Explaining depression to someone who doesn't have depression

I was thinking about the best way to explain what it’s like to have depression to someone who’s never experienced it before, and I came up with the comparison between states of mind and physical dimensions of existence. This sounds super abstract but just hear me out…

For this to make sense, it is integral for you to have seen Stranger Things or have an idea of the concept that the show draws on. The multi-dimensional theory, as I understand it, suggests that there are many planes of existence which overlap with one another so that all dimensions are operating on the same axis in terms of reality, but their timelines and landscapes may differ greatly. The “Upside Down”, for instance, is a dark, horrific place that lies just beyond the character’s sense of reality, but, when accessed, mirrors their current landscape save for details such as limited light and spooky spores flying around. While the same houses/structures/town exists, it looks and feels vastly different. 

When thinking about states of mind, I like to imagine that everyone is existing in their own little dimension that looks and feels unique to them despite sharing reality with others who are having their own unique experience. When I am in a good state of mind, everything seems a little brighter; the sky seems to stretch farther; people are kind and smile as I pass them. When my mood is low, my vision is darkened; there seems to be a blinder sitting atop my eyebrows preventing me from noticing the sky at all; people are judging me and flash disapproving looks as I pass. 

Having depression makes me susceptible to having radical changes in perspective from day to day. My plane of existence can shift drastically within the span of a day, or even an hour. It also makes for some really dark dimensions that are almost unbearable to navigate; this is when I yearn to escape and conjure thoughts of suicide or self-harm… anything to get out of my own “Upside Down”. Whether or not this is true, I feel like my perception of reality is greatly influenced by inner-dialogue. I think that some people are just naturally more able to exist in a plane that is close to “true reality” (whatever that may be), in which they operate more objectively than subjectively. I feel as though I am highly subjective, where anything I experience is contorted through the lens of my perspective so much that I sometimes lose the integrity of the experience all together. Maybe I am just describing the struggle that we all face… the struggle of “getting out of our heads” and “into the moment”… either way, my reality feels as though it is heavily dictated by my inner state. Unfortunately, with depression, this inner state isn’t always pleasant. This is why even though my life may be “going well”, I can still experience it as if the world is ending. When people say “just look at all the good things in your life and be happy about them”, they are missing the fact that no matter what is actually going on in my life, if my lens is dark, nothing matters. Everything is dark. The opposite is true as well… I may be experiencing great adversity but my lens is clear and bright, so I am able to navigate challenges effectively and even enjoy myself while doing it.

I guess the main message I am trying to relay here, is that everyone experiences everything differently. I feel like that has been said a million times before in a million different ways, but this whole multi-dimension analysis made sense to me so I thought that I would share it. 

Any advice to glean from this would probably be to just keep in mind that everything is not the way we think/feel it is… we just think/feel that it is this way. We can change our lens, with time and work and self-reflection; but sometimes, despite all our efforts, we can’t, and we just have to ride out the wave of horror through our own personal hell. During these times, find someone to hold on to. Keep holding on until you’re out, instead of trying to escape. It will pass, and you will be stronger for enduring it. 

 

Thank you for reading. Take care of yourself out there.

R

Hunger

Florence and the Machine's latests album is teeming with soul-bearing realness and truths that really hit home for me. "Hunger", the second track, reveals the artist's experience with what I assume to be Anorexia Nervosa; she describes starving herself as a method of masking loneliness. Her next line is what really grabbed me: "We all have a hunger". I take this to mean that we all have something we use to mask or hide from unpleasant realities. 

When I was 15 I thought my worth as a person was quantified by a high level of self-control and discipline. I thought that the only way to live a meaningful life was to be in constant deprivation in order to prove... I don't even know what. My thought process during that time was horrifically skewed to begin with, even before it was completely hijacked by the demon, ED. When he took over, a disturbing clarity set in... nothing mattered except shrinking my intake and increasing my output. I was driven by a burning desire - no, a desperate NEED to be reduced. To get rid of any excess and just be what I thought I needed to survive... organs, bones, and a little bit of muscle. No fat. No water weight. The closer I got to this perceived unencumbered state of being, the farther away it felt. This was the dirty secret that ED never told me... I would never reach that feeling of completion. Of accomplishment. Of relishing in my new body comprised of the absolutely necessary flesh and my pure, human essence. ED wanted me dead. And I almost was. But, thankfully, I was saved by a group of angels. My mother, father, sister, grandmother. The ICU doctors, paediatricians, psychiatrists, dietitians, nurses. And then it was a blur of 5 years post-discharge recovery and now I'm here. 22. Old. Young. Excited. Mostly scared. Those years of recovery were hard... trying to rebuild myself physically and mentally while finishing high school and doing my best to make the most of it. I think I did. Thank you to all those who made that journey more than just an act of survival. 

But now I'm recovered. Or close to it. ED feels like a distant memory although remnants of his rampage still live inside me... the chronic depression and recently resurged anxiety (yay). Or maybe they were here all along and ED just recruited them to fuel his homicidal mission. Either way, there is a black hole inside me. It lies dormant most of the time, staying almost shut and leaking only occasional streams of all-consuming darkness. But every once in a while, it opens up completely, and I am swallowed into a pit of bottomless sorrow; for what, I can't even begin to comprehend. The incredible depth of this sadness is overwhelming. In these moments of bleak hopelessness, I feel as though this sadness must have followed me from a previous life, for there is no way I could have amassed this gargantuan suffering in my relatively short lifetime. After these moments pass and the black hole retracts, I am left reeling for days. Weeks. I work to rebuild my inner dialogue and establish a sense of self after it was ripped away by the gaping darkness. I start to feel good. And then it opens up again. This may sound like a futile battle. I used to think it was, hence my desire for the ultimate escape. But each time I emerge from the darkness, I look down at my hands and I'm holding another piece of the puzzle. If it even is a puzzle... for all I know, it could be a giant, sparkly statue of an elephant but hey, at least I'm closer to knowing. This is why I don't give up. Well, that, and the promises I've made to stay in this life no matter what. I don't break promises. That was a lie. I can be flakey sometimes. Which brings me back to my point... we all have a hunger. A coping mechanism. And, quite often, that mechanism prevents us from being our best selves. I smoke pot. Sometimes I'm okay admitting that and sometimes it fills me with shame. Lately, I've been trying to be honest... with myself and with those in my life. And now, apparently, with you. I've "quit" numerous times, after adverse effects (lung troubles, anxiety spikes, disrupted hunger cues (which I worked so DAMN hard to recover after ED took them away), tiredness, apathy) lead me to believe it did more harm than good. Lately, I've been cutting down. Not using it as an escape, rather, as a treat when I have the time and space to enjoy it. This seems to be serving me well, although I would like to be without it completely one day. 

