I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of a nut when it comes to relationship advice columns. I follow a bunch of marital groups on Facebook that share marriage memes that I always relate to and always find articles online that I love reading. Sometimes I stumble across a pickle that people find themselves in, and they go to the internet for advice. The comments are usually filled with two solutions: Break up or go to couples therapy. The issue that I’ve noticed emerging from these posts is one thing: everyone generally waits for a crisis before thinking of getting any sort of help.

As you all know, I’m a huge believer in therapy. I’m not ashamed to admit that my husband and I did seek out advice from a therapist years ago when our communication was severely lacking. We didn’t wait for a life-altering issue to arise before we sought out help, and I believe that us going early was the best decision.

When I discuss this with others, they generally acknowledge how their therapy had a low satisfaction rate (as it does typically in today’s society). However, when I ask how long they waited to seek out help, I would get an average of 3-4 YEARS.

Waiting that long before seeking out help is very detrimental for everyone involved. The foundation that you both built together could already have collapsed, making the advice of breaking up the only sound reason for both of you. (There are exceptions to the rule but trust me when I say issues would be a LOT harder to fix the more you draw it out)

When you’re struggling with the same problems over and over again with your partner, don’t wait for something “bigger” to come along to necessitate a visit to a therapist. The sooner you can get in to talk and communicate about what’s happening, the easier it would be for not only you but the therapist as well. I can understand the reason why people feel shame opening up to a stranger, I’ve crossed that path numerous times before. It’s not easy to communicate what’s going on with you when you can’t even divulge this information to your partner. What you need to realize is that this issue is not just yours alone. Many struggle with this and I am confident that people who are close to you can confirm the same thing.

Admitting that there is an issue that needs to be addressed is an excellent first step. Seeking out a trained coupled therapist should be your second if you feel that both of you cannot communicate what you are feeling or unsure of where your relationship is going. Don’t feel too proud or ashamed, therapists are here to support us and not judge. When my husband and I finished up our sessions, I felt elated and back on track from a derailment I didn’t even notice.

Think of therapy as a booster shot, it may sting at first, but it’s needed for growth!

I’ve been toying with the idea to start up an advice column for those that would like to reach out anonymously. I understand that there is still a huge stigma around mental health, and there are some people who are uncomfortable to reach out directly for any advice.

I would love to start this monthly, but I would love to hear from YOU!

If you’re at all interested, please don’t hesitate to contact me via my website

Ever since I’ve come out publicly about my anxiety, I’ve had several people come up to me with their comments on the issue. While I’ve gotten continuous support from those that share these experiences, I still have to explain myself to those that don’t understand. That’s fine with me, but it’s not a secret that people with anxiety are more sensitive than others, but that trait seems to get lost whenever these conversations seem to happen. I know that a lot of these people have the best intentions, but some of the things they say can come across as harmful without even realizing.

It may be hard to distinguish what and what not to say, and to be fair, a lot of these things can be situational. Below is a general list of what I have encountered within the last several years:

“Are you SURE you have Anxiety?”

Let me check… Between 2008-2018: I have seen several counsellors, three therapists, one psychologist, tried a plethora of medications before I found one that stuck… so, yeah. I’m pretty sure I have anxiety. Thank you for doubting my diagnosis though!

Alternatively: Why not try saying “I’m sorry that you’re going through that, would you like to talk about it more?”

“But you look fine!”

Of course, I do. I hide behind my fake smile and makeup. If you’re not close to me, I will never divulge the full-on chaos that’s going on in my mind. Anxiety isn’t always being in a panic, crying your eyes out & hurdling in the fetal position. It’s a silent, festering, illness that puts my body in a fight or flight mode CONSTANTLY.

Alternatively: There’s no reason to diminish their symptoms with their physical appearance, others may look fine while others don’t, and there is no standard for anxiety.

“Other people have it worse than you”

I don’t understand the need to compare oneself to another. I also believe that it’s unfair to do so. Just because I am going through something that might come easily to others doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t feel emotionless. My feelings and anxiety are valid.

Alternatively: Why not try saying “What type of symptoms do you experience?” if they want to discuss it further, they’ll happily discuss their emotions and struggles, which will open your eyes to how different each person can go through anxiety.

“You don’t put effort into things”

I hate when people say that. Whenever I struggle with something that comes so natural to most, I am left with the chatter and judgment of others that I cannot complete something ‘so simple’ in their eyes.

Even when I try to explain my anxiety, they automatically assume it’s just worrying – something that they too get from time to time. It’s not the same, but my opinion is lost on their already made up mind. I’m glad that it was easy for you to get up and start your day – for me, it took me half an hour to get out of bed since my mind was racing.

Alternatively: Why not try to give positive reinforcements? If it did take another person half an hour to get out of bed, I would say “I’m so proud that you were able to get up today!

“We never invite you out anymore because you’re flaky”

That’s fair – but please keep in mind that’s not my intention. I will have good days, and I will have bad days. Unfortunately, I cannot schedule my anxiety weeks in advance. If I suddenly leave early or don’t show up at all, it means that I don’t want to ruin an event with my symptoms. I’m really looking out for all involved, but people take it quite personally and don’t invite me out anymore. That’s ok if you can’t handle my anxiety – you’re not responsible for my emotions.

Alternatively: I would continue to invite those that struggle out, even if we don’t come out just the fact that we were asked makes us feel wanted and welcome.

“Just calm down” / “stop freaking out” / “again?”

The last thing that I need to hear when I’m going through some of my symptoms are these jabs right here. Believe me, if I could “calm down” or “stop,” I would do so. The fact of the matter is, I can’t at this moment, and if you can’t understand that, that’s OK.

