It’s time for brain illnesses to be seen and heard

We Canadians love our universal health care; when we break a bone, have a baby or a heart attack we know we will get the help we need and we wont lose everything to pay for it. When we are clinically depressed, bi-polar, schizophrenic, and/or suicidal though it’s a completely different story. Often times we scream for help and no one listens. Family members are left lost and hopeless as there is no way to help a struggling loved one. Our health care system can fix every part of the body except the brain and it feels like our government really couldn’t care less. Psychiatrists must be met through referral and the wait list is years long. Psychologists costs hundreds of dollars per hour out of pocket and most families can’t afford that. So what are the options? Here in Ontario you can attend a mental health clinic for free with a referral from you family physician and attend group therapy with the promise of eventually seeing a councillor one on one. Often times the group sessions are not what the patient needs and they stop attending and once that happens they become the forgotten. No follow up care is offered. Not even a call to see if the person is alright. The system is overburdened and underfunded. The people who need the help are left adrift- hopelessly in pain. As a loving family member you have next to no options. Daily we hear about violent altercations at mental health hospitals because of the lack of funding for security and staff; and even if you do decide the risk is worth it and take your loved one there you will be turned away unless you have first gone to a hospital for assessment and a referral. If you are able to get the person requiring help to go through the trauma of talking about their needs over and over again and are able to get them where they need to be you are most likely going to be leaving with them soon after with a prescription that they are supposed to take without medical supervision and a newfound cynicism about the whole processes. It can be absolutely devastating. More often than not the person struggling with what is a very real physical illness will simply avoid treatment after even the slightest brush with the system and go on to suffer and so will everyone who loves them. It’s like watching cancer eat away at the person you love and you have no way to help them. Unlike with cancer though public sympathy is always tinged with a hefty dose of pessimism. The recent push to remove the stigma of mental illness has left people feeling they should be empathetic but instead the sentiment feels hollow and is tinged with lingering feeling of skepticism. The person suffering the illness can sense that and will hesitate, if not outright refuse, to talk about their needs. Who can blame them, you talk about it and people question the validity of your health issue and no real help is offered but if you don’t you run the risk of destroying every relationship you have and never knowing a moment of true peace or happiness.

So what do we do? We fight. We demand the help for ourselves and our loved ones. We write emails to our MPPs, our Premiers and our Prime Minister. We listen when someone tells us they are struggling or we ask when the don’t tell us but we can see it. We support them and urge them to keep trying. We make calls to our MPPs, the offices of our Premier and our Prime Minister. We use social media in a respectful manner to call for funding. We start demanding the help so many need.

I see people online sharing marketing ploys by big corporations and they feel they’ve done something to help but the reality is we’ve just given free advertising to a business that really isn’t doing anything to further the cause. It can all feel so overwhelming but this is how change begins. This is how we fight. And honestly, fighting feels a whole lot better than utter hopelessness.

Ontario MPPs.

Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

We all need a bang to the noggin.

Why are women so eager to tear each other down? Society as a whole does that enough so why, as a woman, participate? Yesterday I was reading all of the backlash over Amy Schumer’s new movie ‘I feel Pretty’ and I was appalled. The premise of the movie is that a woman with deep insecurity issues falls in the gym, hits her head, and when she gets back up she views herself in a much more appreciative light. She feels pretty! Cute, quirky…offensive? The beef people have with it stems from the fact that Schumer is white, blond, privileged and not exactly a large woman. So? Are they trying to say that women who fall into these categories don’t have self esteem issues? Are they saying that women who do succumb to the ridiculous pressures of society but possess any or all of those attributes are not entitled to their feelings and should be scoffed at? What exactly are these women angry at? I saw the trailer and thought it was funny. I viewed it as a commentary on how women need to give our heads a shake and stop believing that if we don’t fit a certain mold we should rush right out to get surgery, injections, laser treatments and a gym membership. The beauty standards are constantly changing and always ridiculous so how exactly can any woman feel perfectly happy as she is when we can never meet these impossible standards. When I was a teenager we worried our butts were looking fat in our jeans and envied the skinny girls. Now women pay thousands to have their bootys injected with fat that was suctioned from a less desirable location on their bodies. We are told we should have tiny waists in spite of the fact that hormones, child birth and stress, all send fat to just that location. Clearly nature doesn’t know what’s up. Flawless skin is something only babies have but women are expected to spend overwhelming amounts of money chasing that dream. Creams, masks, lasers, injectables, microdermabrasion, facials, plumpers, the list goes on and on. Our teeth should be pearly white and our bodies completely hairless…what could be more natural than that. Our hair is expected to be full and flowy with natural (looking) highlights and our nails perfectly manicured in whatever the latest shape and colour is dictated. We are expected to hit the gym on a regular basis but not become too muscular and masculine. Perfectly reasonable, right?

