Conquering the Fear of Driving, with Jennifer Cottell

 

van

If I can do it, anyone can do it, be strong and find it within yourself. – JC

So I meet this fireball at a café on her work break.  Beautiful, energetic, and funny, Jennifer Cottell gave me the ins and outs of her experience with overcoming the fear of driving.  She was brave and honest as she shared her story. I admired her complete transparency and courage.

Many people have had crippling incidents on the road.  Sometimes, and often, people don’t work up the gusto to get back behind the wheel after experiencing terrifying accidents, or being witness to accidents, or even having severe episodes of anxiety or medical issues while driving.

I am, for one, a person who experienced anxiety attacks while driving and it took me a concerted effort to get back on the road.  But this is not about me, this is about this amazing woman.

What tripped Jennifer up was a horribly terrifying accident she had when she was just a new driver as well as a new mother.  She had young children in the backseat when her mother picked them all up to go from Mckenzie to Prince George for some grandmotherly care and respite.

But what started as a great plan turned into a nightmare when another driver, in the wrong, hit their car.  Jennifer was injured badly, as well as one of her young children who ended up with several broken teeth.  To this day, Jennifer still deals with physical damage to her neck and spine, something that will likely haunt her for her whole life.

“The injuries were extensive.  There was major damage done to my L3/4 and at the base of my neck and shoulders. I had debilitating pain. I was given a care aid to come into my home to help do housework duties and child care.  I couldn’t walk stairs, in fact, walking at all was excruciating and difficult. I was prescribed medications that left me forgetful and mindless. I spent over a year in rehab just to walk again.  It was a very extensive rehab program and I would often pass out and throw up from the pain after these treatments.

I was told I would suffer more serious issues later on with age, such a arthritis. I now live with disc degenerative disease in my L3/4.”

For 24 years this mother couldn’t bring herself to drive.  To the point of going grocery shopping on bicycles with her kids carrying backpacks. Even when riding as a passenger she suffered extreme anxiety.  In her perspective?  Not being able to drive was a huge inconvenience.  Here she talks about it:

“Not being able to drive has limited me. I have always overcome and become anything and everything I have wanted to be. When my husband and I divorced, my kids and I would each grab a backpack and bike to the nearest store to shop. We often couldn’t accept invitations to join friends and family at the lake or parties or vacations because nobody had the room to accommodate five of us. The most simple excursions became the most impossible and we most often went without.”

A self described stubborn woman, Jennifer set her mind to becoming a driver again.  It took her eight different times of setting the goal before she went to take her test.  And when she found out she had passed?  She was elated, and still terrified.  Many friends cheered her on with constant support, something she is very grateful for.

Currently Jennifer has worked up the courage to go to her vehicle and sit in it.  She is working toward starting the engine.  For those who don’t experience extreme anxiety, it can manifest itself very physically.  There is sweating, shortness of breath, sometimes feelings of disconnect from reality, and a host of other scary symptoms.  But the ‘stubborn’ and fierce woman has come up with some winning strategies to get to her goal.

“I’m going through a lot of things at once. I have to take time before even thinking to go sit in the vehicle. I take deep calming breaths and tell myself I can do it. I don’t try to minimize or forget what happened, but rather tell myself I can move past it.

I set very small baby steps or goals daily. I’ll imagine myself sitting behind the wheel and what it feels like to grip the wheel and hear the engine. Then I think, next week I’ll sit in the car with the engine running and get more familiar with all the buttons and where everything is.

Next will be just putting the car into reverse, and feeling the gas pedal and the brakes working. This may take weeks or months. Just writing about this makes my heart race, but I push it away. I will do this. I can do anything I put my mind to.

Watch me, I’m scared as shit, but now more than ever, I need to do this. It’s not just to make life easier for my kids and to show them we can conquer our fears,  but this is also for me.

This fear has affected my life in more ways than I could ever explain in words. We take these things for granted.  I will do this.”

jen

Thank you brave lady for sharing your story, I know it will help others!

Please leave comments about your personal experiences of anxiety and driving and any encouraging words and advice for Jennifer as she works to conquer her fear.

You can find Jennifer’s blog at Diaries Of an Addict’s Mother.

