The last few weeks have been challenging and bittersweet. My daughter has been reaching new milestones, and it’s been amazing to watch her grow as a person. Even though I am beaming with pride, I find myself shrouded with guilt and grief.

When I left my toxic family home at the age of eighteen, there wasn’t much that I could bring with me. Things that I never thought I would need were left behind, which held a lot of meaning. For instance, my ‘baby book’ that my adoptive mother curated. It contained all of my milestones and a golden lock from my first hair cut. Now that I have a child of my own, I am longing for these connections and comparisons.

Over the years, I’ve accepted the fact that I don’t have roots, as many other people do. Although at times it can be painful, I know that I cannot blame myself for what happened. I cannot blame myself for not taking that baby book when the only thing surging through my body was flight mode.

Whenever I get into this mind-frame, I think about my adoptive mother. I think of all the love that we shared in the short amount of time that we had together. I’m so glad that those memories of happiness can still burst through the dark times.

Grief has a funny way of showing up, and I think it’s amplified now due to our quarantine. We grieve for the loss of our freedom, jobs, and normalcy. It’s only natural for the loss of someone important to us to jump in. It doesn’t matter when we lost said person; it could be days, months, or twenty-two years.
I try my best to push through the guilt and grief… but it’s hard.
We need to remind ourselves that we can’t be perfect every day, and some days will be harder than others. I just so happen to be going through a harder day today, but I know tomorrow won’t be the same.

I do wish my mother was still here, and I think on some spiritual level she is. As each day passes with my daughter, I realize that I am my mother. I am everything I ever wanted her to be, and for that, I am thankful.

I usually have a hard time falling asleep. Even when I’m exhausted, my anxiety seems to thrive during the night, and it can take me hours to just doze off.

I’ve started to become more conscious of my body while I’m lying down. A lot of my limbs are stiff, clenched hands, crooked neck, etc.
I started to do a big stretch while I’m in bed to help loosen me up, but the real culprit here is my hands/wrists.
When my anxiety washes over, my hands can be found in awkward positions, so I’ve started to lay them flat by my side (or on my stomach) while controlling my breathing.
This act alone has been making me fall asleep almost instantly; I couldn’t believe it.

However, when the anxiety is a little too much some nights, I rely on “Sleep Stories.”

I listen to these through the Calm app, but you can easily find some free ones online.
I find some can be hit or miss, especially the voices of the actors, but with the few that DO help (and are saved in my favourite) they are AH-mazing

Here’s a link to a free one from one of my favourites, Erik Braa – I could seriously listen to him all night

If you do suffer from sleeping disorders, unfortunately, I don’t think my suggestions would help, but it doesn’t hurt to try! When worst comes to worst, I rely on Zzzquil, which is medicinal. There is no shame in needing medication to help you fall asleep

Why is sleep so important?
It helps with your optimal health: concentration, productivity, emotions and social interactions.
Having a poor sleep can affect your weight, immune system and overall mental health.
It might be hard to practice in the middle of a pandemic, but I urge you to try and get in a better routine. Remember, our mental health during this phase is extremely important and we’re all in this together

I have a confession to make – I’ve been in isolation way before our government told us to stay home.

I have a problem with winter; It’s my least favourite season. I hate all outdoor activities that come with it, and the cold chills me to my bone. During this time, I tend to retreat in my house and only make it outside if necessary.
It’s only when the weather takes a turn that I find the motivation to get out, and that just so happened to be when COVID-19 became a global pandemic.

I guess you can say that I’ve been in isolation for four months now, and fuck is it lonely.

I don’t generally cuss on this blog, but I feel like it’s warranted here.

Since my last post, I’ve been watching friends and family afar try to make normalcy out of this chaos. I see almost daily posts of different learning activities parents think of for their children, people getting to chores that they planned months (or even years) ago, and a lot of people baking bread. The scramble for productivity makes me feel as if I should be doing more than the roller coaster that I’m currently on.

I have days where I will bake that bread or make hummus, but then the following days, you can find me eating cereal for dinner with the pyjamas that I’ve had on the night before. My introverted self wouldn’t mind this quarantine, but since I’ve been self-isolated for so long, I feel like this is my new normal. Do I like it? I’m not even sure. One thing is for sure in my mind, though; nothing will ever be the same again.