So when I see Amy Schumer dancing with glee down a street because her character feels attractive or shouting that she’s beautiful in a bathroom mirror I’m not going to be offended; I’m going to admire that and strive for that level of self love. I’m going to instead feel offended by society making me feel like I’m not pretty enough, thin enough, or flawless enough. I’m going to feel offended every time I see a person, man or woman, judging someone’s looks. We all need a smack to the head to hit the reset button and shake free from the detrimental messages society sends us. We all need to feel pretty.

Finding time for finding me.

Ever since I was a young girl I have loved words. I love learning new ones, writing them down, and just admiring their power. Because they do have power. Immense power. How you speak, whether it is in writing or the spoken word, can determine how others perceive you and respond to you. Socially, your vocabulary can limit you or empower you. It can make all the difference in the level of success you find in all areas of life. Granted, there are exceptions; apparently you can become president without needing to be coherent much less articulate…but I digress.

Words can be used to inform or soothe. They can be used to incite or inspire. Nothing is quite so satisfying as a good book. Nothing can make you feel connected like amazing lyrics. Immense power.

So, my love of words led to a passion for reading and writing. Life led to me abandoning both for a great many years. When my children were little I had very few moments to spare for reading, and writing was limited to pouring out my hopes, fears, and frustrations in a journal. Even that was sporadic at best. As my children grew older and relied on me less and less for daily requirements I began to rediscover my loves. First came the reading and in that I immersed myself in the words of others. I sought out different styles of writing and admired each one for their contrasts…if nothing else. I started to feel the urge intensify to write down my own thoughts and ideas and as time went on that urge only deepened. Then one day I started this blog. I revelled in it. I loved the feeling of just going with the thought process and putting the words down. I rejoiced in editing my work and making it “perfect”. I sought out books and articles about the whole writing process and the English  language in general. I discovered that I had forgotten so many grammar rules, learned long ago, and while my spelling is above reproach, I was/am embarrassed by my other mistakes. A simple lack of use is to blame. For a brief period of time I wrote like a fiend. Daily I would compose, if not publish, a blog post. I had an opinion on everything. Soon the followers came and that simultaneously thrilled and terrified me. People liked my writing! Oh lord, I felt pressured to perform. Then one day I just stopped. There were people reading, judging, and expecting. Suddenly my writing wasn’t just for me. I began my withdrawal by only writing and not publishing but then after my iPad crashed and  all of my work was deleted I became so disheartened I just stoppped. I still composed articles, stories, plays, movies, and more but only within the confines of my own mind. I wasn’t ready to share any of it. It wasn’t mere hesitation but an absolute refusal.

I told myself I just didn’t have time and yet I knew that was an excuse, one that I shared  with anyone who asked me why I had stopped writing. Then one day I realized I missed that feeling. I missed the rush of running with an idea, moulding it, and making it into something I was proud to share.  I don’t miss the feeling of writing for the reader though because it isn’t genuine. Some of my posts were simply done to amuse others or appease people who asked me to keep writing. When I reread these pieces I see only a glimmer of myself in there. Mostly I see what other people wanted. I see what made me let go of my love of writing.

So, I’ve had a break…taken a breather…and I’m writing again. Maybe not all of it will be laid out in my blog; in fact I hope most of it won’t. I have other forums I want to explore,other creative avenues I want to follow. I dream of writing a book, starting an online magazine or…

Basically, I want this to be for me. If others enjoy it then that’s a bonus. If no one appreciates my work than that’s a shame but not a deal breaker. I need to find time for me. For my love, my passion, my words.