Once again, circling back to my point; I have come to realize that only once I recognize and come to terms with my coping mechanisms am I able to do something about them. Whether it be drugs, booze, work, exercise, sex, isolation, instagram, food... being honest with ourselves about our mechanism is the first step in doing something about it. Like Florence says, we ALL have a hunger. This is important to remember whilst confronting the mechanisms and the demons they mask so that this potentially painful process is not amplified by a perceived feeling of loneliness. Suffering does not make you special; it makes you human. Use it to find more pieces of your puzzle. Or sparkly elephant. Whatever. 

All of my love,

 

21 Hours

It’s 4:00 am on January 31st and I have 75 minutes to get to the Penticton airport. I make my bed and gather my stuff: overnight bag, laptop, training manual, wallet, phone, jacket. Dad drives me to the airport and we hug before I go through security. I sit in the waiting area, eyes glued to my phone. I hear whisperings from the elderly couple sitting across from me; they scoff at how I am addicted to my device, how much of a shame it is that I am missing out on the wonders of the now. They are judging me. Criticizing me. I look up and realize that almost every other passenger is doing the same as I am; in the early hours of the morning, too tired to interact with others, we sit and scroll, trying to stay awake as we wait to board the plane. The elderly couple judging me was a story I made up based on my fears of being lumped in with the rest of the so-called technologically brain washed millennials. For the first time today, I check into reality and feel myself shift from a place of removed numbness and tired routine to lucid awareness. It is not a negative nor positive feeling. I simply recognize that I am more awake than I was 5 seconds prior.

I keep my hood up and head down as I cross the blistery tarmac before ascending the tiny stairs to the flying tin can of an aircraft. I had trouble falling asleep the night before and those three hours of sleep are doing little to keep me awake as I settle into my seat. My blanket scarf becomes a tent that I cover my entire body with, and in the darkness of my wool-polyester blend sanctuary, I drift off. Minutes later, the flight attendant lightly taps my shoulder, requesting to see that I have my seat belt done up. Startled, I whip my blanket off and show her. She laughs and says that next time I need only to let her see the belt; I can stay hidden in my tent. 

Despite the smooth landing, I am jerked awake by the feeling and sound of tires on tarmac. We file out of the plane and inside YVR airport. I have plans to meet my good friend Jasmine for brunch on West 4th. It’s only 7:00am but I figure I’ll head down early and read until she meets me at 9:00. I take transit to my destination and find the restaurant with surprising ease. The Naam was the first place to come up when I Googled “vegan restaurants in Vancouver” the previous week. I walk in and become engulfed by the warmth, comfort, and gentle calm that the little cafe seems to embody. Neoclassical music floats through the cabin-esque space, setting the tone for a self-reflective session while I wait for Jasmine. A Jared Leto doppelgänger informs me that seating is self-directed and I choose a little corner nook with pillows and privacy. I order tea, a fruit bowl and a cashew bliss ball before heading into the bathroom to put on some mascara. 

The reason I am in Vancouver in the first place is to attend the second portion of the Family Smart Trauma Informed Practise pilot training. Created and facilitated by The F.O.R.C.E. (soon to be known exclusively as Family Smart)*, the training is designed to teach mental health professionals, youth workers, and family members the practice of dealing with the delicate issue of trauma. I have come to think of it as somewhat of a workplace sensitivity training; the program touches on the softer side of the patient experience, and explores ways in which communication between families, MH workers and patients can be more streamlined, effective and considerate of trauma related symptoms. The participants (including Jasmine) in my training are the pilot group, or the first to undergo this training. It is important and crucial work, although it can be emotional and difficult at times. I am excited to have a nice brunch with Jasmine before launching into the heavy content that the afternoon holds in store for us. 

I settle in and pick up where I left off in Brene Brown’s Rising Strong. Leto brings me my order and notes that I am, “getting vulnerable with Brene Brown”. I laugh and say that yes, indeed I am. Brown’s content is laden with vulnerability related research, findings, stories and methods, and I have been finding myself opening up in response to her teachings. On this day in particular, I am feeling extra vulnerable due to my lucid state of heightened awareness. I have come to learn that vulnerability doesn’t always have to take on a negative connotation and today is a perfect example. I am feeling vulnerable in the sense that I am open and ready to share and receive in unexpected ways and am without fear of what finds its’ way into my experience. As if on cue, a woman approaches my table on her way to the washroom. She is vibrant and youthful, bathed in a turquoise light. Her toothless grin ignites smiling eyes, and she leans her colourfully clad, heavy-set person against the wall across from where I sit. 

“You have a beautiful light about you."

It’s funny that she comments on my light, as it was the first thing I noticed about her. We introduce ourselves and fall into easy conversation. Tina tells me that The Naam has been around since the sixties and the 24hour cafe was a major hangout in the hippie era. West 4th used to the nicknamed “Rainbow Road” and the energy here was tangible and abundant in that time of war, revolution, protest, and connection. She was here during that time and she assures me that it was truly unbelievable. That explains why I felt such a deep, grounding energy upon entering the little space earlier that morning. We talk about the primal pull of the ocean and the benefits of energy healing. It is one of those exchanges that feels as though it were meant to happen and after she leaves, I am left feeling warmer and even more lucid than before she approached. 

Not long after Tina’s departure, Jasmine shows up and we immediately launch into our typical banter: first we catch up on what’s been happening in our lives since our last time together, and then we explore some topic related to our mental health work. Today is entertaining as we exchange stories from when we spent time (separately) in inpatient at BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH), her on P2 and me on P3. We laugh at how ridiculous some of the rules seemed at the time, but how most of them make sense now. We compare the differences between the two wards, from aesthetics to nurses to rules again. Jared approaches and takes our orders. Despite my earlier snack, I am hungry again for the unreal vegan fare that they offer. Our food arrives quickly and I am in heaven with my panfried potatoes, stir fried veggies, 5-Star sausages and Daiya cheese. Jasmine enjoys her breakfast wrap as we finish our BCCH comparisons and move on to musing about what the training today will look like. Not wanting to be late, we leave The Naam and take transit to King Edward and then begin the 15 minute walk to BCCH. We arrive early and settle in before the rest of the trainees show up.

The interesting, relevant content makes the training fly by, although I have to chug two coffees to combat my sleepless night prior. The training is taking place on the same floor as P3, where I stayed for a few months as an inpatient in 2012 for the treatment of anorexia nervosa. It is the first time I have been this close to the ward since discharge and I am curious to see if looking in will evoke emotion in me. I wander down to the big door at the end of the hallway and peer inside. It looks exactly the same as it did when I left; having regained much of the lost weight, cognitive abilities and accurate judgement throughout treatment, I left P3 in a positive place of gratitude for the care I received and fondness for the memories I made. I see a girl sitting on the couch where I used to watch The OC with a half-knitted scarf in her lap, needles working away. Bright sunlight streams through the windows making everything pastel and surreal. I see a nurse that I recognize as she comes through the doors with a patient.