 

 

Advertisements

Synthetic Turf….Yes? With Gary and Spencer Donaldson

turf

So I’m having a visit with my friend Gary.  High-spirited and charismatic, he is talking about the turf business he runs with his son Spencer, cracking jokes throughout with his Jack Nicholson smile spread wide.

His bright green eyes light up over his sleeve of beer. Being a craft beer lover, I often tease him about the ‘pee water’ he drinks, however.

“Do you want to hear the commercial I’m working on for me and Spencer’s synthetic turf business?” He asks, intently.

I nod my head and roll my eyes, preparing myself for what the funny fireball is about to say next.

He cups his hand around his mouth and bellows, in his version of a female voice, “Fred! It’s Saturday morning! You need to get out and mow the lawn!”

Gary holds his finger in the air. “But, now Fred has synthetic turf so he doesn’t have to mow his lawn.”

I snort a little laugh and take a sip of my ‘pee water’, waiting for the conclusion.

Once again, Gary cups his hand around his mouth and yells, “Fred!” But this time his ‘woman’s voice’ gets seductive instead.  “You don’t need to mow the lawn honey, get back into bed with me!”

Gary slaps his hand on the table and grins at me, waiting for my reaction.

Of course I am laughing and admit it is a great ad.

The environmentalist nerd in me has questions though.  Synthetic turf. Plastic grass?  No delicious grass smell?  No grass stained socks?  No mothers yelling at kids about grass stained socks?

It was going to take some convincing to get me onto synthetic turf.

I put my childhood nostalgia to the side and zeroed in on the environmental aspects of grass versus turf.

Admittedly, it took a lot of searching on the net to find anything ‘bad’ about artificial grass.

According to many sources, including scientific studies, installing synthetic turf in place of lawns means tons of water saved and eliminates the need for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

50% of all drinkable water in North America was used watering lawns last year. Most water was wasted due to evaporation. One golf course uses 270,500 litres of water a day, which is enough water for 2200 people.

The demise of the bee colony is being blamed on pesticides and fertilizers, and seven million birds died in North America last year from pesticides.

Yet, I was determined to challenge Gary and Spencer with a few tough questions, so I searched until I found three of them:

I read that turf will collect bits and pieces of pet and bird droppings and liquids   from humans? How easy is it to clean?

“There is a product that cleans it, but you don’t have to. There are four inches of drain rock under the turf and the turf has drainage holes in it.  Rain will work to clean it,  if not hose it down. It’s not difficult at all. Also, it depends on what gets spilled on it.  Dog pee has an ammonia odor after awhile. If it rains it is gone. If not , you need to do a ten minute spray.”

 

According to a source I found, turf can get really hot, in fact hotter than natural grass?

“Our turf does not absorb heat, rather, it reflects it. It will react similarly to concrete or lawn. However, turf will cool immediately with clouds or shade.”

 

 Is synthetic turf difficult to recycle and reuse?

“Our turf is made from 100% recycled material.  It has a 15-year warranty but can potentially last for a lifetime.”

 

turf2

If you have input, comments, or questions, please send them so I can publish them on this site.

For more information or a quote, call Gary Donaldson at 250-819-2709 or Spencer Donaldson at 250-682-8803.

The Blue Dot Movement, with Ross Styles and Dr. George M. Johnson

bluedot

 

 

Have you heard about the Blue Dot Movement?  What about the Kamloops Blue Dot Network?

Did you know that compared to surrounding cities Kamloops is slow to join this growing environmental campaign?

Here is a clear explanation of everything Blue Dot by Ross Styles, Chair of Kamloops Blue Dot Network, and Dr. George M. Johnson, Member:

 

“More than 100 countries around the world have some sort of legal recognition of human rights to clean water, clean air and healthy food, while Canada has none.