I am constantly baffled by the inability of people to accept change in any way, shape or form. Unless you are living in a bubble you are going to have to face change.protective_bubble




Most recently the integration of Syrian refugees and the changing of our national anthem have been the prime examples. One, which entails saving innocent lives is in fact nothing new. Canada has a long, rich, history of helping those seeking refuge. Our country was establish by immigrants and yet I hear people complaining about the influx of “potential terrorists” like we have never welcomed others to this country before. Why the constant fear of the unknown? Why the utter lack of empathy? As I’ve pointed out to the few foolish enough to go toe-to-toe with me on this, if it were your family who’s lives were at immediate risk would you not want someone to help? Would you not want to be able to take your family to safety and expect your fellow man to offer a life-saving hand? You are more likely to die at the hand of someone you know than at the hands of terrorists. You are 5,882 times more likely to die from medical error than terrorism. Do you stop interacting with every other person you know? Do you stop going to the doctor? No, of course not; so why are we so panicked about this perceived threat? Well, the media of course. Every time we turn around the media has a new bone to chew on and is viciously shaking the hell out of it. Crooked, killer cops! The sun will give you cancer! Obesity kills! Terrorist everywhere! scary newsThese stories take the truth and turn it into an all-consuming horror story. According to the media it is a miracle we make it through to the end of each day without becoming the victim of some catastrophe. No wonder people just want to stay surrounded by the familiar and maintain the status quo. Everything is out to get us…or so we’re told. The reality is, you will most likely get through the day/week/month/year/lifetime without ever falling victim to terrorism. You may pass a Syrian-Canadian on the street and the experience will have no adverse effect on our life at all. You will be fine. Repeat after me…I – will-be-fine. Now go on with your day. Or better yet, make an effort to do something nice for a stranger and actually improve the world.

Now this nonsense about or national anthem…(taking a deep breath)…GET THE HELL OVER YOURSELVES! The change is minimal! It will now reflect the contributions of women in our military-as it should- and you will survive this! Canadian-ForcesSeriously people, this  version of the song has only been the official version since 1980.Thats’s right, 36 bloody years. I have been alive longer than this version has been the standard. It isn’t the original nor is it even the second, third or fourth version. Don’t believe me, read about it here.  We can get through a slight lyric change in our anthem. Instead of  moaning about it, lets celebrate that we live in a country where every member is valued and appreciated. Let’s be thankful we have rights, and no war-torn lands. Let’s all think about how fabulous it is that we have government that we can voice our opinions to without fear of public execution. Let’s SING THE NEW DAMN SONG AND BE PROUD OF IT!

Is that so much to ask for?

Facebook and False Empathy


  Every day our Facebook feeds are inundated with pictures of missing children, wanted criminals and sad stories of people in need. The images tug at our hearts leaving us wanting to feel that we’ve helped so we “share” the post, sending it out to all of our “friends”. The problem is, the second we hit that share button we forget what the faces in the image really looked like. We aren’t out on the streets scanning faces, desperately hoping to help locate lost loved ones. We aren’t gathering donations to send to families in need. We tell ourselves we have done some good but all we’ve really done is flood the newsfeed with yet another image to numb the minds of those that see it and then quickly forget it. I try to always read the story ( the full story) behind these images before I share it. Far too often I find people are sharing hoaxes or images of lost people long since found. If you don’t care enough to find out if this person has been found why are you sharing it? You are only clouding the vision of everyone you share it with and blocking the ones still missing from being found. 

Recently I saw a tweet saying that the local Women and Children’s Shelter was in need of common everyday items for the poor people living there and I thought to myself, ” Perfect, here is a chance to actually do some good!” I posted multiple requests for donations from the list of over 400 people on my friends list, confidant I would get an outpouring of support from all of these wonderful people… I was so wrong. Three people offered to help. Three.
Not a single share or like. I kept reposting, confused as to why no one was stepping up. Did they not see my pleas? Was this a Facebook setting issue? I continued to see posts regarding vacations, drunken weekends, coupon shopping and pedicures but no offers for donations of shampoo, diapers or juice boxes. No one wanted to give up a few dollars to help innocent women and children? How could this be? I began posting funny memes and silly jokes and I noticed the likes and shares rolling in. This is what people care about? This is what gets their attention. Of course, these things require no effort…no empathy. These things were easy, and required no sacrifice- large or small. This is what our society has become…and it breaks my heart.

