Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of

Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of

Monday 7 September 2020

Article I wrote for Silken Launmann's website "Unsinkable"

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- well sort of.

Have you heard the joke? “An Amygdala and Hippocampus walked into a bar”.

Well me neither, but for the past 12 weeks I have been living it. I feel like my Amygdala and Hippocampus have been partying hard and don't want to stop. Visualize college students in Florida at spring break

The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for emotions, survival instincts and memory. The hippocampus regulates motivation, emotion, learning and memory. And believe me the present state of the world and Covid-19 is fodder for them both to go rampant, and they have run off with my nervous system like world class sprinters out of the gates.
I’m exhausted.

The frustrating thing is, I have no control over it and that it’s not really about the present situation.

The amygdala and hippocampus senses danger so their on full alert, hyper vigilance and replaying all the times in the past when there was danger, which in my case, means it goes back to the first 20 years if my life and the trauma that happened. While this is great survival tool and warning me of danger, (it did help me survive my past) it’s an automatic response and one I have no control over. I can’t stop this from happening any more then I can stop my B cells from going on alert and producing antibodies- immune response- when it notices a foreign substance.

I feel we are all like B cells, trying to figure all this out, learn how to deal with a live in a world we have never experienced before. How do we live with this new antigen that has entered our life? I’m sure I’m not the only one who is being triggered or struggling during these times.

My nervous system has been on high alert since the beginning of February. I could feel my anxiety rise. I knew it was connected to the Covid-19, but the height of anxiety didn’t make sense for the present situation. I was in a quandary. As the days went on my anxiety would interfere with my day more and more. I would go to the grocery store and the atmosphere felt like everyone doing the last-minute shopping 2 days before Christmas.

On my last hike before the state of emergency- the one where I got stuck in the mud- I was talking to one of my hiking buddies. I am fortunate to have this group in my life; they accept me for who I am and where I am at. As I was explaining how I was feeling and the confusion around it- it came to me. My nervous system was getting ready for battle, clarity can be a lovely thing. I was brought up in a form of battle zone, never knowing when the battle would start, or finish, or what kind of battle it would be. So, I walked around “ready and loaded” always on the look out for danger etc.

Now that I had some clarity, I could start to work on my response. I pulled in all my grounding techniques, mindfulness, self-care tools etc. All of these did seem to help temporarily, but it never lasted, and I didn’t seem to have the break through I usually did when my anxiety etc visits. I then made more frequent therapy appointments- via computer video- which is a trigger in its self- and through hard work I came to the realization of what the triggers are and what was going on. Its been a long haul, and I am still working on it. But I will get through this.

Through all of this, I kept telling myself that this is like a very long Outward Bound course. I have been using the skills, knowledge and insight I gained on my courses, to help me through these difficult and challenging times of Covid-19 and the trauma memories it has brought forward.

Outward Bound has taught me that I am stronger- mentally and physically -then I ever realized. While on the trails I learned to adapt to the challenges and changes that would happen daily, and accept that some things I just can not change. I learned it was not only OK to accept help, but also to initiate and ask for help. I learned that we are stronger as a group and no one does it all on their own. But one of the most valuable things I learned was to persevere through the really tough days, and there were some really tough ones. I learned that no matter how hard these times were, it was OK to fall and I knew that I would once again eventually find my own rhythm, no matter how hard the challenge.

Who would have known that a pandemic would give me an opportunity to heal at an even deeper level- not me!

When I go on an Outward Bound course, I have a gear list, the right boots, make a support plan, and have prescribed medication to take as needed for my anxiety. I usually also have airline tickets and leave home.

This time round there are no airline tickets and I’m not leaving home. I have pulled in extra therapy sessions, and checking in twice a week, via phone, with my family doctor. I have prescribed medication to help with my anxiety and sleep if needed.

I have work to do, and a times it will be hard, painful and I will have tough days ahead of me. But I also know I am strong enough and have a resilience deep down that will get me through this. I will have moments when I fall down, but I will get back up, and in time, find my own rhythm once again.

And like every Outward Bound course, I will come back a different person, a stronger more confident and whole person. I will once again retrieve part of myself and have found even more of my essence.

