Eulogy for my Dad


Eulogy for my Dad

Friday, October 7, 2016

dad-gradDr. Murray Boles, August 27, 1928-October 5, 2016

As many of you know our dad’s passing on Wednesday [October 5, 2016] came as a surprise. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about because Dad wasn’t the sick person we saw the past two years. He was a vibrant and active man, a healer and kind father and husband.

I could tell you about all of dad’s professional accomplishments but they really are too long to list so I’ll try and summarize.

Dad was born in Windsor, Ontario and so was my mother, but they met in London, Ontario, where I live now. Dad was attending the University of Western Ontario to become a doctor and mom was attending Victoria School of Nursing.

Dad received his degree in diagnostic and therapeutic radiology and was a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and Fellow of the same prestigious organization, as well as a Fellow of the American College of Radiology.

He worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Sarnia, Ontario waiting to immigrate to the US to practice there and started working at Grace Hospital in Detroit. He later became Chief of Henry Ford Hospital Therapeutic Radiology. In fact, he started that department and is a legend in the hospital because he forged into new area of cancer treatment and research there. He also held several teaching positions including Clinical Instructor, Assistant Professor and Acting Chairman in Radiology at Wayne State University Medical School. He was Director of the Therapeutic Radiology Residency Program and School of Radiation Therapy Technology at Henry Ford Hospital.

Mom and Dad moved to Columbia, Missouri in 1983 where Dad opened his own cancer clinic in conjunction with Columbia Regional Hospitals, where he also held the title of attending physician. That’s our dad on paper.

dad-2The man I remember, as a child, was very unassuming and quiet. He didn’t talk to us about his work but sometimes we’d go to his office with him. My biggest thrill was being allowed to use the typewriter. I think that’s where I got my start learning to type so quickly, that and mom making me take typing in Grade 9, which I thought was ridiculous but look what I do now. I’m a writer and can type 80 words per minute. So, yes, mom and dad had our future quietly planned, at least they knew we were going to attend university and created a life that allowed us this opportunity.

Of course there are so many memories I have of growing up and what I tell people is that, truthfully, I had a perfect childhood. We had loving parents who really cared about us. We learned the value of a dollar. Our parents came from modest families. When they married they weren’t wealthy. They bought their dream home in Farmington, Michigan for $25,000 and the living and dining room parquet floors were a place for my sister, Anita, and I to practice gymnastics because they couldn’t afford to furnish those rooms for several years.

One story dad told us was when he was in medical school and got a notice for a second term tuition. Though he worked in the Canadian Naval Reserve during the summers, something he was very proud of, especially in his retirement years, but that year he didn’t have the money to pay for his second term tuition. He went to the accounting office and they told him to fill out some papers and he got a bursary. Dad would give mom a dollar each week and asked her to hold onto it for him. They would go to the infamous Bobby Sox diner in London on the weekend and he would use that to have a hamburger. Being a skinny guy and putting all those hours in for school and internships, etc., this was a wonderful treat.

Dad had a loving family. We often visited our grandparents, dad’s parents, Bloomie and Joseph who lived in Windsor with dad’s brother, Uncle Lew. Lew and Dad were actually 21 years apart so Lew was more like a big cousin rather than our great uncle. The home they lived in was built by our grandfather and our father. We had our cousins, Stephen and Ellen State and their parents, Frances and Jack who lived in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Some of my fondest memories of bonding with dad included the day he decided to make bread from scratch with me and Anita. Mom was fastidious about a cleanly home, so he shooed her out the door that day and promised to have the place spic and span when she returned. I’m not sure how clean it really was because I remember being covered with flour from head to toe, but the result of our hard work was delicious.

On Sunday we would attend Hebrew School and Dad would take us to the bagel store and bring home a dozen bagels and cream cheese and lox and make scrambled eggs and we’d have a yummy brunch.

Dad also had a wonderful sense of humour. He would always pull a prank on mom on April Fool’s Day. Each year she swore she wouldn’t fall for it, but she always did.

Dad loved music. Every Sunday he’d pull out the portable record player. I know all the words to all the songs from Gigi and loved singing very song along with Maurice Chevalier.

He loved sailing, though his only solo attempt resulted in husband and wife overboard. Mom wasn’t impressed, to put it mildly. He enjoyed playing golf and tennis.