I am going to share a “missing” post, 

Lost- compassion and empathy! If found please use generously.

Music snobs are missing the point.

I have no patience for music snobs. You know, the ones that snort with derision when they hear Taylor Swift happily be-bopping out of your car speakers and say, ” I only listen to …(insert moody, indie band here). To me music serves many purposes, so why would you limit yourself to one genre, one sound? Pop music can either irritate or up-lift me; if it irritates than I try blues, rock, r&b or country. What ever serves to soothe my frayed nerves. Each time/ each mood, something different is needed. At night, during one of my frequent bouts of insomnia I will listen to classical to soothe my mind but I also turn to classical if I need to be inspired, it can get my creativity flowing. My iPod is jammed full of hair bands, rap, r&b, country, pop…. you name it, it’s there. All except jazz, I just can’t get into jazz. If a song makes you feel good, soothes what’s aching , touches your heart, makes you think, or is just simply a lot of fun – what’s the harm? With so much negativity and violence in our world music should never be the enemy.

Yes, I get that there is a lack of “true music”, out there and we are being inundated with over produced drivel. Blah, blah, blah. Someone must like it, must feel happy listening to it,or else it wouldn’t sell. There is a place for it. I am very aware of the struggle for artists to have control over their own music and to be fairly compensated for their work, so I try to pay attention to who the artist is and their story and I buy independently produced music all the time.

I listen to old-school, new-school, and clearly-never-finished-school. I draw the line at racist, homophobic or misogynistic music, though I have to admit I do have an appreciation for some of Eminem’s work and he has been horrifically guilty of all three offences. I feel that music is a powerful force in our lives and our society, and our preferences are hugely personal and should not be open to ridicule. If hillbilly twang is your thang, if grill wearin’ hip hop thugs get you jumpin’, if scream metal speaks to your inner lonely child…you do you. No judgment needed from anyone else.


My writing has multiple personality disorder


A few months back I started my second blog, The Complexity of Me (wow, I am terrible at titles), and it was my intention to use it to explore my dark times and my battle to get through them. I wanted to keep this blog here a little more…light. No, not light…not as dark, maybe? Does the difference make sense to you? I want to discuss important issues here when need be but maybe not the deep dark ones that lurk in the very depths of my mind. I want to discuss things that rile me up but not the ones that tear me apart. The distinction was/is important to me. I want to have interesting and sometimes funny posts on this blog and not have them feel awkward or out of place following one where I discuss my issues with depression. I need to have my happy moments and my agony riddled moments separate in my writing because, while each is a very true part of who I am, it felt like they would devalue each other if placed together in a blog. I don’t think this comes from a place of denial since I am very open and honest about all facets of my personality. Nor does it come from a desire to write for you as the ones reading my blogs instead of  from the heart. I just need to have a place to be happy when I am, and sad when I can’t help it. I need the distinction in my writing that I can’t always find in my day-to-day life. Oh how nice it would be to say, “Nope sorry, I can’t be sad here; this is my happy place.” It would be nice but it isn’t reality. So I will keep my “Rantings” and my “Complexity” (geez, I really need to work on titles), separate entities that co-exist but work better apart. I shall call them – divorced personalities.

Still Facebook free!

