life is sweet: a gift nonetheless.

it’s important to share. it’s what us bloggers do, right? sometimes.

other times we are caught up in the pretty and perfect game. where the life we portray on social media is the envy of everyone who follows. i like pretty things – don’t get me wrong – but i think i’ve done an okay job at keeping things real around here. call me out on it if you don’t think i do. authenticity really is the name of my game.

while i’ve talked about mental health a few times on s&s, i usually talk about it more on twitter. and i’ve never got too granular with it.

until valentine’s day 2014.

enter Ashley and her life is sweet project.

Ashley’s mom committed suicide when she was 13, and her life (and death) greatly impacted Ashley’s life. she has always been very open about her mom’s death and opening up a dialogue about suicide and mental health, because she truly believes that it is something we don’t talk about enough in our society.

for the last 3 years, every february Ashley hosts ‘life is sweet’ month on her blog. it started with a show she did to honour her mom’s memory and then she thought that hosting a series of guest blog posts would be an incredible way to open up an even bigger conversation about mental health, loss and grief.

from 2013-2015 more than 50 people shared their stories candidly. i was one of them.

to continue the openness, the realness and the sharing, here’s my 2014 post for life is sweet month:


i studied my surroundings: beige walls and old, ugly ’80s chairs with green and blue faded floral fabric. i fidgeted in my seat. the drapes were dusty and the tv played sponge bob square pants. i fidgeted with the forms in my hand. no one made eye contact and my coffee was finished. i fidgeted with my coffee cup.

i didn’t want to be here. why was i?

my mind flashed back to that wednesday night.

i lifted my head from the pillow, now soaked from tears. the clock flashed 8:03 p.m.; i had been crying for somewhere close to two hours. as i cleaned my kleenex-covered bed, slowing picking up each damp tissue and inspecting it before piling it in the waste bin, i couldn’t remember what started the sobbing. that wasn’t new. why did i ever cry lately? it was rarely ever an event that set me off, more of a blanket – a large, heavy, suffocating blanket – of emotion.

this evening may have been about loneliness. a type of loneliness that could only be filled by love, but not people. i missed my friends, but did not want to see them. more than anything i missed my family back in ontario. sister, dad, and mom. oh, my funny, little, beautiful mom. i inherited her large forehead, and eyes that change colour like a mood ring. i inherited her crooked nose, and affinity for blonde hair dye. it also seems i inherited her depression and anxiety.

and, as odd as you may think this statement to be, i see it as a gift.

yes, a gift that you can’t quite wrap in sparkly little bows, no matter how hard you try to put that spin on it, but a gift nonetheless.

my mother’s gift allowed me to understand her.

the times sister and i jumped on her bed and played in her room because she didn’t get out from under the covers; the times she was quick to temper; the times she isolated herself: i understand them all.

the pyramid of kleenex in the garbage made me think. my impulses and reactions no longer felt “normal”. maybe it wasn’t just a bad day. maybe it wasn’t PMS, or that thing that person said at work, or the latest guy i was no longer dating. maybe it was me.

i spent so much time hiding my feelings of inadequacy, sadness, anxiety, and self-hate, and the tears came because i had no idea how to deal with this inner voice. i couldn’t fess up to the weakness and fear that had a firm grasp on me. if i said it out loud would i be less of a person?

i couldn’t keep at it alone, i needed help. i feared going to a doctor because i didn’t want to live in a medicated haze, and i didn’t think i belonged at a psychiatrist’s office because i wasn’t “crazy”. crazy. a word i was terrified would haunt me for the rest of my life. my sad, lonely, crazy life. with cats. at least two cats, because they needed a companion, and…


i snapped out of my downward spiral, and straight back into that beige waiting room. i stood and handed her my forms: intake, contact information, mood indicator. she was young with a nose ring and a tattoo on her right foot. her name was Sheena, she was my councillor, and i already knew she would help me.