Mental Health Awareness Week

As a big advocate for mental health care, as well as a woman who wisely asked her doctor for a referral to a qualified mental health care professional in late 2009 (BC MSP covers Psychiatry 100%), I know how lucky I am to have someone to talk to, objectively, and whom can help me when PTSD symptoms are retriggered. I ASKED for help, and speak to my therapist when I feel the need to debrief, sieve through feelings, or seek an objective opinion about matters which may influence my health and life.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in August, 1999. Ironically, this was due to having had a gun held to my head in March (at Kidsbooks), and then a suicidal situation involving my (ex-RCMP, 20+ year paramedic and volunteer fireman) dad who had complex PTSD, and was suicidal … with a rifle. He was also suicidal in May, 1983.

I will always have PTSD, and like any significant injury, symptoms can return if there are triggers. I sought care from a psychiatrist, BY CHOICE, because I couldn’t afford private therapy. I feel no shame in admitting to seeking such care; if I had a different kind of physical injury (or illness), I’d responsibly seek qualified medical care, too. It’s unfortunate that there is such stigma and shame surrounding mental health. I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of criticism, inaccurate speculation/opinions of my character, rejection, ostracizing, and shameful stigma: brutal, and extremely painful. None of the aforementioned have been helpful when I’ve struggled with symptoms of PTSD when such have reared their ugly heads. Such leads me to feel worse, go “into my head” more, isolate, or exacerbate symptoms: depression, anxiety, substance abuse (alcohol at times, food/sugar), insomnia, hyper-vigilance, and anger.

It’s also unfortunate that SO many countless people, whom desperately need help, fall through the cracks of overburdened mental health care systems (huge waiting lists in BC, alone), everywhere. People are suffering and dying, unnecessarily.

I am a firm believer that EVERYONE in society, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic background, would benefit from consistent, regular mental health care, from early childhood–throughout their lives. I think we’d be a happier, healthier society. Less addiction, violence, divorce, crime, suicides, abuse, unemployment, strife, homelessness, incarceration, eating disorders, physical illness (cardiac, diabetes caused by obesity, IBS), bullying …



Dear Kate: You’ve Been Played … Again!

Last Thursday afternoon, I endured another dramatic, unnecessary, invasive, humiliating, and borderline sadistic incident while relaxing at home. I had intended to depart for the gym just prior, but fortunately/unfortunately was dawdling. Otherwise, I’m quite certain the invasive person would have commissioned someone to break into or gain access to my home. Beyond the gross violation of my privacy and boundaries again (similar, invasive, over-the-top violations have occurred more than a couple of times, prior), something bad could have unintentionally happened to someone I love and treasure, had the invasive person gained unauthorized access to my home. Clearly, another tenant had let them into the building; I certainly hadn’t!

Someone couldn’t accept the facts that:

  • I’d caught them in some deceitful, self-serving behaviour (again) the week prior—lies of omission, and manipulation of my feelings;
  • they had their request to visit with me denied; I’d already said “no”, with very valid reasons for declining to engage (self-protection);
  • I do not wish for or need any drama to provoke anxiety and upset (I’ve had enough on my plate);
  • becoming angrier and provoked by the person (again) does not serve me well;
  • I deliberately didn’t return their phone calls or messages; I’d detached and disengaged.

I was not in danger, nor harmed. It was very obvious to MANY others that I was fine. Still, that person defied logic and boundaries, once again causing shame, embarrassment, anger, and unnecessary drama.

And, once again, guess whose “fault” this will be—for “hurting someone”, “defying to conform”, or “acting out”? Mine! The lifelong family scapegoat will/has been guilted, shamed, blamed, and criticized for not doing what others want (of me)—meeting their expectations and demands, or as they now EXPECT defiance, selfishness, and insubordination from me, I meet their expectations for “poor behaviour”. Such facilitates their own roles in the dysfunctional, hypocritical dynamic, and they may stand on their toxic pulpits of moral and personal, alleged superiority.

There’s never any accountability for the hurtful and hypocritical behaviours of others! Blame Kate. I “see things through a warped lens; the world is a mean and nasty place, just for (my) personal displeasure”, you know!