There’s a lot of small things that I miss
I miss being able to walk to my local coffee shop and sit amongst the other writers
I miss going to the park with my daughter, even though I only did it once.
I miss getting in my car and driving to my friends’ house five minutes away just to say ‘hi.’
I miss being able to go to the gym and work out my frustrations.

So much has changed in such a little time, for everyone.
I can only imagine how the extroverts are feeling at a time like this. If this introvert is feeling lost and unsure, then how are THEY feeling? WHO WILL LOOK AFTER THE EXTROVERTS? (Kidding)

Someone asked me last week how my anxiety was during all of this, and I just shrugged to myself. Being in a constant state of fear is my jam – this is my normal state. Now you kind of know what my brain goes through daily. Welcome to the suck.

If you’re feeling like me, it’s only normal. There’s no right or wrong way to live out this quarantine. I’m taking it day by day, knowing that the two-week extension on Ontario’s State of Emergency will most likely be extended once again come April. I would mentally prepare for this.

What I will reiterate, as I always do in this blog, is to communicate with someone on how you’re feeling. Your priority during all of this should be your mental health before you check on someone else’s, and PLEASE do check up on those who need it. One thing that I hated the most before COVID-19 happened was video calls, and now, it seems it’s all I do to keep my daughter connected to her family.  In the end, the people who need you the most will remember what you did or didn’t do during this time.

 

I’ve been pretty silent for the last few weeks. It’s hard for me to put into words how our global pandemic has caused distress and flared anxiety in the majority of our population. I’ve been watching online and have seen shortages of toilet paper, hoarding of hand sanitizer and officers standing outside of grocery stores. It’s been one hell of a year this week.

Ontario has made decisions on travel restrictions, lockdowns and closures. We’ve been advised to stay at home for the next two weeks; they’re calling it “social distancing.” As an introvert, I can joke about this situation and mention that I’ve been preparing for this my whole life. In reality, my anxiety hasn’t flared as much as I thought it would. I do plan on staying home in a personal quarantine with my family, not in fear of contracting the COVID-19, but in fear of me potentially becoming a carrier to those who will not be able to fight it off.

I saw a disheartening photo the other day of an older woman doing her shopping with bare shelves. She looked confused, holding an empty bag, and all I could do was cry. We, as a collective, need to think of others in this situation instead of buying rolls of toilet paper that no human can even use within the calendar year. I understand that it can be hard to do when the media is projecting fear on us, but I know deep down that we’re better than this.

One thing that can help anyone with anxiety over what’s going on is to limit your news time. Even though we all want to keep up to date with what is going on, 24-hour-news is a compulsive outlet that will keep feeding on your anxiety. Try limiting your time or going on a mini-hiatus

The best thing to take my mind off of anything is to stay busy. I’ve decided to start my spring cleaning, but you can do it in any other way, like exercising, finishing off those craft projects, etc.

If you find yourself in a worrying state, don’t forget to breathe and practice grounding techniques. You can see examples online or within my blog – but I keep breathing exercises saved on my phone for moments like these.

Don’t google your symptoms. Dr. Google never helped anyone. If you DO feel flu-ish or short of breath, stay at home and call your doctor. They will let you know whether or not to obtain more critical care if needed.

And last but not least, don’t forget that your anxiety is not permanent. I know right now it feels like this will never end, but even in a crisis like this, we need to remember to keep things in perspective.

The last thinking trap that I posted about was Jumping to Conclusions (embed) – Now, to delve a little deeper, I would like to talk about mind reading. It’s a sub-section of jumping to conclusions and very popular when reacting to a certain situation.

What is mind-reading? When we assume what others are thinking and feeling without having any evidence to support this idea.

Example: Walking past a group of people who are whispering and laughing, thinking that they’re talking about you.

A mind-reading superpower would be completely beneficial in this instance, so you can confirm if your response to this assumption should be true or not. It’s highly likely that it’s not true, but our minds are funny this way

Since this superpower is non-existent, we need to challenge this thinking trap that we put ourselves into.

Ask yourself these realistic questions:
What evidence do you have that this is what the person/people are thinking?
Have they said this to you, or are you imagining what they might be thinking?