The David Suzuki Foundation started the Blue Dot movement( bluedot.ca) to get the federal government to add these rights to the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Their strategy is to get Canadians to join the Blue Dot Program, to get municipal governments to make declarations in support of these rights, to get provincial governments to do so as well, and finally, to get the federal government to amend the Charter and add these rights.
So far, more than 170 municipalities, in all parts of the country, have made declarations of support and the aggregate population of these municipalities adds up to more than half the population of Canada. The list includes BC municipalities like Vancouver, North Vancouver, Nanaimo and Vernon, but NOT Kamloops.
Here in Kamloops, a small group of people are working to support the Blue Dot Program by getting people to join, and we want to have the city council of Kamloops recognize our right to clean water, clean air, and healthy food. (After all, why shouldn’t they? Our city council spent $70 million to provide us with healthy, safe, clean water.) The local group is calling itself the Kamloops Blue Dot Network.
We are asking citizens of Kamloops to join our effort to get a municipal declaration here and to support the Foundation’s effort to get the Charter changed.
Thank you for considering this request!”

Ross Styles and Dr. George M. Johnson have been working diligently this year to get this important message out for all Canadians.

Ross Styles has spent 44 years in Kamloops where he and his late wife raised their three children. He has been retired from his work as a high school counsellor for 31 years.

During the first 13 years of that retirement, he and a partner shared ownership a reforestation business that planted most of the yearly volume of seedlings on Weyerhaeuser’s TFL; typically around 1.5 million seedlings.

Throughout his retirement he has continued to be a life-long learner.

Nearly 3 years ago, he read a book that focused his attention on climate change and since then he has continued to read about environmental issues and encouraged a small group of concerned people to join with him in that pursuit. They decided to take on a local project that could make a difference, and George Johnson urged them to get involved with the Blue Dot Program: now, they are working to make Kamloops a Blue Dot city.

Member George M. Johnson is an award-winning writer and social justice advocate. His play Mockus, about a clown who provokes a desperate Mayor into trying playful approaches to his city’s environmental ills, was successfully produced in Kamloops in 2017.

Most recently his screenplay Peace Pledge was an Official Finalist in the Cannes Screenplay Contest and the New Renaissance Film Festival, and received Honorable Mention in the Euroscript Screenplay Competition (London).

His picture book Marisa and the Mountains will be published by Simply Read Books this spring. He was recently awarded the Kamloops YMCA Peace Medal.

Johnson is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia.

 

To take action:

Sign the pledge at bluedot.ca/join-us and check the box to volunteer
Like our Blue Dot movement Facebook page at facebook.com/bluedotmovement
Visit bluedot.ca/volunteer to take further action

bluedot4

Photo: NASA Earth

 

 

Explore, Awaken, and Transform With Creative Visionary, Marilyn Puff

 

Yoga lotus position silhouette against the full Moon

Ceremony in nature is such a powerful way to reconnect to who we are, settle our nervous systems, and set an intention for our lives. – MP

 
It was a cold, clear evening when I went to meet Marilyn at the Full Snow Moon gathering she was hosting.  I parked my car and crunched through snow to the dyke along the riverbank in Westsyde, following her instructions.

The night was dark, except for a full, brilliant moon, a bright fire glowing on the beach below, and tiny white lights that guided me down the bank.

On approach I could smell wood smoke and hear drumming.

The circle of people standing around the fire was small in size.  They played drums, shook rattles, and sang softly.  I was greeted warmly with nods and smiles as I put my blanket down next to the fire, no longer concerned about the cold; the fire was throwing lots of heat and sparks.  I watched the embers drift up into the sky as I listened to the ceremony.

In the dark it was hard to see Marilyn, she was all bundled up, but as she led our group through a beautiful evening of reflection, far from technology and the sounds of the city, it was easy to feel her calm, nurturing spirit.

She offers these full moon fires so that people “can come and reconnect with the deep feeling of being outside at night around a fire… not just any fire, but a fire of intention to connect to something greater than us, that feeling of awe, of beauty and deeper purpose.”

A creative, passionate seeker, Marilyn loves engaging in opportunities for exploring our inner worlds and expressing our authentic nature.

“I’ve always been very connected to being in the forest. By the Eagle River, near Sicamous BC and the Shuswap lakes, is where I grew up and spent so much time. I was not a social child or teen, as I didn’t seem to fit in. I knew what felt good to me, and it was being outside. So that gave me lots of connection to the beauty and inspiring evenings of laying on my back, looking at the moon, or running even more powerfully at night. I had no fear of the dark, it was comforting in our rural star studded valley.”