For months, I’ve been reminded of my (non-existent) place in the family. I walked away years ago. Rather, I fled, trying to survive. My youngest brother is getting remarried in Toronto in mid-October. We’ve not seen or spoken to each other in about seven years; I find him to be extremely arrogant, condescending, viciously judgemental, and frankly—full of himself, with an image he likes to project. (This includes changing the pronunciation of our surname, and arrogantly correcting family members on such!)

Obviously, I am not invited to the wedding, and even if I were, I wouldn’t pay to attend another toxic scene of family dysfunction. (No, thanks!) But I’ve had to hear and read all about the wedding and attire to be worn, for months. Posts to Facebook about wedding attire choices—excitement about the wedding (please, it’s a SECOND marriage; the first one lasted less than two years!). All whilst knowing that I’m not welcome. Excited comments and posts: shared by someone who damn well knows this as fact, and kept shoving the toxic shit my way!

The hypocrisy of the wedding: there will likely be dignified, understated, artistic, and eloquent acknowledgement of beloved, departed others who will “be present in spirit”: my dad and late, maternal grandfather. There will be NO mention of me, however, as I’m unwelcome and no longer part of the family. One can say a lot without having to say anything, after all.

Ironically, my place in the dysfunctional dynamic was caused by the alcoholism of my dad (and his upbringing in an equally dysfunctional, toxic, abusive family). He too was blamed, shamed, guilted, and crucified by others—just like I am.

Glynis Sherwood summarizes the experience well:

A few months back I wrote about how to love (and preferably, leave) a sociopath.

Recently I also discussed ways that one could love and support an addicted individual, and one with anger issues.

Who loves and supports the family scapegoat?

What is a family scapegoat?

A very deep and complex question.

It’s not the family member who is lovingly teased, tickled mercilessly, guilted into washing and drying dishes more than sibling counterparts at family get-togethers.

It’s not exactly the black sheep of the family, either—the member who has a history of destructive drunkenness at holiday time, a consistently foul mouth, or an aggressive temper—the family member other family members would prefer not to associate with.

Family scapegoating is much more serious. More disturbing.

Family scapegoating occurs when a specific family member has been delegated The Chosen One—the one blamed ‘on behalf of the family,’ for acknowledged, family-wide secrets, disturbing behaviours, and serious family dysfunction.

Other family members know ‘the truth’ of this extensive dysfunction and into which categories it falls, they probably know who is responsible. But they don’t cope with or face it. Instead, they choose to ‘scapegoat’ a family member.

In effect, consciously blaming one family member for the family dysfunction that exists.

What happens to someone who is scapegoated?

The scapegoat faces family abandonment, ostracization, rejection, alienation, blame, shame, and guilt. And much more.

What makes this syndrome more sinister, according to experts, is that, typically, the person scapegoated is not to blame for family problems.

Think of politics, where the scapegoat phenomenon can thrive. Politicians effortlessly blame innocent others for their own predicaments. Heads of governments blame otherwise trusted colleagues. Others in power hurl blame on those caught in the crossfire.

Politicians use the scapegoat game to deflect responsibility, keep their bloated egos alive, their careers and reputations intact. That’s the game of politics: to survive.

This is the case with the family scapegoat syndrome, too.

A family inflicts blame upon another family member—to survive.

‘Politics’ is often considered a game. There should be no such games in healthy families.

Certified counselling therapist Glynis Sherwood, who specializes in family scapegoating, calls scapegoating “a painful experience of betrayal and cruelty” for the victim.

The victim often comes to believe that he or she is to blame for all that has gone wrong in the family. Why? Because they are told so, by other family members, in words or actions that are destructive, subtle, manipulative, and callous.

“In fact,” says Sherwood, “many scapegoats come to believe the family myth that they’re the ‘bad guy,’ rather than understanding that they are being abused.”


Yes, say the experts. People who profess to love you, who turn against you, who decide to give you a good swift kick of blame are abusing you. They decide you’re responsible for family secrets and serious dysfunction, when you’re not. You’re left holding the toxic bag, and branded the bad guy. Left all alone.

That’s bullying. That’s abuse. That’s the innocent, lonely kid in a school playground, pointed at and taunted, day in, day out, for no valid reason.

Sherwood says scapegoating represents the difference between being part a healthy family that resolves its issues lovingly and supportively, and one that does not.

“Healthy families take responsibility for difficulties as they occur,” says Sherwood, “and they take steps to try and resolve challenges constructively. This does not occur in families who ‘scapegoat’ another family member.”