Our parents were married for over 50 years before mom became sick and died in 2009. They were the love of each other’s lives and we all missed mom, but dad missed her terribly. They were each other’s best friends. Every morning before he headed to work Dad would bring two cups of coffee on a bedside tray to their bedroom. Mom would be in bed and he’d sit on the side of the bed and, sipping coffee as they’d talk quietly together. He’d go to work and come home at night for dinner because they both felt it was important to be together, as a family, at the end of the day. As I said, it was a pretty ideal upbringing for my parent’s daughters.

In 2012 dad decided to move back to Michigan. He said it was an area he was familiar with and he would be close to me and his brother. He loved Canada and was proud to be a dual American and Canadian citizen.

I know this is just a sketch of our father’s life. He was a remarkable man. And today [at his funeral], as we put him to rest so that he can be with others that he loved so much, we ask that you remember him and all the wonderful times that you had with him when he was alive.

Eulogy for my Dad was originally published on Write From Here

Learning from loss


I’ve been writing blogs about my journey for a website called Headspace. Right now I have blogs two posted:  Till Death Do Us Part: Living the Vows of Marriage and Life After Death: Death, Grief, Mindfulness and Meditation. Two more are slated for publication in November and December, and I’ve been commissioned to write another two. They’re all based on this journey from grief to ‘new normal,’ and in between. The amazing thing is that I’ve come to a point where I can write about the sadness but the ending is uplifting. That’s a huge leap from then to now.

In my last post here I wrote about the beginning of a relationship. It was an amazing journey. I learned I could have feelings for someone else and not feel survivor’s guilt. I learned that I could enjoy life and feel passion. But I also had to learn other lessons that weren’t always uplifting. In the end we parted, and my lesson since then has been that I can live my life as a single person and be a whole person on my own. It’s another chapter in this ‘new normal’ life.

I don’t see myself being alone for the rest of my life. I will never forget Bob and he will always be my husband. Those of you who have gone through this understand. But many of us also feel the need to connect with someone to move into a new chapter even, or especially, after such a profound loss. .

airbnb-superhostOne of the most influential things in my metamorphosis from sad and bereft has to do with opening my home to strangers. I became an Airbnb host in October 2015 and, to date, have hosted more than 40 guests in my home, from as close as my own city. to as far away as New Zealand and China. With each guest I became more confident and comfortable sharing my home. I offer my guests a place of respite and sanctuary from busy schedules in their everyday lives or if their visit brings them here to study or work. In return, they’ve given me gifts and notes of thanks and written glowing reviews on my Airbnb site. I must admit I’m a bit jealous because my cats – Joey and Cassie (get better reviews than I do! And for my efforts I’ve become an Airbnb Superhost, which is really just a status but it’s nice to be recognized for being a kind, caring host.

This week I begin what I think will be the final phase of my mental health healing. I’m taking a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) program for depression, to help with depression relapse. I’ve felt strong enough to handle the sad moments myself these past few months, but having tools to combat it when it reappears can only be a good thing. Depression is like any disease. It doesn’t just disappear. It’s ongoing and must be treated. I use mediation, exercise, work, positive affirmations, gratitude and have good friends surrounding me with love. I am thinking positive thoughts. It feels like another lifetime when I was holding on to dear life. That’s a good thing. I’m stronger now.

I’m even strong enough to work again and actually can focus (no more ‘widow brain’). This year has brought me new clients and a positive attitude about my abilities, capabilities and talents as a writer. I have a more focused perspective about what I want to do and the clients I want to work with. I am manifesting my desires and they appear.

We all lose loved ones and I am close to losing someone very special in my life again. It’s the natural ebb and flow of life. But if I have learned one thing from loss, it’s that someone new comes into our life at just the right time when we need them. And if we are lucky they stay with us, at least for as long as we need them. This keeps the flow coming in. Life and death are not mutually exclusive. They are what we must experience in our time here. And with loss comes more understanding about ourselves. I have learned a lot from loss, and I am sure I still have more to learn.

Learning from loss was originally published on Write From Here

A new beginning


Girl alone in Field-ID11559-640x427My friend tells me if you send out ‘intentions’ to the ‘universe’ for things you want, they will be fulfilled.

I knew I wouldn’t be alone for the rest of my life, but I also knew I had to be happy with myself before I could share my life with someone else.

This time last year I tried to take my life. I had been in an abyss of depression and grief, a dark hole pushing me down, down, down. It may sound cliché, but all I saw was unending sadness and darkness. That was the bottom.

