Keith is a regular contributor to Bring Change 2 Mind’s blog, and to the Good Men Project. If you are interested in working with Keith feel free to reach out. Contact WL if you want to be a Guest Blogger.
Worth Living Ambassador Jenna Fournier
Hello I’m Jenna, a psychology student at Carleton University. I like music, coffee shops, art, poetry, and I do weightlifting. I have been diagnosed with many things, most notably Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia.
The Decision to Get Better(ish)
No motivation. Or the lack of it. The reason it has taken me months to write my fourth article. I’ve had plenty of ideas on what to write. I just couldn’t bring myself to actually do any of the writing. I would often go to my keyboard and type a few words only to press delete delete delete. But here I am, finally able to write something that makes some sort of sense. Here I am, again, letting you in.
I don’t know when I first started to hate myself. I can’t think of a specific event. I don’t think it was any one particular thing that made me decide I was the enemy. Maybe it was the repeated bad treatment from others. Maybe it was something else. I think that maybe I was predisposed to this line of thinking. In fact, I think we all are. I don’t know many people who love themselves, at least not completely. As humans we are flawed. We find it easy to critique ourselves much more easily and harsher than we do each other.
Although we may not love who we are completely, we find a way to sit with it. As we grow older and begin to establish who we are, we start to understand ourselves more. We find a deeper acceptance. At least, this is what I’m hoping. This is what I am hoping it will begin to feel like. The journey to self- love is often long. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a journey you have to take alone. No, people can’t fix you with love, and yes the majority of the work you do is self- driven, however it is almost impossible to learn to love yourself alone. The people you surround yourself with, who continue to stand by you and support you, often add fuel to your fire. Help grow, the flame you are becoming.
Some people have more trouble than others learning to love themselves. Maybe this is influenced by their past or their present circumstances or maybe they deal with mental illness. I am one of these people. I don’t like myself. There I said it. And it’s true. It’s not to gain pity from others or even from myself. It’s the bitter ugly truth. I feel like I fail at life. I fail at being a human being. When I feel this hatred so strongly I self-destruct. I feel that I am unloveable. That there is no way another human being could love someone like me and I must be worthless. I’ll hurt myself, I’ll stop attending classes, I’ll stop going to therapy. Why bother trying to get better? Some days I feel my illness is bigger than I am. More alive too. It has enfolded itself around me. At times, it has drained all life out of me. I often feel I belong to my illness, and that it won’t stop until it has destroyed all of me. I feel trapped by this thing that will not back down and sometimes it feels like every moment of just being alive hurts.
Sometimes I wonder, that maybe I actually can get better. It’s just that I don’t want to. I fear the unfamiliar. But don’t we all? Fear the unknown? I’ve been sick my entire life. I don’t know how not to be sick. I want to keep my bad habits, my crooked way of thinking. As twisted as it may sound, I find some sort of comfort in my illness. But it gets tiring. It gets tiring of having a love affair with my misery. And it’s not that I necessarily do it on purpose. It’s just so easy, so familiar to take refuge in the suffering. And I really honestly hate being this way. I don’t want to waste away my life being so sad and angry with myself all the time. And of course I’m not saying it’s simple either. I am not saying I can just snap out of my madness and be alright. It will take hard work and dedication. It will mean being uncomfortable. Facing parts of myself that I always turn my back from.
I don’t know if I can ever fully heal to the point of not suffering from mental illness. But I do hope that in time, the emotional pain lessens. I want to find effective ways of dealing with difficult emotions and being able to cope in healthier ways. I want to strengthen my relationships with others and most importantly with myself. I often feel captive in the dreary day to day life unable to find any sort of reason to keep on going.
But the thud thud thud of my heartbeat reminds me that I’m alive. I am reminded that I am still here, still reaching out into the ever expanding world around me. I search for meaning. I want to be able to find my purpose just like everyone else. So here’s to me and the beginning of my journey to getting better(ish).
Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q
Well Worth Living friends and followers… summer is coming to an end if we like it or not. But don’t fear! This week’s Countdown is a small taste of this summer’s round up. We had so many good tunes this summer. I asked Worth Living Ambassadors what was their “go to” song was this summer. Here are some of their responses from around the world. Enjoy – Scratchley Q
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – End of Summer Round Up
10. Zilipendwa- Diamond Platnumz, Harmonize, Rich Mavoko, Rayvanny
9. Marry You- Diamond Platnumz ft. Neyo
8. Swalla- Jason Derulo ft. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla Sign
7. Slow Hands – Niall Horan
6. Live and Die in Afrika- Sauti Sol
5. Nothing Holding Me Back- Shawn Mendes
4. I Miss You- Diamond Platnumz
3. Summer Girl- Jamiroquai
2. Unforgettable- French Montana ft. Swae Lee
1. Feels – Calvin Harris
Worth Living Ambassador Felicia Singh
Hello, my name is Felicia. I am a 25 year old healthcare professional and
counseling/psychology student with anxiety. As well as someone with an unexplainable
yearning to understand mental health disorders. The who, what, where, when, and whys of it all.
The Fading Memory
It was Wednesday afternoon last week and I was sitting at my desk staring at a young woman
who stood beside her elderly mother. Tears filled her eyes as I explained to them what the next
step in her mother’s care would be. Her mother (a patient of ours) came in for a follow up
appointment after seeing a neuropsychologist for memory loss. She was recently diagnosed
with Alzheimer’s disease. The patient seemed to be pretty calm and unbothered in light of what
was discussed at the appointment. I wasn’t sure that she actually understood what was going
on. The daughter was very distraught. I couldn’t help but feel emotional about what they were
going through and what was still to come.
My great grandmother who I had the pleasure of knowing for most of my adolescent life was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when I was 21/ 22 years old. At the time I had no clue what the diagnosis really meant or entailed. I knew it involved memory loss but not the extent of it. She was living in Florida at the time and had recently lost her husband, my great grandfather. I had heard reports from several family members that she had begun to decline significantly after my grandfather’s passing. It is not unusual for elderly people to experience changes in their mental state after losing a long term spouse. Such a tragic event as death brings about so much change and emotion. It is a lot of emotional and physical stress for anyone to handle.
When I saw my grandmother next she was an entirely different person. So much so that she did
not even recognize me. Words cannot describe what it feels like to have someone that showed
you so much love and taught you so many things to not recognize you at all. There were a few
moments where she seemed to recognize my name, but could not connect the younger me to
the person that stood before her. I would describe it as losing someone while they’re still
standing right in front of you.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. A lot of the
time Alzheimer’s is overlooked as regular memory loss which is common as people get older.
Those with the disease may forget important people in their lives and undergo personality changes. Alzheimer’s is one of the main causes of dementia. The disease actually causes brain cells to degenerate and eventually die.
Although Alzheimer’s is not classified as a mental illness it is still related to mental health and can cause mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, agitation, and hallucinations. There are medications and different treatments that may help to improve symptoms, but there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. The 36 Hour Day is a great book for those dealing with and caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease.
Life can change within the blink of an eye sometimes. Don’t take a second of it for granted. And remember if you’re here, then you have a life worth living.
Worth Living Ambassador Linda Dias Menezes
I would like to start by introducing myself. My name is Linda Dias Menezes and I have epilepsy. I have a loving supportive husband and a little boy who is 3 years old.
I am also a mentor, an ambassador, a support group facilitator, a Psychology Honors Student at the University of South Africa and an advocate for mental health and epilepsy. I have my own NPO aimed and spreading epilepsy awareness in South Africa and plan to open a second NPO with fellow psychology students called Mental Health Profession Advocates for Change.
What are You Happy about Today?
Here in sunny South Africa the mental health care is all but sunny. Mental health and the stigma attached to mental health are not seen for what they are. Instead, some communities have a belief that if you have epilepsy or a mental health problem you are possessed or deranged.
I educate my audience in every presentation I host about what epilepsy is. People in general are not educated on the myths and stigmas related to mental health as soon as they hear the word mental they think of THE “Arkham Asylum”.
I discuss the mental health issues that go along with Epilepsy for example:
1. Dealing with anxieties of when the next seizure will strike, will those around me know how to administer first aid?
2. What would happen if anyone would find out that I had epilepsy, how would this affect my relationship?
3. Depression setting in, living with the condition for the rest of your life and being dependent on medication or even other people because you can’t drive for two years after you have had a seizure.
I have seen it many times, in the beginning all these questions and challenges lay before you and you feel like giving up, you become locked in darkness almost where there seems to be no hope and your friend with no name is actually depression. It only sets in later that your friend is not really your friend. Everything you loved before now becomes so much effort you don’t even feel like getting out of bed in the morning, all you want to do is hide from the world except the problem doesn’t really go away.