Those scapegoated can be the vulnerable, loving, sensitive, quiet ones who ‘behaved’ in the family system, played mute and looked the other way, And, or—they were whistle blowers when they could no longer tolerate the serious family dysfunction, hypocrisy, favouritism, and lies.

No matter how it manifests, family scapegoating represents a cruel condemnation of a human being. It results in a crushing realization: a core group of influential people who supposedly loved and cared about you—that you loved and cared about—perhaps don’t love you, maybe never did. Their aim is, always was, to save themselves—at your expense. Their survival is the only thing that matters.

How does the scapegoated individual cope?

Through a epiphany, experts say, realizing that what happened in your family of origin is not your fault. You were part of a family system that, instead of choosing to comfort, support and care for members fairly and evenly, and working out problems lovingly, instead developed alliances, perpetuated lies, gossiped among themselves in order to judge and alienate other family members, and perpetuated a very unhealthy family system.

Certain members haven chosen to bully the victim (the scapegoat) with cruel words, threats, guilt, shame and blame—to spare themselves, keep the family reputation clean. And sully yours.

None of this is normal, nor healthy.

Glynis Sherwood offers victims of scapegoating comfort, and a healthy dose of reality.

Her post “12 Steps to Breaking Free from Being the Family Scapegoat” and a secondary post on the subject “Scapegoating: When You Get Stuck Trying to Outrun Someone Else’s Shadow” explain how victims can view this treatment for what it is. And then try to heal from it.

One of Sherwood’s most difficult suggestions is the most important: “Stop trying to win the favour of abusive and uncaring family members. Anyone who engages in this type of inappropriate behaviour has personality problems, especially [true of] a parent who did not love their child.”

For: bullying is bullying. Abuse is abuse. The truth is the truth.

If you choose to cling to people who scapegoat you, you’re condemned to a life where you have no voice, no power, no freedom to be yourself, and, a promise of very low sense of self-esteem and worth. You won’t change or grow. You’ll continue to buy into a family “system” that is static, where members are not equal, where cruel games have been played, continue to be played. This is not good for you.

But make no mistake.

Other people do and will love you, will celebrate you, will honour you: your friends, neighbours, work colleagues. Lean on other people for their goodness, integrity, caring. Bask in their kindness. It’s out there.

Remind yourself that you are loveable, valuable, and worthy. Repeat this to yourself, many times, every single day. Or check out my previous post about affirmation meditations, to settle yourself comfortably and safely into a warm, self-affirming cocoon, so that you can begin, slowly, to change your way of thinking about yourself, one meditation, one day at a time.

Seek out a therapist who specializes in family scapegoating, or read about this syndrome—there’s a great deal of helpful (no bull) information available about it online. Above all, make sure you get help and direction to liberate yourself from the intense pain and suffering that this betrayal delivers.

And learn to love yourself.

In this situation, in all situations.

Scapegoated individuals may never have felt loved or valued, due to serious family dysfunction that was never properly addressed, never resolved.

Loving yourself is your birthright. If you know this, if you can learn this, you will move forward. It will take time. But the experts insist: it is possible.

It may at first seem impossible to undo the damage that’s been done, feeling the intense, deep wounds inflicted upon your soul—willingly—by those who you trusted. The rejection, abandonment, and shockingly cruel words may resonate in some place in your heart forever. This treatment is not easily forgotten. Some days the pain will sear, like a thousand cuts. But once you recover your voice, your belief in the truth, your knowledge that scapegoating truly isn’t about you, but about others, you will carry on. Then suddenly, and blissfully, you will realize that you need not accept the struggle and pain as yours to carry anymore. You can pass it back to those who gave it to you. And free yourself.


Listen To The Angels …

My friend and former colleague, Simon, is a Vancouver-based producer and videographer. Over the past few years, he’s spent a significant amount of time in the Bulkley Valley region of northern British Columbia—particularly my tiny hometown of Smithers, BC (pop. 5,600), where I lived from September 27, 1981–late August, 1996.

I haven’t visited Smithers in nine years—not since my dad’s untimely death; far too painful to revisit.

Simon didn’t know me during my time in Smithers, nor knows any of my family members, let alone had the privilege to meet my dad. However, today, he returned home from the Bulkley Valley, and had some special video footage to share with me, in honour and recognition of Dad.

