A reflection as Bell Let’s Talk day approaches
My watch buzzes. It’s 5:00 am. I open my eyes, what time is it? How could it possibly be
morning already? I just fell asleep. I try to recall what kept me up last night. Was it a
weird dream, thoughts of work or coaching track (and field), regret for not cleaning the
condo like I intended over the weekend, napping too long on Sunday, or like most
nights, thoughts of self-doubt?
My body feels heavy, the weight of the day is already upon me. Should I call in sick? My
doctor once gave me a sick note after an appointment. She knew I was in no condition
to go back to work that day. And yet, it still feels like anxiety is not a justifiable reason to
I press snooze (sometimes multiple times) in hopes it will all go away. That’s how I used
to deal with depression. Nothing bad can happen when you’re sleeping. Your problems
may not go away, but you certainly don’t have to deal with them.
My watch buzzes again. It really is time to get up. I roll out of bed, grab my phone that is
charging on my nightstand and head to the bathroom to get ready for the day.
Since I don’t have a TV, my main source for news and entertainment is podcasts. I open
up the podcast app and find The Daily (The New York Times). I wonder what terrible
thing they will report on this morning. An interviewee on a different podcast I listen to,
said something to the effect of, she cannot wait for things to go back to “boring” on
Capitol Hill. I look forward to that day as well. They don’t always talk about what’s
happening in the US. In fact, it was on this very podcast (along with The Current - CBC)
that I learned of a strange new illness in Wuhan, China (A Virus’s Journey Across China
- January 30, 2020).
I often cannot focus, even when doing simple tasks like brushing my teeth. Thoughts
whirl, I try not to pay attention, I hit rewind more times than I can count. This is one
reason I have yet to take on audio books.
As my body slowly begins to wake up, I move to the kitchen to assemble my lunch and
make (stove-top) coffee to take to work. The fog has not lifted from my brain. And
believe it or not, the coffee will not help. It is a ritual that I practice on weekdays. As
much as I love the taste it does nothing for my alertness or energy.
I’m running late. I’ve checked email, Facebook, and Instagram for what, I don’t know.
It’s time to get out the door, but not before I check the condo. Since moving 5 years
ago, I’ve developed this need to ensure the patio door is locked (less so now as snow
covers my balcony) and that the stove is off. I cannot leave the condo if this is not done
(it’s worse if I’m going away on a trip). I don’t have a certain number of times I have to
check, and so I don’t know if I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder: an often- misunderstood disorder that sometimes accompanies anxiety). Once I feel comfortable that the stove is off and patio door is secure, I can finally leave for work. I listen for any sign of my neighbours. I don’t want them to see or hear me as I leave. You guessed it; I have to check to make sure the door is locked.
By the end of the day, I’m exhausted. I’ve used up all my energy on small talk and
blocking out noise (including my own internal dialogue) all while trying to do my actual
job. Before the pandemic I would rush to the Field House to resume my duties as a
coach. A passion I love, however, it too can be draining.
With track and field put on hold I’m home earlier than I typically would be. I find myself
wanting to sit on the couch and scroll rather than make supper and do other productive
things. My jaw hurts, my shoulders are sore, and my hips are tight. All tell-tale signs I’m
keeping things in and need to release. That release often comes in the form of walks,
jogs, and yoga throughout the week. I also try to eat a balanced diet to help settle my
Once I’ve had supper and cleaned the dishes (or not), I ponder starting something
productive. But first I check email, Facebook, and Instagram. After checking in with my
boyfriend, I decide to read. Its 9:30 pm and my phone buzzes to let me know it’s time to
wind-down. Already?! I just got home from work. Where has the time gone? I’m tired,
but I read a few pages. My eyes become droopy. I put the book down, get out of bed
and check to make sure the door is locked. As I lay down, I hope for a good sleep.
I have come to accept my anxiety. It no longer rules my life, contrary to the above. It
took many years of medication, therapy, and self-compassion to get to this point. Mental
illness is not something one should ever go through alone. Sharing is not only about
bringing awareness, but also about connecting to those around me in a deeper way. I
don’t always have the words to speak. I feel more comfortable writing. I hope in doing
so, you find it within you to share your story too.