I might not have had the severest depression in my life, at a point all I knew was I was sad and unhappy for a long time I just didn’t really know why.
It had to take a real change in my life to look at what I had accomplished and embrace all the positive aspects of living with a condition that has no cure. I realised I can either dwell in the depths of despair of living with this condition or I can embrace the condition make it my own and celebrate my individuality.
My hope and resilience were renewed and I after visiting a few hostels for people living with epilepsy I realised I am quite lucky. I have a family, I have a job, I have a loving and caring husband and a beautiful healthy little boy, life is definitely worth living!
Life is even more Worth Living when I know I can get out of bed in the morning and be thankful for everything I have.
Life is so precious! Make the most of it.
Every day I ask myself these questions and I urge you to do the same
1. What am I happy about today?
2. What am I grateful for today?
3. Who do I love?
4. Who loves me?
5. What can I do to make today fantastic?
6. What can I do today that will make a difference?
7. What can I acknowledge within myself today?
By celebrating the positive and going through the above questions every day you realize the little things we may sometimes take for granted. I had to really dig deep and reflect on my life.
1. What is it that I really want?
2. What are my goals?
3. What do I want to achieve with the resources I have?
I am thrilled that I got to share my story with you and hope I inspired you in some way.
I look forward to hearing from you:
Lots of love Linda
Worth Living Ambassador Cynthia Rizzo
Cynthia Rizzo,24. Born and raised in Saskatoon. Former film student at VFS.
“Wanderlust is a problem that I don’t want to solve and hot chocolate is my antidepressant.”
Caution: Cynthia mentions suicide
What a Life
It came back.
I should have known it would.
It was so subtle, that it got by all my defensives, without me even feeling it.
I guess you could say that I was on a high.
Everything was still going wrong but I don’t even know if I cared or for once I was being optimistic.
I was diagnosed a month ago with Borderline Personality Disorder. So I have depression and chronic anxiety on top of that. So maybe that should have been my first clue of my numbness.
What a life!
Suicidal thoughts are at full force and the little solider that I am, is very ready to give up.
Dealing with my own stuff and reading about two, talented men, take their own lives, makes me feel that I’m holding on to false hope.
I also just lost my best friends. I pushed them too far away. Maybe it’s for the best. I was a horrible friend and if I can’t handle myself, I don’t expect anyone else too.
Self- loathing aside, I’m hoping to start a small project about my struggles. If I can get the help I require maybe I can do it.
I’m honestly just waiting on a miracle at this point.
The light at the end of the tunnel is I regret to say, getting dimmer and dimmer, each and every day.
What a Life.
Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q
This week the Top 10 Countdown is a spotlight on the artist, The Weeknd. I’m hitting up Toronto Saturday to see this guy live and these songs are on my playlist as I get ready.
Enjoy- Scratchley Q
Worth Living Top 10 Countdown – The Weeknd
7. Can’t Feel My Face
5. Earned It
4. The Zone
3. High For This
2. Wicked Games
1. Prisoner (ft. Lana Del Rey) (Tomsize Remix)
Bonus Track…. I Feel It Coming
Worth Living Ambassador & Official DJ Scratchley Q
This week has no particular theme, just what’s popular at the moment. Enjoy – Scratchley Q
10. Phora – To The Moon
9. Miley Cyrus – Malibu
8. Echosmith – Future Me
7.Liam Payne – Strip That Down ft. Quavo
6. Andra & Mara – Sweet Dreams (Radio Killer Remix)
5. Selena Gomez – Fetish ft. Gucci Mane
4. Jonas Blue – Perfect Strangers ft. JP Cooper
3. Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee – Despacito (Remix Audio) ft. Justin Bieber
2. DJ Khaled – Wild Thoughts ft. Rihanna, Bryson Tiller
1.Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87gWaABqGYs&index=39&list=PLy_wKxVmWb4YpvtHD8p7IlGpTcm4qiM7o
DJ Scratchley Q
Worth Living Ambassador McKenna Witkowski
An LGBTQ+ Ambassador living with GAD, MDD, and ADHD Type 2. Also an EMT and proud Social Work Major at Daemen College in Buffalo, New York.
A Difficult Conversation
There are many issues in our community that are never talked about which lead to high rates of suicide and substance abuse. I want to tackle one of those issues with this blog- LGBTQ+ dating abuse.
