Music is one of my greatest healing tools when it comes to my mental health.
2017 was a killer year for me, especially when it came to my mental health. For the first time in six years, I felt like myself and I didn’t have any major depressive episodes (that lasted for months at a time). It was a milestone that I am so grateful for. Not that I’m trying to diminish the impact my PTSD has on my mental health, but for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about starting another year off to a good start.
Has every day been great? No. Have I had my moments where my PTSD kicked my ass? Yes! But the one thing I’ve learned about my mental healthis that I take it all in stride. I take it day by day. I can’t predict how my mental health will play out over a week, let alone a month, or even a year. That isn’t something I have control over. The best I can do is take a deep breath and keep moving forward.
But I’m still determined to make the most of 2018, regardless to what the future has in store of me. I’m going to have some crazy and wild moments this year (and I finally get to marry the love of my life!), so in keeping my best foot forward, I’ve been keeping my music updated on my phone. I’ve been creating lists of kick-ass songs to help motivate me through the battles and songs to help me when I’m feeling a little bruised and battered.
By finishing another manuscript to one of the many novels I am working on. (Cue loud cheering!) After months of hunkering down and locking myself up in my writing den, I finally finished my NL novel, which is now officially titled, Where the Land Meets the Sea. Hopefully, with much luck and wishful thinking, I can get it published later this year.
But besides finishing another novel that I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into, I’m sure like many of you, I too sat down and wrote out some New Year resolutions and some goals I wanted to have completed by the end of 2018, both personal and professional.
And while maybe I have already broken a few of them (cutting back on Tim Horton’s ice capps…I am failing miserably so far!), there are some things in my life, no matter now much I plot and plan for, I have no control over.
Here we are at the end. Somehow most of us managed to survive the Christmas season mostly intact and if you’re anything like me, you spent the last few days in a haze of confusion while filled up on too many sweets and too many home cooked meals. It didn’t even really occur to me how close New Years Eve was until my friend texted me and asked what she could bring to our NYE party.
This time next week, the big man in the red suit will start making his rounds around the world, delivering treats and presents to everyone who was good this year. Kids will be leaving out milk and cookies (and maybe some carrots for the reindeer), and parents will be scrambling to wrap last minutes gifts and stock stuffers. (Ahem…I mean for the gifts that Santa won’t be bringing ;)!)
These next seven days are probably going to bring around chaos, both at work, at home, and of course stores and malls will be jammed packed with people who leave their shopping to the last possible minute. Homes will be bustling with laughter and cheer, while kitchens bubble with aromas of Christmas baked goods and preparations for large holiday feasts.
And while there is enjoyment in the chaos, these last ditch-efforts to prepare for a perfect holiday experience can be overwhelming. And if you’re like me, living with a mental illness that prevents you from processing stress on a normal-functioning level, these chaotic moments are severely overwhelming. It only takes one little thing to go wrong, or too much noise, or sensing someone else’s frustrations or tension to make me waver. It takes virtually nothing to send my brain into overdrive and suddenly I’m an anxious mess. Keep Reading!
Disclaimer: If you are really struggling during this time of the year, you can contact the NL Mental Health 24 Hour Crisis Line at 1-888-737-4668. Or if you’re not in crisis and just need to talk, call the CHANNAL Provincial Warm Line at 1-855-753-2560.
Remember to check in with loved ones who you know could be struggling. It could mean the world to them.
The one month of the year were suddenly everything turns from calm and relaxed into chaos and confusion. Where even the most organized and put-together person somehow manages to fall off the rails and suddenly there are gifts not bought, decorations not put up, and within the first week of December you’re already sick of hearing Michael Buble’s renditions of our favourite Christmas carols. (Sorry Michael Buble). In Canada, you just barely have the poppies off before Christmas is shoved in your face. Keep Reading!
If there is one thing I am trying to improve on, it is checking my blog mail. Seriously, I know procrastination is an arch nemesis of mine, but as dedicated and loyal I try to be to my blog, I tend to forget to filter through my emails. Sometimes I overlook them, sometimes I open them when I’m scrolling through my phone in the morning – before the caffeine has kicked in yet – and completely forget to reply. I know, it’s no excuse, but I’m working on it. Let’s just say I have lots of “Oh Crap!” moments several days later when I realize how stunned I have been.
But I’m working on being more diligent with my blog mail, I promise!
Sometimes we experience events or go through circumstances that chip away parts of us, moments that change us forever, sometimes for the worse. When trying times come, the results can leave us wounded or sour – bitter.
Though difficult circumstances may change us or leave behind scars unhealed, sometimes through darkness we can see the light. Sometimes the events that make us bitter can have a silver lining after all.
Getting pelted with lemons isn’t necessary a bad thing. It’s what you do with the lemons after that defines you. Do you throw them away and let the bitterness eat away at you, or do you use the lemons and make something sweet – something good?
Would you rather reach for the tequila or make lemonade?
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I really started coming into my own since I started publicly sharing my story, my battles with PTSD, and my advocacy for better mental health rights and services.
The world threw lemons at me so I decided to make lemonade. (See what I did there?) *Insert shameless book promo here!*
I started advocating for mental health in 2015, and since then I have been given and have stumbled upon some of the greatest opportunities. These past three years have been the best in my life, not because my writing career has started to take off, but because I am also making a small difference for others like me. I started doing my part to help advocate for change, for the end of the stigma, for a better understanding. I fully believe I have found my calling and that has given me great joy.
But there is one thing that happens when you open yourself up to others. You also have to endure and entail all sorts of questions from other people. Keep Reading!