Time Heals Everything, they say

So I believe it is time to write a post that has been in my head for almost a year but was too painful to put into words.


As some of you know, I had to stop dancing about a year ago, due to generalized intense joint pain.

For those of you new to my blog, I used to train, compete and perform with, teach, deejay and do social media for Swing Dynamite, a Swing Dance school in Ottawa. In fact, Ottawa’s only dedicated Swing Dance school.

Anyway, it was as if all my joints had suddenly decided to give up on me.

My ankles, my knees, my hips, my elbows, my wrists, my knuckles, my shoulders… even joints I didn’t know I had* hurt.

Not that I was any stranger to pain, mind you. Pain can even be considered my longest lasting friend, considering it started when I was 11 and I met my oldest friends when I was 12 back in 7th grade.

Every time I danced, I was in pain. Every time. But I also got a lot of joy out of it. The joy exceeded the pain by far so I danced.

However, it got to be that the pain over-weighted the joy so I had to stop. Continue reading

Damn You Stigma

In case you are out of the loop, I am currently at the hospital. Been here for almost two weeks now

But not just any hospital.

I’m at the 4 North Mental Health Unit of The Ottawa Hospital, General Campus.

Yes, that’s right. I am in a physch ward.

Now, there was a time when I would rather have died than let people know I had a mental illness. THAT’S THE STIGMA.

I would have not voluntarily gone to a hospital to admit myself . THAT’S THE STIGMA.

If hospitalized, I would have lied about the cause of my hospitalization. THAT’S THE STIGMA.

Well, I know better now. I know there is no shame in having a mental illness. I know that admitting my mental illness(es) sometimes get out of control is a brave thing. I know that reaching out for support when I need it, is not only good great but that is actually the RIGHT thing to do.

Continue reading


Because there was a time when I would have rather die than admit I had a mental illness.

Because I’ve had people telling me I was lazy because I couldn’t get out of bed on a bad day.

Because unfortunately, we live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast. But if you tell people you’re depressed, everyone runs the other way. That’s the stigma.

Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic

TEDxKids@Ambleside - Photo by Josh Hemond - Ke...

TEDxKids@Ambleside – Photo by Josh Hemond – Kevin Breel (7) (Photo credit: JoshRHemond)

What would you take with you?

If you were committed to a psychiatric institution, unsure if you’d ever return to the life you knew before, what would you take with you?

This is how the Collector’s Weekly’s article called Abandoned Suitcases Reveal Private Lives of Insane Asylum Patients starts. A very provocative question indeed.

In this era, I think most people would pack a smartphone, a laptop, a notebook, a couple of pens. Toiletries. A book or two (or a kindle).

Take a look into the past through the looking glass of this interesting article and see what people brought with them from the turn of the century till the closing of the asylum in the mid-90’s. Beautiful head dresses. Fancy shoes. Leather-working tools. Neddlework tools. Expensive perfume bottles from Paris.

Anna’s suitcase. Love the shoes. I have a similar pair but in offwhite

Continue reading

Mental Illness: An Excuse for Bad Behaviour?

This is alarming. And angering.  And saddening.

Stats taken from Canadian Medical Association, 8th Annual National Report Card on Health Care, August 2008

As you know (well, at least I hope that you know) this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week for us Canucks.

I know I’ve been rather quiet this week. Work is been kinda insane so I feel bad for not starting more conversations here but I sure have on Facebook (by the way, for those of you who follow me there, I’d appreciate your input).

And I found this statistic very appalling.

To learn that almost half of Canadians think that I may be using my mental illness to excuse any kind of bad behaviour is overwhelming.  Do they think that if I (anyone) call in sick because an anxiety attack the real reason is because I went clubbing last night, got hammered and now I’m hung over? Do they think that if I can’t keep an appointment is because I am a juvenile brat who doesn’t care about other people’s time?

What on earth are they thinking?

This is my plea to all of you who have to struggle with mental illness: Be vocal about it. Start conversations. Write about your experiences. Support your local groups.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and let’s show them what living with a mental illness really is about!

Let’s fight the stigma!

I am wearing my MIAW wristband. Are you?

It’s all in your head

Ah, how many times this was said to me.  Even by doctors.  Once even by a psychiatrist. MDs that are also professors at Medicine faculties tend to be some of the most obnoxious, least sympathetic people in the world.  The judge the hardest. The discriminate the hardest. They think you either read the symptoms in your textbook and just want to get out of an exam or assignment.  Or that you are just plain lazy and are trying to avoid working. Continue reading

I wish I had cancer

Yeah, you heard it right.

I know that I’m gonna get a lot of angry cancer patients on my case, thinking I’m mocking them.  However, I am not.

While I’ve had been thinking of it it for quite a while, only until very recently I finally said it to someone other than myself, on a DM.

And I stand by it.

You see, I have an illness.  But it’s a mental one.  I look good on the outside.  I haven’t lost ridiculous amounts of weight.  I still have all my hair. I have a good colour.  I don’t look like I’m ready to take my boat ride across the River Styx. Only that I am.  And I’ve been there several times.

But Mental illnesses don’t get the sympathy or empathy from society that cancer does.  Or Cystic Fibrosis.  Or Muscular Dystrophy.  Or any other of those “legitimate” illnesses.

People like me are mostly regarded as moody individuals.  An annoyance, most of the time.  Someone normal people need to stay away from because we are Debby Downers.  Oh, it’s all in your head, I’ve been told many times.  Or, you just have to count your blessings instead of focusing on your limitations.  And sure, I’m all for counting my blessings.  I’m very grateful that I don’t have to sleep on the street, that I’m not starving.  That I am not being gang-raped, or tortured or enslaved.  I’m also grateful for friends and the love they give me.

But the truth is that even if I we do the right thing and reach out when we have our lows, it becomes harder and harder to do as time goes by. Sure, friends and loved ones (spouses, children, etc) will try and help the first time they hear about it.  And the second time. And the third time.  And maybe even the fourth and fifth.  But after a while, they do get tired.  And that’s normal.  They are only human too.  And so, we become a burden.  Because Mental Illnesses are hard to treat.  The prognosis is gloomy for the most part.  According to the Royal Mental Hospital Depression Research Centre (depression is what I have but it might as well be schizophrenia or any other mental illness),“Many people diagnosed with a major depression will fail to respond adequately to two medications of different classes and about 60 per cent will have a treatment resistant depression.”  60 PERCENT! And unless we commit suicide (gasp! yeah, I said. Because a lot of us actually do) we live a normally long life just like any other person free of any lethal disease.  So we become this pain in the ass, gloomy, cranky, grumpy, sad people that no one likes to be around.  Even those who love us, have a hard time 1. dealing with us at a personal level, and 2. dealing with their own coping problems associated with loving a person with a mental illness.

And those are the lucky ones who’s friends and family care enough to help them.  But there’s still a lot of stigma associated with mental illnesses.  Even as I write this blog post, I can hear a very scared little voice at the back of my mind telling that I’m insane for talking in public about it.  What are they gonna thing about you? it says.  People don’t like to be friends with crazy people.  Also, people DON’T HIRE crazy people.  So won’t you keep it quiet? it’s for your own good, you know.

So, I wish I had cancer.  At least there wouldn’t any kind of stigma associated with it.  And – like I said to my friend, if I’m lucky enough, cancer would kill me really fast so I wouldn’t have to go on living in so much pain.