When going back to bed doesn’t work: sometimes “sad” is code for something more.

I miss when I was little and going to bed for a while or taking a bath was enough to reset. I am realizing though, that it probably wasn’t. I’ve had (at least internalized) anxieties and phobias as long as I can remember.

I used to ask my mom bizarre questions when we were travelling about falling off the side of the highway to our death, or the moon crashing into earth and killing us. I used to turn off my bedroom lights and run to my bed—even until age 16.

I’ve always obsessed and replayed traumatic events in my mind and reacted in outbursts from fear that presented as anger.

Today was no different. There was a moment where I had a very real fear of being t-boned by a car that was travelling too fast as we were driving. When we got to the parking lot I instantly wanted to cry, but shoved it down. Then as we walked through the store I was increasingly irritable, and almost had a melt down at the checkout for “no reason”.

When we got into the car, the only way I could articulate how I was feeling was, “I’m sad. And I don’t like it.” 

I’ve been “sad” for a while. I don’t like it. I’m “working” on it. Reality is, most people with mental illnesses learn to manage but don’t “get better”. I’m having a hard time grappling with this idea. I take more naps than I ever did before, but wake exhausted and weepy most days.

I’ve restructured my nutrition to remove refined sugars and empty carbs and replaced all that crap with stuff that grows in dirt or on trees. I’ve noticed a difference for sure, but still feel incredibly sad most of the time.

Sad is the only way I can describe it concisely. I am on edge, on the verge of tears, suffer from headaches and stomach issues related to anxiety. I continually have muscle spasms from holding my neck, shoulders, and legs in tension without thinking about it. I have excessive jaw pain caused by a dental condition that is exacerbated by clenched teeth when I sleep.

I am often afraid to sleep because I relive traumas with incredible vividness that I “forgot” had happened. I feel disconnected when I remember something and share it with my partner and then feel guilt and shame for bringing it up when I see the hurt in her eyes. I know intellectually that she is hurting because I am hurting and she cannot fix it, but emotionally I feel like letting her in harms her in some way. So I tell her I’m sad instead of how bad the storm in my brain is.

It’s true what the majority of articles say about support being the number one factor in living with mental illness. Without the support of a few key friends and my loving partner, I wouldn’t be here. In a city, and likely a country, where mental health and addictions are treated by the same branch of government and share the same funding, those of us who are high-functioning fall through the cracks. People like me are aware of our illness in intense detail. We are emotionally detached, not in recovery, because it’s the only way to survive.

We go to the physician or emergency services and calmly tell them we’re at the end of ourselves only to be turned away. The most common advice I receive from healthcare professionals is to “practice self-compassion”. When will invisible illness be taken seriously? Why do people have to “have a plan” to be considered at risk for suicide? Is thinking about it more than daily not troubling enough?

It is not troubling enough to make my partner get out of bed because I heard a noise at 3am and think that someone is most definitely in my house trying to kill me? Is it not troubling enough that I either cannot sleep or sleep 15+ hours in a day? Is it not troubling enough that I feel like crying for literal months but cannot manage a tear? Is it not troubling enough that I get such anxiety when we arrive at events I used to love that we have to leave right then?

For now, I just tell people I’m sad. I’m hoping one day, that a doctor will listen enough to how that plays out in my life to actually do something about it. Until then, I’ll be with Olivia and my cat.


Canada’s LGBTQ+ Protections: Why FB comments backfire.

When Canadian conservatives get SUPER aggressive and upset at corporations and businesses showing support for the LGBTQ+ community I can’t help but shake my head. 

Y’all know LGBTQ+ people have protected charter rights? These business are standing with them, on the right side of the law, and saying “we’re a safe place.” 

So when you complain and say “I guess I’m not shopping there anymore” or whatever, you out yourself as an unsafe person to anyone in your life that is LGBTQ+ (out or in the closet) and their family members. You out yourself as someone motivated by fear and hatred. 

Every business in Canada is required by law to treat LGBTQ+ folx with the same respect and dignity as every other Canadian and citizen. They are required by law to create safe space for everyone. This doesn’t mean that everyone agrees, but it DOES mean that every single Canadian has the right to not hearing hate speech or prejudice directed at them for simply existing. 

There are several precedents in Canada for employers dismissing staff due to conduct on Facebook and other social media platforms. It’s not just limited to LGBTQ+ remarks either. Any form of discrimination and hate speech can be grounds for termination of employment and possible criminal charges. Hate speech in Canada is defined as: ” “detestation” and “vilification” aptly describe the harmful effect that the Code seeks to eliminate. Representations that expose a target group to detestation tend to inspire enmity and extreme ill-will against them, which goes beyond mere disdain or dislike. Representations vilifying a person or group will seek to abuse, denigrate or delegitimize them, to render them lawless, dangerous, unworthy or unacceptable in the eyes of the audience. Expression exposing vulnerable groups to detestation and vilification goes far beyond merely discrediting, humiliating or offending the victims.”

