Tuesday, 2 December 2014

November Blues

Thanks, I know its December but its the November blues that have had me down and not posting. This year has been such a powerful year for me in terms of my regaining my life. I would not have dared hope to be feeling as well as I have been. Its like I am living the life I intended and not giving in to my mental health issues. Am I still taking my I still seeing the drs....yep.....but i don't's allowing me to be me again. But then came November. The skies got dark and dreary, the anniversary of Becca's death, the remembrance of my Dad' birthday. Ruminating. The sun it out today and I am getting things accomplished and feeling the excitement of Christmas planning. The difference between November this year vs last is that I recognize that just like every season in our life...."This too shall pass..." Its just a bump in my road to recovery. Hoping that you are finding your own path less rocky. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Tracy

If you need a bit of a boost to your day please go here:

Definately a non-traditional but very inspiring speaker.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Will You Promise Me?

There are many events in our lives that shape who we become. Sometimes it is a family member, a school teacher or a friend. In my case it was a woman I met during the time I was a foster parent. We became quick friends and soon realized that we had led almost parallel lives. We had both endured abuse as kids, battled fertility issues, had a huge love for Jesus and spent way too much on Scrapbooking. It was our greatest joy to jump in the car and go off on a whirlwind adventure to exoctic locations like....West Port....or ...Kitchener. We watched the fireworks at Fort Henry and we teared up at the love story on Boldt Island. We stood by each other while we renewed our vows to our husbands and she held my babies as they were being baptised. We loved sharing with each other how we saw God moving mountains in our lives. We prayed for the strength not to bop our husbands on the noggin when they seemed not to understand. Those few years that she was in my life count for a large chunk of my very best memories.

On October 30th 2011 she stood beside me while my last child was baptised. We spent the whole day together conspiring about what our next adventure would be. We were fairly convinced we could persuade our husbands to haul my new trailer all the way to Kitchener so that we could camp out at Scrapfest. After years of trying and fertility doctors galore she was finally having a baby. We started planning the shower that would be Peter Rabbit themed to match the new stamps she had found a few weeks earlier on our trip to Oshawa. When she was getting ready to leave she gave me a huge hug. My poor son was embarrassed and said "Awwww Yuck." so she hugged me harder and said "this is our favourite part". Little did I know that I would never hug her again. Our adventure list would remain incomplete. Our plans unfulfilled. Two days later she died in a fatal car crash that is believed was caused by her texting and driving. My life had been given a hole that no time could repair. I visit her every time I am in Kingston still, but its not the same. Though I feel her watching over me I can never just hug her and know she will always be in my life. She's gone. I'm here. How many times I wish I could turn back time and tell her not to text and drive. I can't. Please tell your loved ones while you still can.

Please promise not to text and drive. Keep your promise. Save Lives.


Monday, 11 August 2014

Each Step Brings New Found Happiness

Do you ever find yourself reflecting on a time in your life as though it was just a faint memory or maybe a scene from a movie. That's where I am today. I was on Facebook tonight and someone from my camp was thanking me and two other ladies for running a very successful children's activity day on Saturday.  Yep, you heard that right I helped run a children's activity day! What made me smile was that last year I had applauded myself for having the tenacity to attend the event. I did have to retreat to my trailer for half an hour to regroup but still it was the first time I had actually been there. This year I was busily painting butterflies, flowers and spiders on happy little campers faces, arms and even feet. Just a year. I would never have dreamed my life could change so fast. The truth is that each step I have taken has opened up so many new wonderful opportunities. I wish I could offer a road map to each of you who is struggling to fight against the dark place your are in. I can't. What I will offer you is hope...that there is a path out. If I found it so can you. Not to say I believe I won't ever be there again. I am still fighting that same battle. The difference for me is that I now know that there is still something out there worth fighting for, Happiness. My thoughts and prayers are with you. -Tracy

This lovely picture says it all.

Image the property of FB/SueFizmaurice,Author

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Pet Therapy

You guys have been holding out on me. Why didn't anyone suggest that I should get a pet sooner? I always had pets growing up and did not realize how much I missed having one until my husband agreed to get me a German Shepherd.