Our ceremony that night ended with a sharing of thoughts and vulnerability among the group, as well as lots of love and a sense of deeper communal connection. I left with much to reflect on and a beautiful memory.

puff

 

Many people know Marilyn for her business of Sacred Moon Emergence, the first annual transformational weekend for women.

Her vision for her private practice and for the weekend retreats is to support people in their healing journeys and to gather sisters together for transformational weekends. The name ‘Sacred Moon Emergence’ is analogous to Divine Feminine Rising. This is a term that speaks to the changes that are happening as we all become more compassionate and create a need for a more nurturing, inclusive, and collaborative approach in every arena of life.

 
She brings from her lineage a love of singing, movement, and community building. She offers numerous modalities for personal growth such as counselling, massage, breath integration, meditative journeying, teachings of the medicine wheel, and life passage ceremonies.

After a life changing year in 2015 of her mother’s passing and a spiritual pilgrimage to England, she was inspired to start her own practice and retreats after almost 30 years in the field of alternative and traditional counselling.

“My experience is that from having lived with a very sensitive nature, and feeling the angst and the joys of the world quite deeply, that it’s important to focus on what is in front of me… to be present in my life. I don’t stick my head in the sand, even though I don’t watch the news or read the papers, I always find out what is going on, but I need to stay centered and grounded, calm enough so that I can be of service, and enjoy my life to the fullest.

I’m a very passionate, curious person and my great study has been on how people tick? What makes us shine? What keeps us from shining?

 
My encouragement is that, even though there is some deep wounding or trauma that you experience in life, you can find support to get past these things.  You only need to touch them gently and honestly and you will discover the gift of your sacred wounds. Just by gently opening up those wounds, they start to heal.  Like a physical wound that has scabbed over prematurely, it needs to be opened up and heal from the inside out.

It doesn’t have to be years of therapy. These days there are so many amazing modalities for healing. I love body awareness, sensory awareness methods, and the inner healing ways of meditation or shamanic journeying. Telling your story over and over is a stuck place. Find something that calls to you, 12 step programs, yoga, hiking, anything that can take you through the anger and go under the anger to the tears. This is a great way to be on your healing journey.”

 
What if a large part of our purpose is… to be on purpose? Even if we don’t know what our lineage is or exactly what we want… the clues and cues to our gift and our healing are everywhere… in our hearts, in our emotional waters, in what we do everyday. Even knowing what we don’t want is a gift.-MP 

sacred moon 4

Marilyn would love to hear from you! Get in touch for the next Full Moon Fire Ceremony.
Find her on Facebook –Sacred Moon Emergence
Call or text at 250 320-1993 or email sacredmoonemergence@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace your potential with Steven Banks!

steve2

My vision for my future is to continue to learn and teach personal empowerment through the cutting edge of science as well as my experiences supporting those deep truths. – SB

Steven Banks moved from Revelstoke to the community of Kamloops in 2007 after he met his partner Stephanie Banks.  The couple spent years together snowboarding, hiking, and exploring whatever opportunities arose. They continue to enjoy the outdoors in their home base of Kamloops.
But they are not a typical couple in that they have been actively pursuing deeply spiritual matters after a life changing incident that occurred in 2012. Significantly, they have been devoting their lives to sharing their insights with others.  Here Steven tells their story:
“My life changed its course in 2012 after my partner Stephanie Banks had a serious mountain biking crash in Whistler BC, where she had a near death experience. On the second day of Stef’s recovery, while nursing two broken wrists and numerous other minor injuries, our lives took a drastic turn into what was for us then, unknown territory into a world of personal empowerment.

 

On Stephanie’s second day of recovery, spent in our home just outside of Pritchard, she discovered that she had returned from Whistler a completely different person. She sat on our deck overlooking the beautiful valley below to write in her journal to help manage her emotional suffering from her accident. Looking down at the pages she saw she had already been writing without being aware of it.
What she saw on the bottom of that page would forever change our lives. To Stephanie’s amazement what she saw at the bottom of the page was her mom’s name, Linda, who died in 1996 when Stef was twenty-four years old.
She scrolled down the page and saw it was a message for her from her mom and the printing was in her mom’s hand. She turned back nine pages to the beginning of the message and she began to read….