I will add: Simon is the same age as Dad was when his life here ended. Likewise, he too is a new, excited, first-time grandfather to a baby girl. My niece was eight months old when Dad’s spirit left this world.

During the summer of 2007, many people invested a lot of shared love and grief whilst creating a memorial garden in honour and memory of my dad—right next to the BC Ambulance Service station. Colleagues from BCAS, members of the Smithers Volunteer Fire Department, nurses & doctors from the local hospital, and allegedly also a couple of serving members of the local RCMP detachment/fellow former ex-RCMP members. 

I’ve never personally experienced the garden, but understand it’s a place of tranquility, peace, and reflection. Presently serving and former colleagues from BCAS are known to decompress there, after attending traumatic scenes. 

I’m quite certain the garden has been watered with and flourishes from many shed tears. I’m also very certain that Dad’s spirit is often there to comfort others, and reassure its visitors of the peace, understanding, and love which awaits them. Perhaps he does his best to wrap his arms around and envelop those hurting, to ease their pain.

Possibly as Dad sits smoking on the bench there, with a cup of coffee in the other hand.❤️

Thank you, Simon, and God bless my dad, always.


Amber Alert: Alberta—Part Three

So … I’m probably going to lose some Facebook “friends”, because of what I have to say, now, in my third instalment of a post about … awfulness.

(PARDON ME for not being your daily dose of sunshine, bullshit inspiration, and the literary weaver of pretty words to suit YOUR needs!)

As per my response (verbatim) to the very young, naïve, contradictory, aforementioned source (whom I hold/bear no malice for):

Umm … not to intentionally wound, shame, condemn, or castigate others for previously shared opinions (re: the Canadian election), but rather to point out the unintentional, well-meaning, idealogical, now hypocritical statements of others (supporting your query about Capital Punishment’s existence in Canada) …

If memory serves me well: the last act of Capital Punishment in Canada occurred in the early 60s, in the gallows of the Don Jail (Toronto). Acts of Capital Punishment in Canada: by hanging. The last hanging went VERY wrong, gruesomely: weight was not gauged correctly, and someone was decapitated.

No one else went to the gallows in Canada after that, and if memory serves me well: such was abolished in 1976–77, under Trudeau.

MANY authentically convicted, psychopathic criminals, whom have been proven (beyond reasonable doubt) of committing HEINOUS, barbaric crimes: have sat comfortably in Canadian jails—sheltered, fed, with medical and dental care (often denied or out of the reach of GOOD people)—mollycoddled, and given MORE rights than healthy, functioning, contributing citizens. This includes seniors and veterans.

Two good examples: the late child rapist/serial murderer, Clifford Olson (who EARNED MONEY WHILST INCARCERATED, for every child’s body location he revealed) and Paul Bernardo.

Olson: died of cancer a few years ago. He had a roof over his head, TV, prompt medical care (more prompt than most Canadians), three meals a day, was protected in segregation, and had a better life than MANY Canadians on the street! Whilst incarcerated, he wrote letters to and TAUNTED victims’ parents, with explicit details of their children’s rapes, final moments, murders, and disposal. He also earned a government-issued seniors pension, when he legally came of age to qualify for Pension. (Such was promptly cut off for him, allegedly when Harper found out! But Olson’s wife had received his pension for years, whilst he was incarcerated!)

Also disgusting: Paul Bernardo’s ex-wife, Karla Homolka (a.k.a. Leeann Teale)—every bit as much as responsible for the abductions, rapes, murders, and indignities to (murdered) schoolgirls (including her sister) as her husband. But she struck a plea bargain for testifying against her husband, and a sentence was handed down BEFORE video evidence proved her AS guilty (if not more) later, during her husband’s trial. A plea bargain: cannot be revoked once a sentence is passed down. She served her 12 years, and EARNED 1–2 university degrees whilst in prison, at the expense of Canadian tax payers! She’s been out for about 10–12 years, and now has kids, living in Barbados.

I’m NOT a Conservative or endorse any political party, but SHAKE MY HEAD AT THE NAÏVETÉ and hypocrisy of those whom publicly endorse candidates and parties whom legislated laws to mollycoddle and protect those whom are (beyond a reasonable doubt) GUILTY of heinous crimes!