“Cathy!” I am surprised when she recognizes me and we hug and chat for a bit. I am also surprised to find that the only emotions coming up are nostalgia and love for the people who cared for me during my time here.

Exhausted after the information dense session and emotional encounter, Jasmine and I say our goodbyes before heading separate ways. She, on her way back to Victoria, and I, on my way back to West 4th to meet Aly (another good friend) at her workplace. Upon my arrival, she tells me that she gets off work at 6:30 so I head out to wander around and find some dinner. 

I walk loosely in the direction of Granville Island and find myself atop Burrard bridge just as the sun begins to set. The air is clean, the sky is ablaze and the sidewalk is alive with runners, walkers and bikers. The city skyline glistens as the descending star reflects off the glass. I lean over the side and gaze at the drop, inhaling deeply. It’s times like these that I am grateful for the dark times; without experiencing the depths of lower moods, I don’t know if feeling this blissful and free would be possible. Google Maps informs me that I am way off route to Granville so I turn around and head back to West 4th, revelling in the life that the city breathes with so many people being active outdoors. I live for this shit.

Tractor and Co. offers a myriad of salads for $3.50/scoop. I choose two, ask for some tofu to be thrown on the grill, and sit at the window to people watch. 6:15 rolls around so I head out to meet Aly. A few weeks prior she had told me about a free seminar taking place downtown tonight at 7:00pm. We carpool with her two out of town friends and make it there just past 7:00. We sign in, Aly as a veteran after taking the three day course and the rest of us as guests. The program is a leadership, self-improvement forum that you can take as a three day course and then upgrade to higher levels. I am interested in hearing what it’s all about and this free introduction is a perfect opportunity. We are seated at the back of the room behind 100+ other veterans and guests. 

The evening begins with testimonials from audience members who had been a part of the previous weekend’s training group. One after the other, veterans of the program are called upon by forum leader, Bob, before making their way up to the stage and behind a mic. They tell us about their abusive fathers, relationship breakdowns and traumatic experiences. They tell us that before the program, they were lost, but now, they have broken through their barriers and are ready to live their fullest life. They tell us about how the program saved them and that we should sign up too.

The stories are uplifting, as any success story is, but I am waiting for someone to reveal to me exactly what the program is. What is the method? What am I signing up for? How am I going to be brought to my barrier-breaking revelation? After a 10 minute break, Bob is on the mic and I’m waiting for him to reveal the secret. He eludes to an explanation but it never comes. We watch a video of more heartfelt testimonials. I am growing more and more eager to learn what all the hype is about. By now I’ve been awake for 18 hours running on 3 hours of re-charge. I can feel myself closing up, drawing into myself as I have little energy left to facilitate openness and curiosity. Aly tells me that soon, Bob is going to invite some guests to the stage where he will take them through the process. She encourages me to volunteer but I hesitate, not knowing how to articulate my “issue” in a coherent sentence.

As of this moment, I am almost 5 years into recovery from my eating disorder. ED related thoughts are few and far between, and I rarely exhibit any ED habits or behaviours. Body dysmorphia is still a problem, and I struggle with self love and acceptance. I am no longer addicted to exercise and am now struggling on the other side of that spectrum with low motivation. I have been medicated for depression since I was in my early teens and have fallen into moderate to deep darkness an average of 3 times per year for the past 5 years. The most tangible “issue” that I struggle with at the moment is the fact that almost every night for about the past year, I dream of suicide. It’s not a fantasy or even a nightmare, it’s just an incredibly vivid, emotionally raw experience in which I live out lifelike scenarios depicting my yearning to end my life while I sleep. I am engulfed by the panicky, psychotic feeling of wanting to escape my skin so badly that I would do anything just to go to sleep forever. I often argue with my parents, like when I was sick, run away, and then search for a way to escape. My efforts are often thwarted or impossible to begin with: I’m looking for a bridge but I can’t find one, I’m trying to slice my wrist but my skin won’t open, I’m trying to swallow pills but they won’t go down. I wake up sweating, crying and haunted by having visited that terrifying place again. Nothing in this world has been or ever will be as scary as it was to fear myself during those years when I experienced suicidal ideation. Although it has been years since I have felt those feelings during waking hours, they continue to haunt my dreams. I have talked to a multitude of therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and energy healers. None of their advice has been able to stop these dreams thus far.

I tell Aly that I can’t express this issue on stage as it is a societal taboo to mention the S word. She nods understandingly and we continue to watch Bob vaguely elude to the secrets held within the program. I’m getting really tired at this point and am almost ready to ask Aly if we can leave early. Just before I am about to do so, Bob exclaims that it is time for the guests to volunteer to be taken through the method by him on stage. Feeling like I have nothing to lose, I throw my hand up. He chooses a girl at the front. And me. I walk past the well-dressed, entrepreneurial crowd towards the front and climb onto the raised platform and behind a mic on the far left. The other girl is lead to a mic on the far right. 

At this point in my speaking career, I no longer feel anxious on stage, rather, I get a rush of adrenaline that I have come to relish as it preps my focus for the task at hand. The familiar wave surges from my adrenal glands and I break a sweat (as per usual) as my vision sharpens and hearing grows clearer. Bob starts with the other girl after we have both introduced ourselves and I take a moment to scan the crowd. I consider how volunteering to come up here might have been a smart marketing move; I am currently trying to book more speaking gigs and move forward in branding myself, and the audience is packed with seasoned and up-and-coming business men and women. Aly explained to me earlier that many workplaces (hers included) enrol staff in the opportunity in order to develop strong leaders who are sound of mind. Maybe I will come up with something inspiring to say in response to one of Bob’s questions and one of the polished suits will seek me out to speak at their company. 

Bob asks the other girl (let’s call her Jane) something along the lines of “So, what’s your problem?"

He explains that first, we must identify exactly what our issue is, and then articulate it following this template: “I have a breakdown in _____”.

Jane says, “I have a breakdown in my relationship with my dad."

She goes on to reveal heartbreaking details of her past and for the first time, I start to feel anxious about what I am going to say. “I have a breakdown in my relationship with myself”? Does that work? How do I expand on that? Shit, I’m panicking now and he’s moving on to me.

I decide last minute to go with, “I have a breakdown in loving myself and having positive self concept."