LGBTQ+ people are at a higher risk to be in an abusive relationship. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 42.8% of LGBQ+ people will be in an abusive relationship. Also from the HRC, 88.9% of trans* people will experience some form of dating violence. LGBTQ+ abusers use the current political atmosphere to their advantage.
Here are some signs and symptoms of LGBTQ+-specific tactics:
-Outing the victim in an unsafe environment, such as to disapproving family or a religious leader
-Leading the victim to believe there is no help available because the victim is LGBTQ+
-Leading the victim to believe that they aren’t LGBTQ+, a form of emotional abuse
Of course, LGBTQ+ dating abuse can present with the same signs and symptoms as heterosexual abuse. Some of these are, but are not limited to:
Any form of physical harm against you, a family member, or a pet- including, but not limited to hitting, punching, kicking, and biting.
-Threatening you with a weapon such as a gun or a knife
-Threatening you, a family member, or a pet
-Treating you like property, not a partner
-Unpredictability and a short temper
-Controlling how you dress
-Preventing you from seeing friends or family
-Name calling and belittling
-Controlling your finances
-Blaming their abuse on an outside factor, like alcohol or drug use
-Gaslighting (trivializing or denying the abuse, making you doubt yourself)
-Tampering with your birth control methods
-Forcing you to have sex
-Trying to coerce you to have sex, after you have refused
Remember, abuse is not limited to the aforementioned signs.
If you suspect that you are in an abusive relationship, there is help available.
The Trevor Project (LGBTQ+ specific)-1-866-488–7386
National Domestic Violence Hotline-1-800-799-7233
LGBTQ+ National Help Center- 1-800-246-PRIDE
The Anti-Violence Project- 242-714-1124
Worth Living Ambassador Ruairi McEnroe
My name is Ruairi, an ultra-runner from Ireland.
My Social Media Break
I decided to take a social media break on June 27th after reading about digital detox as I was interested to see the effects. Let me start by saying I did not grow up with mobile phones coming from the landline era and before that, calling cards! I got a phone in my late teens to keep in contact with family if I was out and about.
My daily routine is that I would normally wake up at 6am to feed my cats and go into the kitchen to make breakfast while scrolling through Instagram, Facebook and the news of the day. It got to a point where I was sharing too much of myself on Instagram, at least that is how I felt. It can be very hard to keep up with everyone that you are following and have some kind of invested interest in.
I do use social media for work so it was not a total detox but kept my interaction at a minimum and allowed other team members to work on it. I also tapped more into my meditation practice, left my phone at home when going out for a run (instead of bringing it with me to get that perfect Instagram picture) and started playing Scrabble again. I connected deeper with my spiritual side learning about the dharma and the Buddhist way.
I often did a lot of nothing, why not? You don’t have to be always on the go and doing something. There were times I would get the feeling that I missing something or FOMO (fear of missing out) but those were later unfounded.
Some closing thoughts. Instagram is great for making connections. I have met a lot of lovely people that I would consider friends but you have to consider this; you are inviting people into your space, your personal space, and you have to be okay with that. You should be careful what you share and wary of the consequences should there be a backlash. The barrage of motivational quotes, telling you the way you should be feeling, so-called “progress” pictures, people who swear to you they wake up looking like a million dollars, and many other downsides to social media can be detrimental to your health. I am not suggesting that you quit social media but take a break now and again to see how you feel.
It has opened my eyes into how much time I was spending on it. The good thing is, for me, the habits of checking feeds multiple times a day went away quickly so I found other things to do during that time before my work schedule. I encourage you once again to give it a go.
One final point is that I found much more control of my social media networks when I decided to log in again. I didn’t scroll through to see what I missed but much like a meditation practice, I decided to ‘begin again’ like it was all new to me.
Worth Living Ambassador Kara Lynn
Kara Lynn graduated university with a B.A in Psychology and is in the final years of Psychiatric nursing. Being an avid mental health advocate, Kara is able to offer therapeutic programs to aid in challenges that people face while being able to bring awareness and enlightenment to those within the community to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Not all mental illnesses come from trauma, and not all traumas inspire mental illnesses, however these are paired among society. Kara is also a motivational speaker, looking to inspire and encourage others to live a healthy, positive, and full life.