I was looking online for something and saw an ad for trained shepherds that assist people with panic attacks and anxiety. Obviously it piqued my interest. I was amazed to find out that there are dogs that are specifically trained to support individuals with mental health problems. There were however some obstacles in obtaining them. There is a waiting list. Once your name does comes up it takes two years to train your dog. You have to find a way to come up with the substantial fees involved. Each owner is required to go and stay with their pet for at least two weeks at the training facility. Well, there went that idea, but the seed had already taken root.  I started looking on Kijiji and for ads for local breeders. I found a lovely King Shepherd on Kijiji but when I would not let the owners come to my home they were not interested. Im sorry, but my home is my safe spot and I don't want random pet owners coming in to evaluate my space.  When it fell through. I admit I was a bit emotional. There were a few precipitating factors but the dog was the final straw. My Husband, knowing that I was in need of something to lift my spirits searched and found a King Shepherd puppy about an hour away.

We threw our three kids in the car and headed east to look at what would soon become our newest family member. Titan.

When I went to talk to my therapist he told me that having a dog was a great idea for me and that my husband had done well in getting me a Shepherd. When I told this to my Husband he drove me back to the place where I got Titan and we brought his brother Legend Home.

Bringing these animals into my life has changed my world immensely. I take them for walks down to my neighbours' house and take them to town with me. I spend time in Pet Smart chatting with the other dog owners and as predicted by my therapist, at my campground I have been a social butterfly visiting from site to site taking the puppies to meet the neighbours. I find that I am so focused on attending to their immediate needs that I don't have time to panic about my own needs and fears. Even when the dogs are not with me, I find myself being able to make plans to go out in the world without double checking with myself about how it will affect my anxiety. I just do it. Sometimes I feel a bit of anxiety...other times I am fine. The point is I am out there for the first time in a long time.

Please do not think that I am suggesting that a new pet is the answer for everyone. I am merely suggesting that it is definitely worth doing a bit of research to see if it is a benefit to you. Try to spend some time today looking for what will help pull you out of your bubble today. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Why My Mind is like a Prehistoric Cave Dwelling Family

So as I told you I have been working my way through Stephen Hayes book Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. Usually I am a voracious reader but this book has slowed me down immensely. It is not that the book is to clinical or wordy...quite the opposite really. This book keeps touching nerves with me.

My Therapist was kind enough to extend my homework deadline by two weeks and even still I am not done. Shhhh....don't tell. It's like 201 pages with large type. This is truly a new experience for me. I am under the impression that this is a good thing.  The book feels like it was written directly for me. The examples seem to mirror my own life in a startling way.

Once I was about half way through the book it was a lightbulb went off and the entire pattern of my behavior these past 39 years became so clear to me it was like putting on those 3D glasses we used to get in the Shreddies box back when I was a kid. I could see the code right there in front of me and it was quite unnerving.

As you may recall from my Tangled posts I tend to find deeper messages in strange places. This time it happened to be the Croods.

My brain, theoretically of course, is the cave that the Croods are living in. Over time the Croods Father, in an attempt to protect his family from the calamity of the world, began creating many many rules to avoid danger. This is the RFT (Relational Frames Theory) where our brain automatically tags experiences with particular events. In the Croods the father gets to the point where everything involving leaving the cave and venturing out into the world ends in death. He repeats these instructions over and over to his family in an attempt to keep them safe. My Daddy Crood decided first that if we are very good and make everyone happy I would be safe. When that rule was challenged good old Daddy got stricter and enforced the rule that I needed to stay in my house to be safe or die. Well, it would seem that would do it. Except for that part of my brain that is like the Crood's daughter Eve. She wanted to leave the cave so bad and experience life that she could not be content staying in the safety of the cave. This my friend's is the part of my brain that suffers from Experiential Avoidance. Eve feels trapped and resentful that her life is being limited by all of her overprotective father's rules. Then she meets Guy. In my scenario "Guy" happens to be my therapist. He sees the Eve in me trying to claim her freedom and gently nudges the father out of the cave and in his own time....into finding the balance between living and existing. It is a hard concept for me to accept that the things that my brain is trying to protect me from may be real...but that I have to endure that in order to live a life that is true to my values.

