Viewing entries tagged

I'm Cayla. This is My Story. Chapter 2


I'm Cayla. This is My Story. Chapter 2


When I was little, my Mom told me I was what the doctors called "flop-jointed"- which essentially means that I moved like I had no bones. I could easily put my leg behind my head, do the splits, distort my body in whatever way I wanted and I didn’t feel a thing.

I used to move like I had no bones.

Now, Twenty-two years later all I am is bone.

Life can feel so sadistic.


Chapter 2


I am lying in a heated room in the middle of Montreal, drenched in sweat.

I’ve been here for 22 days. Not 'here' in this room- but here in this training where I am learning how to teach hot yoga.

I know we left off around the time I was sitting in the car, staring at the windshield.
The story may eventually loop back here- it may not.

But for now all you need to know is that the intense pain that was plaguing me in the car is still present . On top of that, I'm starting to become aware of more pain in my body, and how I have learned to live with it; sit inside it. Sometimes the pain is systemic- sometimes it shifts into certain parts of my body. Today it has shifted from my stomach and into my wrists.

This pain is deep and stiff and lingering so bad I can barely wrap my fingers around the yoga block that is strewn on the floor next to my mat.

When I was young and learning how to Rollerblade, I never learned how to brake properly. Instead, I’d hold my hands out in front of me and my wrists would snap back whenever they caught the wall in order for me to fully stop.

Up until now, this is the narrative I have been telling myself as to why I live with pain in my wrists.

Isn’t it funny, the stories we tell ourselves, in order to avoid facing the truth?

The air is foggy and thick and the longer I am lying here the more my mind drifts off and for one full minute I am mentally pulled out of the yoga room and flashback into my old bedroom where I am lying directly on my wrists.

It’s 530am and I can hear her in the kitchen. She is rustling around looking for a spoon- presumably to stir her coffee, which she takes with her every morning she works in the OR.
I am definitely not sleeping.
I’m not even half asleep.
My body is flexed the way one might hold themselves as they prepare to walk down a back alley in the middle of an unknown city.
My jaw is clenched. My right cheek is pushed into the pillow and my eyes are fixed on a streetlamp that is still lit in the dark light of the morning, just beyond our house, just beyond my window, just beyond the blinds.

All of a sudden the clink clink clink of the spoon in the coffee stops, the rustling stops, and I hear that swishing noise paper makes when it lifts off a surface and I know now she is reading the note I have written her, the bomb I am dropping on her, the family tree I am uprooting in this exact moment.

My eyes are fixed on the street lamp and, although the entire weight of my body is on my hands right now I can feel my fingers instinctively curl around the sheets beneath me.

She’s coming.

My friend that is a dancer told me you can always tell how someone is feeling by the weight in their footsteps, and the weight that is drawing nearer to my bedroom door is heavy, thumping, filled with rage.

What little feeling I have left in my arms drains out of my body.

The colour drains out of my skin.

I hear the door fly open.

I pretend to be asleep. Which is funny in hindsight, because the adrenaline rushing through my veins is so strong I wouldn’t be able to close my eyes even if I wanted to.

So maybe a better way of putting it is:

I am immobile and praying she won’t ask questions.

“What the f*ck is this?”.

Her voice is stern, loud, hot water about to boil over.

I can’t see her in my peripheral but I know she is fisting the paper with one hand, holding her coffee spoon in the other, a dark shadow in scrubs standing in the light of the hallway, in the small glowing slivers of streetlamp.

I don’t respond, which pushes her over the edge.

She screams my name and when I remain unresponsive she grabs the corner of my duvet and yanks it completely off my bed exposing my body- rigid, frozen, distorted.


She orders me to follow her into the kitchen, she turns to exit the room, she is a dark outline in the doorway just like he was- and for one moment she is Him, and He is here and I am small and clenching the sheets and curled into a ball pretending to sleep while his 6 foot frame engulfs me.

Everyone knows he is here, but no one knows what he's doing except for me.

I am both the witness and the victim.

His arms are long, clenched, immobile, and they are stretched over the top of my head like a bear trap. I feel his breath slink across the back of my neck and into my ear. I crank my head to the right, I cross my arms into an X, I roll onto my wrists to try and keep him out. I search the room for something to land my eyes on so I don't have to look at him.

There is a stationary bike in the corner. It's white and blue. I focus on that.

There are cut-outs in the white wall, they are filled with Grandmas jewelry. It's ornate, elaborate costume jewelry and I imagine myself wearing it. I focus on that.

I climb out of my body, and all of a sudden the next few moments aren't moments, they're polaroid's.

Bike. Jewelry. Him. Window. Door. Darkness.

I focus on that.

He has evil rushing like water underneath his skin. When he touches me my skin crawls and hours later when it's still crawling I question whether his evil has become a part of me.

I easily detach from my body now.

Some nights I just stand in the shower until the hot water runs cold. I stare at the droplets of water running down the white tile. I lose track of time, of feeling, of space. I learn to avoid mirrors because I see the grooves of his face in my jawline and it reminds me I will never fully be free, because blood is thicker than water.

In a small moment of email confrontation he denies everything, his girlfriend speaks up, says he was only acting in love.

"Do you have children?" I type, my blood boiling.

"Allow me to demonstrate on your children, exactly how he was being loving" I reply. There is sarcasm rushing off my tongue, vengeance running through my veins.