But from the bottom you rise up, and I did, tentatively and methodically. Depression had been a place of comfort for me. It had always defined me. It was my safe place, ironically not at all safe.

To rise up, I had lessons to learn. I had to retrain my brain to think differently than the way it had worked in the past. Part of my journey was a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  (CBT) course and learning to look at the positive instead of sliding automatically to the negative. I had to learn to control my anxiety and, ultimately, be at peace with myself.

I knew I had to be in a place where I was happy being alone with myself and feel strong on my own.

Once I learned my lessons through CBT, and put them into practice, I began to change. I did find a happier place. I could feel it becoming part of my life. I felt comfort remembering Bob. I shed the guilt I was carrying. I could rejoice Bob’s life and remember him forever, but now I could share mine with someone else.

I began to speak my intention out loud, telling friends so it was no longer a thought but a spoken intention. I no longer felt like it would be betraying Bob. For the first time since he died I felt he wanted me to be happy and that the ‘new normal’ life would include a new relationship.

Couple Silhouette Sunset-ID11554-640x427At the end of December I met someone. He is special, kind, caring and very different from Bob. It’s been a month since we met, but it seems like it’s been much longer. And we are both open to finding out how it will unfold and happy with how it is now.

I don’t have a crystal ball that will tell me what will happen in a month, or a year, but I’ve learned to live in the moment (through practicing meditation and mindfulness over the past two years). And right now, in this moment, this feels right, and it’s time to share it.

May his memory be a blessing


So many days and dates have passed. A year from when I was in the hospital came and went. I meant to acknowledge it and I did, in my head, but not through my fingers – words on the page. 

Some days I slip back, but now I feel like I’m taking three steps forward and only one back, once in a while. 

I am not a widow anymore. I am a person standing on my own. But sometimes I lean on the pasGirlfriends-ID11545-640x427t. People can talk about former relationships and no one flinches, but when someone mentions a loved one who died they cringe, so I share my memories with others who have lost their partners and we nod in unison. We remember fond memories as the sadness recedes it’s still there. How do we explain this to someone who doesn’t know? And how do those of us left behind move on, cope and remember? This is what I believe.

When you lose someone from this earth, when their last breath is expelled, there is an indelible mark left on those who spent their lives with that person. The closer you were to them the stronger the bond. Eventually we begin remembering happier times, but we never forget, and a pain sears through our chest when some memories come. We don’t want to let go. We need them to be remembered. 

I’ve been wanting to do this and I’m ready. I’m writing a book that I hope will help others understand so that that when they go through the loss – and it’s more likely than not that they will – hopefully they won’t feel so alone. So the book begins like this…

One, two, orange, blue. How many will it take? Should I just use the whole bottle?

I was counting pills that night. There was no rational thought. I had reached the bottom of an endless number of sad, lonely days. I felt weak and welcomed death. Anything I could do to alleviate my pain had to be better than what I was feeling day after day after day.

Profound, gut-wrenching grief is horrible. In the beginning you don’t believe there is anything but pain. The journey itself seems insurmountable. But the opposite of living is not living, and for those left behind it leaves another horrible hole of despair.

When someone you love dies there are lessons to be learned. But when you are awash with grief you are numb. It’s nature’s way of protecting you. Slowly the protection peels away and then comes the excruciating painful reality. “He is here. No, he’s gone. I should tell him that. Oh, no. I can’t. He’s not here…” It plays over and over in your mind like a horrible song. It knocks you over and punches you in the gut. You get up. It happens again.

I’ve heard people say that when a loved one dies friends are there for you, but then they go away. My story is different. For me people came to help, some I barely knew, because I posted on social media and people felt a connection to me and my story, and to Bob. They were knocking at my door. Calling me. Some shared confidences in person, others on social media, telling me secrets about their own lives and intimate journeys. Some things I remember, but not everything as I fell into and out of the fog.

Each person who entered my life over the course of days, months and these past years had a lesson for me. My mind selectively chose which ones to remember. Many have been repeated and ingrained in my heart.

When someone you love dies, part of you dies too. My fight to find purpose in life again has been long and arduous. Grief took away my role as wife and partner. It shattered family ties. Some mended, but will never be the same. And so there is more loss. 