I love you. You are ok. Live and let live. More to life and more to live for. I am always close by, we all are. You are on your way. I will help you and your family and all the others. I am here always like a fine film of dust sprinkled on your skin. I watch and wait for the time to be right, as it is now. You see, you are my angel as well.
​Live with the truth in your heart and you will always have what you need. You have it in front of you every day. Don’t be discouraged as it is easy to be at times. Let us guide you, trust in the universe and you will be free. I am free and here, present.

Your heart has been blocked and now the key has been turned. Feel us dear we are here with you always. We guide you and try to help you along the way.

The door is now open. There is so much more to see my love, you are so dear to me. It hurts you I can see but be strong, open your passageways, trust and be trusted, understand, be compassionate, try not to be sad or angry.

Bring the happiness to others that you know you can and be proud of who you are and are becoming.
​You are so intricate and yet so simple. I feel so proud of you. You were my daughter but I hand you over to the universe. You are a child of the universe, a student of order, a teacher of wisdom. You chose this course and are managing to stay on track, you are hurdling the obstacles where necessary…. (letter continues).
This message was for Stephanie and I the marker for a new course, a new conversation and deep knowing that we are all here to learn and teach the universal wisdom of empowerment. Stephanie from that day to this, continues to connect with those who reside in the quantum realm and now channels their messages both in written form and verbally for individuals and groups through her events.”
The past seven years for Steve has been spent learning from Stephanie and many other great teachers and scientists who are sharing the best science of our time teaching us about the human condition, that is, the structure and function of our physical experience.
Steven has recently discovered a belief change process called PSYCH-K. Since 2015, when he finished his training, Steven has been assisting individuals in embracing their potential through transforming their limiting and self-sabotaging beliefs to supportive ones that allow them to move more freely into the direction of their conscious wishes and desires.

 

“I am a student of the cutting edge of the science of consciousness and have learned and experienced the truth of our process. It is only when we understand the function of our conscious, subconscious and superconscious minds that we can recognize that on average 95% of our lives are being lived through the subconscious programming we received in the first seven years of our lives.

 

I now am holding events where I outline for people a new story, a new opportunity to embrace their potential. I am for the first time doing a small tour around southern BC to give a two hour introductory presentation on the basic structure and function of our three minds and teach people how they can harmonize those aspects of themselves to live vibrant, passionate and fulfilling lives.
I am currently writing my first book titled ‘Harmonization of the Self’ which dives deep into how we experience our lives, why we do what we do, and how we can empower ourselves to transform our lives to understand and achieve our conscious wishes and desires.”
Steven is currently running an event titled ‘The Power of Belief’ on March 27, 7-9pm at the Sandman Signature hotel in Kamloops to speak about how we can understand and transform our limiting beliefs to supportive ones to move us into a direction of personal empowerment.
“We have been lost, living through outdated and false perceptions of who we are and how our reality functions. The best science of our time has presented a new story.  We cannot know what we want or need in life if we don’t know who we are. It has been said that the better we know ourselves the less we fear change in our world, each other, and our own power .

I feel it is time to embrace a new paradigm of reality where we can choose to live an empowered life, with a clear knowing that you already are all you need to be. You already have everything you need to move into the direction of your conscious wishes and desires and when we redefine our experience and understand the function of how we can manifest and experience our desires, our lives become a joyful journey of passion and love as opposed to a limiting experience of obstacles and missed opportunities.”

 

There is one question that lies at the heart of every perception that we have experienced, every decision that we have ever made, and every challenge we have ever faced and it is this question that drives me to learn and teach the understanding of our process. The question is simply, who am I? – SB

steve

My event Links
FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/549490385570443/
Website: www.balancingbeliefs.com/events
Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-power-of-belief-with-steven-banks-kamloops-tickets-54795530908

Mother and daughter star in puppet show about Alzheimer’s – Little Onion Puppet Co.

 

little onioncontributed by R. Edmundson

The Dorothy Project, Little Onion’s newest show for adults, will be touring Kamloops, Vancouver, and Calgary this spring!