It’s effortless to assume what others might be thinking, but if you don’t investigate your assumptions, you’ll be prone to think negatively with every interaction. Withdrawing from this situation might seem valid, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

In this instance, I’m not saying to go up to this group and demand to know if they were talking about you. My god, that alone is anxiety-inducing in itself! (If you can do this, honestly, KUDOS to you!)
All I’m saying is to think critically in these situations, and don’t jump the gun on what others are thinking or feeling.

BUT if you do somehow gain this superpower, please give it to others with anxiety!

Motherhood is weird and also beautiful.

I feel like I’m living smack dab in the middle of ‘always perfect’ and ‘constant struggle’ but also feel like maybe this is just motherhood? (Or Parenthood). I’ve been adjusting, balancing and learning as I go and get easily frustrated when my anxiety breaks down the door without an invitation.

Did you know that hearing phantom baby cries is a thing?

My husband and I both hear it at night when we’re trying to relax, fall asleep; basically, whenever we put her down, we’re on high alert. I can wake up from a dead sleep, jump out of my bed thinking that I hear her crying – when in fact, she is sound asleep. This adrenaline rush surges through my body and falling back asleep is a struggle. The lack of sleep always clouds my better judgement, and I feel sluggish the next day when I’m at her beck and call.

The six-month growing pains on top of teething has shown us a constant cry and sheer frustration on all of our parts. To top it all off, I was going through a medical issue that almost admitted me to the hospital. It was scary, but I was very fortunate to have people on my side, including my best friend who was in town to visit. My mind started to rush with ‘what-ifs,’ the most pertinent one being – what if I suddenly died.  I know, I know – I had no evidence suggesting that I would, but this is where my mind goes when I’m in an anxious state.
When my mother-in-law offered to take her for the night so I could sleep, I jumped at the chance. I slept for 10 hours. Those thoughts seemed silly after I got the rest.

Then I have my great days – where I don’t feel so overwhelmed or in a monotonous schedule. Where it seems like my constant moving and cleaning is ACTUALLY noticed. Watching her grow has been so rewarding on many levels. Every day seems like a new adventure for us both, and I’m already dreading the fact that I’ll have to go back to work in June.

I keep waiting for things to level out, but I don’t think they will. Guess I’ll just welcome this organized chaos and roll with the punches!

It’s hard to ask for help, but luckily in today’s society, there’s an app for that!

Even though I preach of talking to others, its hard to take that first step to open up about what we struggle with. I blog openly about it so others can be inspired to do the same, but if you’re still not brave or bold enough, try some of these apps to help you out!

Please keep in mind that some of these apps do have in-store purchases, so please review them before downloading and using – Make sure you get the app that’s right for you!

CBT Thought Diary
CBT Companion
CBT Nuggets
DBT Coach
Mindshift CBT
Moodpath
Quirk CBT
Sanvello
Woebot
Wysa
Youper

For Mindfulness
Aura
Balance: Meditation
Breathe: Meditation & Sleep
Calm
Headspace
Insight Timer
The Mindfulness App
Mindfulness Coach
#Mindful
Mindfulness with Petit Bambou
Reflectly
Smiling Mind

For Journaling

Daylio Journal
Happy Feed
Moody
Mood App
Mood Panda
Moodwell

Do you have any suggestions to add? Please comment below!

When I was younger and didn’t know how to assess my anxiety correctly, I fell into several thinking traps. The biggest one that I had to overcome was jumping to conclusions.

I was an expert at making predictions about what was going to happen with little to no evidence.

After my first panic attack, I remember when my heart was racing that I was going to have a heart attack. Even though I was young and in excellent health, I honestly thought that this was going to happen even though I had no evidence that this was likely to happen. Worse, it happened in front of people, which caused me to think that I was crazy.

Learning to recognize when this was happening and questioning my conclusions was an actual work in progress. It takes a lot of hard work to switch a negative thinking trap, but there are still ways that you can challenge yourself.

The trick is to view your situation objectively and ask realistic questions:
(1) Ask yourself if you have any evidence to suggest that your outcome is likely.
(2) Ask yourself if you DO have any evidence that suggests it might not happen or if another result is more likely.
(3) What are the chances that an unfortunate event is going to happen?
(4) How many times have you thought of this before, and how many times has your outcome come true?

