Why I never thought I would make it to my thirtieth birthday

Note: The following was written on my 30th birthday, August 18th, 2017. It began as self reflection for a day that I never thought possible. After some consideration, I decided to share on the blog to show others struggling with depression, mental illness and eating disorders that it is possible to get to a healthy place, to manage your depression, and to finally, find happiness. I am not cured and am not preaching, just merely spreading a message of hope. 

bday cake
My 30th Birthday cake, made by my best friend 

Today is my thirtieth birthday. Although I’m excited to be celebrating with my closest friends and family, I can’t help but think about my younger self, and how I didn’t believe I would live to see this day.

For the past twenty one years I have lived with anxiety, depression, anorexia and bulimia. My relationships with these illnesses are some of the longest, most intimate relationships of my life. I have lived with these growing and continuously shape shifting “beings” for so long that I can’t remember a time without them. Twenty-one years. My eating disorder is legally eligible to vote. My depression is old enough to drink internationally.

In high-school, when my eating disorder and depression became more than I could handle alone, I began treatment at McMaster Children’s Hospital. I was scared, uncomfortable and angry. Thanks to medication and  a meal plan, I gained weight and my menstrual cycle returned after a two year absence. Out of fear, I quit treatment. Deeming myself cured because I physically fit the part of a healthy teenage girl. It was premature, the treatment was incomplete, but I was not ready to get better, and afraid to let go of what had become my safety net.

Emotionally, I was broken and hopeless. I distanced myself from all of my friends, stopped going to school, and my grades began to slip. Everything felt so difficult for me- too difficult. I fell deeper and deeper into depression. When everyone began making plans for college and university, I began negotiating an age I would commit suicide. What age would be old enough for my family to see that I had tried to get better? How long could I endure feeling the way I did?

I decided on twenty five.

Over the next few years, I graduated, went to university, and tried my best to go through the motions and appear “normal.” When I had a severe bout of depression and a relapse of my eating disorder at twenty-one, I took medical leave from university. I spent almost two months in bed, ready to break the silent promise I had made with myself years ago.

During a visit with my family doctor, I agreed to try the anti-anxiety and anti-depressant, Effexor. Having taken a number of anti-depressants in the past, I was apprehensive to try something new.  The other medications I had tried had severe side-effects like rapid weight gain, insomnia and made me feel numb. I was hesitant, but I reminded myself – only four more years. Just four more years.

To my surprise, I felt as though I was chemically healing with the new medication. My panic attacks became less frequent, I was able to sleep, focus, and was no longer afraid to leave the house. I was able to hold a job, and felt strong enough to go back to school twice a week for night classes. I was pacing myself, but I was surviving. The first time I received an A+ on a paper, I broke down in tears in my car in the school parking lot.  When a professor complimented my writing, I called my mom to relay the news with pride. Every small achievement, every compliment gave me hope, but there was still something missing.

I was finally cleared to graduate in May 2012, months before my twenty-fifth birthday. My family held a party to celebrate, and for a moment, when I crossed the stage to accept my diploma, I finally felt it: happiness. It rose within me, from my toes, to my chest, and out the top of my head, like a fever gaining strength. I felt hopeful, and wanted another taste of that feeling that had eluded me for so long. I knew I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

For me to get better, I had to work on both my mind and body. By taking anti-depressants, I was only treating half of the issue. I was finally ready to talk to someone, and give therapy an honest chance. I had been to therapists and psychologists who were wrong for me and thought for a long time that I could fix myself, or simply end everything. On my most difficult days, weeks and months, it felt as though those were my only two options. Fortunately, I found a psychologist who I was able to connect with, who made me feel comfortable and safe enough to be vulnerable and honest.

During our sessions, I disclosed my feelings about living on borrowed time, about how I felt unworthy of happiness and a healthy, fulfilling life. Saying it out loud, to someone who didn’t dismiss my feelings and allowed me to dispel the toxic feelings that were inside of me, was a catharsis like no other I had ever felt. Therapy was work. It was messy and heavy as I unpacked feelings and memories from my childhood. At times I would leave exhausted and exposed with nothing left to give, but I trusted my doctors and had faith that he would lead me through my depression and into a new way of living.

For five years, I’ve gone to therapy at least once a month. In that time, I’ve had bad days and bad weeks, but I’ve learned valuable skills that help me cope with my depression and eating disorder. I’m managing my depression, instead of being held captive. Suicide was off the table. I decided to stay.

By choosing to live, I realized that I had no idea what I would do with all the time that had suddenly opened up before me. One of the hardest things I’ve had to work on is granting myself the permission to dream about the future. I had given myself a finite amount of time, and had refused to entertain the prospect of a career, a partner and a family of my own. Through treatment for depression and my eating disorder, I was able to see for the first time that I am not my mental illness. I am not the dark thoughts and feelings that had plagued me for most of my life. I am more.