Bob seems to take this as sufficient, and he asks me to elaborate. I try my best, giving a quick synopsis of my ED and mental illness past and then trying to relate it to the now and why I am still struggling. It comes out sounding clunky and un-fixable. Almost like I’m just a girl with regular girl issues and I volunteered just to get my turn under the spotlight. By now I’m sweating not just from the welcomed adrenaline, but full-on, unbridled self-skepticim that is taking the form of that familiar voice telling me I’m not good enough. I’m a failure, an embarrassment, a waste of skin. Shit. This is not a good place to be whilst standing in front of 100+ people eagerly awaiting my breakthrough moment; I feel like I’m on the edge of a complete breakdown.

Bob moves onto the next portion of the program with Jane, asking her what she would want (in terms of her issue) if he had a magic wand that could make anything happen. He then asks why she wants that, how she can get that, and then why, why, why until she comes to a conclusion that seems to occur to her out of thin air. She breaks down crying and everyone claps. He tells her that with the purchase of his three day package, she could be fully cured from her father-related trauma and resentment. She tells him that she doesn’t have the money. A well dressed woman in the audience stands up and shouts, “I will pay your deposit."

The crowd loses it and Jane runs down the aisle and they embrace in movie-moment sobbing hug. 

After everyone settles down, Bob turns to me. Jesus Christ, I am going to be such a let down to these people after that. What’s more, Jane seemed to really benefit from the stream of questions Bob asked, like they answers were just coming to her from a place of realization and healing. I want to get something out of this. I want Bob to prove to me that this “method” works. I still don’t even fully understand what the hell it is. He begins the same line of questions that lead Jane to her breakthrough and I know now that he can’t help me with my self concept in the next three minutes. But maybe...

“Bob, I’m sorry, but I wasn’t completely honest with you before. I do struggle with self love and body image as a said earlier, but the most pressing issue at this moment in time are these dreams that won’t go away. For a long time, I was suicidal. Today, I am not.” I feel the beginnings of tears forming behind my eyes. "However, almost every night, I kill myself in my dreams.” *Sob*. "They won’t go away and even though I don’t want to die in waking hours they keep happening at night and then I wake up feeling so awful and dark and scared of those feelings returning and—"

“Rylee, Rylee, Rylee, excuse me, stop. I cannot continue the program with you. Please get off the stage."

Time slows down and everything gets wavy like the portal scenes in Donnie Darko. The lights brighten and I step down off the stage under 200 wide eyes. Bob’s voice blurrily tells everyone that we are done for the night, thank you for coming, don’t forget to sign up! People stand and shuffle around me as I zombie-walk back to Aly. I’m on fire and the tears are now waterfalls. Aly’s normally big eyes are cartoonishly wide as I sit to gather my stuff. I can’t believe I embarrassed her like that. She wants to be a program leader some day and now she will be associated with the crazy girl who cried suicide on stage at an introductory event. I can barely hear her trying to console me, not knowing exactly what to say. It’s tense. The eyes are still on me as everyone disperses throughout the lavish ballroom. Three people in suits hurry towards us and before I can get up and out of the room, one of the organizers is crouched before me, giving me the explanation behind my being kicked off stage. “Bob isn’t certified to deal with someone who wants to end their life. Are you feeling that way now? If you deal with this at a different venue, I still think the program would be very helpful for you."

A man is crouched behind my chair and he clumsily tells me that his twin brother was suicidal, and he felt the need to come talk to me. I can barely hear anything as I am engulfed in shame fire and a yearning to rip out of my skin. It’s so fucking ironic… I was telling the truth when I said I haven’t been suicidal in waking hours for a few years now. But right now, at this moment, I want nothing more than for the chandelier above me to come loose and crush my body beneath it. I can’t listen to these well-meaning, sympathetic, panicked people anymore. I need out. I stand up, grab my bag, and tell Aly we need to go.

She asks where we should eat. For the first time in forever, my previously ravenous hunger has been replaced by the burning feeling of my stomach turning inside out. I ask if we can just go home. She agrees.

I look at the cars on the street and think about jumping in front of one. At the sky train station, I think about how quick my life would end if I were to jump onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train. Self hatred and humiliation course through me and I fight the urge to let the steady flow of semi-silent tears become body-convulsing-ugly-sobbing. We arrive at Aly’s and I arrive at home, curled up in my moms’ bed with her holding me and telling me everything will be okay. I am so uncomfortable in the present moment that I remove myself from reality in order to survive the night. Aly mothers me, bringing me tea and making me comfortable. I consider watching a scary movie on my laptop as becoming engulfed in horror would be preferable to disbelief and traumatic embarrassment. Aly gives me a stone charged by the full moon and instructs me to place it on my forehead before sleeping. It feels nice, and I decide to just go to sleep rather than fire up a murder movie.

It is now 1:00am and I have been awake for 21 hours. We say goodnight and I roll over as the thoughts consume me. I wish I could go to the airport now instead of at 6:00am and just sleep there until my 8:00am flight. I wish I could teleport to my mom’s room. Why did you say the S word??? You know how it freaks people out. Everyone probably thought you were just trying to top Jane’s breakthrough by bringing up your stupid dreams. You looked like an attention whore. You embarrassed Aly and humiliated yourself. No one will hire you to speak ever again. Maybe the dreams are a sign… you should just kill yourself.

No. 

Stop.

Shut up.

You are raw, and tired as hell. This will be a hilarious story in the near future. You just need to calm down, make it through the night and unload these emotions tomorrow when you tell mom about what happened. Breathe. It’s okay. You’re okay.

Holy shit. I can’t believe how much has happened since my alarm went off yesterday morning. I think about standing on the Burrard bridge and feeling humbled and grateful under the breathtaking sunset. Soaking in the history and warmth of the Naam with Jasmine while feeling that deep human connection that happens only when you understand another on an experiential level. Seeing Cathy and P3 for the first time in almost 5 years and not feeling any negative emotions despite my expectation. Sitting around the Family Smart table with a collection of brilliant, like-minded individuals who are on the same mission as I am in regards to mental health education and care. Exploring West 4th and feeling adventurous and inspired. Sitting in the ballroom and feeling tired but excited. Walking to the stage and feeling confident and curious. And, finally, lying here, feeling the last of the self hatred begin to dissipate as I sink into an exhausted slumber. 

Aly makes me the most kick ass smoothie in the morning before I walk through the rain towards the bus station. I feel numb and incapable of even acknowledging the previous evening as I need all of my focus to make it through security and onto the plane. I sit in the departure gate with my hood up and eyes glued to my phone. They announce boarding and I join the line. The man beside me makes eye contact and says, “Hey, I recognize you! You’re the girl I sat beside yesterday morning. The scarf-tent girl."