So yes, if your remarks call into question the legitimacy of a person or group, by definition of law, those remarks are hate speech and punishable under the criminal code. If your remarks are meant to inspire ill-will and enmity (animosity, garner others to ostracize) then those remarks are also hate speech and punishable under the criminal code.

In an era of smart phones, where anyone can screen shot comments and online interactions to use as evidence in a harassment complaint, what you post on the internet could land you not only in Facebook jail, but the real one as well.

If you’re so petty as to not do business with a company that welcomes and protects LGBTQ+ people, or you actively lash out in the comments of minorities, you might want to leave Canada—because it’s the law here.

What can I do about the climate crisis?

by Carolyn Soucie

What can I do about Climate Change?
1) Stop being lazy
2) Stop being a coward
3) Educate myself and pass it on!

Lets explore laziness. Its lazy of me to not vote. Its lazy of me to not look into which candidates/parties have the greenest platforms. example: Its lazy of me not to try and avoid plastics at all cost. Its lazy of me if I “like” a post but NEVER DO ANYTHING to change my ways. Its lazy if I just read the above suggestions (some of which are great. David Suzuki .org is a good start) but I’m not really going to make any changes because it will inconvenience me. The sad face emoji and the like button are not going to save this world. Back that up with action! Yes I know its hard but it can be done! Bad habits can be broken. I can make changes. Its lazy of me not to plan my week with more meat free meals. Its lazy of me to point the finger at the government. Who do I think put them in power? Its lazy of me to point the finger at corporations. Corporations go where the money is. And who’s money did they get rich and powerful from? I can vote with my dollars!

Am I a coward? I’m a coward when I don’t speak up. If I see something that isnt’ right I must speak up! I’m a coward when I don’t vote. I’m a coward when I’m not willing to try something new and do things differently for the betterment of the planet. I’m a coward when I don’t want to inconvenience others by asking directly for what I want. Eg: no plastic at grocery stores or pulling that store manager aside and asking him for what you want. I’m a coward (and a hypocrite) if I don’t’ stand by my convictions. Eg: I can ditch that grocery store and support local butcher or farmer! <–make sure you let them know why you ditched them!

Educate myself about what’s going on. What’s in my food? (eg: palm oil) Where does it come from? Listen to the scientists. Check my facts. Ask questions!! Get involved. Do the research. Go see for yourself. Learn from others. Ask for help. When you gain knowledge pass it on! Scream it from the mountain tops if you have to. 

We don’t have time to dick around anymore.

Reflection on ‘Why aren’t fake Indigenous art makers going to jail in Canada?’

Below are exerpts from a piece recently published on The Discourse.

Through intense investigation, and sometimes facing horrific apathy from business owners, Francesca Fionada highlights the practice of commodifying a culture.

Undercover agents, search warrants and traceable forensic ink — all part of a multi-year investigation that ultimately busted an international crime ring moving millions of dollars of fraudulent goods into parts of New Mexico and California. So far, the investigation has put two men in prison and handed down thousands of dollars in fines.

In my own community, local Indigenous artisans sell their work on the street, in cafes, and occasionally in shops. The average settler Canadian is put off and quite rude when approached for purchase, but has little to no problem obstaining knock offs like these from the local souvenier shop to take home to loved ones.

The goods in question? Fake Indigenous art.

Selling fraudulent Indigenous art is illegal in the U.S. under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and is punishable by up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine for an individual — or up to $1 million for a company. Though jail time is rare, for the first time ever a man was sentenced to six months in prison and had to pay nearly $10,000 in fines in August 2018 for his part in a multimillion dollar scheme to import Navajo-themed turquoise jewellery made overseas — and sell it as authentic Navajo art. 

I remember being gifted a large ornate dream catcher for high school graduation back in 2005. A white person purchased it from what’s best described as a drug store. It had a made in China sticker on the tag. They never understood why I was disgusted. And I mean disgusted. I was beyond offended. Purchasing a knock off of a segment of Indigenous identity (as a white person) to give as a gift to another Indigenous person (who’s culture IS NOT THE SAME) is rude and insensitive.

A second man was sentenced a few months earlier to two days in jail and had to pay $500 for his lesser role in the operation.

“This landmark investigation has brought much needed attention to the rampant problem of counterfeit Native American jewelry and art in the marketplace,” said Edward Grace, the acting assistant director of one of the U.S. law enforcement teams that led the investigation, in an August 2018 press release.  