I also know if I had not had my Outward Bound experiences, I would not be able to do the work I’m now doing. Sure, I do have a choice. I can choose not to do the work, but like Outward Bound Canada’s motto, “A ship in harbour is safe- but that is not what ships are for” I may not be physically leaving home for an Outward Bound trip- but I am doing a stay at home Outward Bound course, I am “ Getting Out, Looking In’ and I will be a better person for it.
Be kind and gentle with yourselves during these challenging times. And as Dr Bonnie Henry, here in BC would say….Be Kind, Be Calm, be Safe.
Take good care of yourselves, and each other and until next time

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Work Through The Fear...

As you can see it has been more than a few months since my last post.  Life has been busy, and for the most part good, and I now have my web page up and running…and… less than three weeks I will be trekking 170 km, with 10 other folks, to help raise funds for Outward Bound Canada, charitable programs. I will be trekking the Tour Du Mont Blanc, and will be in France, Italy and Switzerland. I am still pinching myself, and this was in no way on my radar, and this opportunity came out of the blue. I have been writing a blog post about it, and the journey to prepare for it, and you can find it here.

The day before yesterday I finally got out in the garden and did some much needed weeding, pruning etc. I have been busy with training etc and it was somewhat neglected. Working in the garden allows me time to let my mind wander, and wander it did.

As I was pulling weeds I was thinking of my healing journey, to where I am now, and the times Outward Bound Canada has helped me in this journey. I thought about the times I was on course, was afraid but pushed through and discovered more about myself.  I thought about the times in therapy, and the beginning of my journey and how afraid I was.  

Some points in my journey, I came to a cross road, and it was usually at a very difficult point. Many of the times it was with regards to looking at my trauma, feeling what I should have back then- but didn’t because I dissociated, and the need to process. I remember how terrified I was. I was afraid of these emotions and the work it was going to take, but I knew my way of coping- dissociating etc, was no longer working. And, did I really want to live like that anymore?

The thing is, I knew how to live with dissociation and the not so health coping mechanisms. As they say “Better the devil you know” But could I live without dissociating, I had never done that before, and that unknown was terrifying.  I also knew that the only one who could do this work was me.

 Sure, I am forever grateful for the amazing help I had, but at some level, at a much younger emotional level, I wanted someone else to fix it, make it better for me. But I knew that I was the only one who could do that work. At some level this felt like a slap in the face, as I had already worked hard, and here I was being asked to do even more work.

When I came to those crossroads, I knew the only one who could make the decision was me, and I knew the only one who could do the work, again was me. This does not mean I wasn’t scared.

So with the guidance of my professionals, I started. I had made up a support plan to let friends and family know how they could best support me, and I slowly but surely started working my way through the sadness, anger, grief, despair, anxiety, betrayal, flashbacks etc. It was not an easy road, and it sure wasn’t linear. Many times it looked like I would make progress, then I would slip back down, then back up I climb, then back down again. Sometimes I needed hospitalizations. Slowly but surely things got better and better and better.  I still struggle at times, but now I see the struggle sooner, have better tools in my tool box to help me deal with this and pull in the supports when I need them.

And here I am, about to go on another amazing epic adventure.  

I was working away in the garden still, and it was time for a tea break. Then back to work and now I’m trimming the roses, cutting out brambles, pulling up the crabgrass etc…and as it always does, the garden surprised me with treasures that are somehow growing under all of this. And I thought to myself…”this is like my therapy, I was afraid and feeling the fear, and the other emotions, it seemed too big of a job. Just like these rose and bramble branches, but taking it slowly and bit by bit I was able to cut away at them, and look what I found. Under all of that was new life and light was now reaching that new life.”

I know that if I did not do the work, I would not be where I am. If I didn’t face the fear and work through it, I would not be getting on a plane in 16 days to fly to Geneva. - Never in a million years did I ever think I would write that line. –It was hard work, it was scary, but because I did, I have found many treasures within myself, and a new lease on life.

If you are about to embark on your work, and you are scared, maybe knowing that I understand, and have been there, and that you are not alone will help.

Those are my thoughts for today, may you find many beautiful treasures and shine light on who you truly are. Its hard work, but it is worth it. You are worth it.