I surprise myself by actually laughing. I’ve called myself so many things in the past 24 hours but “scarf-tent girl” is the best one yet. When mom picks me up at the airport, I don’t fall into her arms and recount the traumatic evening prior. I don’t feel the need to. I am unexpectedly calm and moderately happy. I nap until I have to go teach a spin class and then return home for dinner. Brooke comes over and eventually, through normal conversation, I tell them about my day. I don’t break down and I don’t feel like I’m suppressing anything. What I thought was going to be a major trauma that would require weeks of intensive psychotherapy to overcome seems to be something that was much worse in the moment than it would be after the fact. Later in the week I have an appointment with my psychologist. Once again, I don’t cry or even feel the need to. We go over what happened and I deconstruct the stories I was telling myself about what other people were thinking. We talk about other “issues” for far longer than we do the “incident". I leave feeling lighter.

I don’t know how to sum up this post. It’s so long and I’m sorry for that. If you’re reading this, I can’t believe you continued past the “incident”. Thank you for persevering. I’m trying to think of a lesson to attach to this story. All I can think of is this...

I have always believed that the universe brings into fruition whatever we most desire. “The Law of Attraction” if you will. On that day, I thought I had been experiencing the full spectrum of human emotion as I went about my action packed schedule. I felt free and alive standing on the bridge. I realized later that I wasn’t even close. Walking through that crowd of immaculate people under a thickening blanket of searing hot embarrassment was the most alive I have felt in years. Having those all-too-familiar death wishes fill my ears was the most horrifying moment I have lived through since they dominated my thoughts a few years back. Living fully and authentically means giving in to those moments of unbearable discomfort in order to augment moments of bliss. We cannot hide from our mistakes, faults and shitty feelings. We must embrace them and realize that everything exists in duality; without the “bad”, there would be no “good”.

As I write this, I am JUST realizing that I haven’t had nearly as many suicide dreams since that experience. HAHAHA it worked! The program worked! I asked the universe to help me be rid of these dreams. I thought Bob would be the remover. And he was. Of me, off the stage, in front of everyone. I got what I asked for. Maybe I just need to be humiliated one more time to have these dreams be fully eradicated. Maybe. 

Sorry this took so long to write.

Thanks for waiting.

 

R

Bell Let's Talk Day 2017

Hello again,

I would like to contribute to the tremendous conversation that is sweeping our nation and beyond on this special day. Bell Let’s Talk day. The purpose of today’s movement is to stimulate conversation on the topic of mental health while simultaneously raising funds for mental health initiatives. Founded by Clara Hughes and supported by countless big names such as Howie Mandel, today is growing in reach and impact. The past five years have produced incredible growth in the endeavour that is being pursued today, and there are more and more initiatives taking root each year. So many, in fact, that I sometimes find myself questioning the need for more topic stimulation. Are we not all talking already? We’ve been pushing this for years now. Does the stigma still exist?

When I stopped and looked around on a societal level, I was floored by how far we have come in normalizing topics such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, mental health days of absence, counsellor appointments and psychiatrist visits. Less and less are people feeling shame when disclosing their struggles or diagnoses, judgement is being replaced by empathetic listening, and employers are improving their policies on sick days. While it is rewarding to look back and revel in our advancement, it is also important to recognize that there is still a long way to go. There are more conversations happening, but not everyone is talking. The goal of stigma elimination and topic normalization will only be realized when every single person feels comfortable not only confronting their mental health, but sharing it with someone else, and vice versa (are comfortable being that “listening ear” to those who need it). 

When it comes to services and the devastating youth suicide epidemic, much less satisfaction can be found in recounting the work that has gone into these issues over the past few years. Despite the hard work and abundant funding that has gone into improving the mental health care system (specifically the crisis intake areas) in order to stop or even slow the alarming number of youth suicides, little progress has been made and even fewer lives have been saved. It’s a heavy topic, but it is one we need to consider in this time of raising awareness. If the severity of mental health related issues were placed on a scale, a mild case of the blues can be found on one end, and a life lost to suicide on the other. While it is much easier to start a conversation about your day to day emotions in the often mood-lowering winter months, asking those difficult questions of someone who you are legitimately worried about is where you can make the biggest difference. Sometimes, “Are you okay?”, isn’t enough. “What kind of thoughts are you having?”, or “Are you in a dark place?”, can open up the uncomfortable but necessary conversation that could lead to someone disclosing their suicidal thoughts, thus opening a door through which you can pull them from the ledge of despair. We must be brave in our support of others and move past the fear that comes with avoiding rejection or having someone get angry at us. If you yourself are reading this and know what dark thoughts I am talking about, message me. Or anyone. There is always someone willing to listen and you are so, so, so loved.

On a lighter note, I just thought I would address another topic that seems to be on everyone’s (or just my?) mind these days. Why are we all so mentally unwell? Are we just being weak? There were not this many cases of anxiety and depression 50 years ago, I’m sure.  It seems like everyone has an issue nowadays. I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do have an idea. Society today is one of extreme stimulation. Every year we are bombarded with more and more technologies that simultaneously stream-line our lives and clutter our minds. This advancement into our current technological state has occurred so rapidly that there is no way our human minds have had time to adjust to all the input. On a daily basis, most of us are intaking far more information than we are putting out or even taking the time to ruminate over. In my opinion, we are mentally sicker because we have not yet adapted to the world we live in. I like to think of it like a time when our physical well-being is under threat. Remember the swine flu? H1N1? It was rampant and no one was safe. We were all physically fragile in light of this powerful disease. We couldn’t hide from it or ultimately prevent it, but we could take precautionary measures. We washed our hands more. Carried hand sanitizer. Even avoided public places unless absolutely necessary. Today, we are mentally fragile. We cannot hide from all the the stimulation and input, nor can we totally prevent falling into a “lower” mental state. But we can take measures to protect ourselves. Mental hygiene is a popular term that refers to taking the time to “clean out” our minds and evaluate our thoughts. Watching less “mind polluting” TV, spending more time outside, or sitting in silence. Meditation, mindfulness, and physical activity are also extremely conducive to good mental health. While these practices were once viewed as “extra”, I believe that today they are mandatory to each and every one of us if we want to maintain a healthy mental state.

It’s hard beginning  a new practice. It really is. I, a yoga instructor, lost my personal practice for almost a year. I went to classes once in a while and would do the odd practice at home, but I completely lost my consistency. I also stopped going to the gym regularly and was cheating on my vegan diet (only dairy! 😉 ). This past month has been a struggle to get back on my feet and feeling good about myself again. I keep trying to force myself into following a strict gym regimen like I used to, or cutting out carbs to lose some weight. All of these extreme endeavours failed because I didn’t tailor them to fit what I needed. So, I set more realistic goals like moving everyday, whether or not it be the gym. Personal practice a least 4 times a week, and meditation at least 2 times. So far, I’ve been able to stick to these goals and I know that I can increase my standards as time goes on. Choose something that works for you. Tailor it to fit you. Make it yours. Own it, and enjoy it. 

