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support

Meet Holly. This is her Story

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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?

 

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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.

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/axe-the-stigma-tickets-45244681059

 

Email: axe.the.stigma@gmail.com

Instagram: @axe.the.stigma

Twitter: @axe.the.stigma

 

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Feelings, Feelings, Feelings, Tacos, Feelings

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Feelings, Feelings, Feelings, Tacos, Feelings

This F word does not top my list of favourites. Namely because, after all this time, feelings still feel foreign to me (this is a lot of unintentional alliteration and I'm totally digging it, LOL)

Here's the thing. I grew up in trauma. As a result, for survival, I would naturally disassociate. I remember explaining to my Mom that I often felt like Dexter (sans the killing people part of course)- knowing in certain situations that I should feel something or act a certain way but just feeling empty on the inside.

I've worked my ass off in trauma therapy to begin to emotionally regulate myself. Now, here and there I do feel things. Sometimes super strongly. Sometimes not at all. But as time moves forward there are still MANY days where I'm like Damn ya'll, how do people move through life FEELING THEIR FEELINGS? It SUCKS AND ITS REALLY HARD SOMETIMES. Can I get an Amen.

I think that the most brave, honest thing we can do is to stand in what we are feeling, to own it, to nurture it, to not judge it, to sit with it, to not beat it with a stick, to not run away from it. In lieu of the first FEEL TO HEAL post I've compiled a list of things that have helped me with navigating the Feels and may also help you too.

1)  Find Yo Safe Space - Life can be hectic. And hard. And can feel like it's moving at 1000 miles an hour. I used to work 14 hour days in restaurant management, 5-6 days a week and often times the thing that saved me was knowing I could come home and sit on my yoga mat in this corner nook that I made in my apartment. I made that nook so freaking cozy, and warm and inviting and then I didn't let anyone else come into my nook because it was my space to let all my shit out. Create a safe space that you can come back to and see what happens. (And maybe your safe space isn't at your house- maybe its at a SoulCycle in the studio. Maybe its in your woodshop. Wherever it is- whatever you want to be- just make it and claim it as YOUR PLACE).

2) Create space, then Sit with it. Release it- I completed my yoga training with this bright, beautiful soul named Amelia from Winnipeg. She gave birth to a baby boy and then lost him shortly after. She has been super honest and open about how this process has changed her and her life- and I remember reading about how (and I'm paraphrasing because this was awhile ago) she decided to set aside 30 minutes every day to just sit with it all. I remember her saying that even on days when she felt ok, she would still take the 30 minutes. I also really like this example because I find the compartmentalization helpful. For ex, When the feels came up and I was running a service on a 14 hour day, I would set it aside in my mind and know that I could come back to it later during that 30 minute time frame when I was home. Things are different now that I'm out of the restaurant industry but there are still days when I come home, lay on my back, stare up at the ceiling and just feel it all (without any vices) even though it hurts like hell. I know this sounds fluffy but its not. I've battled my demons in this space. Its hard. But you got this. You are strong enough to sit through anything.

3) Stop Beating the Shit out of Yourself- I know, I'm swearing a lot in this post. But I'm serious. Stop beating the shit out of yourself. This is the HARDEST thing to change but will have the greatest impact on your life. This is a super slow process and it takes a lot of mental work but it is definitely possible. Let me tell you this. You are entitled to your feelings. All of them. Your journey is different than everyone else around you. What you say matters, what has happened to you matters, how you feel about it matters. Whatever asshole voice in your head is ridiculing you about the way you are moving through something or dealing with something- that voice does not belong to you. And you can trump that voice by re-learning a new one. I promise. I've done it. But it's about re-training your mind. Writing encouragement letters to yourself works. Writing cheesy positive stuff on post it notes works. Keeping a journal and writing hilarious stuff in it works. Anything. Just start small. Find ways to encourage yourself. Even if it feels unnatural, you gotta fake it till you make it. 

4) Surround Yourself with Good People- My life HUGELY shifted when I began to look at my close relationships and see what was serving me and what wasn't. I had to get honest with myself. Support systems are EVERYTHING. And I know that I can't move through all this stuff on my own. I need encouragement and guidance from strong, empowering, kind women. I need that. We aren't hard-wired to do this on our own anyways. No one is. I know now that on days I'm struggling with the Feels, I have a crazy awesome support system of people I can call to say Hey. I'm having a hard time. Can you listen for a few minutes? Can you offer me some Love? Everyone deserves to feel supported and loved and accepted and I encourage you to seek this out if it is missing in your life.

That's it, that's all for now. I never know how to end these. Feel your feels and eat some tacos BYE! xo

 

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