Cheers and be well

Sunday 7 April 2019

The Genius That Is Dissociation,,,,,,,

As you can see it has been a few months since I have written a blog. Life happens, gets busy, then my illness rises, then I get better, then life happens etc...repeat...

Then I think about writing then I get overwhelmed,then nothing happens. I imagine this sounds familiar to many of you out there.  Then I think about writing about dissociation, then I think,,where do I start....I ask myself "there is already so much out there, what can I add to it?"

So, in the wee hours of the night a thought came to me. Dissociative Identity Disorder is often seen as this rare, exotic,  bizarre, false illness. Let me assure you that it is none of these. There are tons of study's, actually many decades worth of studies, all over the world that explain, prove, discuss and prove the validity of this condition. I will attach a link below that you can look into if you want to find out more. Don't even get me going on what Wikipedia has on it- its so wrong....

Last week I was with a working group that I am on. Its for child and youth mental health and substance use, and how we can make improvements for our children and youth. In this working group was a doctor and I was explaining what D.I.D. was, and I said..."one to three percent of the general population has D.I.D." - she replied "one percent of the population is not rare or a small amount."  And thats very true, but this is one of the very many misconception of this condition.

What is also a misconception is that dissociation is a bad thing!

What I mean by this is that while, for me, dissociation was interfering with the quality of my life, creating chaos, affecting my relationships, my family and friends etc.  It's original purpose was to help me survive, and it did just that.

D.I.D.'s one and only purpose is to help a child - usually before the age of 7- to survive overwhelming circumstances. These are children that may experience abuse, disorganized attachment to their caregivers, children living in a civil war or refugee camp or children who have, at a very young age, undergone multiple medical procedures. We now realize that neglect is as harmful to a child as abuse is, and affects the brain and self worth of a child.

We also now know that through the study of the A.C.E's - The Adverse Childhood Experience scale- that trauma affects a person throughout their lifetime... it can affect their health and folks who have had trauma have a higher rate of heart disease, diabetic, high blood pressure, weight issues, drug and alcohol use etc.

And while we are starting to understand this, there is still the reluctance to address dissociation, and I think its because folks are confused and scared of what they don't know. Calling it by its old name " "multiply personality disorder' didn't help, and for some reason, some folks seem to want to keep using that term- which is one of my pet peeves.

So back to what can I say, that the studies have not said, or that folks have not studied etc. One advantage I do have, is living with this condition,

I have told many folks that when I was first diagnosed I thought "Thank Christ I'm not crazy." then I promptly thought " Wholly shit I must be crazy." because the only understanding or perception I had was what I had learned from the media and Hollywood.

What I didn't realize was that dissociation was a very creative tool that helped me survive. I also didn't realize, that physiologically I had absoloutley no control over this happening.  When the trauma happened this was a natural response, totally involuntary, I had absolutely no control over this. Learning that helped me in so many ways.

When one experiences abuse, one - well at least I did- I often felt shame because I  didn't stop it from happening, I didn't prevent it etc. I didn't stop it from happening to my siblings, or mom etc. I held a huge bag of shame for decades around this, then felt shame for dissociating- because it was interfering with my life, and there was something wrong with me- thats how I felt. Luckily my psychiatrist believed differently.

What I didn't know was that I could not stop dissociating as a child if I wanted to. It was a natural response to the trauma,  The brain, nervous systems,  chemicals etc had already made a deal this is what they would do if bad things were happening to me that were overloading me. If you think about it, this is the genius of dissociation.

Learning about D.I.D., or that you have D.I.D. can be overwhelming, scary, frightening etc. I hope this blog post helps you have a better understanding of the genius that is dissociation, that it is a natural response to overwhelming trauma and that it very likely saved your life.

Those are my thoughts for today, take good care of yourself, and give yourself lots of love and compassion , this can be a difficult journey. With hard work and the right supports, it can get so much better.

Be good to yourself, you deserve it
Cheers and be well

Friday 14 December 2018

Self Compassion...