Mr Crood's love for his family was the value that pushed him out the cave door and into the world looking for Tomorrow. That same value is very strong in me. I may just be peeking out from behind the rock door right now, but I am starting to see the rays of sunlight and I know thats where I want to be. Thank you Guy for your quiet wisdom.....sometimes when I was a bit prickly. I am starting to get it. I am learning to endure the symptoms of my anxiety, recognizing that they may never go away, but that I choose to go on despite their existence.

I will bring your book back Friday, I promise!

What lies outside the cave you have created? Can you see the rays of sunshine yet? Roll back that stone door just a bit and take a peek. You may find its worth the effort! My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014


Hello my friends. It seems that each time I am posting I am apologising for my absence. The funny thing is that I tend to do that in life as well. Oh, did you run over my foot with your shopping cart...I'm sorry I was in your way. You took my parking space, Im sorry I did not know you wanted it. You think that I abandoned you and ruined your life....I am so sorry that you were not adopted by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Thats my life in a nutshell. I am sorry....whatever has happened...whatever the cause.....I am must have been my fault.
So, priorities....I have been away...well I was here but somehow I lost my ability to reflect on my I am back...but likely very sporadically. My priorities have to be my family...and saving what energy I have to take care of them. You know how exhausting depression and anxiety are and I am most definitely in a valley. So though I will try to post as often as I can, I am not going to apologise for the length between posts anymore.

I dropped out of the ACT group. Sorry, I was not sure how to mention that. It was too much for me. It is sort of a sore spot for me even now.

Today I received a copy of some affidavits that have been submitted in a case that I am involved in. A child I once called my son will no longer be. I am relieved on some levels and crushed beyond belief in others. Being a good person does not always guarantee you an easy life. Love does not conquer all. We can't just snap out of depression. Wanting something to work sometimes does not make it happen. Sometimes life just sucks, good guys get hurt....or run into the back of transports as the case may be. There is no rhyme or reason to anything. My Faith and My Family are the only things that keep me going. So right now, my priorities are focussing on them until I can handle more.

Today I ask that you pray for me to see beyond the current valley. My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Friday, 7 March 2014


Today was meeting number two of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy group. 

Admittedly I was already tired and ready to go home by the time I arrived at the hospital. Did you know that there is actually a real live blockade at the end of my road? What are the bloody chances of that happening? I live in Shannonville for crying out loud. For a person with some anxiety issues this is pretty much more than I can be expected to handle. I had to fight the urge that I had this morning to go down and talk to the protesters and police to see if we can somehow just get along.  The fact that I was tempted to go down to mediate should give you hint as to my mental state at this point. 

Yep, good old anxiety was right again. Stay in the house. The world sucks.

Back to the point of the post, a comment was made by one of the group leaders....not even a was written with emphasis on the whiteboard in our meeting room.

Let that rattle around in your thoughts for a bit and see how you feel.  I felt like that damn elephant jumped on my chest. Here all this time I have been waging war on this mental health crap with control as my main....possibly only weapon in my arsenal and now I am being told it is the enemy????? I felt a bit cheated I must admit. Control has been the lifeline that I have clung to all these months as I tried to venture out into the world. Its like I have been adrift in the ocean and control was my life preserver and suddenly, and with not a hint of what was to come, someone came and snatched it away. Perhaps it is a good thing that I have a long drive home from therapy. It gives me time to rethink what has been said. My initial trauma has nearly subsided now and I can see the glimmer of the idea behind this bold statement. It is like control has been my safety recovery, a mountain I am climbing. It kept me from falling when I needed it, but now the rope has been drawn tight and it restricts me from climbing further. I am now faced with the decision of whether I am content to stay at the level I am currently restricted too...or whether I want to let go of the harness in order to see what lies beyond. What mountain are you trying to conquer today? My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Inspiration for the Journey

When I was going through my inbox this morning I came across an email from a woman named Heather. I don't know Heather but I am certainly glad that she reached out to me.  This blog is about my journey....dealing with social anxiety, depression and the rest of the laundry list of mental health hiccups I am experiencing. Finding inspiration is a big part of my journey. Heather as it turns out offered me that bit of inspiration that I needed on my journey today. Ironically it comes from her sharing her own personal journey.  
Heather wrote:

Hi Tracy!