Alternatively: Don’t tell anyone these jabs. Come in for a hug, or leave the room if it’s better for YOUR mental health.

I could go on with more, but I think you get the idea. All I want is for others to be more understanding before saying hurtful comments to those that do not need it.

It seems I cannot turn on the TV without seeing another brave soul come forward with her sexual assault or harassment story. It’s disheartening, depressing and unfortunate that females are STILL put in a position of not being believed by others. It seems impossible for men these days to wrap their heads around the issue. However, I am happy to say I’ve had several of my male friends come up to me asking how they can better themselves and the situation.

Even though I’m not brave enough to come forward with my specific memories (+ details), I would like to relay a story of my ex and I so other males can understand the toxicity of certain situations and why we do not feel safe coming forward to report you.

I hate being tickled.

I have relayed this to every boyfriend that I’ve ever had, but for some reason, my Ex didn’t listen or care. I kept laughing whenever I was being tickled, that was his indication that I was enjoying it. Even though, through my rasped breaths, I would vocalize “Stop!” “No!”
I would reiterate, after each time, that I do not like it and wish he would stop.
The tickling continued as did our relationship, and my aggression started to come out more. My body went into full fight mode at each attempt, and the kicking started.

The first time I kicked him, it was his face. I got him square in the jaw, and my body immediately froze. He stopped what he was doing, almost in shock that I would kick him. I profusely apologized for kicking him, but his response was to punch me in the thigh instead. He walked out of the room as if he were disgusted with me, leaving me with feelings of guilt, embarrassment and my thoughts:

But you DO Enjoy it if you laugh, right?
He had every reason to punch me since I kicked him, so we’re even?
What can I do to make the situation better for him?

I never came forward about that punch because he taught me that this was all my fault. Why would I open up to someone about my stupidity at this situation? Especially if I DID enjoy it. It’s MY fault, and no one would believe me otherwise. I endured tickling for several years, even though I knew deep down how much I despised it. I would cry, at times, not at the excessive laughing, but at the fact that I felt powerless in this situation.

Laughter is a response to tickling, but if the stimulus is unwanted, then it completely changes the context.

He never could stop, he never would WANT to, either. It was all about him, and how he felt and if I did not play to his rules then he would make me feel like shit. He was an expert at twisting things around and making me feel guilty – I’m SO incredibly thankful that I’m no longer in that situation but imagine how other women feel in worse cases than mine.

I made a pact with myself never to let that happen again. I knew that I had to communicate boundaries and consent with my partner – I told my husband immediately never to tickle me, and after seven years of being together, I can honestly count on one hand how many “tickle fights” we had (because we’ve set boundaries). There are days when I joke around with my husband, and I’ll tickle him to get his attention – but when he tells me to stop, I do. I do not make him feel guilty or tell him how he feels.

My one piece of advice that I can offer is listening & understanding what your partner/friend is telling you. Repeat it back if you don’t understand so that they can give more clarity. The male mind needs a radical switch, and it’s time to make the change.

Last year for my birthday, I won a solo round trip to Yellowknife. I was pretty scared to go alone, but I knew that this was something that I had to do: to experience something new and scary for the first time by myself. I’m so glad that I did push myself because I ended up falling in love with the city, not to mention that travelling alone now seemed less scary to me.

With this in the back of my mind, I decided to make a pact with myself, for each birthday leading up until my 40th I plan on doing something that scares me. This year I decided to be literal – a month before my birthday I sent my husband tickets to Legends of Horror without mentioning my experience to him until after he secured the plans for the night.

The last haunted house I went to was in Niagara Falls; I must have been about ten at the time. My cousin, who was 8, was insisting that we go through it together. I don’t recall why I agreed, but my adoptive father already paid for the ticket, so I HAD to go. I started okay, strolling – letting my cousin walk ahead for anything to jump out at us. Then, one of the actors brushed up against my leg – I didn’t even recognize someone was standing there, so he got me pretty good. I froze on the spot and cried my eyes out. My cousin was trying to tell me to continue, but I told him to find someone to let me out. He saw the manager and I was escorted out of [probably] the smallest haunted house that ever existed. I was embarrassed and ashamed – both my cousin and adoptive father didn’t let it go for the remainder of the day. It was that day that I decided “I can’t do this.”

Fast forward to October 7th at 7 pm, and we’re waiting outside of Casa Loma about to go into an hour excursion. My heart was racing, I knew I would undoubtedly encounter some other fears inside, but I took joy in the fact that no actors would be touching me (It’s labelled on the events page). A family was walking in front of us, and they brought their daughter, who I swear was the same age as me when I went through the Niagara haunted house. She held both of her parent’s hands and was walking at a glacier pace while saying “I can’t do this – I can’t do this.” At one point I got down to her level and explained that I use to do this sort of makeup for people all the time and there’s no need to worry. It’s just people like you and me. Proud of myself and that moment I continued. However, I had no idea what was waiting for me in the next room: clowns.

I dropped to the floor so fast and started to bawl my eyes out like a ten-year-old girl. Yes, after giving fantastic advice on how not to be scared… I was scared shitless. I closed my eyes as my husband brought me back up to move on. He said “Yeah, you have every reason to be scared here. Let’s go on”. Having my husband there with me made the event more manageable. I even broke one actress’s wall by asking how she was doing and she responded. At the end of it all, I had such an adrenaline rush that I almost wanted to do it again. ALMOST. Instead, I curled up at the side of the wall telling myself “You did it. Never again”IMG_5061