Mental Health

I’ve recently opened up about the fact that I’ve experienced mental health issues over the past twelve years. In the future I plan to write more about many different personal challenges and learning. My reasons for this are to help open the topic for conversation, provide some insight to myself, and to provide relief from isolation and be connected. I am not a medical professional. I am only able to speak of my experiences from the other side.
Today I’m starting with a list of some things I noticed about myself leading up to hospitalization.

What I noticed before hospitalization

– Severe difficulty concentrating

– Difficulty getting things done

– Intense feelings of stress

– Difficulty sleeping

– Delusional thoughts

– Lack of visible emotion and random out bursts of crying

– Eating very little

Experiences Immediately before hospitalization

– Mechanical movements and chewing

– Self harm

– Extremely delusional thoughts

– Not able to sleep

– Pacing

– Speaking very little

– A focus on good and evil

Factors that effected me

– Spending large amounts of time alone

– Trying to look strong while feeling broken

– Isolating myself emotionally by sharing little

– Keeping many limiting beliefs

– History of some mental illness in the family

– Feeling like I had to figure it out on my own and carry on

Removing Should

I’ve been actively working to remove should from my life. Along with this, need to and have to have been thrown out.There was a recognition of how much these words were keeping me stuck. So when they came up in thoughts and conversation I began replacing them. I knew, for me, they felt suffocating, restrictive, like I had no choice in life because of course, I should. The word rang of a set of pre existing standards that I was required to live by. They left no room for me, they were strict and limited. The amount of my life that has been ruled by should’s is staggering and I questioned it very quietly until now.

Right now, I don’t understand what place the word can hold in life that isn’t defiling to the soul. Based on the negative context of should, I began to wonder why it exists in our language at all. In definition it means to indicate obligation, duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions. None of this sounds of much use to me and it calls to mind a quote from Parker Palmer ” burn out, violating my own nature in the name of nobility”. What is there I really HAVE to do? I am born and grow without having to do much. Choice remains even in circumstances that push beyond preconceived limits. 

 In learning about boundaries in relationships the word should appears to be a violation. Imposing expectations so I can feel comfortable, rather than delving into the complexities of being. Believing the way I see a situation now is the way it must unfold. This has been a particularly painful way of suppressing myself.

 Recently Ive heard the should’s prevalently in tv shows, personal conversations and YouTube. They’re  all over the place! Embedded in our daily dialogue. Should, what a weak word of indecision! Does the should offer security? If there’s a should, then the the path is defined. Does saying it ease guilt of what I wont end up doing? I thought of doing it, so that’s enough energy spent.

In investigating further, I see there are uses for should that have a place in language however obscure nowadays. The word itself holds no power, but the way my brain had learned to interpret it was removing vibrancy from life. The analyzing of its use in my life has taken away the negative power. I will continue to remove it and question every should with a WHY? If the answer is fear or conformity it will go no further.

A Step Away From Fear

Up at 6:30 AM, before the sun. It’s quiet and Drew is still sleeping. It’s time to prepare so I drowsily head for the shower. The overpacking all of the things I might need for a -21°c trip to Lake Louise begins. Lunch, socks, every pair of pants we have get piled into the hall.

Not two weeks earlier after loads of self work the idea came upon me that if other people were using social media to construct their ideal lives so could I. With a rudimentary understanding of HOW I set about emailing Lake Louise Ski Resort. Previously even this would not have been remotely close to something I believed was possible for me. The idea could have remained in my head as I mulled over all of the ways I could make my plan perfect, before trying. Or develop my one idea of how the experience needed to unfold to be defined as success. This time though, I took a step understanding why and put my intentions out into the world. Whether the contacted me or not, Success!

We’re on the wind blown road heading through Banff and Drew has a death grip on the wheel. Mountains flow by, the car has always been a place of refuge for me. He thinks about pulling over and I smile at what seems like the worlds many little tests to see if I’m serious about what I’ve set out to do. So many thoughts had come up that wanted to stop me from trying. How can I afford this, what if I can’t find transportation, what if I act strangely, what if I can’t provide what I offered, what if they think I’m a fraud, what if we’re late and on and on. Then there were the fears and uncertainties brought up by my boyfriend. What is it we’re doing, it sounds stressful, if it’s too cold I don’t want to go…

We arrive, passing rows of cars in a snow filled parking lot. Stepping out into the freezing sunny day the cars around us are playing their pump up music and I’m immediately full of excitement. It’s been too long since I’ve done this, woken up earlier than I’d like, taken a drive out to the mountains with friends and put on all of our layers for a day with the intention of fun.

To my surprise someone answered my email! Even though my Instagram following was small they were willing to take me on a guided snowshoe tour.

We head into the lodge and I meet up with the men I’ve been emailing with. They are welcoming and kind. I hear myself trying and feeling somewhat uncertain, but it doesn’t overtake me as it was likely to in the past.We chat a bit and I’m reminded of how much I’ve enjoyed the ski/snowboarding community growing up. My experiences have given me the sense that on the mountain people are in the moment. For me it’s been laughing with the chair lift operator from Australia. Laughing at ourselves as we reach the top of the chairlift and grasp on to each other collapsing in a pile as we scramble out of the way of the next group of people. Listening to music as our group easily carves it’s way down the mountain on a warm powder day with no need for a coat, and a million more moments.

Our guide leads us with a visible ease of being  we head up the mountain to take our first snowshoe steps.

Learn more about Lake Louise Ski Resort snowshoeing and see photos at