The reason I have reached out to you is because of your blog! My name is Heather and I am an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When I was diagnosed, I had just given birth to my little girl and was told I had 15 months to live. After undergoing a risky surgery, which required the removal of my left lung, I beat the odds and created LungLeavin’ Day as a way to commemorate this day that changed my life forever.

LungLeavin’ Day is held every year on February 2 and it is used to encourage others to face their fears! Each year, we gather around a fire in our backyard with our friends and family, write our biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. We celebrate for those who are no longer with us, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, we celebrate life!

This year, we asked bloggers to participate and spread the word about LungLeavin’ Day. We created an interactive page Lung Leavin Day that tells the full story of our special day. Although the day has passed, we hope you will still check it out and share it on your blog. It would mean so much to me! Please let me know what you think :-)

Kind regards,


I have heard of mesothelioma...but i have never taken the time to learn much about it. I just added it to the list of cancers that are around. I am a mental health blogger not a cancer blogger right? Well, not really...I am more of a chronicler, recording the things that touch my life. Today that was Heather. I love the courage and strength that Heather has shown in sharing her story. Please visit Heather's site. I hope it offers you a little inspiration in your journey today too. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Canadian Cancer Society

Monday, 24 February 2014

Rabbit Holes

My goodness how time passes. It has already been nearly two weeks since my last appointment in Kingston.

Now that I know they are reading my blog I will have to make an extra effort to be nice.

At my appointment, well I should say appointments as I was fortunate to have both the Psychiatrist and Psychologist booked on the same day. I have a story to tell you about what happened in the time between these two appointments but that can wait for another post.  Today I want to discuss the big realization that occurred at the second appointment.

My therapist asked me to describe or give an analogy of what it  is like for me to travel to the appointments. I have to admit, it is easier than it once was. I still feel queasy and have several mini attacks during the trip but I have noticed I don't grasp the steering wheel with the same death grip I once did. I don't shrivel and tear up if I have to share an elevator. (Though I do still believe it is going to plummet to the ground one of these days), I think that to someone that did not know what was whirling around in my brain at any given moment I might appear to be...dare I say it...Normal? Some Mental Health Advocate just between us, when I think of a definition of normal, my picture is certainly not posted beside it.

Oh, but back to the analogy of what it is like for me to leave the house. I said it is like rabbit holes. I am like a rabbit who has to venture out of their safe little burrow and race like hell to get to the safety of the next one. Though I like to think I am expanding my world...really I am just discovering new rabbit holes to duck into in order to avoid the perils of the outside world. The hospital where I have my counselling sessions is a new one, my camp ground...rabbit hole. When I am out in the world I am not really present....I am just in the process of running to the next hole. My therapist asked why I ran from hole to hole and truly the reason is that all I see now are the dangers lurking out there. He laughed and said that there are allot of rabbits that seem to be hopping around outside. Thats true but I see more rabbit fatalities around my house then I do happy little bunnies romping around.

I drew some sketches to explain what it is like. Forgive the roughness of the drawings, as I said in my last post my shaking and arthritis is playing havoc on my ability to draw.

So this is me. (If I were a rabbit of course)....
I like how safe I feel when I am in my home, where the world carries on without me, where nothing can hurt me.

The problem is that I have never been much of a solitary person. I love to be out with my friends and family (in small groupings) interacting and being apart of things. My poor Husband and Children must feel so smothered by me as I try to glean any human contact from their time out in the world. So I stay in to be safe but then I am so terribly lonely.

When I think about leaving the house and venturing into the world, every bad scenario plays through my mind reminding me why it's a bad idea. I know its my brain phishing me...but its really good at it and I get tired of trying to fight it all the time. So most times I just stay in the hole. He asked if I think the world is a bad place and without hesitation I said yes. Then he asked me if the internet was a bad place and again without hesitation I said no...there were just some bad people on it. I like the safety I feel from talking online. You can't hurt me because I always have the option to block you, unfriend you, unfollow or plain out delete you. Life offers me no such privacy settings.