This WILL be a work in progress, and you won’t be able to switch your brain to this thinking immediately. I still find myself in certain situations where I don’t notice my immediate negativity. Often my jumping to conclusions feels justified and real, which is why it could take a while for me to step back and assess the situation. Remember to prioritize asking questions over finding answers!

It’s been 21 weeks since we brought our little one home.

I still remember that first night, how her shrieks wouldn’t stop and her tiny face turning blue. I was exhausted and crying, gliding her swaddled body across my chest, thinking that I was already a terrible mother for not being able to comfort her. In desperation, I woke up my husband at 4 in the morning, handing her over and demanding that I need sleep (I was working off of 3 hours from the night previous). That first night I felt like a failure.

There are days where I still feel like one. Days that I let my worries get the best of me and feel as if I’m robbing myself of moments that could potentially be great. I find myself imagining the worst, having excessive or unrealistic worries about her, and of other topics that directly relate to her (finances, productivity, my relationship with my husband)

I think I let my anxiety consume me because I am now responsible for a tiny human, and sometimes it can be nothing but stressful.

Here are some of the worries that I have:

♦ Worrying about her formula intake, if it’s too little or too much because it varies at her feedings. I know she’s eating enough because her weigh-ins are more than normal, and my doctor keeps calling her perfect.

♦ Worrying about her lack of napping throughout the day, we’re lucky if we get 20-minute intervals, but she still sleeps like the dead and gives us 8-10 hours at night.

♦ Worrying about her bowel movements because sometimes she can skip a day but lets out enormous farts like her mother. (no shame!)

♦ Worrying that she’s not getting enough fresh air even though I try my hardest to take her on walks when I feel able

♦ Worrying at each cry that I’m not giving her what she needs even though I have a handle on her variations

♦ Worrying that I’m not teaching her or entertaining her enough each day even though she shows many advanced skills for her age

♦ Worrying that she’ll somehow stop breathing during the night and waking myself up to check our video monitor. I know that this is highly unlikely, but this runs in the back of my mind a lot.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

When I take a step back and assess my worries, I know that this is normal. Whether or not each mom feels the same way as I do will vary, and I’m not here to compare my anxiety to others, so don’t do the same for yourself either.

The best thing that you can do when you’re in these moments like myself is to talk it out, but if you can’t at the moment there are ways to clear your mind and redirect those vibes

  1. MOVE!

Whatever type of physical activity you can do, do it. Whether it’s walking, dancing, working out or just walking up and down your stairs doing chores, do it. This is a win-win situation; you’re redirecting your thoughts PLUS working out in the process.

  1. Fuel your body right

It’s effortless to forget about yourself when all your time and effort is directed towards a tiny human. Here are three easy things that you can do right now

A) Nap. If you can, squeeze in some shut-eye over doing another chore. Sleep deprivation only makes you more nervous and anxious in the long run

B) Food Intake. Take an hour on Sunday to prepare some healthy snacks or meals for your week, if you can (example: cut up some fruits/veggies to save yourself time) or honestly, buy perfect portioned yogurts, cottage cheese, apple sauce, etc. Taking out the bad carbs will leave you with fewer mood swings and cravings for junk food.

C) Caffeine Intake. If you drink more than two cups of coffee or soda a day, try to cut it down to a reasonable number. I’ve limited my caffeine intake to once a day, and have noticed a considerable difference

  1. F*ck Chores

Don’t let chores or preparing each meal every day become a burden. If you’re too stressed to do it, there is nothing wrong with getting take out/using paper plates or leaving the dishes for another time or day. We can’t always be ‘perfect.’

Last year when I wrote my reflections, I left out some huge news that I didn’t make public until February. I was PREGNANT! I was ecstatic but reserved the news for many reasons. It wasn’t until my grandmother was admitted to the ICU that I made the news public, hoping that my good news could at least soften the blow. 

When we lost her days after her birthday in March, I was gutted. My grandmother meant a lot to me; I considered her a mother when I lost mine at 11. I was unable to say goodbye to her properly while she was in the hospital and felt a ping of guilt. The problem was, pregnancy was not kind to me, and I suffered morning sickness constantly. Making a trip over 500 km by myself seemed impossible, so I did what was best for the baby and me and stayed behind until we needed to go. 