Deciding what to do with my life, deciding what interests me and brings me joy was a surprisingly difficult process. Happiness, love, and intimacy felt uncomfortable at first, and made me uneasy. Therapy and medication have helped me learn to accept and feel worthy of these wonderful and powerful aspects of life that give life meaning and depth. My world has gone from black and white, to Technicolor, and I am in awe.

I know that there are millions, perhaps billions of people who suffer from depression, eating disorders and mental illness, and that many of them sadly, turn to self-harm and suicide. I also know that many people don’t have access to affordable mental health care, that government or provincially funded treatment involves lengthy waitlists and doesn’t guarantee a program or a professional that will benefit the patient. Private treatment, is expensive, and can take a financial toll on individuals and families. There is still so much work that needs to be done before mental health issues are accepted in the public sphere and given the same compassion and options for treatment as any other malady. I know this, and yet I felt compelled to share and encourage others to persist, to have faith in themselves, and to seek to build an arsenal of professionals and loved ones who will help you fight your battle with depression.

My younger self could not imagine this day. I have spent the better part of today overcome with gratitude that I was wrong all those years ago when I believed that I could never be happy, could never be loved, never give love, and that there was no hope for me. I was wrong. I was buried under the lies depression tells you as it strips away everything you have.

It has been twenty-one years of tears and self-punishment. There will be obstacles ahead, and days stuck in bed when my depression rears its ugly head and I need time to rest and recover. I will most likely never live without depression or have moments where old habits from my eating disorder require management and forgiveness.

Today I can look back on the path I’ve been foraging in search of happiness and take in the distance of where I started to how far I’ve come. I will look behind me for just a moment, to wave to my younger self, who lived in darkness and call her forward, to tell her how beautiful it is to finally be in in the light. She is with me now, finally at peace and together we can continue forward to places we never dared to imagine.

 

If you are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts please visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention website to find a crisis center in your area.

Always have hope. You are more than your depression.

The Bachelor Canada: New Bachelor Announced

Ladies, GIRD YOUR LOINS! There’s fresh blood/meat/optimism in the Bachelor world!

Chris Leroux, a 33-year old retired professional baseball player is going to find love or at least a six month relationship on the upcoming season of the Bachelor Canada which premieres this fall on W Network.

While I hold a grudge with the #BachCan world for not picking my friend Jen to be a contestant on the upcoming season, I must admit that I’m intrigued by their new choice for Bachelor Canada.

The 6 ft 1 Montreal native who calls Toronto home, previously played for the New York Yankees, Florida Marlins and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Impressive stuff, right? While there’s no word on his current form of employment (how you payin’ those bills, Chris?) I’ve decided Chris is either selling insurance or sperm to make money. Either one seems viable.

 

 

Chris Leroux, Bachelor Canada Season 3
Chris Leroux, Bachelor Canada Season 3 Source: Global

Although I’m not partial to men who look like an Aryan wet-dream, I am intrigued by the former professional athlete angle. Benefits of dating former athletes are threefold:

1.) They most likely still have abs (muscle memory is a thing)

2.) They’re not on the road so jealous bitches can keep tabs on their mans

3.) “Former” doesn’t appeal to thirsty women trying out in the streets trying to turn a one night fling into 18 years of child-support.

Judging from Chris’s Instagram,  I would wager that the franchise’s choice for Bachelor is unlike his predecessors.

Case in point: Dude still uses a filter on his pictures. Which is adorably refreshing and makes my little, cynical, black heart swell to the size of a normal, cynical, black heart. Could there finally be a Bachelor Canada who isn’t looking for fame and protein shakes?

BACH
Source: Instagram

Ladies, form a line. Cash needs a Mom.

Also, unlike previous contestants, Chris is on the other side of thirty. Which is not a big deal, given a certain blogger *ahem* is just about there with him, but it COULD mean Chris is actually ready to settle down and make some plans with a partner.

Is it just me or is finding love on TV less weird given the current app culture? What used to be so foreign and strange now seems like a decent idea to tap into a new pool of prospects and potentially get some free meals, or at the very least the social media following to be accepted to Raya.

Since we know very little about Chris and have yet to stumble across someone willing to spill the dirt on his romantic history, let’s all root for Chris as he begins this journey to find love for the right reasons!

 

Real Housewives of Toronto: Why I’m Team Kara

Ok. Hear me out on this one.

I’m a seasoned veteran of the Real Housewives franchise. I’ve been watching since DAY 1 of Orange County and am a die-hard fan of Vicki Gunvalson (deal with it).