It’s the second week in December- where did the time go- and I am already starting to feel stressed out. I have a hard time because I really like Christmas, and I’m feeling the stress more this year. It could be that I’m feeling it more, because I’m not as numb or disconnected as I used to be- which is a good thing. So another learning curve.

I was thinking about this the other night when I couldn’t sleep- yes, that’s par for this time of the year for me, but at least now when I wake up, it’s no longer in a panic. Another sign of growth and healing. But, I still wake in the wee hours of the night, one step at a time I guess.

So during those wee hours of the night I was thinking about how far I have come. From being so dissociative and disconnected I could not remember what I did a day ago, let alone two hours ago.  I have made huge leaps in connection with my loved ones as well as myself. It has been an amazing year of travels, adventures and the Courage to Come Back Award, by Coast Mental Health in May. It has been an Epic year.

So, why, if I have done all of that, and I once again find myself tired and feeling stressed in December.

There have been a few added things I have done in the last few weeks. One was a four day trip to Vancouver. It was an amazing trip- I had a meeting with a couple folks and talked about writing and the process of doing a TED Talk. I met up with a young women I connected with a few years ago at the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative, and Family Smart. I attended the WE Day Vancouver. This was all good. I had some down time and played. It was a great time, and with all this I came back from Vancouver more inspired and confident than ever.

So why am I feeling the stress, waking in the middle of the night  etc…I have come to the conclusion it’s because  physiological , terror and excitement, as far as the nervous system is concerned is the same thing. My nervous system is still working on learning the difference between the two. While I have come a long way in this regard, put in a triggering time of year etc and it will sometimes forget.

 I learned at a very young age to be hypervigilant, to become acutely aware and sensitive of my surroundings and the people in it.  So, if something didn’t go according to plan, or a slight shift in moods etc happened- my system thought that meant danger. Then if anything that was planned went sideways…well the stress factor would climb. Let’s say I was planning to get on a ferry to go over to the mainland, and I missed the ferry. In reality, I may miss a show or a game, but I am not in danger, that’s the reality of the present day, calm nervous system. But in my trauma brain and nervous system, all sorts of things are happening.

One of the main things we need to remember here, is this- we can only fall back on the knowledge and experiences of our past to help us connect and deal with the present situations.

If I was brought up in a safe environment, and as a child we missed the ferry, I would be allowed to feel the disappointment of missing a show etc, but I would have felt loved, safe and supported, been able to process those emotions, and never felt like my life was in danger.

However, because I was brought up in a chaotic, violent, neglectful, household, where the only constant was inconsistency. The only thing I could count on was knowing that I never knew what was going to happen, weather it was going to be safe or not, etc.  Would it be the good parent or the bad parent on the other side of the door? Would I come in through the door and there would be no reaction, but total neglect and I had to fend for myself, finding food, -which I often had to steal- getting wood for the stove etc. Would I be beat up or teased in school today etc. 

My nervous system, on high alert was ready for anything, ready to take action to keep myself safe if need be. If I could not physically escape from the situation, I would escape in my mine. This is the development of Dissociative Identity Disorder. By the time I was four, I was a pro at disconnecting and dissociating. It became my hardwired default. This is a survival tool, and it obviously worked as it kept me alive.

Some of us have heard stories or known people who, to us were fine people, they may have even been our friend.  Then we come to find they have done something we don’t approve of, or worse, and we say to ourselves- “I don’t believe it, it can’t be”.  We have a hard time wrapping our adult brain, -which has the ability to think in a complex way- around the whole situation. We have a really hard time trying to understand all of this. And that is with a complex adult brain.

Now imagine a child trying to figure this all out. A child’s brain that is trying to understand what’s going on, and then when there is no other ways of escape, they escape in their mind. While D.I.D. saved my life, and I have come a long way, there is still some residual affect going on.

This is where self-compassion comes in. Lots of exciting things are happening in my life, and yes, the nervous system and brain will remember a time when this same feeling happened, but now it is safe to feel. This is excitement, it’s not terror. There will be times the present and the past bump together, but now a days it’s a much gentler bump, like two stuffed teddy bears falling against each other.  Not like the full on head clashing of the past where I would be disoriented, disconnected, terrified etc. 

And when these gentle bumps do happen, I will accept them with self-compassion, gentleness and support myself in a healthy, compassionate way to help process those bumps.