I am not overtly religious, but one thing I heard over and over again was the phrase “May his (or her) memory be a blessing.” This is a Jewish honorific – an expression conveying respect or esteem when addressing or referring to a person. I read somewhere that when we mention the deceased person’s name and we say it along with “blessed memory” this infers that each time you think of someone who has died, or say their name, they are blessed, and so are you. So the memory you have of them turns into a blessing for you and for their soul.

I want Bob’s mehappy woman-570883_1280mory to be a blessing. He was a beautiful person and I hope that I can share that too, as well as the lessons I learned through grief. The lessons he taught me when he passed on. May his memory be a blessing.

I am anxious about…or am I?


I am taking part in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy group for Anxiety. The idea it to desensitize you to your  anxiety by revising them. The first step is to write down scenarios of what I think could happen based on my most anxiety-provoking thoughts, as if they are happening to me right now. I have struggled with this trying to decide what to write about and have come up with another way of looking at this. So this is a draft of what I think I will share with my group.

angst-802639_1280I have been asked to write down what will create the most anxiety for me, and write it in the first person, so here it is.

I am afraid that I will be alone. That my husband will get sick and die. That family relationships will falter as a result of this loss. That I will end up in the mental ward of a hospital because I tried to commit suicide.

Oh yea, right. That happened.

The idea of writing down the anxiety and worst-case scenarios, then revisiting them over and over again is to desensitize you to them. And perhaps the CBT for Anxiety would have been beneficial if I hadn’t been living all the outcomes of anxiety-provoking situations, and pushing myself into some these situations, or having to face them because there is no other choice.

Here are some examples. I hate driving long distances and in busy traffic. Over the past year plus I’ve been driving long distance to Michigan to visit my Dad and the traffic there is harrowing, but I haven’t had an accident (yet anyway) and if I do I’ll have to face that. That doesn’t stop me from driving there or to Toronto either.

My dad almost died in the hospital so drove there in the winter – I hate winter driving – and had to live through the whole hospital situation again. (My husband got sick March 11th 2013 and died June 18, 2013 and you don’t want to hear the whole story or it will make you cry. Trust me because it’s made many people cry.) But here I am taking care of someone in the hospital again. I’ve been exposed to hospital settings over and over again since my husband died. I’ve felt PTSD, re-living the past in these hospital situations, but continued this immersion because I had to, and I actually am desensitized to it.

I hated public speaking. I joined Toastmasters. And sometimes it’s uncomfortable but I’ve done speeches and survived. I’ve been on panels professionally and done hour-long presentations in front of groups. I’ve been teaching classes since 2002. Sometimes one person in the class doesn’t like something I’ve done and I’ve learned to accept that. On a larger anxiety-ridden scale, my teaching contract wasn’t renewed because the head of the department took a personal disliking to me. I felt ashamed but I had to go on. I prefer everyone to like me, but in reality not everyone will. That can be a really tough pill to swallow in job-related situation. But I’m alive.

eyes-730743_1280I don’t like to make a fool of myself (or feel like I am) but I’m taking risks that could lead to that; learning guitar from an instructor who won’t let me give up, taking Zumba classes at age 60 in a room full of mostly younger people. I ran an interview teleseminar this week and it was scary, but I survived and will be doing these bi-monthly for a while.

I am a professional writer but became afraid of negative outcomes and began sabotaging the work I was getting, thus creating the negative outcomes myself. But I learned that not working is worse. It inflates my low self-esteem, an issue I’ve dealt with most of my life. So this isn’t the outcome I want and I will be working to get work again. It’s scary, but I’m living this one, not just writing it out.

I write about my husband’s illness, death, my journey after, revealing myself completely. Guess what? It turns out people what to help. In fact they’re actually drawn to your story, even more so when it’s a sad, devastating story about someone you know personally, or have gotten to know through social media. As a result I have new friends who are there for me when I need them.

masks-827731_1280I really don’t like being alone. I never envisioned this life for myself, but now I’m living it. Do I want to write out the worst-case scenario? Not really, because I don’t believe I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t. But first I have to live with living alone and being lonely and I face that every day. Weekends are the worst for me, but I come through alive every Monday.

As for what “could happen,” I don’t lose sleep over whether I’ll get a horrible disease, could be in a car accident, or may be accosted in a dark alley. I live safely, but don’t close myself up and hide in the house.

After two years of devastating grief and slowly climbing up from a dark pit, I’m realizing that the laws of attraction have benefits. I believe that positivity draws people and positive situations to you. Negativity repels possible relationships and good things that can happen. Who wants to be around someone who is always negative? We avoid them, right?

