather in the middle of what should have been my final exam period in university, and got the call that he had passed right before walking into an exam room. While I knew that he wasn’t doing well, I don’t think I would have ever really been prepared to lose someone close.

Needless to say, I never took the exam. Still reeling, I was forced to essentially re-live his loss every time I had to talk to a professor, ask for a death certificate, or apply for some sort of extension allowing me more time to get things done academically. In the end, I would spend an extra semester in school making up for classes and exams that I just could not get myself to sit through. I still dream about my grandfather, and there are days when – even though it’s been years – I still feel the loss deeply.

Grief doesn’t always occur with a death. It can happen with a breakup or divorce, loss of a job, death of a pet, or even financial hardship. Sometimes, the loss doesn’t even have to be your own.

Around a year ago, a friend of mine lost their mother. I had met her in person only once, well over a decade ago when I was still new to Canada. It was a cold fall night, and I boarded a GO bus from York University to Streetsville, Mississauga (which might as well have been a flight to China – I didn’t know what direction I was headed in and nothing looked familiar) to visit my friend at her house.

If you’ve followed my posts so far, you’d know that that period of my life was complicated to say the least. While I was still struggling externally with adjusting to a new country, and still battling with an internal need to belong, a woman invited her daughter’s friend into her home with a large smile and open arms. I don’t remember many of the other details of that night minus a grand tour of the house and a hot meal, but what stuck with me was the way I felt there – welcomed. To see and experience that sort of kindness, offered to a complete stranger…that’s something that, for me, would be very hard to forget. I can only imagine how her loss must have affected (and still affects) that family, and they’re in my thoughts and prayers.

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Papou and I, early 90’s.

Everything you read in life about grief and loss will probably tell you that losing someone you love is one of life’s biggest and most difficult challenges. Most sources may even tell you what the symptoms of grief are, or that there are several steps involved in the process of grieving, or that there’s professional help for that sort of thing. What you may never read, but definitely may experience at some point in life, is just how long it takes to get to the other side of grief. Sometimes, you may even feel fine for a while – even years – and then that one song plays or someone brings up that thing you used to do together, and you’re back to where you were before.

Getting “over” any loss – whether it be a death, end of a relationship, or otherwise – takes a huge toll on me, and I’m not sure I’ve fully moved on from some of them. For some, I’m not sure I want to move on.

That being said, if you’ve got someone in your life that you love and appreciate…don’t wait until they’re gone to show them that you do.

Until next time,

Phil.

 

Continue reading “On Grief and Loss”

On Medication and Mental Health III

Life has a funny way of coming full circle. I suppose I needed some closure, some sort of sign that I made the right decision with my mental health, and life sorted that out for me.

Hey all. Sorry for the delay.

In the last few posts, we looked at medication for mental health – from the various kinds to reasons why some people choose to (or not to) start a treatment plan involving medication. In this post, I’ll get into why I personally decided to give medication a try.

Now for the heavy shit.

Just about a few weeks shy of four years ago, I was driving home from a night out that involved a work Christmas party, as well as a few bars in Hamilton, ON. I had had more than a few drinks at the party, but stopped drinking several hours before a friend and I left to go out to the bars. I barely drank there (maybe a Heineken or two), and after another few hours, left the area to go home after dropping my friend off at his house.

Before we get into the rest of what happened that night, let’s preface it by summarizing my last few months leading up to it.

To start, I had gone through a rough (but amicable) breakup, and while we did talk often enough I was still struggling with the fact that she had moved more than half a world away. I had just begun to really get back on my feet again emotionally, but regardless of the reasons – losing any kind of support system is a bitch.

The romantic part aside, I was having a rough time with my life in the professional sense. Unsure of what I really wanted to do (or even if I wanted to stay where I was working), coming into the office everyday was a struggle. Once I would get there, however, there was enough work to keep the mind busy – at least until the end of the work day. To top things off – I was still adjusting to a move from the city to suburban living, and had to keep adjusting in the middle of the coldest winter I could remember. It was the first year that I really started believing that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing.

Now back to the night that would change my life, thankfully for the better.

Overnight, the weather had become incredibly colder and even icier. As I’m driving home, my thoughts are racing. What could I have done better in my failed relationship? How do I feel more fulfilled at my job? Do I even like it there, or am I only really actively going because I know it’s a distraction? These and what felt like millions of other thoughts shoot through my mind to the point where I don’t notice that the lane I am in is rapidly ending, and I need to switch over to the left-most lane to get on the highway.

I must have hit a patch of black ice, because my car just won’t slow down. I pump the brakes rapidly, but no luck – my car is sliding sideways towards the ditch between the on-ramp and the highway. A sign on the side of the road (one of those directional arrows that line the ramps) crashes into and through my driver-side window and nearly ends up in my lap after missing my face. My car careens off of the on-ramp, and ends up sideways in the ditch.

I have to escape out of my mangled vehicle through my passenger door, crawling through snow, ice, blood (from superficial cuts, thankfully), metal, and glass. I make it to the top of the on-ramp, where eventually a police officer shows up and helps me into his car and out of the cold. I admit to having a few drinks earlier, and blow and pass a breathalyzer (I still get a ticket for driving with alcohol in my system – didn’t have a full license at the time). Sitting in the back of a police car, regardless of why you’re there, is a sobering and humbling experience. Given what I had already went through though, I was just happy to be alive and warm.

I still had to get home, though. I ended up having to tow my car back – where overnight a branch from an iced-over tree fell through some power lines and cut power to my side of the neighborhood. No power meant no elevator, so that meant at least eleven flights of stairs just to get to my freezing apartment. I quickly change and jump under a blanket, still a bit shaken and absolutely done with that night.

At this point, I was already seeing a counselor every few weeks or so to try and get help with my mental illness. After these events, though, I decided I needed (scratch that, I owed it to myself) to give myself more of a fighting chance. Cue the medication, which I spoke to my family doctor about and have been on since.

Flash-forward to just over four years later, I’m driving back from Hamilton. Same sort of on-ramp (no booze this time, though – I’m still watching my intake very mindfully), same shitty weather. This time, the thoughts are different. I’m content and hopeful. I am excited to finally fly out and head back to The Bahamas for a few weeks to see my parents and friends I don’t regularly get to see. Same slippery black ice too, unfortunately.

I hit this patch at a much slower speed, but still couldn’t get my car under control enough to slow down and avoid a collision. This time, however, I don’t end up in a ditch. I hit a guard rail, break a fender and bend a rim just enough to where driving it home wouldn’t be safe. Not so bad, all things considered.

I end up having to tow my car off of the highway and back home again, but this time it’s to a house I own. There’s no power outage this time. I sort out the payment details with the tow-truck driver, step into my warm townhouse, take off my shoes, walk up one flight of stairs to my master bedroom, and fall into my comfortable bed.

Life has a funny way of coming full circle. I suppose I needed some closure, some sort of sign that I made the right decision with my mental health, and life sorted that out for me.

I hope if you’re reading this and are struggling, that you’ll make my advice and try and take care of your mental health. It’s always worth it.