One can’t publicly endorse and recommend others vote for candidates whom mollycoddle psychopaths and sociopaths, yet then turn around and champion/agree with Capital Punishment (at the other end of the political spectrum) days later, because they’re upset by news of an innocent child being murdered as partially a consequence of the … very same wishy-washy laws and agendas endorsed by the parties whom almost imbibe the chaos which leads to such happening.

“Kill the motherfucker who killed this child.” but … “Vote for the parties whom have or shall continue to legislate laws to PROTECT the alleged rights of such scum!”

Doesn’t make sense to me. Sorry!

Addendum: I watched this documentary the other night on Netflix, and felt SICK. Though the negligence occurred in Newfoundland 12 years ago, and changes to the Criminal Code of Canada occurred seven years ago (after much pain, trauma, shame, and lobbying) … this is another example of loopholes, delays, and mollycoddling in the Canadian federal justice system.

I DARE you to watch this entire documentary, and pretend to walk away unaffected! (see below)

Whilst with the Customs and Excise division of the RCMP’s Ontario, Toronto-based headquarters (1977–1981): my dad lead an investigation of kiddie porn imports into Canada. He endured the trauma of seeing exhibits (photo and film stock) of toddlers and children raped. Content which made money for pornographers and pedophiles, and injured countless others–victims and others subsequently affected by the ripple effects.

The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada, where my dad, as a traumatized lead investigator (with three children of his own: ages 2–6 at the time), watched as the savvy defence lawyer WON THE CASE for his pedophile client, and the accused … walked … to commit MORE OF THE SAME CRIMES, again!

My dad fled from the RCMP in May, 1981. He did not leave unscathed (understatement). Two years later, he was watching CTV’s “W-5”, who ran a story about … kiddie porn imports into Canada and the clandestine industry right under Canadians’ noses. (News to most Canadians watching the report, but old news to those involved and wary.)

The report showed images of confiscated exhibits, collected by the RCMP. My dad said that he ran to the bathroom, and threw-up: the exhibits shown in the report … many of them had tags bearing MY DAD’S handwriting, from the investigation he’d headed, suffered from, and then lost when acting as an evidentiary member of prosecution, in Canada’s Supreme Court, 2–3 years prior💔

Not much has really changed for criminals, it seems.


Amber Alert: Alberta—Part Two 

I do NOT personally subscribe to or endorse any political candidate or party. I hold some left of centre views, but do not support anyone, and remain undecided about whom to cast my vote for during Canada’s upcoming federal election.

It’s possible I may choose to not vote at all, or consider myself as an Independent. Both online quizzes I’ve taken: place me as an allegedly STRONG Liberal Party (Justin Trudeau) supporter.

I cannot personally vote for a candidate or party whom I do not completely agree with. I don’t authentically support ANY of the four, main Canadian candidates.

Since the Canadian federal election was announced weeks ago, I’ve seen a LOT of political propaganda via Facebook! (American politics: even MORE amusing and dramatic, from outside the bubble!)

The hypocrisy BLOWS MY MIND!

About a week ago, I saw a statement which jested and passive-aggressively read, “If you don’t vote NDP, I’ll unfriend/kill you!”

NDP = New Democratic Party, and very left wing politics in Canada. Some consider NDP members as Socialists. I think they have some nice ideas, and agree with some.

But I also agree with ideas and stances from various other parties, too.

A two year-old little girl went missing in Alberta on Monday, after her (allegedly sketchy, unlikeable dad was found dead at home). An Amber Alert went out all over social media in western Canada.

The same aforementioned, young, strong NDP supporter posted the alerts and news announcement of the child’s death. Someone responded to her post with the following statement,

“Where’s Capital Punishment when it’s required for disgusting crimes?”

She approved/liked the statement.

Yet Capital Punishment is not supported by her party of choice, and she’d made a bold, contemptuous statement about her allegiance and what she hoped of others.

She’s in her late 20s. Miley Cyrus (an apparent moron, on all socioeconomic fronts) appears to hold valid, educated opinions.

She’s YOUNG, doesn’t get really get it, and I too was of a similar mindset, at that age.

My response (not to her, specifically) shall not likely be well received. I’ll be viewed as a “bitch” by someone again …


Amber Alert: Alberta—Part One

On Monday, an Amber Alert was issued in Alberta: a two year-old little girl had been abducted by an alleged stranger, and details soon revealed that her biological father had been found murdered in the home, where his daughter was staying with him. Allegedly, according to those who knew the father, he was “not well liked”.