So, truthfully, I think I have cleared things that created anxiety for me, but may have even gone beyond that because I have faced my most anxiety-provoking issues head on.

happy woman-570883_1280In reality, I’m grasping at straws trying to write down negative things that aren’t really causing me anxiety. I know that the real secret is to Live In The Moment. That’s the lesson here. We some control over the future, but not over unforeseen events. We can’t keep creating ‘what if’ situations because chances are even when they happen you have no idea what the outcome will be.


The Magic: Happy is a Choice

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/Free

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/Free

The ability to be happy has always be there for me, but I’ve never wanted to carry through. Sometimes it’s easier to wallow in self-pity and depression. Every time you get knocked down you want to say “This is too much! I can’t keep trying to get up!’ OR… you can seek ways to make your days happy. These are the lessons I’ve learned, but I haven’t been practicing the learning that is supposed to lead me to a fulfilling life. Now I am at a crossroads. I need to find a place with less pain and more happiness. When you’re in pain you fight hard to get rid of it…

When I was younger I hurt my back. It was so excruciating it overshadowed my whole life. Some days I was incapacitated. I needed a cane to walk. My daughter (9 at the time) had to tie my shoes for me. I felt defeated. But the pain drove me to find a way to better health. It was difficult, and took several years, but today I walk upright. With the help of chiropractic care, massage therapy and after intensive physiotherapy, I now swim and exercise regularly and consider myself blessed because I have my health back. I fought to get here.

But my mind has not been healthy. That became evident after Bob died. I hid behind him. He was my support too. Then he was gone.

Image courtesy of Supertrooper/

Image courtesy of Supertrooper/

The beginning of my path to finding positive mental health came when I had a breakdown and ended up in the hospital. After I was referred to group therapy classes. When Bob got sick and after I’ve seen a multitude of therapists. Friends have taught me affirmations. I’ve practiced meditation. But I realize that I haven’t truly being following through with intention to heal myself. I was always looking for someone to make me happy.

Now I know that even though I feel alone I’m really the only person who can make me happy. So I get up and dust myself off again, and start my newest venture. I am following the book The Magic (thanks to my friend Simone​ for sharing this with me).

Today I am writing about my dreams for a better life and what it will look like – health and body, career & work, money, relationships, etc. I will write 10 things every day that I am grateful and feel blessed for having in my life. And each day I will read and do what the book suggests for that day.

To some this will sound like phooey. I get that. I was that person not so long ago. But I know now, and- have seen proof, that the universe gives back what you give to it. Positive attracts. Negative repels. I have been following the negative path. I am persevering to travel the positive road.

Image courtesy of bandrat/

Image courtesy of bandrat/

Change is hard, and I know this just as much – maybe more – than anyone else. I need to have the momentum to stay the course no matter what obstacles are placed in my way. I must persevere because there are no other choices. This is the only way I will survive and, more than that, learn to love life again and draw other people to me so I am surrounded by love and caring. I have to learn to banish the negative depression and sad things from my mind and push on.

And if I falter I will re-read this post again, because we all need to be reminded that life has its ups and downs. Sometimes we just have to believe in what we believed in as children, that magic is real.

One Day at a Time Part III


June 23, 2015

  • I haven’t been truly depressed for a while. I have sad days and moments of depression, but they pass quickly.
  • I continue to live by the decision to live, but not just for others, but for me.
  • I don’t need to be depressed to write from the heart. My best writing has been through this journey. I have touched so many people and they tell me this constantly. They continue to reach out. I am just trying to figure out how I can write from the heart without tears. This is my next lesson.
  • Depression doesn’t have to be my safety net or blanket of comfort. I have lived with it for so long I didn’t think I could survive without it but I can. I just have to take it one day at a time.
  • Life is always about learning. I have to keep learning how to live in a healthy way and, unfortunately, without Bob. It still makes me cry and I’ll never “get over it.” Life isn’t fair and I don’t have the “why” answers, but I am no longer afraid of death. I am always surprised and feel inspired when I learn something new that rings true with me.
  • I will never be happy every single day, but when I am happy people are drawn to me (not just when I’m sad and grieving). When I’m not happy I will cry but the sadness won’t last forever.
  • I want to work again, and I am taking steps to do this now, marketing, setting goals – things I could never do before, even when Bob was alive.
  • I can make plans for the future and set goals. Setting goals always scared me my whole life because I felt I had to do it in some perfect way. Maybe I won’t meet the exact goals but at least I’m trying. And maybe life will take me takes me on a different path but “I am doing the best I can” and “It’s good enough.”
  • Bob’s death didn’t cause my depression and anxiety but contributed to the depth of both. I have always been plagued by depression and anxiety (more than just your average anxious moments). Bob was my anchor and kept me grounded. My grief journey has been doubly hard because of this. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do., but I am stronger because of this journey.
  • I am more aware of my mental health. Everyday people struggle with anxiety and depression, but try to ignore it or don’t recognize what it is . It seeps  into their lives and relationships and can destroy them. I recognize the signs of depression and anxiety and have been given the tools to combat them. Even more important, I have been given the gift of true insight and I am grateful for this.