Wherever you are on your journey, whatever kind of day you are having, I encourage you to give yourself lots of compassion, acknowledge the work you are doing is hard, and remember, even if you don’t believe it now- but it can and will get better <3

Keep up the good work, you are worth it!!!

This are my thought for the day


Friday 21 September 2018

Step by Step version # 2794...

I have mentioned many times in my past posts, about, how living with, and at times struggling with a mental illness, I need to take life, and this journey, step by step, one step at a time. Not only do I need to take it one step at a time, but often, the size of the steps can vary. Sometimes all is going well and I can take long, confident strong strides, other times, I may be struggling and take smaller, and even baby steps. And there have been times, and may in my future, where I need to stop taking any steps at all. This is often a time of processing hard work, or recovering. And then, I start all over again, but I keep moving forward, even if at times it doesn't feel like it. 

This past week, a couple of events have brought the importance of this process of one step at a time into the spotlight. 

Event #1
A few weeks ago, on the long weekend, I went for a hike with  a friend up into the local mountains here. We did the Kwai lake loop. It’s a 14 km hike through alpine meadows, lakes, treed ridge lines, rocky paths, etc. It was lovely, sunny and beautiful as always. And it was so good to be out there amongst the beauty that is nature. It helps soothe the soul. 

All was good till later that night when I was home, and the outside of my left leg was really sore, I could hardly walk on it. This was different then sore muscle pain- I have had plenty of that, but I had no idea what this was. So, to make a long story short, I got it checked out and it’s the iliotibial band- commonly known as the I.T. band, issues. Seems I strained it somehow. The I.T. Iliotibial band (IT bandsyndrome facts. Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the connective issues that are located on the outer thigh and knee. The iliotibial band runs along the lateral or outside aspect of the thigh, from the pelvis to the tibia, crossing both the hip and knee joints.   

So, I learned something new, saw the Dr. and am now getting physiotherapy for it. It was frustrating as I had to stop hiking, and going for any walks. I couldn’t work in the garden as that irritated it, and basically couldn’t do much. Well, I could do the stuff, but I would pay for it and it would make it worse and longer to heal. I am happy to say it is getting better and I was able to go for a short walk today. What surprised me was the urge to push myself before I was ready.

Event #2
Last week I was emailing back and forth with someone I know. I had mentioned to him that I think I am finally starting to get on a bit more solid ground after my “Epic Irish Odyssey” and processing a lot of what I learned while on that journey. Things and realizations and discoveries from that trip are still coming and I’m sure it will for the next year or so. But I think I am ready for the next step and that is writing my memoirs, and looking into doing a TED Talk. I mentioned I have no idea how to go about doing either, but I will start looking into it.

Well, the person replied with a lovely offer of hosting me for dinner and inviting an author friend of his so we could chat. Needless to say I was surprised, full of gratitude and hopefully it will work out. He wrote…”It’s a small step, one of many”    

I replied that I like small steps,they  help me not feel so  overwhelmed  and he replied“Step by step works for many of us. Cliff jumping, not so much.” – I almost spit out my tea laughing. Thinking “Aint that the truth!

Then as I do, I started to think of that statement, and the step by step on my healing journey. I started to think back to a time, before I was correctly diagnosed, actually, before I got any help at all. Where instead of the step by step, I was “Cliff Jumping”

I have done a lot of “Cliff Jumping”- metaphorically speaking, in my life. As a very young child I learned how to “Cliff Jump” and could sometimes eject myself out of the house when things became dangerous,- the natural “fight or flight” had saved me, but there was nowhere to safely land. I had nowhere to go but home, and things just repeated. 

I became an expert cliff jumper, to deal with emergencies in the moment, but what I did not learn was the subtle skills or planning out for non-dangerous situations. My brain and nervous system had no idea what that was.

Fast forward 40 years and I was noticing a repeating pattern and knew something had to change but no idea what. I was exhausted, tired of having to pick myself up, crawl back up to what seemed like a functioning level, just to crash again. I asked for professional help.

My professional team and I worked hard to tease out what was going on, and in time I was correctly diagnosed. As much as I wanted to get better, NOW!!!  in this work, there are no short cuts.