The back story behind the creation of this show is unique and touching.   Performers Susan Dixon and Randi Edmundson are a mother and daughter duo.

In 1995 and 1996, Susan and her sister took care of their mother who was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Unable to speak frankly about the disease in front of their mother, they kept a daily journal together.

Now, 20 years later, Susan and her daughter Randi are  bringing the journal to life on the stage with all of its raw, emotional twists and turns. The Dorothy Project lends insight into the disease of Alzheimer’s: the challenges, the heartbreak, and the power of love.

The performance has not come to fruition without the help of the community of Kamloops.  Little Onion Puppet Co. has teamed up with the Kamloops branch of the Alzheimer Society, where Susan has been a long-time support group facilitator, to bring seniors and their caregivers into the creation process.

Through story-sharing circles, feedback sessions, and puppetry workshops, seniors and caregivers have been a large part of the development of the show.

Daughter Randi Edmundson has been performing across the province as a puppeteer
for the last eight years. Her show for young audiences, Freddie in the Neighbourhood , was created with the help of grade three students in Vancouver and was recently presented by Western Canada Theatre.

Susan Dixon has spent the last 20 years volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Society of BC
and works locally as a costume designer.

Director Melissa Purcha, a local Kamloops favourite, is best known for her work as Artistic Director of Project X Theatre.

I asked Randi what she has gained through the experience of working with her mom on the project, given the emotional gravity of the subject matter:

“It’s been a wonderful experience so far. I didn’t have much of a chance to get to know my Grandma Dorothy, so it’s been such a gift to learn about her through my mother’s eyes. But the loss is also present in the process, which has been a little more difficult to visit.

As for my Mom and I, it’s been interesting crafting this story together. We both have different things we want to say with the material, so we’ve had to figure out where we meet in the middle. It’s definitely making our relationship stronger!

This is the first time I have worked on something so personal, which has some unique challenges as a performer. It’s been a little trickier to feel each moment as though it’s the first time, since I am actively working through the feelings I experience in the show.

For my mother, though she has public speaking experience, she hasn’t really done anything quite like this. We threw her into the deep end with lines and movement to learn, but she is doing extremely well.

For me, one of the most special things that I have gained through this experience, apart from getting to know my grandmother and my mother in completely new ways, is the exploration of found object puppetry we do in the show.

Found object puppetry is puppetry with everyday things, things that you wouldn’t think of as puppets, like utensils, clothing, etc. We use Dorothy’s actual belongings as found object puppets in the show, which gives her a unique voice in the story. As an artist, I find that very satisfying.” – R.E.

Details of upcoming show.

little onion 2

contributed by R. Edmundson

The Little Onion Puppet Co. is dedicated to the development of quality puppet theatre in Vancouver and British Columbia. With a focus on engaging the public in a meaningful way in puppet theatre creation, we strive to make puppetry exciting and accessible for adult and young audiences.

When Not Living Is Easier Than Living, A Brave Young Man Speaks Out

billy4

contributed by B Davy

I stood outside my friend Billy’s basement suite in the cold winter chill, juggling coffees and snacks.  He swung the door open, looking bleary eyed.  His hair was ruffled from sleep. He accepted the coffee with a smile and little ‘whoop!’.

The suite was dimly lit and cluttered, yet warm and comfortable. We made room on the edge of a table for our meagre little picnic.  I set my phone down and hit record.  Billy had agreed to talk to me about mental illness, something he has battled his whole life.

We jumped right into our conversation with ease.  Only 22-years-old, Billy is a natural speaker and refreshingly transparent.  I hit him with the first question, ‘why is it so much more difficult for males to talk about their feelings?’

“Well, there’s a stigma about it.  You gotta be the strong, silent type.  You can’t really express your feelings.  Anytime you do express your feelings you are looked down upon by others, mostly males, and sometimes women too.  They say we are being too feminine, we have to man up.

I think where we are heading right now as a society, as men it is important to loosen up, embrace a more emotional side, and become less violent.”

There was a period of silence as we fiddled with our breakfast sandwiches.  A feeling of seriousness settled around us. I asked him to talk about his mental health issues.