I know that my perception of what lies outside my little burrow is likely not accurate, but trying to find out what it really is like out there just seems too dangerous...I'm not that brave. I think that may in fact be what is holding me back. Bravery was something I took for granted as a young woman. I never thought I would lose it. The thing is, its really easy to brave when the greatest of your fears is that something will happen to you. As you get older you realize that the worse thing that can happen is that something could happen to the ones you love. Like how Super Heroes are afraid to have families because they know the villain will use them. I am no Super Hero...and honestly I look wretched in tights, but I have that same fear....that the ultimate villain will use my family as a weapon against me. How would I fare when my faith is tested that far? It worked out ok for Job....but I doubt I would do as well.

What is the fear that is holding you down the rabbit hole today? Are you brave enough to face it yet? My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Lost: Sunshine.......Reward Offered!

It feel like this has been the longest winter I have endured as an adult. Just when you think we could not possibly receive anymore snow...whooooshhh here comes another foot or so.  Last week my children only went to school two days. TWO DAYS? To think I sent them back to school because I was afraid my needing to attend therapy out of town once a week would make us fall behind.The little one also came down sick on Thursday so he did not go to school at all last week. I love having extra time with my kids but I have to admit I was really struggling this week.  It is like I hit the cold hard wall of winter weather tolerance and suddenly my mood took a complete nosedive. Every day that I looked outside at the bleak weather I felt myself spiralling back down into that awful pit of despair that we all know so well.  I also came down with a cold. I don't know if the cold brought me down or if my being so down contributed to my getting the cold.  It has been a really long time since the physical signs of my anxiety and depression have been so strong.  I actually went and pulled out my arm braces, something I have not even thought of using in months. My shaking is back to the crazy spill stuff all over myself level and the resulting pain in my joints from the arthritis has me walking around like a woman in her 90's. Its times like these that it is hard to feel like much has been accomplished in regards to recovery. I am right now no further ahead then I was this time last year. Except, now I have this lovely blog and community that reminds me of the days this past year when I did not shake, when I did not hurt, when I was almost back to me.  It fills me with a sense of comfort to know that you are all witness to my journey and to my triumphs as well as my setbacks.  Today the sun is shining brightly, the kids are frolicking in the snow, I actually put on my makeup today....and I am here typing this blog entry...all signs that things are going to get better again.  Come on Sunshine!!!!! How are you doing with the bleak skies of February? Push yourself to leave the house today if only for a few hours. Go and visit someone that you have not seen in awhile, chance are they may be feeling a bit down with the weather too.  My thoughts and prayers are with you always.


Seasonal Affective Disorder

Weather often affects people’s moods. Sunlight breaking through clouds can lift our spirits, while a dull, rainy day may make us feel a little gloomy. While noticeable, these shifts in mood generally do not affect our ability to cope with daily life. Some people, however, are vulnerable to a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. For them, the shortening days of late autumn are the beginning of a type of clinical depression that can last until spring. This condition is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) | Canadian Mental Health Association

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Leave It In The Snowbank!

Yesterday I had an appointment with my therapist. He makes allot of sense and it really starting to get on my nerves. He sits there knowing the answers to what I should be doing but does not share them, as he wants me to figure them out myself. Really??? If I could do that I would have already. We were talking about the fact that I tend to place myself into situations by taking on things that are really not any of my business. He said why do I feel the need to do nice things that end up causing more problems for me. I said because I would want someone to do that for me if I were in that situation. Here is the example I told him:

There was a snowstorm on Sunday. My husband being the brave soul he is drove my family and I to town in order to get some basics at Walmart. While we were in town I asked if he would take me to the bank. He agreed and I said "I will just run in". As I was exiting the vehicle I remembered that my daughter had asked me to get her more elastics for her Rainbow Loom. "I will just run to the bank, then XS Cargo and be right back" I assured him. XS Cargo was nearly sold out of elastics and all that was left were mixed colours of camouflage. As I ran out the door and across the slippery sidewalk towards the Dollar Tree to get my daughter the perfect combination of elastics I gestured to my husband that I had to run over and would be one minute. I meant it too. I was determined to turn a blind eye to all the enticing craft goodies and just get to my target. As I approached the door I happened to notice a very new looking Blackberry in the slush. Crap. I could not leave it there. The water would ruin what looked to be an expensive phone. It would only take a minute to grab it and take it inside to the clerk where the owner could salvage it. Racing towards the elastics the phone begins to ring. Its not my phone so I would of course not answer it. That would be rude. Oh, but what if it was the owner wanting desperately to find their phone. How would they know where it was if I did not answer the phone? After the second time it rang I figured it must be the owner so I cautiously answered the phone. "Belleville City Police, what is your emergency." What???? I told the person on the end of the line that I had no emergency and was not calling them, in fact I had just grabbed the phone out of the slush and was leaving it at Dollar Tree. The voice said that they would just send an officer over to pick the phone up and then the owner could get it at the police station. That sounded good to me. I grabbed the elastics and raced over to the counter. Behind me I heard the breathless, desperate sound of a teenage boy inquiring if anyone had found his phone. "I did" I answered happy to be able to return the phone. "The police just called on it though and they are coming to pick it up, maybe you can just show some ID and sign something saying you are the owner of the phone". This seemed perfectly reasonable to me. The boy lost it. I won't offend your sensibilities by repeating some of the language but needless to say the young man in question thought I had called the police on him and now he could not get his phone back because he had no id. The clerk at the Dollar Tree reaches for my purchase and says "I am just interested in what you are buying, this has nothing to do with me." Well, thanks for nothing Honey. I tried to explain to her what had happened but she looked at me with such a blank expression I knew the elevator was stuck mid floor. Finally after a very long awkward silence at the realisation that this woman had no intention of helping me out, the other clerk said "Well it seems clear that it is the boy's cell phone, take it and when the police come we will let them know it was returned to the owner. "  Perfect. Great Idea. I am free of the phone. I rush outside to my husband and children, surprised to find that he is perturbed at the length of time I had spent in the store. I explained about the phone, the police, the kid and the belligerent clerk feeling quite certain he would see things my way, to which he answered "You should have left the phone in the snowbank."

When I recounted this incident to my counsellor he asked me what was the right thing to do. "Pick up the phone and take it inside" I knew I had done the right thing. "Yes, take it inside and place it on the checkout counter, not answering it, not caring if the clerk wanted to take charge of the phone, not going above and beyond to try to see the phone safely returned to its owner." He said this is the Goldilocks principle "It's either too hot or too cold but I have to find the just right. Until I can just pick the phone up and leave it on the counter I should just Leave it in the Snowbank. 
I left his office feeling rather deflated at the thought that the world is such a bleak place that the good guy really does finish last...every good deed does not go unpunished. With the resolve to do what I had to do to change my situation I was determined to follow his instructions and practise "Not giving a damn" for the next two weeks. I made it as far as the parking garage where the payment machine was broken before I failed to not give a damn. I spent at least an extra 45 minutes redirecting patrons to an alternate machine (it costs $15 if you lose your ticket in the broken one) and helping a young woman with a stroller navigate the parking garage to get to the other machine. Crap. Why can't I stop it. Why can't I just walk past. Pretend I don't see. I stopped in the chapel on the way out of the hospital. A habit that I got in to some time ago. I took my Bible from my purse hoping that God would somehow tell me what I should do.I randomly opened to the book of Isaiah and read Chapter 42 Verses 6-8

6 I, the Lord, have called you in saving justice, I have grasped you by the hand and shaped you; I have made you a covenant of the people and light to the nations,
7 to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.
8 I am the Lord, that is my name! I shall not yield my glory to another, nor my honour to idols.

I think God wants me to go over the top to do the right thing. Go out of my way to help others. To be a light. Until he tells me otherwise I am going to run with that.So I think that I respectfully disagree that I should not give a damn. Maybe no one else will be changed by my actions....maybe no one will ever notice....maybe I do cause my own chaos...but maybe that suffering is part of my journey. Maybe the thing is not to change that very part of me that makes me ...welll, me...maybe the trick is for me to learn to cope better with the chaos that I inflict upon myself. Bare the consequences with more awareness that they are the price I have chosen to pay for my actions.  Do you create your own chaos too? Take inventory of yourself today and decide if the price is too high. Should you make the changes you need to make in order to achieve your goals, or would you like me, rather put your efforts into strategies to deal with the fallout? My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Monday, 20 January 2014

How Smart Is Your Right Foot?