As a Caucasian toddler, of course, the little girl’s abduction immediately went viral on social media. She had been “taken by a stranger”.

I immediately felt that she was already dead, within a couple of hours of being taken.

Apparently, a man has been taken into custody, and is allegedly connected to the mother of the little girl. Allegedly, this man was a boyfriend of the deceased child’s mother.

Call me a “judgemental bitch”, if you will, but if this allegation is true: Mommy not only had REALLY BAD TASTE in men, but was also likely cut from the same cloth, prior to relationships formed.

Repetitious cycles of abuse, addiction, neglect, chaos, dysfunction, and pain! Mommy likely came from a misguided, chaotic, dysfunctional background, with really poor examples of parenting, and … chose men whom were equally as (or more) volatile.

Alcoholism: likely. Very much more so: drug addiction and its ripple effects. (How much you wanna bet Mommy was from this background, but chose men who were already obvious alcohol or drug addicts, and perhaps small-time drug dealers, trying to make money as small time criminals, and/or sustain illegal drug addictions?)

So now a little, two year-old girl is dead.

But for how long did this scenario possibly present itself under people’s noses, prior? If the biological dad “wasn’t well liked” by allegedly many: those same people probably knew he had a young daughter, too. Why didn’t someone step-in, legally?

You can’t tell me that if there was pre-existing trouble, and the dad was allegedly “unliked by many”, people weren’t aware of the dynamic, or concerned for the child’s wellbeing! Likewise, if the mother allegedly had a history of poor choices in men. Perhaps people did try to intervene—wise enough to spot the (often well hidden) chaos, but “minded their own business” … until now.

“You are the company you keep!”

If such is authentically the case for this now deceased, murdered little girl, I must pause to ask: why did this innocent little girl have to go missing and DIE, when obvious signs were likely repeatedly presented long before?


Must See: I Smile Back 💊🍸

Though this powerful drama is screening at TIFF, 2015, unfortunately, it doesn’t appear I’ll be able to catch it locally at VIFF next month.

Perhaps I’m a masochist for wishing to see a film about addiction, mental health, and their effects on a family. Important subjects, which more in society should be aware of, as all have ripple effects, and affect millions of people, everywhere—regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, existence, lifestyles, professions, or where they may live in the world.

Coincidentally, both Sarah Silverman and Josh Charles play prominent characters in the current season of one of my favourite TV shows, Masters of Sex, which is set during a time when society made matters of sexuality taboo, and one didn’t speak of such shameful, stigmatized subjects.



Coke: Just As Bad As The Other Coke👃

It goes without saying that I’ve been through a lot with my health—gastrointestinal, in particular—for over a year:

  • visits to UBC Urgent Care;
  • two inconclusive ultrasounds;
  • intense and ongoing lower left abdominal pain (sigmoid colon); initially misdiagnosed as ovarian related;
  • bouts and many incidents of embarrassing gastrointenstinal distress;
  • sweating due to pain;
  • compromised physical agility—it hurt to walk, stand up straight, sit  upright, lay on my stomach or side, roll over in bed, climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles, and wear clothing that applied pressure to my stomach (I found myself buying HUGE leotards/tights and underwear 2–3 sizes too big; both were BAGGY and I could literally pull them up to mid-torso. Anything to avoid pressure on my stomach!)
  • prescription strength opioid painkillers (Tylenol-3/codeine);
  • some (devil drug) Prednisone, with its multiple side effects;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • a strong antibiotic duo of Flagyl and Cipro;
  • embarrassing lab tests (including a test for colon cancer);
  • a diagnosis of the deadly gastrointestinal infection, Clostridium Difficile (caused by antibiotics);
  • more Flagyl (in a longer dose) to treat the C-Diff infection;
  • probiotics;
  • a prescription for the extremely expensive antibiotic, Vancomycin, to treat what may have been a return of C-Difficile (lab tests proved the infection hadn’t returned);
  • a referral for a CT-scan (which would blast my pelvis—including my aging ovaries, with radiation);
  • countless days of missed work, including two weeks off in mid–late October (my “vacation” was spent at home, in pain, miserable);
  • a referral to a gastroenterologist, allegedly written by my doctor in late October, indicating I could expect a wait of “6–12 months to see a good one” (I didn’t care who I saw! I just wanted answers and treatment!)
  • no celebrations for my 40th birthday on October 29th (I wasn’t feeling very celebratory or well enough to care; I had dinner with my bestie and her 4 year-old); my social life has been VERY affected by illness!
  • a return of pain, cramping, and other symptoms—regardless of what I ate/drank (or didn’t), probiotics, rest, and antibiotics;
  • a compromised immune system;
  • having to leave my beloved job on December 11th, because my ongoing symptoms—illness, lack of sleep (from pain), influence of Tylenol-3 (stoned on codeine, at times), stress level (frustrated, anxious, embarrassed, exhausted, in pain, trying to keep-up with work demands), and ongoing absences negatively influenced my ability to do my job to my typically high standards—affecting others on the team and business; (I was twice promised, with a handshake, that my job awaits my return when I am 100% well enough, have seen a specialist, and may present a note from a specialist, indicating I’m okay);
  • a CT scan which finally happened on the morning of December 24th (it too was inconclusive, revealing nothing);
  • having my doctor sign an application form during the first week of January, for fifteen weeks of Medical Employment Insurance; during this appointment, she reiterated my expected, long wait time to see a gastroenterologist, and alleged she’d sent a referral in October;
  • learning that a colonoscopy would cost $1600 out of pocket, if I were to have one done privately (it too would have likely been inconclusive at that point, due to inflammation and recovery from C. Diff);
  • a prescription for gastrointestinal, anti-spasmodic drug, Buscopan;
  • stagnation, boredom, emotional eating, and depression—stuck in a rut, but not even able to commit myself to volunteering while on medical leave, because unpredictable gastrointestinal symptoms were still presenting;
  • a return to speak to my objective professional, because I felt depressed and anxious, due to all of the aforementioned;
  • being flabbergasted and appalled to learn (as Medical E.I. ended in April) that NO REFERRAL HAD EVER BEEN SENT to a gastroenterologist by my doctor, ever, despite TWICE being told (October and January) such had been done;
  • more embarrassing lab tests, to send along with an actual referral to a gastroenterologist (the tests done in late 2014: not current enough);
  • EXTREMELY high level probiotics, purchased by a friend at her naturopath’s clinic;
  • a LONG-OVERDUE appointment with a Colorectal Surgeon at St. Paul’s Hospital on June 12th, where a colonoscopy was FINALLY performed;
  • a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diverticular Disease.

I’ve been feeling significantly better (gut health) for a couple of months—enough that I’ve slowly returned to the gym, with little–no cramping in my lower left groin crease.

After my direct involvement with the traumatic discovery of my young, suicidal neighbour’s body 4.5 weeks ago, symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were retriggered (understandably).

Insomnia and nightmares; anxiety; revisited feelings of grief, resentment, and anger; agitation; hyper-vigilance; depression and intense crying jags; teeth clenching; vomiting; cramping in my upper abdomen; hermitting and isolation; extreme fatigue; self-medicating with four toxic substances: food, alcohol, nicotine, and SUGAR. Binge eating, drinking, and smoking, alone, for about 2.5 weeks after the traumatic incident.

None of the latter three (add isolation to make it four) have done me any favours, physically or emotionally, but they’ve certainly contributed to me feeling shittier than I deserve to. (I should DO know better!) No gym + emotional eating = BAD!

A session of Reiki and reflexology helped, but cost a lot. Besides, what’s the point of such TLC, if I’ve assaulted my body with binges and neglect? (Stupid and redundant!)

I spoke with my objective professional two weeks ago, in tears (he’s only seen me cry twice, since late 2009), feeling emotionally askew, worried, ashamed, and knowing that I am harming myself with my coping behaviours.

Drinking and smoking, obviously, are VERY bad for everyone in society! They’re worse for me, however, as I am asthmatic, and come from a long, genetic, paternal lineage of alcoholism (chemical dependency of alcohol). As the daughter of an alcoholic who died as a consequence of his disease, I KNOW BETTER than to drink, at all; alcohol abuse can very easily lapse into chemical addiction to alcohol—the disease of alcoholism. 

Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. There is no undoing addiction to any substance or behaviour once it’s got a person in its grip. There is only treatment to wean-off a substance/behaviour, counsel to treat the underlying reasons, and ongoing methods to help resist acting on an addiction. To abstain, daily. Regardless of the addictive substance or behaviour (alcohol, drugs, nicotine, gambling, sex, porn, exercise, food, working … ).