So, in time, I leaned that step by step was the way forward, even though the thought of “running like a child who stole a chocolate bar”, crossed my mind many times. This step by step philosophy did not come easy to me. But through hard work, determination, and help from others, progress was being made. In time I noticed I was incorporating this philosophy in other areas of my life.

This last May, I went on my “Epic Irish Odyssey”, my dream trip to fulfill my lifelong dream to go to Ireland. I was there for 10 weeks. The first seven weeks I was on my own, traveling via public transit, then a friend joined me for 3 weeks, and we rented a car and traveled together. It was an amazing experience and I came back a better, stronger and wiser person. Some folks I talked to, both at home, and in Ireland, thought this was amazing. Which, I guess it was, but this was not a “cliff jumping “trip- this trip was planned over 3 years, I saved for 10, and dreamt about it for over 45 years. There were moments it was really tough, was not all smiles and a bed of roses, but it was still amazing. And even during the tough times, I was still able to deal with it by going step by step, and working with my support system that I had put in place before I went. These are some of the advantages of planning step by step and not cliff jumping.

I want to  get serious about my writing, and doing a TED Talk. This is huge, and I know it will be a lot of hard work and at times, just the thought of it becomes overwhelming. My brain and nervous system will want to “Cliff Jump” its way through, but I know it won’t work.  So, when I let someone know this is what I wanted to do, and I received the lovely reply of dinner and a get together to talk about writing etc, I was surprised and full of gratitude. And why his line “Step by step works for many of us. Cliff jumping, not so much.” Cracked me up, it’s like he was in my head!!!

This week, I have had to remind myself many times, why I need to abide by the “Step by Step” philosophy, both for my writing and recovery of my leg. As strong as the urge is to jump forward, I know it will cause more harm than good. I also realize that not allowing my brain and nervous system to act on the old belief that “If we don’t do it now it won’t happen”- Cliff jumping- will take some energy and I need to be gentle with myself, and self-care is in order. I have a limited amount of energy, and cannot compare myself and my writing output and walking, to others. All I can do is the best that I can, keep a balance and go forward step by step.
Those are my thoughts for today. Its now time for me t bundle up and go for a gentle 20 minute stroll to get some fresh air. 

I wish you all well and smooth steps on your healing journey. Below are links to my travel blog I wrote, and continue to write about my journey in Ireland. And a link to a great talk by a father and daughter, on their journey with anorexia. It’s powerful.
PS- I know the type is not aligned, I have no idea why it changed, I guess something else I need to learn...

Sunday 10 June 2018

Life's Adventures Continues...

Yes, it has been more then a few months since I have written a blog. I am still here, I am still learning and life has been full of adventures. And right now..I'm in Ireland

But, before we get to how I came to Ireland, lets back up a few months.

A few months ago , a friend nominated me for the Courage to Comeback Award. This is an award giving out by Coast Mental Health in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada. These awards are giving to folks who have gone through tough times, and give back to their community.

This event is also the major fundraiser for Coast Mental Health and helps to support their programs they run to help folks who have mental health issues. Its one of the biggest events in Vancouver and is the Biggest fundraising event in Western Canada.

 I was honored that my friend thought that I was worthy of the award, but had no thought that I would win. So, we filled out the application form, sent it off and I just kept doing what I do, not expecting to hear anything.

Now during this time I was also working on my plans for my life long trip to Ireland. I had the tickets booked and I was working on where I was going to go etc. I am traveling solo for the first 7 weeks, via public transit, then a friend is joining me July 1st, and we are going to rent a car for 3 weeks- she is driving!

My departure date was May 12th, at 5;00 am. My flight was originally May 10th, but when I was nominated I figured I should bump it a few days as the awards were May 10th, am I ever glad I did. 

Just over 6 weeks before my departure, I had a therapy session and my therapist asked me if I had any more speaking engagements before my trip. I told her I had one, up at the local high school and that I was going to take it easy as I didn't want to be tired for my trip. Well, the saying of " best laid plans of mice and men often go astray" comes to mind....