Don't worry my friends I am not being very deep or insightful tonight. Last night my friend emailed me a little trick. I happened to be seated in a lazy boy recliner at the time so I figured the least I could do was lift up my right foot and give this a try. It sounds so very simple:

HOW SMART  IS   YOUR  RIGHT  FOOT ?    You have to try this please, it  takes 2 seconds. I could not believe this!!! It is from an orthopedic  surgeon................This will boggle your mind and it will keep you trying  over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you can't. It's  pre-programmed in your brain !     1). Without anyone  watching you (they will think you are GOOFY....) and while sitting at your  desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and  make   clockwise   circles.    2). Now,  while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand.  Your foot will   change direction.    I told you  so !!! And there's nothing you can do about it! You and I both know how  stupid it is, but before the day is done you are going to try it again, if  you've not already done so. Send it to your friends to frustrate them too.

So of course I could not do it. My 11 year old son noticed me sitting in the chair reading from my smartphone and sticking my foot in the air doing circles and of course could not resist drawing everyone's attention to it.  I told him what i was trying to do and he of course wanted to prove that he could do it. I started laughing and my husband of course wanted to know what the the joke was. I read him the instructions and he began to try as well. My son and I were killing ourselves by this time as my Husband would not admit defeat. This was all so good I had to call me In-Laws to have them give it a try. My father-in-law said he could do it but until I see it in person I am sceptical. Next I called my Mom and had her and my Stepfather trying madly to prove they were more talented the rest of us. My Mother and I were laughing so hard I was short of breath and had to tell her I would call her back later. 

So simple....make my limbs overcome their natural programming and do what I want them to do. "Lightbulb" How is that any different than the panic/fear/anxiety responses that I struggle with every day.  I tell my body to move and some programming in my brain says "overruled, this is the way we do things around here." So the trick is....what do we need to do to change that programming? Is Cognitive or Acceptance therapy the key or is there something more?

Apparently there is an entire field of study that works on this very topic. Its called Psychotechnology. This is actually a really huge topic that explores many kinds of tests and interventions. In particular I was interested in the use of Virtual Reality type programs to do exposure therapy. This would mean I could, in safety, run a program that would allow me to, overtime, to expose myself to the very things that create my anxiety responses and learn to react differently. Whew, sign me up for the mobile app for that!

Read this excerpt from How Stuff Works
"After some additional research, Hodges created the company Virtually Better, Inc. The company designs and sells virtual reality systems that accurately recreate several different classic phobia situations, including social phobias involving crowds of people. Now a therapist can take a patient on a virtual flight without the hassle of scheduling travel, go on a virtual elevator ride without ever stepping out of the office, or give a speech in front of a crowd of people, all without leaving the office or compromising patient confidentiality."

That being said, I have several apps on my phone right now that I use for meditation when things start to unravel for me when I am outside of my very safe feeling home. They really seem to help. The trick is to remember to use them. I think that is where the CBT comes in. Take a pause, breathe, turn on my blowing wind or rain sounds. 

It is exciting to think of where this technology could lead. I would love to be able to buy a PS3 game that gently exposed me to my triggers. 

Take time to today to think about what new techniques you could try to improve your reaction to triggers. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Friday, 17 January 2014

Who holds you up?

January always gets me thinking about the past, reflecting on what went right or wrong during the year. I think that is pretty typical. When I was reflecting today on the road that I had travelled this year it made me exceptionally grateful. This past year at times had me hanging at the end of the proverbial rope by my finger nails and yet I am still here. With the support of amazing forums and communities I have found the support of so many people, not only those that suffer from #mentalhealth issues but just random people that took the time to help me up.