I press send. I dry heave into a garbage can.


I feel small, I am still. The air is foggy and thick. I have grown used to seeing the shadow of Him exiting the door.
My Moms voice, panicked, angry, prying, calls to me from the kitchen.
I grab my duvet off the floor. I wrap it around me, walk out the door and down the flight of stairs.

I'll probably need therapy for this, I quip


I am lying on my yoga mat. The air is foggy and thick.

I take my left hand and use it to bend my right wrist back and forth, back and forth. It's thin; frail. Exactly as I would expect it to be after sleeping on it for 15 years. The pain is pointed, raw, inscribed. I keep bending.

It's slow and methodical at first but then it builds into hysterical flapping because maybe if I bend it enough the stories will release from the fascia, pour out of my bones, I'll be free.

My teacher Dina- her footsteps are soft and kind and she comes over to me as I'm lying in Savasana the way a Mother moves to protect her cub. She places her hand on my knee, I deflate, I begin to cry. Tears spill out of me the way my sweat is pouring off my skin- quickly and without permission. 

This is the first time I have allowed myself to cry. In my entire life.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she mouths.




Meet Holly. This is her Story


Meet Holly. This is her Story

On the evening of April 15th, 2014, I got the call from my dad that my sister, Christine, was gone. It is the one moment in my life that I will never forget. I remember every detail down to the moment where I collapsed to the floor as though all the strength left my body. All I could do was pound my fists to the floor and scream "No! No! No!"

Words cannot express the type of pain that shoots through your heart; reaching every inch of your body, or the amount of disbelief that overtakes you.


For the rest of my life, I am without my sister. How could this happen? She was young. She was successful. She had a 5 year old son. She had so many friends and family who loved her. She was beautiful and kind, and witty beyond belief. How could she possibly take her own life?




I had a bad day at work. I came home, made dinner, fell to the couch with whatever crappy dinner I made for myself. I put my feet up and took a breath. Then my phone rang. I looked at the screen to see who was calling. It was my parents. Ugh. I did not want to talk to them. I did not want to talk about my day. I wanted everyone to leave me the hell alone. I let it ring. I wasn’t going to answer, but a feeling came over me that told me I should. With zero enthusiasm I answered. My dad said my name with a quivering voice. I perked up, wide eyed. I knew something was wrong, and then there they were; the words I never thought I would hear, ever.

“Holly <my dad sniffling>…Holly <my dad bursting into tears>…I’m so sorry. You’re sister killed herself this morning.”


“Killed herself”. What a fucked up concept. What a completely unbelievable thought. Did she kill herself or did she kill the pain? How could she go through with it? Why didn’t she talk to me? It’s her birthday in 9 days. We had plans. How could she? How long was she suffering? 1 million questions ran through my mind that night, the next morning, the next week, months later, years later even to this day 4 years later. I had never lost someone so close before. You hear about suicide all the time but words cannot express the all consuming feeling that clings onto you and reaches deep into your soul after the unthinkable happens. Suddenly your entire world comes to a halt. While everything freezes in time, your mind still manages to go 100 miles a minute; going over all the times you meant to call and didn’t. All the times she seemed upset and backed out on plans and you didn’t dig deeper to learn why. Why did it take this to realize the extent of her pain? Was I too caught up in my own shit to notice? Was I selfish? Did I not ask enough questions? Did I not show her enough support? Did she know I loved her and looked up to her? Did I tell her that enough?


The most difficult thing to do after losing a loved one to suicide it to not blame yourself. I think because we are never prepared for it, it leaves us with so many questions. We will never know their final thought. We will never know exactly what it was that caused them to end things at the moment they ended it. The only thing we can do is grow from it. It feels selfish at first to move on and build positivity through something so shattering, but it’s important to remember that grief still happens in between it all. Grieving is crucial. Nobody is ever better off avoiding the feelings of losing a loved one. Things will never be the same. There will always be that empty spot at the dining table at Christmas. Every year that passes will still mark birthdays and anniversaries. You cannot avoid something that is so blatantly in front of you, every day. All you can do is embrace it. Learn from it.

Christine enters my mind in some way every day. I embrace the thoughts of her because I loved her and always will. I choose to remember her because she deserves to be remembered. I tell stories about her because she was alive and she deserves to live on. Her son will want to know all about her one day and it’s my duty to be open to that, for him. Keeping her memory alive is far better than pretending her life and death didn’t happen. It was all real so pretending is not an option.


I’m grateful for what Christine has taught me. I know now how important my own mental health is. I need to take care of myself. I need to be open with my feelings and talk when things feel overwhelming or confusing. I need to pay attention to others and what they’re going through because they are likely to feel a lot of the same things I do. I need to be an ear for them. It’s time we all start to ask questions. Even when it seems like someone isn’t hurting; talk anyway. It's amazing what comes to the surface when you open up. I don’t know why there’s a stigma attached to something that effects each and every one of us, but it’s time to kick it to the curb. We have all seen what poor mental health can do to those around us, so it’s time we all support one another. Everyone deserves to be seen. Everyone deserves to be heard. Nobody deserves to live a life chained to the burden of mental illness.


To help fight mental health stigma, join me at #AxeTheStigma on June 16th at BATL Kitchener, 69 Agnes Steet.

This is for Christine. This is for all of you. You are here and you matter.



Instagram: @axe.the.stigma

Twitter: @axe.the.stigma