That night I got a phone call from  the Chair of Coast mental Health Lorne Segal, telling me i had won the award...I was gob smacked and the 1st thing I said was.."No Shit" He also told me things were about to get busy and it would be a roller coaster ride, and he as right.

The next 6 weeks were amazing, exhausting, exhilarating, and a huge learning curve. I was flown over to Vancouver for a newspaper, radio and TV interview. I had my own "personal assistant" for those 6 weeks to help keep me organized and for support and if i had any questions. She was beyond amazing!!! Then a production team came to the island and followed me around for a day, into the class for my presentation etc. They were also going to put together a video of my story that would be presented before I went on stage. My family and a friend were interviewed, and  had to go shop for clothes. had to write a speech, as I was going to read it to 1800 people at a convention center when I got the award. As were the other 4 recipients.

Also during these 6 weeks, I had a couple of emergencies to deal with. The 1st one was I got home from clothes shopping one time and my husband needed to be rushed to the hospital as we thought he was having a heart attack- he is fine, it was a lung infection. The next was when I had booked a whole day off to relax, get a reflexology session and chill for the day. As I arrived at the house of my friend, her house caught fore- they are all safe, but it was a little hairy and I stayed and supported her and her family until her husband could get home later that afternoon.

Needless to say I had to go see my therapist and work through and process these events- especially the fire- man that moves fast. I had flashbacks of that event- but withing a few days- like a normal person, not months or years later . I then realized that during all of these events, as stressed as I was..I never dissociated or lost any time. I had always wondered what would happen if I was faced would an emergency- would I disconnect and loose time. Well, I didn't these times. Sure..I dissociated like any normal person does with an emergency- and deals with the emergency and do what needs to be done, but I didn't loose time or memory- this is HUGE!!!!

There were so many years in my life where this wasn't even a possibility.

Also, during the whole awards stuff, interviews etc...Coast Mental Health staff were amazing with support, asking me what I needed, having that support there, checking in on me in so many ways. They have no idea how much this was appreciated. very often, when folks who have a mental illness or have had trauma are asked to talk, or do a presentation etc, there is no support for them, and this can cause problems. As much as I love speaking and educating, it is emotionally exhausting and i have to make sure my supports are in place and I do lots of self care. Coast mental Health gets that! These folks were amazing. I

I spoke of tough stuff, and I didn't realize how much tension I was holding while waiting for the story to be released until the time came.I can tell my story, but I have no control how others are going to report on it.  When it came out- the 1st I heard was the radio interview, then I saw the print then the TV. It was amazing. My story was told, but it was told with respect, caring, sensitivity, and it was not sensationalized. My story was honored. As my friend wrote to me something like this - "Your story has been honored, the universe has honored you, another step in realizing the world could be safe"

Then it was time to go to Vancouver to receive the award. The  night before the award I met the other recipients and wholly cow- they are all amazing and I often wondered what I was doing there with them. On the big night, my best friend, my son, and 3 other wonderful friends were there to share this gala event with me, and my heart sung knowing they were there with me. And I knew everyone back home were there with me in their hearts and minds.

And remember what I said about support from the organization. My personal assistant came and got me when it was time for me to go up on stage- I was the first speaker.. I was back stage as the video of my story was playing, and she was right there with me, checking in with me etc, it was HUGE. Then it was time to go on stage, receive  my award and give my speech. It is a moment in my life I will cherish, and having folks with e there and at home and afar supporting me was amazing.

I never planned to be doing what I am doing, it just sort of happened, and I don't keep count of what I do, but I must say it was pretty neat to see it on film etc, and what I have actually accomplished was pretty amazing.

It was an amazing and magical night, and 36 hours after giving my speech I was flying off to Ireland for my next grand adventure. I have been here now in Ireland for 4 weeks, and it has had its challenges, which I have written about on my travel blog post which I will put a link below.

And remember that fundraising- over 3 million dollars were raised.

Its now time for me to get something to eat, but thought I should write a post and let folks know what I have been up to. What have a learned about all of this...that sometimes, we have no idea what is going to happen or here life will lead, but by putting one foot in front of the other it will take us where we need to be....

those are my thoughts for the day and below are links to the awards, stories and my travel blog post.