This summer has been pretty great. We’ve done long (for me) bike rides, a couple prairie hikes, had fires in the backyard, and eaten more hot dogs than I have in years. Since we haven’t been very far from home and Kevin heads back to work on Monday (teacher), we decided to make a quick trip to Calgary/Canmore/Banff/Kananaskis.
(In Calgary) We woke up early to get on the road at a decent time. We were about to load the bikes and head to Canmore to do the Legacy Trail and walk around Banff when we discovered Kevin’s vehicle had been broken into. Everyone was very helpful. Livia and Liam cleaned up the glass and Adam called around for quotes for a replacement window - hoping we could get it fixed before Sunday morning. Ivy found out from a neighbour that there have been other incidences in the neighbourhood (they are hoping to find video evidence as a number of neighbours have security cameras). Kevin then dealt with the rest.
Not what we had planned for our weekend getaway.
I am always so amazed at how patient and calm Kevin is. I would have reacted much differently if it were my vehicle. I am so grateful to have him in my life.
After a quick lunch, we ended up borrowing my sister’s vehicle and continued with our original plan for the day.
Legacy Trail - Canmore to Banff. My legs were shot after 14 km. No pictures. I knew if we stopped I wouldn’t want to get back on the bike. Once we arrived we walked around for a bit and had a quick bite to eat.
Legacy Trail - Banff to Canmore. This was a breeze (comparatively). It was down hill for the most part and we were able to ride side by side for a lot of it as there were less people in the evening.
I’m proud of us. Kevin was very encouraging and I only complained in my head (but not very much honestly). We treated ourselves to ice cream before heading back to Calgary for much deserved showers. Total 42.83 km. Total time 2:25:00.
Day 2 was a BIG day. Thankfully we weren’t too sore from yesterday’s ride. We drove about an hour to Little Elbow/Sheep Valley Trails. We went up Nihahi Ridge Trail to a point called the Saddle (which was a challenge in itself). Adam convinced us we could make it up to the Ridge. He said “see those two trees, it’s right there”. It was all or none, and since we were so close we decided to do it. Little did we know (Adam had "tricked" us) it was around the back of the mountain and much further than the “two trees”. Livia (the mountain goat) led us up the steepest parts. Adam and Kevin stayed back to make sure I was ok. After much scaling we made it. Livia was our guide once again. I am thankful I asked to bring hiking poles, they came in very handy. Once we were done the technical part, Laurel took over the lead and led us back to the start. She was a trooper the whole way. Total 7.00 km. Total time 3:58:11. Unsure of the elevation gain. Fitbit said 642.82 m (this may be cumulative). But online accounts have much different numbers - we only did the first ridge of two.
Before heading back to the city we made a quick stop at Forget Me Not Pond. As he often does Adam took at dip into the ice cold water.
Before the girls went to bed we had a nighttime chat in their room. I’m glad they get to see me in this light and not as the person I used to be. I think they have some understanding of my past (their dad is a therapist as well so mental health is not a taboo subject).
In the morning Kevin taped some plastic over the “window” to make the drive back to Saskatoon more tolerable (it came off as we left the city limits). Blankets and sweaters kept us warm until the sun came out.
This weekend showed me I have quiet determination (as Adam put it), perseverance, mental toughness, and a desire to take on new challenges. I already look forward to our next big bike ride and hike.
I can’t think of a better way to wrap up summer.
I've struggled with being enough my whole life. There is no incident to recall where it all started. It's just a feeling that has always been with me. The worst part is looking for validation from the outside world. Intuitively I know this will never satisfy my hunger for acceptance, love, or just plain contentment.
I was made in the image of God. He gave me a heart for the hurting. He gave me the gift of writing. This is why I continue to share.
My heart was full yesterday as many friends shared their journey with mental health (whether they 'suffer' themselves or love someone who does) during the #BellLetsTalk campaign. It was full because I know I am not alone.
It was full because I know, I am enough.
Today: Like most, I'm trying to figure things out. Sometimes that's day by day, moment by moment, and even breath by breath.