Note to self: Sadness will come again but it doesn’t have to overshadow my life. Reach out and ask for help and it will be there.

NOTE: June 29, 2015 I went to see my psychiatrist and asked him to release me from his care. I continue on medication under the care of my own doctor now and with the help of a therapist I journey into a new program, CBT for anxiety as I venture back into life and finding my new normal.

One Day at a Time Part II


This is the second post about my learning outcomes and how I’ve changed following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depression. When I finished the program I was asked what I LEARNED. And I wrote this out because I find writing the best way to express my ideas in the most coherent way for me.

June 23, 2015

I call this program, Train the Brain because I believe that’s exactly what it does. I believe that a combination of the new medication I’m on, and the learning and daily documenting of positives in my life, that were part of this program, resulted in these positive outcomes:

I have changed my thinking patterns and coping strategies to deal with depressionThis has also helped me control my anxiety.

Look for the positive, but more importantly I now WANT to focus on the positive. I had the tools to do this before, but didn’t allow myself to do it. In part, this had to do with feeling guilty that Bob was dead and a belief that I should somehow suffer to make his memory a blessing.

I am the only one who can take control of my life and my mind. I have been given the tools to do this but without the will there is no way this will happen.

It’s not all about me. There were several quotes posted in the room where the group therapy took place. My favorite was:

“What others think of me is none of my business.”

If something went wrong, someone was mad or unhappy, I felt like I did something wrong. The truth is that it’s not all about me, it’s about them. It’s so hard to learn this and even harder to believe it, but if you do it frees you.

The true meaning of living in the moment and mindfulness. This came to me in the last two weeks of the program. It was like a light switched on and that amazing “ah ha” moment came to me.

  • I can’t control what happened in the past. To ruminate over all the bad or sad things won’t make it better. By brooding over past mistakes I can never move forward.
  • I don’t have control over future. Bad things will happen, but good things will happen too. Focusing on “What if?” isn’t going to change the future. In fact, this creates anxiety.
  • In the moment means being PRESENT AT THAT MOMENT. Yes, we are busy. Our mind often moves back to the past, or goes forward to the future, but if we are really, truly aware that the present is where we are, then by focusing on that present moment we make the most of our lives. We don’t rush through every moment and miss it.
  • We can only do our best at any given moment, and maybe by doing this we have less regrets. No more: “should have, would have, could have.” 

Good enough is good enough: I recently read a book about not trying to be a perfectionist because we can never do anything perfectly. I’ve spent my entire life trying to live up impossible expectations, set by me for me. I believe I was trying to be perfect but, of course, could never achieve it. Good enough is good enough.

I am not alone in my struggle with depression. Through my hospitalization and hospital therapies, including the CBT class, I found people who really understand how I’ve been feeling. They have dragged the ball and chain of depression around themselves. These are everyday people you would say ‘hi’ to on the street. They are not “crazy,” in fact most are more sane than some people who won’t admit they are plagued by anxiety and depression and don’t take the time to figure out how to be the best they can be.

Taking time for oneself isn’t a sin but rather a gift we can give ourselves. We don’t need to work 24/7 or always have the cleanest house or the biggest or the best this or that, or work long hours at work to be better. Do you really want your headstone to say “Hard Worker?” instead of “Loving Daughter, Wife, Mother, Friend…?”

I have family, friends and even acquaintances who care about me. I have met people in hospital and through therapies who are kindred spirits. I have friends all over Canada and the US who saved me the night I almost took my life. Through social media, after I posted my concern about finding someone to take care of the cats I had just brought into my life, they sprang into action and contacted friends and family here who came to help.