When it came time for her funeral, I was anxious to go, but my husband and mother-in-law joined me. We piled up into her car and started our journey, little did I know what was in store for us. 

Not even an hour into our drive, we were hit with a freak white-out storm. We started to hear cars crashing all around us, and even though my mother-in-law slowed down, we were smack dab in the middle of a pile-up. We were hit three times, but I can only remember two of the vehicles. I was in complete shock and feared for my unborn baby. I cradled my stomach thinking it would protect her. 

An 18-wheeler hit the back, causing the trunk to fold like an accordion and smash the glass within. A pickup truck hit my side, the passengers, which caused the mirror to fly off and dent the door so I badly I couldn’t exit. It wasn’t until hours later when everything settled that I realized, if that pickup truck was an inch closer to the left, I might not even be here. The car was a complete write-off, and people were taken away by ambulances. Several days later, I would find out that my ribs were out of place, but that didn’t warrant an immediate hospital visit. I couldn’t believe our luck, but somehow I knew my grandmother was there protecting us. 

I was on high alert and couldn’t even call my family in Montreal to let them know that we would not continue our drive; my husband did it for me. Going to bed that night was difficult as more guilt crept in over missing the service the following day. I was able to call in and hear my best friend read my speech, but it was not the same. I know that if she were still here, she would have been upset if I came in after that ordeal, but that didn’t make the guilt surpass.


My first realization of the year – No matter how prepared you think you are for the death of a loved one, it still hurts.


I was able to say goodbye with a shiva service in Ontario and again at her gravesite in June. At that point, I was close to 8 months pregnant, going through a depression, and trying to find the good that surrounded me. It was hard, and I struggled. People kept reiterating that they were there for me, but they only meant it in a certain way.  


To keep myself occupied, I kept working on my first book, Albatross, and was determined to get it published before Eve made her appearance in August. The story behind Albatross is very personal and tells my story of leaving a toxic family in Montreal. I knew that I had to get this published before I started my life as a mom, I kept thinking, “
Out with the old and in with the new.” In early August, I was finally able to publish it, and I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I’d been so anxious and doubtful if I should even share my story, but I knew that was the old way of thinking.


My second realization of the year –
“Sometimes you have to accept something for what it is and move on.”
I needed to overcome my past, and I did by making it public. I’m hopeful that someone else who went through something similar can find solace in my words.


The days that followed were filled with a bundled of nerves. I was about to become a mom and felt an overwhelming sensation of nerves, joy, panic and love. Even though I still surged with depression, I was ready for the next step. Part of me knew I was feeling this way due to my hormones, so I was impatient with wanting to give birth to her. I was ready to feel elated, to provide all the love inside of me to a tiny human, to finally put my roots into the ground and start my own family. 

On August 13th, I met the new love of my life and best friend, Eve.
Even though I read all the books, I wasn’t prepared for the first couple of months – and I think that’s normal. You need to learn along with your baby what’s best for both of you, and even though I was tired as hell, I was ready for this chapter.


It’s true what they say about becoming a mother and losing some friendships. I didn’t care, which is a massive step for me. I usually would overthink and be a worrywart, but my perception has changed drastically, and I now have other priorities. I didn’t have the energy to fight or put in the effort when the other party didn’t do the same. 


My final realization of the year –
Everything happens for a reason, and you’re not always going to get the closure/explanation you think you deserve. That has been a hard one to grasp, but once you stop caring, you can truly live your life. 


I am thankful for my real friends who called, visited and stayed on top of my mentality throughout the full year. Even if it was just a quick “thinking of you” message, it was much appreciated in my down moments.


As I think back on this year, I could easily say that it was hard and trying, but I needed to go through the rough times to get to the better ones. I’m still not where I want to be emotionally, but I am getting there and can say that I am hopeful for 2020 to bring more good moments than bad.


To all my readers, thank you for letting me be a part of your life. Writing out my feelings, reflections, and everything in-between has always helped my anxieties, and I hope I have helped in any way, shape or form with yours. Happy Holidays and cheers to the New Year