I thought I had more on my mind but I’m coming up blank. 

Here’s a summary of today’s thoughts:

  • Yay for progress towards the goal of eliminating stigma around mental health topics!
  • Be brave and ask difficult questions of those who you think are really struggling.
  • If you are really struggling, tell someone. (Me! 😃 )
  • Just like in times of physical disease, we must take precautions to maintain our mental health. Mental hygiene!
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Personalize a practice (anything! Walking, meditating, yoga, online exercise programs) and OWN IT.
  • You are loved and you are here for a reason. 

 

Thank you for reading and Happy Bell Let’s Talk Day!

 

 

 

Take care of yourself out there,

 

 

Rylee

Brooke's Thai Kitten

I'm feeling nostalgic already. It's been almost a month since I've been back in the great white north but it feels like just yesterday I was basking on the beaches of South East Asia.
Being home has been nice, although I seem to have sunk into a winter-related depression. Motivation is down, vision is grey, and nightmares are rampant. Self love and care are almost non-existent as I've been too scared to confront myself in this difficult time. It's Christmas Eve and I am looking forward to family time. I am putting off fully dealing with this identity crisis until the festivities are over.

Anyways, here is a little story from Thailand with a message that kind of relates to my current struggle...

 

We’re walking down the street of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, and Brooke (my travel buddy), stops to pick up a kitten. This kitten, she says, is sick and needs our help. It has goop in it’s eyes, and is skinny and shaking in the sun. She wraps it in her sarong and off we go to buy some cat food. Chelsea (our savviest traveling buddy) buys some kibble on our way to the travel agency to book ferry tickets. None of us really know what to do with this little animal as there is no veterinarian on the tiny island and no pets are allowed at our hostel.

We are all hesitant to continue this mission, but Brooke is adamant that we cannot leave the creature alone on the street. She sits on a bench outside the travel office while Chelsea goes in to book tickets. The kitten is squirming in the sarong, and she tries to settle it. Her efforts are futile as the once seemingly lifeless kitten escapes the purple entanglement and hops down from the bench. It trots away, and we laugh as Brooke sits, watching her rescue animal having regained its strength enough to make its way down the street to the front door of a spa where it proceeds to squat and begin to defecate the front step.

The Thai ladies sitting out front begin to yell in our direction, angry at us for letting “our pet” soil their front step. Brooke hurries over just in time to scoop up the kitten before it can actually produce any feces, and we decide that the kitten was not, in fact, dying and in need of our help after all.

Taking it back to where we found it seems like the best course of action, so off we go. Our group pokes fun at Brooke the entire way, and she mock cries as we “bully” her. I capture a perfect photo of Cutter (another travel buddy) laughing beside Brooke who holds the kitten and pouts on our way back to return it where it came from. We find the spot, deposit it on the sidewalk, and head home.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this experience, it is this: you can’t save everyone/everything. Brooke just happens to be one of the most sensitive, empathetic people I have ever met, and it is agonizing for her to see hardship and not do anything about it. Despite her best intentions, it is impossible to fix everything wrong in the world, and this is a difficult realization to discover; however, it is necessary if we are to make it through this life without being burdened by the collective injustices and sufferings of the world.

Do what you can, when you can. Be kind always. Keep an open mind. Know when a situation is beyond your control, and then let it go. The world is a better place because of people like Brooke, and even though she can never solve all the problems of the world, she sure can make a hell of a difference. So can I. And so can you.

Lots of love,

R

VEGANS UGH

I’ve been following a fairly strict vegan diet for a little over a year now, after being a peskitarian (heavy on the pesky) for a few years prior. The reason I adopted this lifestyle/diet was, honestly, because of an ex-boyfriend who opened my eyes to the massive environmental impacts that not just meat, but egg, dairy and fish farming/harvesting methods have on the planet.

I thought I was fairly savvy in the area of environmentalism and animal agriculture, but after exposure to his extensive knowledge on the subjects and watching Cowspirecy (if you haven’t watched this, please do. It is eye-opening and fact-heavy without too many animal abuse images implanted solely for shock value), I was mind-blown and angry.

I entered veganism with a fiery hatred for mankind, and with the idea that if everyone were to just go vegan, global warming could be slowed (maybe even halted), needless killings eliminated, and species eradication a thing of the past. I maintained this belief until just recently…

Last week a friend of mine shared an article on Facebook called: Vegans and Vegetarians Think They Don’t Kill Animals, But They Do (sorry for the poor citation). It revealed that despite zero consumption of animal products, vegans inadvertently kill in the form of pest control and/or land usage for vegetation production. For example, land is cleared for a spinach farm. The species inhabiting that land is displaced, thus disrupting the environment that they migrate to. They kill off something else in order to take up space and resources, or they themselves are killed off. Any pests (insects, birds, rodents, herbivores) are poisoned or mass hunted in order to preserve the crops. 

Reading this gave me a real “duh” moment; obviously we can’t exist without causing harm, of course something has to die for us to live, why hadn’t I considered this before? I started thinking about how I stopped drinking caesars (clam juice in the Clamato and anchovy extract in the worcestershire) despite my deep love for them, and how the difference I was making by avoiding those animal products is undoubtably made obsolete by the killing I was endorsing by eating the spinach. 

I want to live a life that has the most positive impact possible on the rest of the world.

Does emitting negative energy in the form of annoying restaurants with my weird requests and longing for a caesar counteract the harm reduction to animals veganism provides? Do all of my efforts just cancel each other out? Is it possible to live a life free of cruelty, environmental damage or negative social connotations? Does one person living this lifestyle make a difference? How can I have a bigger impact?

I need to do more research. The only/best answer I can conceive at this moment is living off-grid, farming vegetables and keeping some chickens for eggs. I’m not in a place where this is achievable (yet), so I think I will try a flexitarian diet and see how my body likes it while I work towards finding the answer I am looking for: what diet/lifestyle is environmentally, morally, and healthily sound?

I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Until then, I’m going to drink caesars, not be as strict with extracts, but maintain a diet free of flesh and eggs. 