I am starting to believe that I am capable. I’m still plagued by anxiety (to a lesser degree) and low self esteem (and, to some degree, imposter syndrome). But almost every day someone tells me how I’ve inspired them. I am starting to believe that I am capable of inspiring people and, most importantly I deserve to be happy.

Next post: How I’ve Changed.


One Day at a Time, Part I


In March I wrote about the fact that I was taking a program – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Depression. This was the second mental health therapy program I’ve taken since I was released from the hospital. It has been a challenge, to say the least.

I’ve been writing about metamorphosis lately and that’s where I believe I am now. I had a meeting with one of the case workers at the hospital who ran the CBT program and I had to tell her What I Learned and How I’ve Changed. So, being me, a writer, I wrote about it.  I’ll break this down into a few posts over the week because it’s lengthy. I will start here with the background to fill in some of the blanks.

June 23, 2015

The past two years has been a tumultuous journey for me. It has also been a time of many epiphanies. To say ‘it hasn’t been easy,’ is an understatement.

I believe I have always suffered from depression since I was teenager. I was diagnosed when I was 40. I was put on medication (Prozac). I weaned off (with my Doctor’s permission) hoping that I would be able to manage without it, but found myself in that dark abyss of depression again, so agreed to go back on the medication. I was on it for almost 20 years.

Despite the medication I have always suffered some symptoms of depression and low self-esteem and extreme anxiety. After Bob died (June 8, 2013) I started a slow decent, fueled by intense grief and (I learned later) the medication no longer working. Instead it was making me more depressed and I became suicidal. My anxiety was out of control. The slightest little issue sent me into a frenzy. I couldn’t think straight. I felt immobilized by fright.

I was hospitalized in October 2014 after an attempted suicide. Doctors quickly diagnosed the biggest issue,  the medication no longer working and, ironically, this meant it was making me even more depressed. I was admitted to the psychiatric ward and my medication changed under the care of a psychiatrist. I attended classes and through the learning was able to label my anxiety issues. My low self-esteem was also at an all-time high (no pun intended).

I was released from hospital approximately a week later and began an outpatient group therapy– Track to Wellness. This program gave me tools to deal with my depression and anxiety and an overview of other group therapies available at the hospital. I requested and was accepted into CBT for Depression.

After a four-week three-hour activation sessions, followed by eight week, three-hour CBT group therapy sessions, including homework every night detailing everything from how I felt on a scale of 1 to 10 about every single thing I was doing to noting what made me laugh, positive events and many other details, I emerged in a very different place than when I started.

Looking back, I do wonder if part of this is be due to the two-year mark after Bob died. Maybe the worst of my grief passed by calendar days. But it’s more likely a combination of many things, the biggest lesson being to “live in the moment” and exactly what that means. I leave that for my next post.


Up …Down… Up


I am trying to write from the heart but my words keep getting tripped up by my mind.

Roller Coaster DarkLife keeps us on a rollercoaster. When we go up it’s exhilarating. Then swoosh down…  down… down… We are scared. We feel trapped.

“Will it go up again? Can it go up again? But then it will go down!” Our mind moves ahead, worrying.

At my lowest point of …down… I was sliding across the gravel. My hands and knees were bruised and bleeding as I skated across with nothing to hold onto. I couldn’t stand up on my own. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stand again.

Along the way I learned lessons. How to see light in the darkness. How to laugh. How to live. How to breathe. Yes, I had forgotten how to breathe.

I want to give you hope that everything will be alright. But the truth is that life’s rollercoaster won’t stop.

Today I am reminded of this. I reached out to someone who is sliding on the gravel. I tried to give comfort. I felt helpless, but I hope I helped. I wanted to go back there to feel my pain so I could speak in a genuine way, but I can’t go back. I shouldn’t. Sometimes I still wrestle with this.

My journey continues. I fought the hardest fight of my life. How did I get through that? Am I through it?

Yes, I am here, now. Yes, I am different. Am I Phoenix rising? (cliché, but feels appropriate because I did crash and burn). No, I don’t want to go back again.

I fight with this back and forth and back again.

I am trying to write from the heart but my words keep getting tripped up by my mind. If I feel too much will I have to go down… down… down again?

Roller Coaster Bright
I have learned there is hope. That down is short lived. That up is around the corner. That I am here, now. That I breathe in each moment, and breathe out another. What comes will pass.

I am spending longer times on the up and less on the down…

I just need to harness my heart and keep living, and writing.