For those with a dual diagnosis (such as my dad), treatment for addiction is more complicated.

I’ve never craved a drink, ever, or felt the need to have more after one. Likewise, cigarettes. I can take or leave both, though they tend to go hand in hand for me, and if I foolishly decide to binge, I’m stupid for doing so.

We all do stupid things.

My “drug” is and always has been FOOD—for comfort, stress relief, loneliness, grief, out of boredom, and often for the SUGAR RUSH. 

Extreme fluctuations in weight, since my early teens, but particularly since my 20s. Over and under-eating; fixation on calories and consumption; over-exercising (exercise bulimia); obesity and malnourishment; binging and purging (bulimia); rigid control; lack of control; gorging; isolation; embarrassment and shame.

Many of these behaviours and coping methods have stemmed from my maternal lineage. Compulsive over-eating, weight gain, obesity, dieting, shame, focus on appearance, criticism, fixation on weight & calories, too much talk about diets, value and self-esteem placed on a thin physique, self-deprecating remarks …

THAT, I get completely from the maternal side of the family, and guess what? It’s not only another form of ADDICTION, but its symptoms and triggers are very much the same as what compels an alcoholic to drink, or a drug addict to snort, shoot, smoke, or ingest their destructive substance(s).

Trauma, pain, grief, shame, dysfunction, anger, stress …

Same shit, different pile! Addiction is addiction, is addiction. It’s all destructive, shameful, and with ripple effects.

At the advisement of my objective professional (who I CHOOSE to speak with when necessary), I’ve begun to seek help for my addiction, with a 12-Step program. I am and will be on Step One for a while.

Admittance is the first step.

So far, I’ve managed to stay “clean and sober” (yes, the terms apply to any addictive substance or behaviour). I’m happily back at the gym again, eating clean and VERY well, feeling physically and emotionally better than I did a couple of weeks ago, but have discovered that one of my huge triggers is … SUGAR.

It’s in everything, and I read nutrition and ingredient labels like CRAZY if I buy anything prepackaged.

Last week, I made the mistake of buying a box of Cyclone Popsicles. The sugar content put me into orbit, and I had to have another one! Another “hit”. I then threw out the remaining four Cyclone Popsicles. The crash after the sugar rush: brutal!

The clarity after a couple of days of withdrawal: obvious. I’ll imagine it will be the same experience if I eat anything else loaded with sugar, now. On par with what a recreational cocaine user and/or addict must feel. (Even the word “cocaine” has always freaked me out, let alone people who foolishly use! I VERY quickly step-away from both users and obvious addicts! Far too scary, dangerous, sleazy, volatile, and illegal!)

But as a sugar and food addict, am I any better than someone with addiction to to alcohol, prescription drugs, cigarettes, or illegal drugs? No.

And neither are you.

Something to think about …


📚💊Back To The Books (And Bars), Safely …🍻

❗️IMPORTANT: please read and share‼️ These are the symptoms of alcohol and opioid drug overdose. You could save someone’s life by knowing them. Particularly important if you’re a student or parent of a student!

My dad—a policeman of 12 years, volunteer fireman of 23, and paramedic of 22—died nine years ago. Dad was illegally over-served, could barely stand or walk, sold a BOTTLE in that condition, his symptoms ignored, and when he collapsed in a park, his nearly 0.45 blood alcohol level paralyzed his brain’s ability to control his respiratory system; he stopped breathing and arrested, alone. Cause of death: respiratory failure due to acute alcohol poisoning. (The bottle was 3/4 full next to his body.)

Don’t ever let someone in bad shape “sleep it off”; don’t give them coffee or throw them in a cold shower. Don’t ignore or allow someone in really bad shape to walk away; they could be walking to their death (like my dad). Furthermore, SERVING LAWS EXIST in the western world for a reason: people die from alcohol poisoning, and those breaking serving laws can be found CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT. Those working in bars and liquor stores need to remember this, and cut people off from service, as they’re supposed to.

As we head into the new school year, tragically, many college and university students will lose their lives over the next several months—particularly during back to school parties: dying from binge drinking and the alcohol poisoning that results. Likewise, drug impairment, or mixed drug and alcohol consumption.

People need to be wise to this, watch their friends, PAY ATTENTION, and CALL FOR HELP.

Embarrassing a friend is better than burying one.