“To my understanding, depression is something that forms due to lots of hardship and lack of skills to cope with things.  It turns into some kind of chemical imbalance in the brain.  You just lose the ability to produce your own serotonin.  I had some hardships in my life.

My earliest unbalanced thoughts came at age 11 or 12.  I had a suicide attempt back then.  I don’t remember much about it.

Depression is an every day thing.  I still struggle going to school.  I have episodes.  I don’t want to get out of bed.  I sleep in all the time.  When the stress gets really high I will not sleep.  Then I will crash and sleep for a really long time.  If I could, when I am having a depressive episode, I would love to sleep all day in my own little depressive dungeon.”

I asked Billy how he gets out of his funks.

“I gotta find that kick in the ass to jumpstart myself and get back out there.  The small things help.  I leave my door unlocked.  Got this one best friend who walked in once and slapped me with a stick, telling me to get up, get up, put some clothes on, you done?  Where’s my best friend?  I miss my friend. Stuff like that is a kickstart that helps me get back out there and be effective again.

I don’t have much  money, let alone being able to spend on things for mental health.  As far as activities go,  you gotta find things that work for you.  I got into video games and arts and crafts.  I recommend making it social though, not get into things you can do without other people.

Isolation is the worst.  It is the cause of most depression.

When I go through an episode I won’t admit it.  Not even to myself.  By the time I admit it I am so far down the rabbit hole I can’t climb out.  If you want to help, keep checking in, be there for your friends.  A person with depression will generally lie about it and cover it up.  But if you are close to a person, try to see through that.”

There was another silence as I mustered up the courage to ask Billy about his suicide attempt.  It happened just over a year ago.  He had told me about it once in confidence, but this time I was asking him to share his story publicly.  I asked.  He let out a big sigh.  And agreed to tell his story in the hopes of helping even one person feel less alone. We proceeded carefully with tears in our eyes.

“Well, I was kind of off and on planning it for awhile.  I don’t think it’s ever a spur of the moment thing, it is something you always wanted.  Just didn’t have the time to figure out when I was going to do it.  I was wanting to end it, painlessly or painfully.  It feels like it is easier than to just keep on going.

The night I decided to do it was Christmas. I had to take all these anti anxiety pills to go spend time with family for Christmas.  I got home and went to my basement.  Isolated. By myself.  And I decided, ‘you know what? Here’s a gift from me.’  Took an entire bottle of pills and a bunch of pain killers.  I intentionally overdosed.

I didn’t plan on waking up but against all odds….. I wrote out my suicide note, one of my better pieces, on facebook, mostly to connections in the states.  I thought I was in the clear.  It turns out someone read it and messaged a guy in Kamloops with a similar name.  This guy happened to know me and happened to live down the street.  These are a lot of things that just ‘happened’.  This guy happened to be home.  He happened to look at his facebook at one o’clock in the morning.  He happened to care.  He took it from there.

The paramedics came.  I don’t remember any of this.  I woke up in the hospital.  The doctor who was attending me asked, ‘why would you do this? You almost died?’  I just said, ‘hey man, this is what I wanted.’  This is the way a depressive mind thinks.

I remember right before I passed out, overdosed, I was listening to music.  And I thought, ‘this is nice’. I was relieved.”

When I asked him how he felt when he woke up after being resuscitated, Billy told me he felt disappointed.  He laughed through tears and said, ‘I couldn’t even kill myself properly.’ The worst part for Billy was facing people after the attempt.

I asked him if he was happy his attempt failed.

“I suppose it goes back and forth.  I would like to tell you I am super ecstatic to still be here but sometimes I don’t know.  I have my goals in life.  You gotta set some goals.  Try to at least get there, have somewhere to go.  Otherwise it all becomes so pointless.

I want to retire on a hobby farm. A few horses. Dogs. A big family, a wife and kids.

My main drive is the easy way out, it is easier to not live than to live.”

Billy will be joining a group of speakers for an upcoming seminar on suicide and depression in Kamloops, BC at the Coast Hotel on February 13th at 7pm.  By donation.  Please come watch him speak, please share to support our mission to bring awareness to this issue.