So it has been one week since my vow to break the Facebook habit and I can honestly say it has been fabulous! Much a like an alcoholic I have thought about my little addiction often and been tempted to reactivate my account multiple times but thankfully I recognize my sickness and have pushed through the dt’s and the twitching because after all I am fighting the good fight. The fabulous part comes from all of the other things I have accomplished since kicking my dirty little habit, like actually reading books again. No more gorging on news feeds and timelines, I’m feeding my brain with literature again! I’m also writing – a lot. Here, on my other blogs, in my journal…everywhere but social media. And it feels good! I’m also reading more blogs, ones that I “follow” but had long since neglected and I’m discovering how much I love them and interacting with fellow writers all over again. I have discovered that I have a led a very sheltered life and that many of my thoughts and writing ideas are not terribly unique…but that’s for another post. 😳
I had an enlightening conversation with a friend yesterday, she asked if I had seen a particular post on Facebook and I said no and reminded her of my dramatic break-up. I jokingly said, ” It just goes to show how often you look at my profile since you didn’t realize it was gone.” Her response was, ” Why would I? I talk to you constantly, I see you all the time and if there is something important in either of our lives the other one is instantly involved. I get to spend time with the real you why do I need your Facebook?” She was right. Our lives are entwined in a way that can’t be accomplished through a website. She knows the ins and outs of my ups and downs. I am blessed to have many friends that I can call on for love, laughter and support. I have family that I adore and who always make me feel safe and loved. Why would I ever need more than that? Quite simply – I don’t.
Now, need and want are two totally different things so we’ll see if this break-up lasts. If nothing else I may enter back in to the fray with an all new/ healthier perspective…but not right now.


See, I’m not alone in this.”


I know, I know…New Year’s resolutions are a cliché. People roll their eyes at them and question why people make them only to break them soon after. I say, if you are taking a moment to pause and reflect on who you are and who you want to be than it’s always a good thing. It’s better if you do it all year long, constantly striving to be a good/better person, but if it takes a bright and shiny new year to get you thinking – so be it! It’s much better to try and strive for improvement, even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you wanted, than to never try at all.
So make your resolutions proudly! Maybe even resolve to be more self aware, honest and kind with/to yourself. Admit when you are wrong and change what it is that may be holding you back but cut yourself some slack for not being perfect – no one is.
Happy New Year!

2015 resolutions:

1.Think before I speak
2.Write more
3.Cut the social media addiction
4.Be kinder to myself
5. Enjoy what I have


The social media cleanse

Not long after its inception I became an avid Facebook user. Since then I have checked it religiously, enjoying the daily updates from friends near and far. I’ve revelled in their adventures and felt their heartbreak. I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with childhood friends and getting to know family members I hadn’t grown up with. Largely, my interactions and experiences have been positive, entertaining and often up-lifting. I have felt good about my role in this circle of interactions…until now. Last night someone called me on my condescension and it really hit home. You see, I am the type of person who is constantly assessing and trying to improve myself, or more honestly – judging and criticizing myself. So, when I feel good about one aspect of my person it’s a thrill. To be specific, I love vocabulary. I’m good with words and expressing myself. (My punctuation is a wreck but that’s something I’m working on. ) I enjoy learning about the ins and outs of the English language and I hope to learn 3 new languages in the next decade. It’s something I felt pretty good about…until now. Last night I was confronted on a comment I made on a post and while this person, and then subsequently her family, missed my point entirely and interpreted it somehow as I was disagreeing( in this instance I wasn’t), one of them brought up the point that I use my words as weapons and that I come across as someone who feels superior to others. It was a direct hit to my heart. Simply because I knew she was right. I had allowed my pride in my way-with-words to turn into a way to feel good about myself but sadly at the expense of others. I was judging others on their flaws as a way to feel better about myself. I also realized, in this particular incident, I was using a very passive aggressive method to lash out at someone I am still very angry at over past incidences. Anger I wasn’t even aware that I still carried about issues that were never resolved. Social media is a perfect venue for this type of interaction. You may rant and rave or passive-aggressively take aim at the person you feel has wronged you and then paste a happy face on when you meet in person and act like everything is fine. This is not a healthy way to be and it is definitely not the person I want to become.

My Facebook posts have recently been over-run with political rants and griping about companies. My Twitter, which I use sporadically, became a tool to shame companies I’ve interacted with on poor customer services. I was unleashing negativity by the boatload onto social media and I wasn’t even aware of it…well, not fully. I knew I was doing it but not to the extent that I was. I was allowing my mounting frustrations to spill out in an unhealthy and ugly way. So today I start my cleanse – my social media cleanse. I’m putting down the iPad, clearing my mind of all the negativity, assessing my role in all of it and making changes. I know who I want to be and I know how to get there. I never want to have to face my own words or actions and realize I had caused anyone any self doubt or pain. It isn’t who I am or who I want to become and if going back to simpler times (pre-social media times), is what I need to do than so be it.