Great Moments of 2013 that really sucked at the time:

  1. Forcing myself to walk the paltry 4 houses down the road to welcome our new neighbours:  gained me one of my closest friends and her wonderful family, a scrapping pal, co-conspirator and tea time chatter
  2.  Attending a group therapy series: that as the name implies made me go where there was an actual group of strangers...and forced me to talk about myself in front of them gained confidence in my ability to overcome obstacles, fleshed out my practical use of CBT and met an extraordinary group of people who like me, work on their mental health challenges everyday.
  3. Quit Homeschooling....ok, this one still rubs me a bit as I loved having my kids with me and helping them explore new topics: my children have expanded their personal circles, their confidence has risen, I am forced to imagine a life that does not involve having my kids with me every moment (thus lessening but not eliminating the fear that without them I would cease to exist) and the extra time has allowed me to pursue activities that are helping my mental health
  4. Created my blogs. The only part that I really hated was hitting the publish button that first time. It was like that horrible panic that hits just before you are faced with your worst fear. I now have two blogs that bring me connections with people all over the world including my new friend +kerry connelly who I admire so much.
  5. .Diving into direct sales. I am not even sure how I managed to get myself involved...oh yah...refer to #1 and my acquaintance with Mrs. Fillery. She invited me to a Close to My Heart party, which usually I would not have even tried to attend, but I went...shaky and all. I have a new business that allows me to schedule my appointments around therapy and my children's school...and my anxiety I guess too. 

There were allot more but I am sure you get the picture. This year really reinforced in me that if we are willing to try we are further ahead than if we stay back and fear we will fail. At least by taking the step, knocking on the door, showing up, hitting publish....I am allowing myself the chance to succeed. What step can you take today that will give you a chance to live the life you dream of. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Fred Mahoney

Hello Friends,
Today I lost someone that has been a part of life as far back as I can remember. Most of my life I would have swore to you that I hated this guy. He tweaked my nose and pulled my hair, he called me chubby and said I wore too much make up. He loved me. He was always there in the crowd for me. I was so blessed to have had him in my life. I don't think his crankiness could keep him out of heaven, so i will expect his full critique on how I live the rest of my life without his interference.....See you when I get there Fred. I love You.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Resolutions or Resolve?

Hey Guys.  I apologise for the break in posting. Between the holidays, computer issues, moving to another space in the house and a whole pile of family drama it has been impossible to get any blogging done.  We are well into the new year already....almost two Twitter and Facebook are all a buzz with everyones attempts to maintain their "New Year's Resolutions". Its like suddenly as we start a new calendar we are obligated to swear off eating and promise to exercise more. I am all for self improvement (as long as it does not mean I have to give up coffee) but I think we set ourselves up for failure when we throw blanket resolutions out into the universe. What good is it to say you will eat better if you have not established any plan to do so? On January 1st when your fridge still contains only New years party leftovers and some flat diet Pepsi your options are certainly going to be limited. If you want to make positive changes in your life this year I applaud you! Now put away your calendar and grab a copy of the food guide. Put down the dayplanner and grab a schedule for your community fitness club." Tracy", you may be saying to yourself ,"you are totally off topic". Blogs are supposed to stay in their niche. (Raspberries) Well, I am, sort of. In my ACT therapy sessions we have been talking about our values. Our values are those things that we hold nearest and dearest to our heart. In my case it was:

  • 1. Will of God
  • 2. Family
  • 3. Purpose
  • 4.Knowledge
  • 5. Creativity

I know, I am not very complicated as most of you would have known that they were my values 5 minutes after following me on Twitter (@TracySagriff). The point is that if I focus on those 5 things and let everything else fall behind them I will be living a life that is more inline with my true self. So, what does that have to do with resolutions...well I am glad you asked. There is no point in my spending energy and stress making a resolution to eat better or exercise (except for the obvious health benefits) because looking good, being thin and the like are not high values to me. However, making plans to prayerfully allot extra family time like taking an art class with my daughter or taking my son with me to a daily Mass are things that are totally fulfilling for me. It fills my cup. I think its important to mentally draw the line for myself that these are not just New Year's Resolutions, but rather the resolve to become more in tune with what drives me. Everything else is just extra baggage that weighs me down on my path to recovery. This week spend some time examining if you are living your life according to your values. If your not...what is it that is holding you back? My thoughts and prayers are with you.