There have been many questions about my positive energy, my enthusiasm for life and adventure, and the ability to see something positive in a negative situation. It does not come from meditation or beautiful scenery ( although it helps). Positivity is based on perception.
The way you feel and how you act play a large role in your day. I’m not afraid of the future nor am I afraid of failure. Those are challenges that I accept and welcome to create and shape a better me. What I do today helps me become who I will be tomorrow.
Every experience that I have encountered, every miracle or obstacle that I have faced helped to shape me to be the best possible person that I can be. I am not saying I don’t have bad days – I do, I am human. I take from those “bad” or challenging moments and learn and grow and that’s what makes me happy – growing mentally, physically and spiritually.
I have great people in my corner and some not so great. Those who are always there and those who are there when it benefits them – and that’s fine. They are doing the same thing as you – living and doing what makes them happy.
I have lost wonderful people in my life who I wish I could bring back. Life doesn’t make that easy. What it has taught me is to hold onto those you love, never take anyone for granted, and reflect on the good times that you can laugh about with those you encounter. Use your experiences to create a bond with someone new.
I ask you now, do you find yourself constantly battling stressed feelings or unhappy thoughts? Ask yourself why and find a road that will deter you away from that negative energy. Most of the time we continue feeling as we do without reflecting on why we feel that way and from there, it becomes a continual cycle of added stress. Your stress and set -backs can become a view for opportunity to be challenged and motivated. If you find you are in a situation you wish to not be in and that is what is setting you back, my advice to you is change the scenario.
Here are some of my tips for you to help through those unwanted nasty days or weeks.
1. If someone close to you hurts your feelings,let them know but don’t be mean, just have a rational conversation about things that bother you. Don’t necessarily write people off right away either. We all have good traits and bad traits. They make us who we are, but how can change be expected if that person who has hurt you doesn’t realize what they are doing?
2. For one week write everything down that gives you hesitation, stress, makes you upset and so on. By the end of the week take a look at what bothered you and examine it. You may notice that there are patterns occurring. Sometimes we go on autopilot to get through whatever it is we need to during the week, and that’s OK. However sometimes when that happens we lose our focus and become uneasy, or upset at small things. How can we change our perspective? Attitude
Sure, I dislike having to wait for people to contact me back when I’ve emailed them about business related aspects and sometimes it may feel like they take forever to respond. However, I am doing what will ultimately make me happy in the future. During that time, I am grateful that I have been able to start my own business with the education that I have and worked hard for in school.
3. I try not to complain. I saw a post on Instagram and it enlightened me. It was a post challenging you to not complain for one full day. Is it difficult? Absolutely, but it’s doable. It is all in the perspective. It’s surprising how much we complain about things, even when we don’t mean to.
“Exercising daily is hard work”
– I am now one step closer to getting to my ideal weight, fuelling my body with energy while feeling and looking my best
“I hate how cold it is”
-I have warm running water, big blankets ( lovely duvet), and other means to keep warm, not a lot of people have what I have, so I am thankful more than disappointed or agitated.
4. Write what you are grateful for and what makes you happy. Big or small. Write it. You don’t have to do this every day. If you want, just write when something happens that put a smile on your face. Make a book of them to reflect on when you start to feel stressed about life not going where you want it to go, or when you feel like your day can’t get any worse. This will be your pick me up or a reminder of where you want to be.
I’m currently sitting here thinking about what I am grateful for: My family, the copious amount of supportive and wonderful people in my life, my yoga classes, and being able to go to the gym whenever possible.
I’ve seen those close to me struggle through pain, whether by health, relationships, and other stresses and triumphs! Climb to the top after every battle that was given and stand at the top of that proverbial mountain. That too is my inspiration. What I need to look at to reflect on my bad days to turn them into positive, to motivate me to work harder and to push me along on my bad days.
Like everyone else, I too get my bad days and though they may not work for everyone, these help me get over unwanted feelings almost instantly. When you find yourself feeling down, ask what can be changed to make yourself happier, accomplished and find what can help you become dedicated to something great. Find the good in the bad or in the stressful.
I’m not saying life is easy and won’t have its difficulties from time to time and I do take into consideration that there are aspects we cannot run away from. Life can be scary or it can be rewarding. It’s how you choose to view it and what you choose to do with what’s given to you. Most importantly never give up. Everything you do leads you somewhere.
Are we allowed to have bad days? Absolutely, that’s what good nights with great friends are for.