 

Lots of love,

 

R

Cats and Bum-guns

I’d have to say my favourite things about Thailand (so far) are as follows:

  • Sun. I love the sun. It boosts my mood, browns my skin and warms my soul. Penticton (home) is just beginning to enter “grey season”, when the clouds roll in and prevent rays from reaching the town for the better part of winter. I would be using my sun lamp everyday if I weren’t here to prevent the inevitable annual onset of SADS (seasonal affective depression syndrome). I will begin using it upon my return as it is unbelievably beneficial to my mental health. I highly recommend purchasing one if you live in a place that experiences sun-devoid winters (Amazon, eBay or local pharmacies are good sources).
  • Swimming. In the ocean, rooftop pools or waterfall springs, swimming is both fun and relaxing. It can serve as a workout too if I’m feeling like doing some laps.
  • Food. This is weird because I have an aversion to ever acknowledging that I enjoy food and get uncomfortable talking about what I eat (especially if it’s “unhealthy), and because most people rave about the exotic Thai dishes that feature seafood, egg, or meat. Following a vegan diet is surprisingly easy and satisfying here. My favourite things to eat are pad thai with tofu and no egg, stir-fried veggies with tofu and rice or thai (thick) noodles, or green curry with tofu and rice. I keep thinking that I’m going to get sick of these foods, but I look forward to eating them everyday. The serving sizes are usually perfect, if not a little big, and I feel like I’m getting sufficient macro and micro nutrients. I might be a bit shy in the iron department so I’m looking to purchase some supplements in Chang Mai (next/final destination).
  • Cats. And dogs. There are strays and pets (with collars) everywhere, and although I was warned profusely about the packs of rabid animals roaming the streets in Thailand, I have yet to encounter one aggressive and/or foamy-jowled creature. Brooke and I widen our travelling companion’s eyes every time we stop to pet them. How can you not? We’re cautious (approach slowly and let them sniff our hands, avoiding any that don’t look friendly) and most of them look like they could benefit from a little bit of love. Yesterday we played with tiny kittens in a shop and it was magical.
  • Bum-guns. To avoid plugging the less-than-mediocre plumbing systems, Thai bathrooms are all equipped with a spray nozzle at the end of a hose which hangs beside the toilet. Instead of using copious amount of TP after a big pad thai/mango shake poop, you simply remove the bum-gun from it’s holder, aim, and spray away. Afterwards, a small piece of TP can be used to dry, then is disposed of in the trash. No smell, less waste, more hygienic… I will be installing bum-guns in my home immediately upon it’s purchase/construction, and I am adamant that the rest of Canada should adopt this bathroom custom. 

Today we ferried from Koh Phi Phi (island) to Krabi (mainland) then flew to Chang Mai (north). Looking to do some elephant sanctuary visiting and jungle trekking in the near future.

 

Lots of love,

 

R

The "Traveller"

The traveller is vigorous, adventurous and friendly. They have interesting stories and exotic experiences to share. They are vivacious and down for anything. They make friends easily and socialize without much effort. The traveller is strong, self aware, autonomous and savvy.

I am not a traveller. I start yawning around 3:00pm, despite being in Thailand for over a week (enough time to recover from jet lag). I am cautious of others, as I see no reason why anyone would want to converse with me. When met with interaction, I come up with nothing when I try to recall my human kinetics education, and even less when I try to garner share-worthy stories. I struggle to hold  a conversation because I am too busy analyzing myself through what I believe to be their eyes, criticizing the sound of my voice or the way my mouth moves when I speak. I feel sapped of energy and out of touch with myself. I don’t know much about this country or travelling in general, and I rely on complicated inner reasoning to help me make decisions.

Travelling, so far, has abruptly reminded me that I am not “normal”. That I think differently than the average person and spend more time analyzing myself than I would like. I am rarely capable of fully engaging in social situations as I tend to “check out” and observe from a place far within my head. I constantly remind myself to “be in the moment” and “soak everything in” because I am worried about checking out involuntarily and missing beautiful moments. When met with difficulty, I make myself numb so that I can survive without my cumbersome emotions clouding my reasoning. The numbness often lasts.

I like to think that I am adventurous and adaptable, but when I recall the comfortable routine-driven life that I had just recently fallen into at home, I yearn for it more than anything. Familiarity used to seem boring, but now I would give anything to be bored at home.

Maybe this is just home-sickness disguised as an identity crisis. Don’t get me wrong, the trip has been spectacular so far. Breathtaking views and memorable experiences. Lasting relationships and delicious food. Everything travelling is supposed to be. I guess I’m just waiting to feel a change within myself. I unknowingly set a goal to undergo some sort of personal growth whilst sightseeing, learning and experiencing, but I have yet to feel myself expand. Instead, I feel as though I am crawling deeper and deeper inside myself, hiding from not being the traveller I expected to be. 

Brooke and I are different from most of the people here. We like to wake up early and hike to a sunrise viewpoint before exploring new places with new friends. We like to go to the same place to eat once we find somewhere that is both cheap and good. We like to watch the sunset, go for a swim, then go to bed. Koh Tao is a big party island, and everyone here is here to party. We have been struggling with feeling “lame” as we are some of the youngest travellers here and are not interested in drinking every night. Another factor is my throat infection which I went to the clinic for yesterday. I got some antibiotics and taking those, coupled with my general feeling like shit has left me wanting to do anything other than party. We plan to participate in the Full Moon Party which takes place on the next island we’re going to on the 15th. We shall see.

I apologize for the bummer vibe of this post. I just needed to express my feelings of self-loss and outsider-ness. I’m only a week in and have been expecting a breakdown at some point along the way. Maybe this is it. Maybe not. Either way, I have been able to stay positive almost all of the time. Brooke’s anxiety manifests differently than mine, and staying positive is helpful in quelling her worries. Whilst being positive, I am reminding myself that it’s okay to not be okay. Self affirmations are good too. 

I am a traveller. I am strong, capable and intelligent. I have interesting stories to tell and facts to share. I am likeable and friendly. I am self-governing and self-loving. I make good, safe decisions and am capable of enjoying myself. 

In the end, I am doing the best I can. And that is all I can do.

 

I’m curious if any readers have experienced anything similar whilst travelling? Any tips? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or email/Facebook/twitter DM me. Thank you for reading today.

Ps. pictures are posted on my "photo blog" page.

 

I wish you the best.

 

Love,

 

R

THAILAND

Hellooooo everybody.

I am currently sitting in a little hostel room at 2:00am Bangkok time. My travel buddy, Brooke McLaughlin (blog: basketcaseandwandering.wordpress.com), and I embarked on this journey on Halloween when we flew from Kelowna to Vancouver. After spending the night, we took China Eastern Airlines to Shanghai and then transferred to another CEA flight to Bangkok. We don't have much of a plan, other than knowing that we want to spend lots of time on the beaches. We have a few ideas for tours etc. but other than that, we are wingin' it. This is by far the most adventurous thing I have ever done. 

The following month of blog posts will be an amalgamation of travel and some good ol' mental health insights, tips, confessions etc.

Brooke also happens to be a stupendously talented photographer, so we have decided to collaborate in posting pictures and guest posts as we navigate through this growth stimulating independence exercise/holiday.

I hope you are all doing well.