In my opinion, this goes beyond cultural appropriation and government officials need to do SOMETHING in effort to protect Indigenous art and artists.

“We hope today’s sentencings will deter others who would seek to defraud consumers and undermine Native American artists,” he added.

In Canada, no such law exists against misrepresenting inauthentic Indigenous-themed items as real — and  tourist shops across the country are rife with fake Indigenous pieces.

I highly recommend reading the entirety of the article, the link is included at the end of my post. Please share the original article far and wide—note, everything in italics are Francesca’s words and I do not take credit in any way for her hard work. I am merely reflecting and giving the article a signal boost from this platform.


Climate Change Anxiety is Real

A recent article posted on CNN dives into how climate change anxiety is a real threat and covers some ways to address it. “Paralysis caused by fear is a real problem,” the article says. I whole-heartedly agree with this. In a lot of ways, it doesn’t matter what outside pressure is causing the fear—climate change, racism, recent events in the US surrounding women’s reproductive rights—this fear is leading first to outrage and then to hopelessness.

Hopelessness is the common thread through various levels of depression. It begins with a sense of overwhelm and an inability to place exactly where the pressure is coming from. Many afflicted with high functioning depression seem to be healthy, or at least equipped with healthy coping mechanisms. What happens when the ability to cope is overwhelmed by the storm of hardships hitting survivors from all angles?

Lucas Wolfe, in his article When Your Depression Stops Being High Functioning on The Mighty wrote, “I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t hold a thought in my head. I lost weight, and the light of life drained from my eyes. I was a shell of my former self, and for the first time since the depression began, I couldn’t successfully hide my battles from those around me. Everyone could see something wasn’t quite right, but no one knew what was wrong.” He was paralyzed.

Contrary to the text I am plugging into my lap top right now, I am in the same place right now. Like Lucas, no one in my life knows what’s wrong—neither do I. Like Lucas, “I had made the transition from high-functioning depression to major depression, and it was shocking how little I could do.” I’ve spent the better part of six weeks in bed and avoiding texts, phone calls, and social interactions. I’m afraid that people will see me, like really see me—my fear, my trauma, my gross mess.

I’m constantly worried about finances, the environment, whether or not the world is even going to still be here before I pay off my student loans. I’m often wondering outloud to anyone who will listen what the point of it all is. What’s the point in making career goals when the world leaders are ignoring the facts and refusing to act to save our planet? What’s the point in working my ass off at a minimum wage job when it costs more to get to and from work that the sum of my weekly wages? What’s the point of getting out of bed when nothing about today is different than any other day? I am not alone in these questions.

Many of my peers have the same thoughts and voice the same fears. The two main themes emerging from our Creative Writing cohort were mental illness and environmental crisis. The two go hand in hand.

Andrea Marks Rolling Stone says, “The mental health impact of climate change is a one-two punch: There will be increasing anxiety about the future, as well as an increasing number of people undergoing the trauma of climate catastrophes like flooding and hurricanes” in her article How the Mental Health Community Is Bracing for the Impact of Climate Change. Marks went on to report, “A Yale survey in December found nearly 70 percent of Americans are “worried” about climate change, 29 percent are “very worried” — up eight percentage points from just six months earlier — and 51 percent said they felt “helpless.” Fifty-one percent felt helpless.

Just over half the population surveyed felt helpless at the current climate situation. We’re watching the world quite literally die before our eyes and our leaders seem more preoccupied with women’s wombs than whether or not there will be life on Earth in the near future. Liv Grant of the Guardian wrote, “Wild places dwindle, the animals and plants that live in them disappear. Climate change is now a certainty, and it will without a doubt lead to the loss of land, species, and ways of life. In the abstract this is disconcerting. Up close it is devastating. I worked on the BBC’s Climate Change: The Facts, presented by David Attenborough, and have felt this pain first-hand.”

So what do we do about it?

So far, all I’ve been able to find in my research is coping skills. Nothing solves the problem of climate related anxiety—nothing that is except for changing the trajectory of humanity. Western society is so dependent on capitalism and consumerism. These are the ideologies (where the dollar bill is more important than people, animals, and the environment) that are fueling climate change. When activists try to advocate for change the immediate outcry is “how will we make a living?”. My question is, how will your inflated bank account matter when we’re all dead?

Sooner than anyone wants to admit there will be global water and food shortages like human history has never seen before. Since my childhood, several animals have gone extinct. Bees are dying (they pollinate flowers to grow our food among other things). Unstable weather and forest fires are increasing. The science is there. Let’s stop ignoring it and actually do something.

Those with the power either need to use it or lose it. Vote like the environment actually matters.