I’ve been anti-Kara Alloway for most of Real Housewives of Toronto, but since every franchise needs a “villain,” I think we, as fans, owe it to Mrs. Alloway to respect her role in the franchise and cool it on the hate-tweeting.

This week we talked about Week 7 & 8 of RHOT on our podcast, and I tweeted my love to Graham Alloway.

Graham,

Should you ever find yourself divorced or widowed, please call me.

xoxoxo

Libby

 

GA
Manifesting: Ask. Believe. Receive. 

Bachelorette Canada Update: It’s O-V-E-R for Jasmine and Kevin

I’m a little late to the blogging game on this one but the Bachelor Canada curse strikes again!

It’s over for the Bachelorette Canada star Jasmine Lorimer and her firefighting beau, Kevin Wendt. The two have amicably ended their five month engagement, taking to  social media to announce their split.

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Source 

Are we surprised? No. Dating on reality TV defies the laws of nature and is a sick form of entertainment for us mortals.

Are we sad? Sure.

For me it’s the same as hearing about a car accident. The same questions apply.

First question: “Is everyone OK?”

Second question:”What happened?”

Third question, “Who’s at fault and can you sue?”

The writing was on the wall when the couple chose to forego their press tour following the Bachelorette Finale. In the days when it should have been UTI inducing sexcapades and shameless ring selfies, the couple was keeping a surprisingly low profile.

The British Columbia based beauty and the Toronto based piece of man meat tried to make the relationship work long distance. Which, as someone who’s tried it once can attest, it never works out, and will most likely end in wasted plane tickets and a series of break-up texts.

Sad.

Breakup.PNG
A punch to the Reality TV gut! Source – Instagram 

I enjoyed the premiere season of the Bachelorette Canada and could tell Jasmine and Kevin had some crazy chemistry. It sucks whenever someone has their heart-broken and I wish them both well. Methinks they’ll both find happiness and have lucrative Instagram sponsored ads in the future.

Since this is the third #BachCan relationship to go down the pooper, does this mean the franchise will call it quits?

You may recall both Brad Smith and Tim Whatever-his-name-is broke up with their partners after their seasons wrapped. I’ve been waiting patiently for the next Bachelor Canada to be announced but so far…nothing. Zilch. Bupkis.

Let me say this now, W Network or Slice: I NEED MY BACH FIX. So help me god, you find a way to make this happen with the same determination and can-do attitude that a junkie has when looking for a vein that hasn’t collapsed. Make it work.

Until the new season of the Bachelorette premieres on ABC in May, I’ve been hanging on by a thread with The Real Housewives of Toronto.

You can hear about that show on my podcast Boys Don’t Like Funny Girls.

Who are you hoping is the next Bachelor Canada? Do you think this is it for the franchise?

Beauty & the Beast: What was horrible, what was amaze-balls and what could have been better

As a late 80’s baby, I hold certain Disney movies near and dear to my heart.

Little Mermaid

Beauty and the Beast

Aladdin

(you get it).

With the current influx of live-action Disney remakes, I was skeptical whether or not this new offering of B&TB would be a cluster-fuck of horror or a veritable feast for the eyes.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t hate it!

We’re talking about it all on this week’s episode of Boys Don’t Like Funny Girls.

 

 

 

Ep 14- Real Housewives of Toronto, Autistic Muppets, Rape Culture & More

Even with a plan, our podcasts can go in directions we never expected.

After talking about St. Patrick’s Day, offending Irish people by asking about Fassbender’s penis, and a recap of the Real Housewives of Toronto, we dipped our toes into more serious issues.

We discuss rape culture, consent, and our experiences. We’ve each had experiences that have left us scratching our heads and feeling uncomfortable, try our best to talk about them without opening a Pandora’s Box of emotion.

I debut my awesome Elmo impression, introduce Krissy to the idea of Labiaplasty, and we talk about the introduction of the new autistic Muppet on Sesame Street.

The Bachelor Finale, Real Housewives of Toronto and Ex Drama

Nick and Vanessa.

Man oh man. What a train wreck. The After the Final Rose episode was cringe-worthy, and made Kevin and Jasmine from Bachelorette Canada look like lovebirds.

WHAT IS WITH AWKWARD COUPLES ON TELEVISION?

Are these just real people who realized that dating on TV is fucked up and not easy? Are they staying together for the free shit? (I would totally stay together with someone for free swag and beach vacations *ahem* Jasmine and Kevin).

Vanessa looked poised, rehearsed and aware that her body language was sending mixed vibes to the audience. Nick looked like he had made a giant mistake and no amount of mumbling could ever get Raven back.

We discuss this and more in this week’s episode of Boys Don’t Like Funny Girls.