Love and light,

 

R

Site Maintenance

As you may have noticed, this website is beautifully designed (by the talented Lucas Roach), but lacks consistency and depth. This is due to my general lack of enthusiasm for exploring the possibilities of this web design program. I have always been intimidated by most computer-related endeavours, which is both embarrassing and limiting as a millennial. 

However, I am becoming more and more comfortable and enthusiastic about making the most of this platform. Bear with me while I figure it all out, and I hope to share some progress with you soon :)

Back at it again with the blogging

Hellooo everybody!

There are so many exciting things I want to share with you, but I’m using this post to tell you about the most immediate exciting thing. Recently, some really special people have found their ways into my life and it is their presence that has inspired me to re-start my blog. One special person in particular is Ashley Dias: a Penticton local who has been living in Vancouver changing the world with her multiple business pursuits and fitness-focused career. Ashley and I were brought together by another amazingly special person, Jenine Nicholas: a prominent powerhouse of a change maker who brings her passion and enthusiasm into her multiple endeavours here in the community. I could go on and on about these two, but I want to get to the exciting part that involves YOU.

Together, Jenine, Ashley and I have begun a non-profit organization in Penticton called It’s Your Choice. The movement is based on wellness and mental health advocacy, as well as bringing the community together in order to work towards our better selves as a united team. Mind, body and spirit. Collaboration. Movement. Love. Connection. Empathy. These values (and many more, as well as an insane amount of enthusiasm) propel this project forward.

On September 4th at Skaha Beach we will be hosting a free community event that welcomes all. Mental health organizations, community vendors, and free fitness classes will be set up inside the outdoor rink area on the east side of the beach. Live music, a family dance, and motivational speakers are lined up for the day/evening as well. It’s gonna be BIG and it’s gonna be FUN. 

In the days leading up to this event, Ashley and I are offering FREE fitness classes at Skaha beach every morning at 8:30am. Monday, Wednesday, Friday is Tabata (a HIIT/high intensity interval training style workout with 4minute intervals composed of 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest repeated 8 times. The workouts consist mainly of body weight exercises, and are customizable to fit all fitness levels. Modifications are offered throughout the class and we get to sweat to some sick tunage 😉 ), followed by some gentle yoga. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Ashley leads BollyX (a dance-based workout that is set to bollywood style music and incorporates traditional bollywood moves). 

Join us tomorrow morning at the Saturday Penticton Farmer’s Market on Main St. for a free demonstration (BollyX and maybe some yoga) at the 400 block.

I also teach drop-in yoga at the Lakeside on Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30am. Check in with the front desk for a mat and directions, then meet me on the lawn for a relaxing outdoor class in paradise. $10.00 drop in but I’m open to bribery. 

 

More to come.

Thank you for reading!

Love love love,

 

Ry

Mood booster

I've been trying out a new habit... Upon waking, prior to doing anything other than getting dressed, I go outside for a walk. It can be long or short, depending on the available time-frame, but getting outside first thing in the morning has been setting a positive tone for my day.

In the past, I would wake up extremely early and engage in a vigorous workout. This, although effective in ensuring that I did not miss any workouts, left me feeling euphoric for a few hours and then crashing (hard) around midday. I hope to be able to find a way to make working out in the morning work for me (maybe an afternoon nap?), but for now, I'll stick with my walks.

What do you do to boost your mood?

 

Love and light,

 

Rylee

Exam week

I apologize in advance for the lacklustre posts that are to follow this one. It is exam week, and I have a major procrastination problem. 

I hope you are all doing well.

 

Love,

 

Rylee

Life update

Noooooo I missed posting yesterday :(

I'm actually kind of mad at myself... but I'm trying to get over it.

TODAY WAS MY LAST DAY OF CLASSES!!! To celebrate, I came home and napped for four hours, and then gave myself permission to not workout (my legs are super sore from over-doing it yesterday). I went for a long walk and got some fresh air, and, honestly, that was enough. I don't even feel guilty about skipping my planned workout (yet...). Exams start this upcoming Saturday and then after a hellish week of procrastination-cram cycling, it will all be over!!!

For the next three weeks, my boyfriend and I are house sitting for his parents while they are on vacation which is awesome because they have a cat! I love her and she is so cute but I miss my bunnies. I'll have to visit them tomorrow.

This month, my boyfriend and I have declared ourselves sober, which is kind of funny because it is not as though we were abusing substances prior to the beginning of April... we just wanted a "cleanse" type of month. We did "Sober June" last year to kick off a summer of working in the service industry and participation in all of the activities that go along with the job. This year, we plan to stay away from alcohol for the entire summer. I am actually really looking forward to it, as I have had some troubles in the past with not knowing my limit and then definitely not staying within it. I also want to pursue health more holistically this summer, which includes keeping a more regular sleep schedule and following a routine. 

Thank you for reading,

Sorry for the lack of inspiration, insight or advice... Maybe tomorrow ;)

 

Love love,

 

R

 

Shorter

Busy day... Worked a split at work. Made some time in the morning for a short yoga practice which set the tone for the rest of my day. I resolved to smile more (even if it's forced sometimes!). I caught myself slipping back into "dead face" or even a grimace during stressful times at work, and reminded myself to engage those cheek muscles! 

Faking it can lead to actually feeling the benefits of a smile. I thought that this was just a trick that my therapists used to tell me to try and get me to stop scowling at them... Turns out, it is an actual scientifically proven phenomenon; I learned about it in my psychology class this past semester!

So smile. Now.

 

Love Ry

Short

I had a brownie for dinner. It was a vegan brownie and actually pretty healthy, but it was still a brownie. Two years ago, that brownie wouldn't have made it through digestion. 

I haven't been posting much about EDs lately.... or at all really.

I'll start doing more of that.

 

Love love,

 

Ry

Be nice to yourself

Treat yourself with kindness and respect. This means forgiving your mistakes and having compassion for yourself, but it does not mean considering yourself more worthy than any other being. Challenge yourself to stimulate growth. You owe it to yourself to make the most of this existence. Uphold yourself to some standards, just as you would anyone else. 

If you are going through a challenging time, don't roll over and let it beat you. Fight. Fight for yourself. Because you deserve to be here. You deserve to be well and you deserve to thrive.

Finding the balance between pushing and letting go is difficult, but it is in this equilibrium that we find our optimal existence.

The word yourself sounds so weird now... Sorry.

I've turned "comments" on, so please leave a message if you feel inspired to do so :)

 

Love and light,

 

Rylee

 

 

Neature

I have made it a primary focus of mine to spend more time outside. I like it outside. It's nice. 

Today the boyf and I went for a nice little jaunt up Penticton creek (in town!) and I got the nature fix I so desperately need without having to leave city limits. 

Spending time outside (even if it's just outside your house) is remarkably helpful in clearing the mind of pollution. So go outside!

Lovey love love,

 

Rylee